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An Expat Parent Talks about Raising Kids in Mazatlan, Mexico

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Mazatlan

How is being a parent in your destination country different than in your home country?

Mexico is a much more spontaneous place, with lots of last-minute changes and invitations. We have had to learn to go with the flow more than we had to at home. We've had to re-gauge when to hold firm and fast to the rules, and when to give them some wiggle-room, since this is a new context. We are also now immigrant parents, with a culture gap between us and our now very Mexican son. Before our move we shared a culture much more fully. There is also now a culture gap between us and our son's friends, school, etc. All new dynamics that did not exist at "home."

What are the strengths of your home culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?

Strengths: rules make things much more predictable, enable advanced planning, leave room for more communication "misses"

Weaknesses: too many parents at "home" spoil their children--too capitalistic, centered on "things" and "having more." Also teenagers at home are permitted, even expected, to be moody, private, alone in their bedroom, which I don't like. It's one of the reasons we moved, to a place where teenagers are more respectful of elders and observe social niceties/politenesses.

What are the strengths of your destination culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?

Strengths: open love and caring, understanding of the kids' situation/not judgmental/open to who the kid is, spontaneous and flexible

Weaknesses: not as much parental involvement in teenagers' lives as I would like to see--give too much independence and lack of supervision too early, in my opinion.

Are there specific changes you have made to your parenting style while living abroad with your family? If yes, what are these changes?

As I said above, more spontaneous, more flexible, having to negotiate multiple languages and cultures now and finding the best way for our family, more purposeful/conscious in what we do and how we do it

Overall, has the impact of being an expat positively influenced your parenting or negatively influenced your parenting? Why?

Definitely yes. It provides us a broader repertoire of "acceptable" or "normal" parenting from which we can select or mold what is best for our son.

Do you have any advice or other thoughts about being a parent while living abroad?

Respect your child and his/her journey, respect who s/he is and is becoming, realize you will have an immigrant parent culture gap, as children tend to be more adaptable, empathize with your child's predicament of having immigrant parents yet insist on the respect you need as parents

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