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Parenting in Spain January 19, 2013

Posted by espainisdifferent in Culture, Society and Media, Uncategorized.

I consider myself a keen social observer. As such, when living in UK I couldn’t stop myself comparing structures and behaviours with those I had seen in my country before heading to the British Islands. One of the things that drew my attention was the way parents spoke to their children. They spoke to them like adults! I don’t know if this is good or bad but it is definitely different to what I had seen in Spain. When a dad is talking to his daughter in that country (I remember vividly the way a father was talking to his around 7 years old daughter in the tube in London) he would do it like if he was talking to an adult but in a nice way (the way your father talk to you when he is in a “nice” mood). This was a contrast to the way children are spoken in Iberian lands. Over here children are spoken like if they were childish just because they are children. Like they hadn’t got any conscience. It is a real pity.Conscious educated parents don’t have such a remarked tendency but even though they behave that way sometimes.

An example is when mothers start to speak on behalf of their children without having the latter any chance to speak by themselves. It would go like this:

– Mum and 4 years child meet a mum’s work colleague.
– Work colleague say hi to both. When she talks to the child she starts to speak using strange noises. I guess her maternal instinct has arisen!
– Mum start to tell her daughter to say hi to the lady (command: ¡dí hola a la señora!). The way she speaks to the child is a mix between command and, may be this is kind of exaggerated, speaking to a retarded.
– Work colleague to child: what’s your name?
– Mum answer on behalf of her daughter using a strange voice: me llamo Marta (My name is Marta).
This is just a little example.

The good side of the way we educate in Spain is that children feel the affection. It is usual in most Western cultures to kiss and hug children. However, coming back to my experience in the UK, over there I perceived children don’t have as many chances to feel the affection of their parents. I guess this behaviour translates to adult men and women and this is why differences in cultures exist. Family is broader and more people look after you. Parents, grandparents and sometimes uncles and aunties. In other words, generally speaking, a child in Spain feels in a more direct manner the warm and the love of those who care about him/her what will be beneficial in later years. And that is beautiful.

I personally believe the perfect upbringing for children would be the right mix of both approaches: developing the independence of children by talking to them in a way they can increase their confidence and self-reliance while feeling assured that they are loved what again will have a positive impact in their confidence but also in the way they relate to other human beings.


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