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Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us Hardcover – May 2, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Parenting Without Borders

"Every now and then I read a book that changes the way I think. Christine Gross-Loh's Parenting Without Borders is one of those books. This will be the only book I buy for new parents…The observations are interesting and important for parents of children at every age." 
—Rachel Rose, Brain, Child magazine 

"In this beautifully written book, Christine Gross-Loh provokes American parents to see how we might do better, often with less intensity, to reach our own goals."
—Robert A. LeVine, Emeritus Professor of Education and Human Development, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Through insightful research and a refreshingly skeptical approach, parenting expert Gross-Loh peers through a global lens to uncover innovative ways to raise children in contemporary America.”
Worth Magazine

 “An intriguing look at parenting paradigms”

"You don’t have to move to Finland—even though your son would learn how to sew his own bathing suit and duffel bag in school—but you do want to read this book. Parenting Without Borders takes the reader on an eye-opening, fascinating, and vital tour of time-tested and effective parenting practices, with great armchair traveling thrown in for free."
—Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessings of a B Minus and The Blessings of a Skinned Knee
“Our hovering/helping/worrying way of parenting feels so “instinctual” that it is astounding—and freeing!—to read how odd it appears to other cultures. Better still, this lovely book brims with examples of things parents in other countries do differently that could make our lives (and our kids’) so much nicer. Love it!”
—Lenore Skenazy, founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids
“In this valuable book, Christine Gross-Loh asks us to broaden our view of what constitutes good parenting; she challenges us to go beyond the limitations of our borders. This is an overdue approach to the future of the American family, demanding both intellect and humility.”
—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
“The dilemmas facing loving parents regarding how best to raise their kids can be vexing and entrapping. Christine’s book offers clear and effective release for parents from their anxieties by revealing a rich landscape of effective multicultural parenting practices experiences. A balanced, factual, fresh book.”
—Stuart Brown, M.D., author of Play and founder of the National Institute of Play
“Young American parents including myself are plagued with the feeling of making it up as they go along. Cultures around the world contain so much wisdom on parenting—and it’s far past time that we harvested the best of it. Christine Gross-Loh couldn’t be a better guide to lead us on a grand world tour of parenting styles and practices.”
—Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us
“Christine Gross-Loh offers a global perspective on parenting that’s practical, reasoned, and fascinating. Parenting Without Borders helps all parents take-away greater compassion, simplicity, confidence, joy and balance by sharing best practices of parents around the world. A must-read for these globally-connected times.”
-Homa S. Tavangar, author of Growing up Global

“This book should be required reading for any parent or anyone thinking of becoming one.”
—Marianne LaFrance, Professor of Psychology and Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University and author of Why Smile?
“This even-handed, fascinating, well-researched book takes the reader on a journey to so many different cultures and countries. On every page I learned something to make me both a better parent and a more thoughtful educator.”
—Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, Brandeis University and author of The Business of Baby
“What an eye-opening tour through parenting practices the world round! Gross-Loh brings balance and perspective to complex issues, with wonderful results. Her lucid and balanced book will help parents see their practices anew, and ground their everyday decisions in something very like wisdom.”
— Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing

“An intriguing look at parenting paradigms in countries where children are deemed to be the best adjusted…Gross-Loh’s patient, grounded explication and engaging personal anecdotes make this a much more positive, culturally expansive contribution to the discussion than most parenting books.”
Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Christine Gross-Loh is an author and journalist. Her writing has been featured in national outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic.com, and the Huffington Post, and she holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University in East Asian history. See more at http://www.christinegrossloh.com. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Avery (May 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583334556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334553
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a stay at home mom (formerly a teacher) with a 3 year old boy and I've come to a point where his behavior is not only driving me crazy, but starting to think that it's really not normal and we have a problem at our hands developing into something even more. We are a calm home (that was getting more and more tense) that really revolves around our son. We bring him to museums, playgrounds, etc., have educational toys, and do everything for him that we think we're supposed to. When he started randomly hitting kids for no reason, constantly screaming out loud noises, and being disrespectful in many other ways we tried all kinds of discipline, including time outs, ignoring, taking away toys, leaving the situation (as in leaving Target with a cart full of items)...everything that his pediatrician said to do. Nothing seemed to work and his bad behavior continued to increase.

Parenting Without Borders was really eye opening. While it's not a manual to raising your child, it gives several concrete examples in which other cultures use to raise calm, respectful children. It was perfect for what I was looking for. I learned that a major part of the parenting my husband and I have been doing is giving my son TOO much attention (playing with him all the time, having tons of educational toys all over the place, constantly interacting with him - all of what I thought was the right thing to do). According to this book other cultures, such as Japan, let the kids figure it out, without a lot of adult interruption. I immediately started to encourage my son to play alone for much of the day and being more responsible and independent. It wasn't easy at first, sometimes he was screaming at me.
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Format: Hardcover
When my daughter was small I read a lot of parenting books, joined parenting email lists and talked parenting with friends and family. Now she's a teenager, I don't generally feel as much need for all of that - it's all about keeping on top of our busy schedules! But this book appealed because it's not a "how to" guide, but one that gets you to think about the impact of the choices you make - *especially* when you don't even realize you're making a choice! I think back on all my carefully considered parenting decisions (cloth diapers or disposable? how strict to be about only serving healthy snacks? how much screen time? etc.) and realize they were all pretty inconsequential compared to the really BIG decisions I wasn't even aware I was making because they're such an invisible part of the mainstream US culture I live in. But this isn't the kind of parenting book that leaves you feel inadequate or defensive - heaven knows parents don't need more of those. Reading it was more of an "aha" experience as you connect the dots between parenting cultures and outcomes. It really got me thinking about my own mom and dad (who didn't bother with parenting books at all, like many of their generation!) and I began to perceive in a new way many episodes from our family lives. Highly recommended for anyone who has a child or was a child!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book reminds me of my other favorite "parenting" book (that term doesn't do them justice!), Cornell anthropologist Meredith Small's "Our Babies, Ourselves." Both books avoid the simplistic, formulaic approach that assumes that if you do X, you'll get result Y. Anyone who has spent time with children knows it's never that easy! Instead, Gross-Loh takes a similarly accessible approach that is based on a solid foundation of scholarship and shows us what is possible... So many of the obvious truths about parenting - based on what we see around us - are actually cultural practices that aren't based on any real evidence. This is the kind of book that gives us, as parents and teachers, the confidence to ask questions, challenge norms, and try to do better for the sakes of the children who depend on us. For those who are not directly raising or working with children, it offers probing commentary on our notions of community, public policy, consumer culture and more - but it also helps us understand why our strengths are worth holding onto. Ironically, many of the "foreign" cultural practices she describes that promote healthy development will be nostalgically familiar to older American readers from their own childhoods.
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Format: Hardcover
What parent can't do with some bit of advice? Parenting without borders is a great addition to a parent's reading list.
The book also made me reflect on how immigrant parents have an opportunity draw on best of both worlds, practices one grew up with in the old country, while also assimilating into the practices of adopted land. There are many values and parenting techniques, especially to those of the Japanese that the Indian- American in me could recognize. My husband and I spent hours debating this topic after reading the book, he accusing me of ignoring our Indian roots while emulating American parenting techniques.

The author does a great job of analyzing the parenting styles from across the globe, but it misses on a key point: it is especially hard to stay away from in-Rome-do-as-Romans-do syndrome. Just like Christine's family immersed their kids in Japanese parenting, immigrant families try the reverse by immersing their kids in the American lifestyle and parenting "technique." Perhaps an American parent trying to follow some of the practices in the book would come across as being chic, but an immigrant parent trying to do the same risks being labeled hard-to-assimilate.

Write what you know is a practice that hardly fails. Christine focuses first-world parenting comparisons based on her research and experience, primarily around Japanese, Swedish parenting technique while also drawing on her South-Korean heritage. I especially like the part where she talks about Korean moms teaching kids how to respect elders never addressing them by their first name. A preschooler of a Korean friend of mine always calls me "Ms." Suja.

Parenting inputs from the more populous nations, China and India, could have added to the narrative. Perhaps a sequel in waiting?
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