Parenting and Co-Parenting: Country Comparisons

Different approaches to child raising

Internationally there are always going to be differences in most aspects of life from culture to food, sport to conduct. Parenting is no exception, with a new culture comes a new perspective. With new perspectives come opportunities for learning and adaptation.

Many countries adopt a group parenting method, where extended family and more often than not close family friends collectively help look after and raise children. This usually occurs in countries where large close families are common but also where family time is of paramount importance. This includes countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, India, Brazil and Colombia. The fact that internationally children are staying at home until a later age could actually aid this system and improve extended family relations, whilst hopefully instilling some responsibility in the otherwise dependent child!

Japan is interesting in that the idea of spoiling children is relatively foreign to the Japanese, co-sleeping is the norm and a baby’s cries are always responded to without fear of over-spoiling. They hold dear to the mantra of unconditional love whilst simultaneously managing to raise children who are more independent than in the majority of other countries. Children in Japan learn to make journeys and use public transport alone from a very early age!

Parental leave can be incredibly important for developmental bonding between parents and children. Scandinavian countries have long offered a system whereby mothers and fathers can share parental leave, something only recently adopted in the United Kingdom and relatively non-existent in the US (except in California). By contrast in Sweden fathers are said to have up to 480 days of paternity leave!

Single parent trends  

You can find some interesting data and statistics on general households and single parents in OECD countries here. The data sheds light on the position of the US in terms of single parent mother/father households in comparison to other developed nations. Amongst these nations Denmark and the United Kingdom have the highest percentage of single parent households with 29% and 28% respectively; the United States is just behind with 27%.

Single mother households always outnumber single father households; however the US has a relatively high number of single father households, according to the 2016 census 40% of these being due to divorce. Statistics show that sadly many of these single parent families are not receiving support from their ex-spouse. The good news is that these family situations are becoming more acceptable socially and prejudice/societal pressure is not as strong as it once was.

In summary   

There’s no perfect formula but don’t be afraid to seek inspiration globally for any parenting questions or issues you may have. Furthermore don’t overlook the importance of reaching an agreement with your ex-partner in regards to co-parenting. It may seem acceptable to keep this agreement verbal but later down the road you may come to regret this. Opinions change and disputes arise, it can pay to have certain points written down. Attorneys can help you draft these documents or you can use custody software to generate co-parenting agreements/schedules. If you’re divorced and looking to share custody of your child from different countries or areas of the world then mediation can help the situation. You need to reach key agreements, design a specific but flexible parenting plan and keep communication a central theme of your and your child’s relationship. This last point cannot be emphasized enough!

Krishan Smith, author of this article, is the new senior editor at Custody X Change, a custody software specialist company. He’s originally from the UK but now living in Colombia.