If you've traveled anywhere at all, or stayed in another country for an extended period of time, you've probably picked up on some cultural differences. You know what I'm talking about, those idiosyncrasies that make a place, well, a place. Distinct sets of beliefs or practices that stand out from one culture to another.
I find these cultural differences both intriguing and at times frustrating.
Let me preface this by saying, I do not think Americans have it all right and I do not think Slovaks have it all right. Of course each culture has their pro's and con's. Each culture has also been influenced differently from others, thus creating these beliefs and practices. These are simply some observations of a mama living outside of her home culture in another culture :)
I'm thinking more along the lines of raising babies cross-culturally because that's mostly what I've been doing since living overseas. That's just to say that we've faced some various cultural differences regarding child-raising that we have found in contrast to how we ourselves were raised.
Let's list a few, shall we?
1. Drinking cold water. This is a no-go here. Cold water can lead to a sore throat or head cold. From what we've experienced this is a belief even in the summer months. We've been corrected on many an occasion for giving E cold water to drink for fear of her getting sick.
2. Wearing a hat outside no matter what. Hot, cold, warm, or cool, kids here always have on hats. There have been quite a few times, particularly when it's been warm, that I've taken our babies out without hats on and have gotten many a look. It's just not a thing you do around these parts. The head always needs to be covered.
3. Sitting on the (cool) ground. It's a belief here that sitting (or lying) on a cold floor or ground will not fare well for a girl's nether regions. I think this has long been practiced and warned against, thus the caution. From what I've gleaned, the cold from the floor/ground could also lead to sickness. This one was new and interesting for us to encounter when we came here two and a half years ago.
4. Wearing shoes inside. It's not generally welcomed to go barefoot or to wear just socks around inside. A lot of people provide slippers at the door for you to slip on when you come in. The idea behind this is also fear of getting sick, I believe.
5. Putting babies in front of a fan. I've been asked on many an occasion why I allow my babies to sit in front of the fan (mostly just during the summer months). It's not a welcomed idea, but let me just say, when it's roasting hot outside, I'll stick a baby by a fan ;)
(photos taken at a market in Eastern Slovakia and Bratislava)
I have to say, we chose to live in another culture where things were done differently than we were used to. We know the heart behind most of the scolding, correcting, or encouraging that we've gotten has been for wanting to protect our sweet babies...and we appreciate that. It would be the same as if a Slovak were to live for an extended period of time in America. They would find our customs and thought processes interesting (perhaps burdensome?) at times. It's just par for the course.
We've learned a lot about being culturally sensitive, yet firm, in our beliefs on bringing up the children God's given us to raise. It's challenging! And humbling. Glad we've experienced it firsthand and hopefully we can glean from it for years to come :)
Now, I want to know, have YOU experienced any cultural differences that have surprised you or caught you off guard? How did you handle them? Do share, I'm curious ;)