Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

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It’s been a while since I’ve read and reviewed a parenting book, therefore, when my brother’s wife recommended a parenting book with a catchy and interesting title, I took note of it. I decided to read “Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children” in Germany, during our trip to Schwarzwald (Black Forest), enjoying the perfect weather and scenery, while sipping my drink at the pool, German kids running around me (with a few Swiss, French and British kids added to the mix).

As a father of a 7-year-old & a 10-month-old living in Belgium, and frequently making trips to Germany and the Netherlands, I found the book more informative on what happened to USA in the recent years, rather than how Germans, particularly Berliners, raised their kids. I found the book not only very readable, but also it provided me with the perfect contrasts between Europe and USA. A striking theme of the book was the irony of the “freedom rhetoric” of USA, and how at the same time children were so much controlled by their parents, coupled with “parent’s rights”, and not much about children’s rights (the Wikipedia article titled “U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child” sheds more light on it). Another striking point was how happy the author, a mother of two children, felt because of the social safety net provided for families, as well as the ability to take 2 weeks of uninterrupted vacations with her family (that she found ‘luxurious’).

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Brieven aan Jonge Ouders (Letters to Young Parents) Magazine

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We have recently received yet another issue of Brieven aan Jonge Ouders (Letters to Young Parents) magazine and I wanted to say thank you to the Gezinsbond (Family Bond) organization in Belgium for this nice and useful publication. We’ve received this magazine on a regular basis since our son was born in 2011, and it contains a lot of useful information for parents and every issue focuses on babies at the relevant age , e.g. the most recent issue is for 19-20 month old toddlers (see the photograph below). During the first few months we have even received another magazine (from the same organization) for grandparents, describing things that they can do with their grandchildren 🙂 I truly appreciate the efforts of the editors and authors of this magazine.

Jonge Ouders

Jonge Ouders

 

How to raise your children bilingually: The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents

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The Bilingual Family

The Bilingual Family

Whether you moved to a different country and your child faces linguistic challenges, or there is more than one language spoken at home due to different origins of you and your partner, and you are curious (or anxious) about the proper language methods to apply when raising your child, The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents, Second Edition is definitely a very rich source of information and guidance. Particularly in my case, I really want my son to have a native level command of both of the languages spoken by me and my wife. As a person who experienced a lack of communication with his grandmother and grandfather (on his mother’s side), I wish that my child does not experience the same.

I’m happy to read a very humane account of bilingualism that puts the concerns of parents and children at the center, yet being based on solid scientific research and written by specialist linguists who have also raised bilingual children. The book does not only serve as a guide, but also is an antidote against a lot of myths surrounding bilingualism.

The 18 different case studies that draw from the experience of very different families and languages, each with different combinations and attitudes regarding language use is one of the most lively parts of the book; the actual conversations of children will certainly make you smile (sometimes laugh out loudly). Moreover, the last section, where many important and critical concepts are listed alphabetically and discussed in detail will serve as a brief but very valuable guide, at least for me and our family.

The Missing Manual for Your Baby

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Your Baby and Child

Your Baby and Child

When I heard that I’d be a father for the first time in my life, I had mixed feelings and started to ask myself a lot of questions. One of the questions I still ask myself is very simple: The baby arrived home safely and then what? In other words, where’s the documentation for the most complex entity that I’ll interact for a long time? I guess it is natural to ask this kind of question because I’m a professional software developer and having been involved with computers for the last 20 years, I’m used to reading some detailed documentation before and during my interaction with things that I’m not familiar with. And I’m definitely not familiar with raising a baby (having a younger brother does not count, that was about 30 years ago and I don’t remember much about the basics).

When I mentioned this to Chris Stephenson, former head of computer science department of Istanbul Bilgi University whom I had the privilege to work with and the experienced father of a wonderful child, he said that there was one book which he gave as a gift to every young parent expecting a child. Based on his advice I decided to buy and read “Your Baby and Child”. And I’m very glad that I did.

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Raising multilingual children: The case for immigrants and other families

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According to a recent report by the Belgian government organization Kind en Gezin (Child and Family), immigrant parents should speak in their mother tongue with their children so that the child will learn her mother language naturally and having established a solid foundation in the language her parents speak best, she’ll move on to learn the language of the country she lives in very well.

You can either try to read the relevant news in Dutch from GVA or you can visit its Google translated version.

Multilingual children

Multilingual children

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