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Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us
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Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,074 ratings  ·  167 reviews
A primer on the world's best parenting strategies—with eye-opening research on the surprising disadvantages lurking in the typical American childhood. 
Research reveals American kids today lag well behind the rest of the world in terms of academic achievement, happiness, and wellness. Meanwhile the battle over whether parents are to blame for fostering a generation of help
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by Avery
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  1,074 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This book had some interesting ideas and I'm glad I read it but I found the tone of the book grating in parts because it seems biased. It's only semi-scientific as it frequently mixes research and anecdotes. Some examples of things I didn't like:

1) The book gushes about how wonderful parenting is in Japan and how happy children are. Never mentioned is that Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates. I found online research that showed that in recent years the adolescent suicide rate in J
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenthood
I think my problem with this book is how generalized it is. Gross-Loh paints a picture of adorable, polite, responsible Japanese children made out to be preferable to the hateful, rude, helpless American child. On the surface, she has a point. But it's not 100% accurate. (Note: she includes other cultures in her observations, but because of her personal experience in Japan, that dominated. I was okay with that. I lived in Japan during the same period she did, so I was interested in what she had ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I know that I have read too many parenting books when I pick up a new one and think, "There is no new information here." The title is somewhat misleading, as the author draws from a relatively few number of countries. This book is kind of a Japanese version of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, with some discussion of the Scandavian countries (and even less about China and Korea) thrown in.

Gross-Loh is an American mother of 4 children who has raised t
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, 2015
Earnest read that seems targeted towards middle/upper middle class, highly educated audience. I enjoyed learning about how other countries foster true confidence, independence, and wellbeing in their children. Here are some of my main takeaways:

1) many families around the world do not hold the expectation that a child 0-3 be "independent."
Babies and children are allowed to co-sleep or families do not expect small children to conform to rule-following until developmentally appropriate. Paradoxi
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting, well researched book about differences in child-rearing approaches (sleeping, feeding, independence, responsibility) across the US, Japan, China, and several European countries (I don't recall anything about India). While not meant to be a self-help book, the author does give suggestions at the end of each chapter how US parents might adopt some of the parenting styles (e.g., how to instill greater sense of responsibility to small kids, etc.).

The big take-away for me is that many o
Liz Whittaker
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very insightful. My biggest takeaway is this: We try to make our babies too independent too fast, and then don't expect them to be independent enough later. In the U.S., we do things like "sleep training" and give our babies their own sleeping spaces so that they'll learn to be independent. But they're just babies--they aren't well-developed enough yet to even know what independence is. So then they spend the rest of their childhoods trying to get the love and attention from their parents they w ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Living abroad for a couple of years opened my eyes to the major differences in parenting around the world. As Gross-Loh illustrates, each culture has different parenting priorities and values, but our main objective is for our children to thrive. It was fascinating to read about how different cultures go about this.
Each chapter in the book focuses on a different subject (eating, independence, hoverparenting, ect). The author throws out stats, highlights how US parents address the subject, and t
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
This was enlightening. My main takeaway is that parenting in the U.S. has unique benefits but also unique challenges--mainly, it can be a lonely and largely unsupported endeavor. She writes, "If you look at the range of human societies across the globe and throughout time, you find that it is unusual for a mother and her partner to take sole responsibility for pregnancy, birth, and the rearing of an infant." She quotes an expert: “As much as experts might assert that it ‘takes a village to raise ...more
Alexis Voelker
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was constantly fascinated by this book and it’s really inspiring me to shape some ideas I want to do as a parent. It is just remarkable and so freeing that there ARE other ways to parent! The author is a super easy to read author and makes so many relatable points or questions. I got this from the library but I want to buy it because I loved so much about each chapter and took soooo many pictures to remember points on each page. The biggest flaw is that it’s called parenting without borders bu ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This unassuming book that I inherited when we moved to Doha has been one of my favorite parenting books (and that means a lot because, my word, how many are there...?). It is mostly philosophical, but is backed by loads of research reviews and has come during a time where I am ultra-cognizant of differing cultural practices in parenting (I'm trying to count how many nationalities were represented at the park this evening while I write this). It was affirming and inspiring and seemed to support a ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked reading this book. Though it seems like American parents are just way off on how they should parent. And those in countries like Japan are amazing at parenting. There were a few references as to how American parents may be doing okay. But for the most part it felt like a book saying how we are doing the whole parenting thing wrong. That being said, I do think we tend to overreact in many instances. And I don't disagree that some parenting habits aren't always the best. But how it was pre ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my favorite parenting book that I've read thus far. Super fascinating to read what parents around the globe do and how it compares to typical American parenting. Learned a ton and feel like I have a ton of ideas to consider as a result of this book ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book looking at how parenting occurs in other countries/cultures. I felt it highlighted the positives without being negatively critical of countries/cultures that did things in different ways.

I wish I had read this book before I had children. I think it would have allowed me to approach some parenting choices differently.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
Interesting comparison of child development views around the world

In this book Christine Gross-Loh mainly focuses on child-raising beliefs in he US, Japan, and Sweden; she also shares accounts of parenting/education from Finland, China, South Korea, Kenya and Honduras.
Some chapters are a bit repetitive or rambling, I felt they could have been slimmed down. But overall the book was an interesting read. The author examines common cultural beliefs around things like co-sleeping, consumerism, eatin
Divyesh Patel
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
I really wanted to like this book, but there was a clear bias on how parenting everywhere else was much better than parenting in America; it was kind of an insult in general to American upbringing and culture. The author showcased some good primary research from living in other countries and raising her kids, so that's why I gave it the extra star as that was worth reading. One star for ease of reading/understanding, and another star for good real-life examples of living and parenting in other c ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
I recommend reading the last section “Conclusion: It Takes a Village” first. You will get a good feel for the author’s granola, UNISEF, UCLA-morals, “it takes a village” point of view. If you choose to read the entire book, you will be adequately prepared.

I did read the entire book and found it interesting in some parts. It was far from the most interesting or helpful foreign parenting book I’ve read though. The author leans heavily on her personal experiences in Japan and Sweden with anecdotal
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this book, especially to parents of small children. It's a wonderful reminder/eye opener that what passes as unassailable truth in parenting in the US might be the complete opposite of how parenting happens in other parts of our planet - and the kids thrive. There is some wonderful insight into educational philosophy, raising children who are kind, the age at which children can be expected to take on certain responsibilities, and fostering self-esteem. The only reason I didn't ...more
Keren Threlfall
(More comprehensive review forthcoming. Excellent, excellent book encouraging American parents, in particular, to step back and look at the range of parenting practices across societies and over the course of history, rather than simply holding up the current American norm as best (or even normative for humans) simply because it is the American way. The American psyches that we esteem so highly (such as self-reliance, independence, and toughness; and that do indeed benefit us in other realms) pl ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite genre of parenting books and this is the best one of the bunch. It was organized in a very clear way, and each chapter had a bad American example, positive examples from other countries, and a summary at the end that often showed practical ways to apply those values. Bringing up Bebe sometimes made me say, "no way! Bad idea!" And the Eskimo one (with no Eskimos) was completely impractical, I liked all of these parenting strategies. ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Can you tell the parenting section of our new library is right next to the kids' section? Hence it is sometimes the only section of adult books I can peruse while keeping tabs on my toddler. Maybe I'll come out a better parent as a result. :) Maybe that is the library staff's plan all along...

I thought this book was really interesting. Do I want to adopt every single parenting idea shared from various parts of the world? No. But it was captivating to read how some families do things quite differ
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents of young children
This book offers an engaging and well-researched comparison about parenting philosophies across different cultures. The author is well-traveled and has provided an insightful look at how Americans contrast against people from other countries. I was impressed with her ability to concisely discuss concepts such as caring for infants, the material possessions we buy for our children, the food we provide, how we monitor and educate our children, the way we supervise our kids, the activities we occup ...more
Christine Kenney
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting survey that is most heavily focused on differences between Japan and America due to the author's personal journey with some supplemental phone interviews and visits to compare notes with other countries. I would imagine actual parents find this read in part a relief to abandon guilt they aren't micromanaging their child's calendar enough and in part frustrating as many of these "superior" parenting styles are possible because they are supported by a shared perspective from educators, ...more
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic. Wow, so many new insights. Tons of research. Makes me re-think so many of the classical American teachings on how to raise children. I love her global view and also how she shares her experience of living life in Japan and other cultures.
It's great to see a book that shows how other countries are doing it right, and Americans aren't the only ones who "know" what to do to raise kids properly.
She had some good details and research studies pointing out how these different
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenthood
In the introduction to this book, the author makes this statement (summarized a bit): "...many of us are more insecure than ever before, unsure if we are doing right by our children, and trying to figure out how to do better. ...Our beliefs about the right way to parent have been correlated with increased depression and stress. In this context, it's easy to idealize other countries (Pamela Druckerman's book Bringing Up Bebe, which portrays French parenting as flawlessly relaxed, is a good case i ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pulls from various popular parenting books, studies and anecdotal experiences in Europe, Asia and the States. Broken into sections on care (sleep, feeding), raising, teaching and character, it's a quick perspective on other views on "parenting" that largely lean towards getting us to let go and stop obsessing over and controlling our kids. Trust in your child's strength; let him play and figure stuff out; less is more; rituals to mealtimes...

I found it to be inline with a lot of the current advi
Shawn Ly’s Book Notes & Quotes
“For every Japanese parent I knew, ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’ wasn’t a new notion. It was deeply ingrained in their culture and ties to notions of mutual dependence, but just with each other, but a reverence for living lightly on the earth too. Children carry their own handkerchief to dry their hands from the time they’re in preschool. Our elementary school even held handkerchief checks. Teachers helped children get into the habit of using reusable cloth instead of paper towels until it was utterl ...more
Veronica Cabrera
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was excellent in how she gave insights into parenting practices in other countries. She talked about the importance of awareness of others and how community has a profound effect on children in other cultures. It was very eye opening to see that things common in American culture were not common in other cultures. If you are looking for different ways to parent your child in an increasingly rude and self centered American society, this book is an excellent place to start.
Hend Adel
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very intersting book specially if you are into parenting cause it let you explore different parenting ways from various countries. Most of us study and learned and read papers and book coming form UK or USA but never read about Japan for example. The only 2 problems that the author was so biased toward the Japanese experince and she repeated herself many times. But overall great research work that needs to be more explored !!
Heather Pell
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful insight into other cultures parenting practices.

This book was so enjoyable for me. It is insightful, especially for parents who sometimes feel trapped by our culture's expectatations for how children should be raised. It helps to know how other cultures are doing things to help inform decisions about how my own children may be better suited by practices that are not necessarily common or encouraged. A must read for parents.
Kazue Evans
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I intentionally read parts of this book. The author is a Korean American who also parented in Japan. As a Japanese mother raising children in the US, I was interested in learning the author’s perspectives towards Japanese parenting. I thought the author is well informed and have interesting/helpful insights to share. I’d love to read the entire book when I have more time….but by the time I have more time, this theme might be irrelevant.
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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
51 likes · 13 comments
“in Japan, buying a lot of stuff for your children is considered indulgent. Wastefulness was frowned upon. Shopping bags should be saved to reuse many times, not recycled after one purchase.” 2 likes
“Finnish education appears paradoxical to outside observers because it seems to break a lot of the rules. In Finland, “less is more.” Children don’t start academics1 until the year they turn seven. They have a lot of recess (ten to fifteen minutes every forty-five minutes, even through high school), shorter school hours than we do in the United States (Finnish children spend nearly three hundred fewer hours2 in elementary school per year than Americans), and the lightest homework load of any industrialized nation. There are no gifted programs, few private schools, and no high-stakes national standardized tests. Yet over the past decade, Finland has consistently performed at the top on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to fifteen-year-olds in nations around the world. While American children3 usually hover around the middle of the pack on this test, Finland’s excel.” 1 likes
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