“Parenting styles”–and how you should parent–is the focus of thousands of parenting books.

I was never one to read parenting books…until, that is, I discovered parenting books about parenting styles and practices of non-U.S. cultures. As a bachelor’s degree graduate in Human Development and Family Science, I am very familiar with parenting styles in the United States. For that reason (as well as the fact that I’m immersed daily in U.S. parenting culture), I rarely read parenting books written by authors with a U.S. perspective.

Books about international parenting styles are a different story, though. I can’t get enough of these books! Ever since my son started attending his German language immersion preschool, my eyes have been opened to other approaches to child rearing. I’ve long since embraced the European view that it’s perfectly acceptable for toddlers and preschoolers to be “joyfully illiterate,” as Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison write about in The Happiest Kids in the World. I love the idea of my three-year-old being, well, a three-year-old.

“Let kids be kids; they’ll have the rest of their life to be academic and to work,” is my new German-inspired parenting philosophy.

I also am more cognizant of how often I try to unnecessarily reign in my kid or tell him no without good reason. The pressure to appear the diligent, on-top-of-it mom is strong in this country, especially when my son’s peers’ parents are showing themselves to be good, authoritative moms and dads.

The more I study parenting styles of other cultures, however, the more comfortable I am incorporating the best philosophies of those into my pre-existing philosophies. That’s not to say that all parenting practices in the U.S. are “wrong”–or that all the ones elsewhere are “right.” But if we took a less ethnocentric approach to child rearing and explored alternatives beyond our borders, we might find opportunities to raise happier, healthier children. At the end of the day, that’s what we all want for our kids anyway, right?

6 recommended books about parenting styles of other cultures:

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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

by Pamela Druckerman

The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less

by Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison

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

by Sara Zaske

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather

by Linda Åkeson McGurk

More than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting

by Serena B. Miller with Paul Stutzman

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know about Raising Confident, Capable Kids

by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl

What books did we miss? Please leave a comment and let us know your recommendations!

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