“Your son is too nice . . .

he needs to learn to be more assertive and speak his mind.”  Gulp.  This was one of the kindergarten teachers during our yearly meeting.  Forthrightness, critique and boldness are valued attributes here in Germany.  In Sweden, children are taught almost from birth that they have a voice and the right to decide over their environment and life.

In America, children who are not heard are often more valued than those who speak out.  Defending oneself or arguing are seen negatively and usually equated with rudeness.  Often in the States, children use the teacher to be their voice and fight their battles for them.  But here, children are highly encouraged to resolve their issues themselves.  A child that cannot do so will have a hard time here.  For my children to not only survive but thrive here, our parenting has had to adjust to our culture.   Children who do not speak up or defend themselves are more likely to be preyed upon.

This resulted in us sending our German schooled kids to a self-defense class last fall.  I wanted them to hear from a German the culturally acceptable way to protect themselves in an unfamiliar culture.  Our children learned to say, “No!” to inappropriate things, how to defend themselves and how to use force appropriately (for defense).

Teaching our kids to be assertive and to defend themselves makes me feel more confident letting them go to school in a different culture and language.

The difficulty  that we face is this, “What do we do when we go to the States next summer and our kids are not responding appropriately for American culture?”  Will people understand when we tell them that we have adjusted our parenting so that our children have the tools they need to manage cultural differences?”

I love seeing my kids interact in different languages with different cultures.  I loved seeing my kids slip back into their “Swedish ways” when we were in Sweden this summer.  They were more gentle in how they expressed their opinions and more careful to not be critical.

But being multi-cultural and multi-lingual also has its price. . . playing by the rules of one culture while being in a different culture can lead to judgment or rejection. . . I pray that my kids can find the balance in all of this.

Here are two blog entries that were refreshing for me to read:

I don’t want to raise a good child. 

First-time obedience, really??

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