4 Reasons Why I Plan To Travel To More Countries Before I Raise Kids
The argument of "babies having babies" has been backfiring on Millennials with a fever for wanderlust.
It comes off as insensitive, rude and selfish when we boast of having to fend for no one but ourselves.
Young parents often attest that they couldn’t imagine their lives any other way now that they have actually created life, and can you blame them for such a feeling?
You’re the provider, the teacher and the nurturer for your starry-eyed offspring. Hell, finding out my dog, Carl, learned the command “sit” was empowering, and I wasn’t even the person who taught him.
Let’s, for one moment, forget about age, time, resources and money when it comes to being a parent.
Let’s forget about the undeniable FOMO that must be experienced by our baby-having counterparts, or those who have yet to give birth.
For once, can we consider that maybe none of this matters when it comes to reproducing, and it could possibly be you didn’t think of the right country in which to raise a child?
Imagine paid maternity leave for both parents. Get it together, America.
Consider your child speaking at least two languages by age 4. Hats off, Germany.
If you’ve never traveled before, or haven’t been educated about the parental practices of other countries, you could see why insisting that, perhaps, a change of country sounds bizarre, not just for soon-to-be parents, but even for Millennials.
Imagine telling a young couple or a single parent they should consider living in Hong Kong for its well-known public safety. Or that France is great for encouraging more outdoor activities?
Not only would they think you’re looney, they’d probably wonder where you get off telling them what’s right for their child.
After living out of America for four years, here’s why I’ll travel to at least 10 more countries before I reproduce:
I Still Don’t Know Which Country I Want to Live In
Growing up, I honestly had no idea there was even a choice. I wasn’t sheltered; I was just unaware people left their home countries in hopes of finding another life with more opportunities.
And guess what? I’m Mexican-American, which clearly shows the self-entitlement and advantages many Americans feel they already have, further encouraging us not to consider life in another country.
Even though I’m coming up on my fourth year in China, I know this is not a country suitable for raising my potential children.
While I love the independence of Chinese children, like taking a city bus to their far-away school or walking down the street alone at night to get some bread for their family dinner, the education system is the exact opposite of innovative, unless you’re up for paying $10,000 for one year of education at an international primary school.
I Want to Know How Other Parents Do It
As Patton Oswalt said:
“I’m screwing everything up. I’m sure I’ll find out in 40 years. But I’m reading the latest [parenting] books and I’m sure they’re all wrong.”
It’s true: People may never know if they're doing things right. Most of our maternal instincts come from how our parents raised, or didn’t raise us.
We look at ourselves and think one of two things -- “I turned out okay,” or “I didn’t turn out okay” -- and often make parenting decisions based off that.
Were your parents always looking for a way to discipline and enforce rules with hopes you’d be well-behaved? Studies show this not only results in poorly-behaved children, but also lowers confidence levels, which will certainly take a toll on major life decisions and development.
What about working parents who are gone 40-plus hours weekly? The emotional and physical neglect felt by children and teens just to provide basic necessities is sadly unavoidable, and could result in forming a dependency on something potentially life-threatening.
But consider this: In several European countries, the average workweek is no more than 27.5 hours, to ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Think of how much more you could provide to your family with an extra 12.5 hours spent with them weekly.
I Want Kids With an Adventurous Palate
This might not sound important for people who aren’t even considering kids, or maybe some parents, but, I promise you, it is incredibly crucial to have a kid who is happy to try new foods.
Remember the girl who lived off chicken McNuggets for 15 years? Ever think it’s weird that toys have to come with certain foods for kids to be encouraged to eat? This is an American habit I would love for my child to never know about.
Only in America will you find cornucopias of food going to waste or nutrient-dense foods uneaten because of how they look.
Imagine getting an American 3-year-old to eat probiotic-rich pickled cabbage or collagen-packed chicken feet.
These were certainly not items in my pantry growing up. But rather, a boxed and packaged, high-fructose, icing-covered Pop-Tart that supplemented as “breakfast.”
When we think of what other kids around the world are eating, that notorious article comes up showing these nutrient-dense cafeteria lunches that are slightly fabricated.
Not to say kids around world don’t have healthier options than most American kids, it’s just that the words “diet” and “health” aren’t shoved down their throats.
I Want Less Judgmental Parent-Friends
In 2012, I took a business trip to America from China to help my then-boss get her new company off the ground. We went into a Target, and as I’m experiencing reverse culture shock, I overhear two young stay-at-home moms having a conversation that went something like this:
“I know, she doesn’t even post pictures of her baby on Facebook.”
What. The. F*ck? Passing judgment on someone for not parading his or her infant all over social media?
Here, a new American mother talks about her experience in Denmark where daycare was free (Hooray!), but she was compelled not to take advantage of it based on the conclusion her friends and family back home might arrive at, in regards to her leaving her 2-year-old with someone else.
Reassured by the head of the daycare facility, she learns the airplane theory: “Put on your oxygen mask before assisting someone else with theirs.”
Simply put, if you can’t breathe, how can you help someone else to? Space is perfectly fine, and no one should be judged for wanting it, even from their children.
Living abroad as an adult has helped me in developing businesses; it's allowed me more time to write and learn about several other skills I didn’t know I had.
Most importantly, it's provided me more time to travel and analyze how other countries maintain their lives and families.
If these are the positive impacts of becoming culturally rich in your mid-20s, consider how it could benefit the ongoing development of the sponge-like brains all children have.