I'm an American parent in France. The French's parenting style is different, but it's made me secure in my own decisions.

I'm an American parent in France. The French's parenting style is different, but it's made me secure in my own decisions.
  • I'm an American living in France, and I've noticed quite a few differences in how people parent.

  • I've chosen to parent mostly the same way I was raised in the United States.

  • However, just because I parent differently from the French, it doesn't mean I think I know best.

When it comes to parenting in France, there are a lot of things that my American soul will never quite understand. Though there are some traditions that I considered adopting when my son was born three years ago, ultimately, I decided to stick to the traditions that I was raised in the States.

Parenting and cultural traditions look different all around the world, but since I've moved to France, I've noticed the differences between French and American traditions, especially now that I am a mother. It's important to say here that my observations and decisions about my own parenting do not mean that I think the French are bad parents; I've just decided to do things a little differently. Here are the differences between French and American parenting I've noticed and why I'm doing things the way I'm used to.

French parents often bring their kids on nights out

Over the past three years I have had many conversations with French mothers, as a new mom looking to make new friends for myself and my son. It seems that most parents here agree that it's important that children adapt to the lives of adults and not the other way around.

There are definitely some positives to this; for example, the mother is less likely to lose herself in the life of being a mom, and the child will have more exposure to new people and places. Even though I recognize the positives, I still prefer to stay at home with my son or find a sitter rather than have him there on my nights out like other parents here. Although the environment would be safe for him, I feel better knowing he's sticking to his routine, and I prefer not to have to watch over him while I'm out enjoying myself.

While I love the way the French greet each other, I don't make my son participate

Something that I appreciated before becoming a mom in France is how people here greet one another. It is called "la bise," and depending on where you live in France, the greeting can include anything from two to four kisses on the cheek. Although I appreciate this tradition as an adult, I don't force my son to greet others in this way.

The French often find it disrespectful when a child does not want to receive or give "la bise." I can understand that this is how they have greeted people forever, but still, I tell my son that if he does not want to interact with someone in that way, he doesn't have to. While I understand that it's a traditional form of respect in France, I also want him to feel like he has bodily autonomy, and to know that it isn't any less respectful if he chooses not to kiss or hug someone if he's not feeling up for it, as long as he's showing respect in other ways.

French children often stop using strollers at an early age

Now that my son is almost four, I have noticed that other children who are three and sometimes two years old often no longer use a stroller. Young French children will frequently be zipping around on a scooter or small bike without pedals. Whether the family needed to use the stroller for the new baby, or they got tired of navigating Paris with a stroller, I'm not sure, but children definitely seem to stop using them earlier here.

Either way, it fascinates me to see so many children far ahead of their parents on their scooters or small bikes. I often let my son ride his tricycle to day care, but I always choose to run alongside him as I am too scared to allow too much distance between us. Even though he is almost four years old, I still keep the stroller around as my son is in school and is often exhausted at the end of the day. Having a stroller is also convenient as I do not have a car and can easily load the stroller up with a good amount of groceries. The stroller does the heavy lifting for me.

My parenting choices aren't necessarily better, they're just mine

I'm not saying I have everything figured out in the parenting realm, because I don't believe I do. And although I am surrounded by many French parents who disagree with the way I do things, I have learned to accept that it is OK to be different.

Although some of my friends might take it personally that I no longer go out every weekend, or can't understand why it was important for me to consider my son's naptime, I value the days and evenings I spend with my son as I know my time with him as a small child won't last forever. And despite everyone telling me that they ditched the stroller at three, I find comfort in having a what is essentially a tiny vehicle, since I left my car behind in the States.

Life abroad is full of challenges and moments that will put your decisions in question. As a parent, I have come to recognize that I don't need to adapt to different traditions when it comes to raising my son, and that the most important thing is we all do what's best for our own family.

Read the original article on Business Insider