Raising children in the USA makes them lazy and weak: an outside view - ForumDaily
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Raising children in the USA makes them lazy and weak: an outside view

Chantal Panozzo, author of Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I'd Know, returned to the United States from Switzerland when her daughter was 3 years old. Suburban neighbors do not understand how she raises her children and have begun to closely monitor her “innovative methods,” reports Insider. Next is a first-person column by Chantal Panozzo.

Girl wear raincoats and rain boots and walk with umbrellas

Photo: iStock.com/Hakase_

Since I returned to Chicago after nearly ten years in Switzerland, my lovely suburban neighbors have been keeping a close eye on my parenting methods. The biggest shock to society was my decision that my 7-year-old daughter was responsible enough to walk five blocks to school alone. Read about 9 strict rules that Elon Musk’s children follow in our article.

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“You know, we would love to take her in the morning,” one of the neighbors told me.

I have found that all of these parents are wonderful people and have the best intentions. But they are part of what my husband and I still can’t bring ourselves to join.

This is a combination of “school & car”. [Learn how to raise children to succeed in our ARTICLES].

The line of cars at our elementary school seems endless. The cars are filled with devoted parents who want the best for their children, which seems to include air pollution and traffic congestion.

But beyond the environmental consequences, there's something even more harmful: America's child-rearing culture.

Concepts of benign neglect

Unlike the Swiss version, which encourages independence from the moment a child can walk, American parenting culture seems to tell the child: I am responsible for driving you to school, you have no free will. If it's cold, I'll warm you up. If it rains, I'll keep you dry. If it's snowing, of course, put on your sneakers, I'll take you there. If you are late for school, it is not your fault, but mine.

But in Switzerland, where I learned to be a parent, children as young as five walk or bike to school on their own. If it rains, they wear pants and rubber boots. If there is ice on the streets, they fall and get up again. Parents don't drive their kids to school or hang around the playground constantly telling their kids to share, apologize, or be polite.

Instead, I discovered that Swiss parenting largely boils down to a concept of benign neglect, in which children learn to govern themselves. And since becoming a parent in Switzerland, I have adopted this parenting style and learned to appreciate it to such an extent that I still practice it to this day.

When I first moved to Switzerland, I was homesick.

My husband and I moved to Switzerland in 2006 in search of work. When the Swiss didn't respect my need for American-sized personal space and walked ahead of me when boarding the train, I missed the politeness with which many Americans wait in line. When my Swiss neighbor took a year to tell me her name, I longed for a random American stranger who would tell me his life story without any formality or filters. And when the stores weren't open on Sunday, I silently dreamed of shopping at Target.

But after a few years even my Swiss friends would tell me that I was more Swiss than them. My husband and I could eat 30 slices of raclette made by our neighbor in one sitting. Instead of wanting to go shopping, I walked on Sundays in nature and actively looked for new routes.

Freedom for children

The culture of raising children in the US was the biggest shock when I returned.

At first I thought that returning to my country after eight and a half years would be difficult, especially since we were moving to take care of a sick parent. But I figured I would eventually get over the initial culture shock. And for the most part it is.

I like having a home - it's almost impossible to do in Switzerland, where many people live in tiny apartments with shared laundry facilities. I enjoy the casual interaction with people at Trader Joe's. And I appreciate the big wide world of American personal space, and I also appreciate living close to my parents.

But when it comes to parenting culture, I still find it difficult to accept the lack of freedom for our children. But at the same time, Americans somehow glorify “freedom.”

My daughter is now 12 years old and she still gets comments from other parents about her going to school alone. The gym teacher sends notes home when my daughter is the only one wearing snow boots instead of sneakers.

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Today, my daughter has freedoms that many of her pampered American peers do not have. After all, instead of constantly asking the question “What can I do for my daughter?” my inner Swissness reminds me to ask something more important: “What should I not do for her?” This is not lazy parenting, but rather a deeply thought-out process of raising a self-sufficient child.

I recently had COVID-19 for six weeks. Then for about another six weeks I was practically unable to get up in the morning. One day, when I opened my eyes, I was horrified - it was already 8:15. In a panic, I ran downstairs and that’s when I saw the picture: the coat was gone, the backpack was gone, the daughter was gone. Despite the fact that I was sleeping, I was still somehow involved in raising the child: my daughter went to school even before my mother got out of bed.

And if that's not a victory for Swiss education in the American world, I don't know what is.

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