Parenting Around the World: Germany

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since the last Parenting Around the World post was published (you can read that right here), but I’m back on track now.  

If you are new to my Parenting Around the World post series, you may want to start with the introduction to understand why I’m writing this series and what it’s all about.  

Today’s post is about parenting in … 

(suspenseful music) 

… GERMANY!  

I had a reader recently ask me if I would include breastfeeding and potty training practices in my posts, so I’m going to do my best here to give you the most interesting and relevant information about parenting in Germany.  

Photo Credit: Dorothy Law

Maternity leave is long (Cup of Jo

Let’s start at the very beginning. German moms get paid maternity leave regardless of where they work, how much they earn, and whether or not they’re self employed. Yep, you heard that right. Self-employed moms get paid leave. AND, they get to go on maternity leave BEFORE the baby even comes! Maternity leave starts six weeks before the due date and can go for up to a year. Paid.  

How cool is that?  

Natural parenting is the trend (The Piri-Piri Lexicon

German parents are all about organic food and clothing, bicycling/walking/public transportation, and breastfeeding.  

On breastfeeding (Let the Journey Begin

Breastfeeding is preferred over formula feeding, and breastfeeding in public is not an issue. It’s considered normal, and Germans tend to be “mind-your-own-business” sort of people anyways.  

That being said, it seems that German mothers don’t usually breastfeed for more than 6 or 7 months. They tend to stop once the child starts eating solid food. But even if you are still nursing a toddler, chances are you won’t get any funny looks or demeaning comments.  

Potty training before daycare 

Potty training usually begins around 18 months or so, but parents are not super strict about it. Because potty training is a requirement for entering daycare (or so I’ve read), German children are usually potty trained by age three. Boys often start sitting down so that they don’t make a mess.  

Childcare is common 

Daycare or homecare are both common options for working parents. Many parents choose to stay home from work until the child is three, and daycare becomes free. Employers are required by law to maintain an open position for parents for the first three years of their child’s life, if they choose to take that time off to stay home (German Info).  

Daycares (or kitas) are all about play and less about learning. Germany is a center for toy production, so apparently there is a pretty great selection. Formal education doesn’t begin until children go to school around age 6.  

Education is more relaxed (Time

Kids have more recesses and less sit down classroom time than American students do. Nevertheless, they frequently excel academically beyond many other countries, including the United States.  

So there is definitely something to be said for a more laid back academic approach.  

Children are encouraged to enjoy learning, and think fondly of it. There is even a huge celebration to mark the start of a child’s first year of school, called Einschulung

Outside play is a must  

Despite the cold German weather, children are still sent outside to play year round. The cities are full of parks and playgrounds for kids to run and climb. Germans know the value of active play and its role in maintaining good health.  

Self-sufficiency is encouraged 

German parenting is on the polar opposite end of the spectrum from Filipino parenting.  

As a fiercely individualistic culture, a strong emphasis is put on standing up for yourself and being self-sufficient. Children are encouraged to take back a stolen toy, or fight back if they are attacked.  

From school age onwards, children may be seen walking or biking themselves to school, or to the store. Children play around the neighbourhood with little adult supervision. They are expected to become independent.  

Family is valued above work 

While Germany is known for being industrious and producing hardworking individuals, work is not the end all be all. Spending time with friends and family is more important than working hard to have it all.  

When my dad lived in Germany, he talked about the German work ethic. People worked hard on the job, but they took frequent breaks to drink and smoke and socialize. Nevertheless, they got everything done in an efficient manner.  

Germans typically get more than a month’s worth of vacation time every year. Additionally, the government pays families a small stipend depending on the amount of children they have to offset child-rearing costs.  

  Photo Credit: Dorothy Law

Man. Now I want to move to Germany to raise my kids. It sounds like a wonderful place to be a parent.  

I learned a lot researching for this post.  

Find out how German parenting works and what makes it different from your own style of parenting. | Mom but not a Mom

What aspects of German parenting were surprising to you? Germans, anything to add? 

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