Several of my good friends recently made a trip down to Patagonia, adventuring and traversing the rustic terrain. Their pictures were so beautiful, I needed an excuse to use them for my blog. Since the region of Patagonia extends over both Argentina and Chile, I had to choose one country or the other for my next installation in the blog post series Parenting Around the World [read the introduction here].
The winner was Argentina!
A little background
Argentina is the second largest country in South America. Like most South American countries, Catholicism was brought over by the Europeans and has stuck around for hundreds of years. This has a definite influence over their parenting, as religion and culture tend to go hand in hand (Source: Argentine Culture and Parenting Styles).
Unfortunately Argentina is not one of the most studied countries when it comes to parenting styles, so I had to pick through to find some credible resources, and the pickings were slim. Here’s what I got:
Culture of collectivism
As we’ve talked about before in PATW: Philippines and PATW: Japan, collectivist cultures value the community over the individual. There is a huge emphasis on family and the importance of everyone working together to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Argentina is no different. Argentinian parenting promotes closeness between family members, including parents, siblings, and extended relatives. Parents are much more involved in the lives of their children than American and Western European parents.
Kids stay up late
(Source: 6 Styles of Parenting Customs)
Children are expected to participate in the same social gatherings as their parents, so if the party happens to go late, the kids stay up as well. Since there isn’t the same stigma present as there is in America about kids staying up late, Argentinian parents are not considered bad parents for being lenient with bedtimes.
Young Argentinian children tend to sleep in a little later than the average American toddler, which helps balance things out. They are getting enough sleep; their sleep schedule is just shifted over a bit.
Experts speculate that the time they spend with their family and friends, learning social cues and strengthening social bonds is probably more valuable than being on a strict sleep schedule anyways.
Love is shown through discipline and obedience
Children are expected to respect their elders. Argentinian parenting norms dictate that showing love towards children involves directing and guiding them towards positive behavior and smart decisions. Expressed affection may be secondary to loving discipline.
In return, a child wanting to show his parents love should be obedient and submissive towards them, accepting their guidance.
Breastfeeding and alcohol
Many Argentinians believe that alcohol increases lactation (Source: Advice given to women in Argentina). While women are strongly encouraged to breastfeed their infants, cultural ideas about breastfeeding and alcohol are very different there than they are in the United States.
The cited study determined that the majority of Argentinian women are not advised against drinking while pregnant or while lactating, and indeed many of them are encouraged to drink in order to increase their milk supply. Even healthcare professionals had little to say concerning the dangers of alcohol and pregnancy.
Argentinian parenting is less structured
This American expat (Source: Expat Argentina) points out that the biggest thing he’s noticed about parenting in Argentina is the lack of structure that we deem critical in the States.
Parents are less concerned about what time their child sleeps, how much they eat, whether or not they’ve pooped that day, etc. Doctors don’t even stress about how healthy the child is eating. They simply have a more laid back culture, which is reflected in Argentinian parenting.