Forget the French, tiger-parenting is over, and we all know that being your child’s personal body guard is doing nobody any favours. As it turns out, it’s the Germans that we should be taking our parenting cues from.
When American born Sara Zaske moved to Berlin with her husband and toddler she had quite the wake-up call. Up until that point, Sara thought she was a “relatively relaxed parent” but then she met her German counterparts.
Speaking to Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on This Glorious Mess, Zaske described scenes of true ‘free-range’ parenting.
“I first noticed it was extremely different when I went to a playground with my kids and all the German parents went off to the side not really paying attention while their kids really ran wild,” she said.
LISTEN: This is what Sara Zaske learnt from intergrating with German parenting. Post continues after audio.
Writing about her ‘culture shock’ in her new book Achtung Baby (which translates into Danger Baby), Sara outlines the key differences between American and Australian parenting styles against their German equivalent.
As Holly says, ‘helicopter parenting’ has become the “parenting style du jour,” and although it comes from a good place, German parents have somehow released that internalised fear that non-German parents can find crippling.
Despite this, simply ‘letting go’ is easier said than done and Sara knows that the ‘what if’ game is ever present.
However, for her it comes down to this: “What if I never let them do this? When are they going to learn how to do it on their own?” she says. “In order to let our kids become independent individuals we have to get control of the fear.”
She adds that the problem is particularly bad in the US.
“At least in America it has over run everything else. We’ve taken away [a] kid’s rights to even be alone for a moment in the day. . . [and that] can be very detrimental.”
Sara also notes that in reality we live in much safer times now, with mobiles allowing us to check in with our children at any given moment. However, there are other tricks she uses, to calm her mind.
“The other thing I do when I’m nervous about something is try to make it a situation that feels safer.”
For example, instead of letting her kids go to the park by themselves – blasphemy in today’s world, Sara will send them out with “a friend or a couple of friends.”