There was no way I was going to be able to leave the bookstore (the last time I was in a huge, glorious, stateside bookstore...sigh!) without Mei-Ling Hopgood's How Eskimos Keep their Babies warm. It's a no brainer why this memoir on global adventures in parenting sent me into a fizz of excitement...how much more up the CultureBaby alley can you get than a book all about the diverse, strange, and fascinating means the world's parents use to bring up their babies?
From Chinese potty training methods (split crotch pants) to Pygmy fathers from the Congo helping to wean (dad's nipple as a pacifier!), the stories Hopgood shares both tickle the funny bone and puzzle your puzzler. But the story is personalized and warmed by the way in which she recounts the implementation of several of the methods she was researching on the upbringing of her own daughter during her family's time in Buenos Aires.
As with all attempts at new parenting methods, there were loses and victories. The split-crotch pants, despite being a tried and true method in Hopgood's native China proved both messy and ineffective. But what she came away with and what she shares with her readers is infinitely more valuable. Her conclusion that there are many "right ways" to raise a baby is highly gratifying, especially for mothers like me who are always looking for the right formula to emulate. Also a potential olive branch in the global parenting wars which pit one nation's moms up as the exemplars.
Hopgood's conclusion that we raise our babies to thrive in our surrounding circumstances and can mold them to fit the norms of our family and society is intuitive and exciting. What circumstances do we want to create and how them can we encourage these adaptable babies to be at home in the society we want, rather than the one we have! This to me is what raising the next generation is all about.
You can check out Hopgood's website by clicking here. Be sure to watch the cute You Tube video!