The non-pushy parent: how to be a German mum

I wrote another piece about my experiences as an American parent in Berlin. It appeared in The Times newspaper in the U.K. Here’s a short sample. (Sorry you have to go to The Times site to read the whole thing but it’s behind a paywall. If you can’t get there try this PDF of the article).


The non-pushy parent: how to be a German mum

When Sara Zaske moved to Berlin with her family, she was shocked at how much freedom German children were allowed

In her school notebook, my daughter Sophia has set two goals: to write better letters and to walk home alone. Unfortunately, she’s probably not going to reach that second goal — because I won’t let her.

My daughter is only eight, and I’m an American mother. Despite living in Germany for the past six years, I have a deep and slightly irrational fear that some kidnapper will pluck her off the streets of Berlin during the 500m walk between her school and our apartment.

I realise the irony. The US is supposedly “the land of the free”, but we Americans tend to treat our children like little prisoners, monitoring their every move in public and restricting what they can be taught in school.

In contrast, German parents are much more relaxed . . .  Read more on Times website   or this PDF.

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1 Response to The non-pushy parent: how to be a German mum

  1. OLIVER says:

    Dear Sara,
    to be parent mean to give step by step more freedom to your children…to help them to grow up and to become a good human being.
    You cannot protect them by avoid any kind of danger. They have to learned to deal with daily danger.
    When my boy was 2 years, I let him stand at the street being about 50m away from him.Was I scared…no…why not. Trust! I knew 100%, that he will wait, because I learned it him. Fördern und Fordern, we call it. Show him how…practice and controlling…and finally trust. My son is 8 years now. He stands up alone…He goes to school alone.. my wife and me..We are not even home, when he is leaving. He goes to sports (soccer and karate) alone… and to another school…3.5 km away…alone. This is absolute normal for him. He knows that we trust in him. That makes him a strong child. Are we scared while he is away.No.If he is late…yes maybe. But that is, what we have to learn. To become a parent means, that we at least have to learn as much as the child. So please continue to fight for the right for kids to develope…freedom might not be the right word…as my son has clear rules. He cannot decide everything alone. Children are not able to decide alone…
    I would apreciate to discuss further…I am not professional…just a “normal” German father. Please excuse my English…I am looking forward your answer.

    Kind Regals

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