I've been thinking a lot lately about whether or not I want to stay here for another project cycle or try to return to the States. Of course one of the biggest factors is whether I'd prefer to raise Aldus here or there, and one of the biggest factors within that is the parenting environment in the U.S.
It struck me long before I even became a parent that the climate of judgment of other parents' choices and parenting abilities is so very nasty there. Worse than that, it's not even constructive. Parents are paranoid of making mistakes, not because it's in the interests of their children, but because other parents will think ill of them. Everyone's got an opinion about how to feed a child, discipline a child, teach a child - as though there's only one right way to do any of these things and theirs is it! Maybe it's the same over here and we're simply insulated from it by not being fully immersed in Dutch media or social circles with other parents. But I doubt it.
I've also been trying to come to terms with the fact that I don't want to join the baby-education rat race (membership required for any of the NYTimes articles linked here) manifested in Baby Einstein, Junior Kumon, etc. For the most part I really feel like kids need to be kids. There's no need to start strapping headphones on your belly to make your child a genius before it's even made its grand entrance into the world. (Though maybe I'm the one being judgmental now.)
But I also worry that kids going through the American school system don't understand that the U.S. is rapidly losing ground in the global market ("Why Nihao, China! Didn't see you there!"), or the lengths that kids in foreign countries (and their parents!) go to to be competitive.
What's a hopeful parent to do? How do you find the balance?