One of the advantages of being in a city like Los Angeles is I get to mix and mingle with a wide variety of people – it’s one of the things I love most about urban living. Since having kids, I’ve been lucky to become friends with an international group of moms from around the world who give me perspective, comfort, good laughs (and an occasional glass of wine!) when I need it most.
These five women are dear friends, and I’ve learned valuable lessons from each. Because they come from different cultural backgrounds, they have unique outlooks on parenting, school, food, and life in general.
Here are a few favorite things these lovely ladies have taught me…
The Swedish Mom: There are so many things I’ve gleaned from observing this healthy-minded mom. First, walk as much as possible with your kids so they get outside and get exercise. Since her daughters were babies, my friend has walked everywhere with them and been a daily fixture strolling through town. The second lesson: She has never worked on her computer while her kids were around, because she didn’t want them to compete for her attention. Oh, how I wish I could be that conscientious about my Web-browsing!
The German Mom: One of my closest friends hails from Deutschland, and I adore her openness and frankness. One thing that’s rubbed off on me is her willingness to admit she’s had a tough day but not dwell on it. Go ahead and vent about your kid problem or work problem, then get over it and go out for girls’ night! The other thing that sticks with me is she’s always on time. Since I am often late, we joke about it. She once told me being prompt is highly valued in German culture where “on time” means 10 minutes early!
The British Mom: Sometimes, style is everything. My English friend taught me the beauty of using words like “cheeky” when my kids are being obnoxious, or “knickers” to refer to shorts. In the often coarse and uncivilized world of parenting, things sound so much more appealing with the right sprinkling of British lingo. She even makes “bloody hell” sound good! In addition, my English friend taught me how to bring a dose of style to outdoor camping. We’ve been on numerous trips together and she always brings lovely cloths, candles, and other goodies to make it feel special.
The Brazilian Mom: I once spent a week in Rio – enough to know Brazilians are generally very vibrant, full-of-life people. My friend is filled with passion and confidence from how she dresses to how she interacts with her children. My first lesson from her: don’t sweat the small stuff because it will drag you down. Allow yourself to enjoy both the large and small moments in life. Second, she encourages creativity in her kids but does not hand-hold them through the process – she lets them explore and express in their own ways.
The French Mom: There’s a lot we can learn from the French about “bringing up bébé,” and food habits top the list. One thing I learned from ma belle ami is meals – even kid meals – should be long and luxurious. Don’t let kids rush away from the dinner table and don’t offer them alternatives if they don’t like what’s being served. In addition, don’t make a big deal out of eating veggies – they’re delicious, so why wouldn’t kids want to eat them? I won’t even get into what I’ve learned from her about fashion and beauty!