Parenting without Borders, by Christine Gross-Loh


I recently read a conversation with Christine Gross-Loh in the super cool Lunch Lady magazine about raising kids in different cultures. It’s a topic I find fascinating having brought up our girls in places throughout Europe, Africa and in the USA. I’ve seen so much diversity in childhoods and had so many discussions about parental topics with friends from all nationalities that I agree there’s no ‘right way’ in parenting.  If you have the honour of seeing parenting around the world and you’re open to how we all parent in our own way, then you feel, certainly as I do, some sort of re-assurance that perhaps you’re doing something ‘right’!

So it was a given that I had to order Gross-Loh’s book to read more and I’m so glad I did. You see I’m not one for parenting books. Sure, I have a pile of them in the attic… but I found because we were always moving countries I wasn’t the type of mother who could give the minute-by-minute routine to my babies, which always make me feel disheartened and sometimes a failure in what I thought was working for us. Anyway, this book is not one of those books that tells us what we should be doing, quite the opposite. It is a book filled with experience and it covers topics such as sleep times for the baby, how much stuff we really need to buy, teaching kids to eat, fostering self-control in our children, understanding the value of play and raising kindness in our kids. Of course teaching kids to eat is something I’m passionate about, but the chapter on how much stuff we need really struck a chord with me. With my eldest, Helena, she was raised for a short time in Angola and we only had our two suitcases to fill with nappies, a small amount of clothes and a steriliser. When Florence came along, we were in London and wow did we go mad on ‘stuff’. We still have that ‘stuff’ in the attic — it was used of course… but was it really needed?

And the chapter on play! Given my opinion of homework and the fact that my kids (and I) are currently suffocating in it, play is of so much value to kids. But let me stop and give you the chance to make your own mind up on this one. Please let me know your opinion on it. I’d love to know your experiences of parenting around the world. Because they do say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and once you’ve read this book, you’ll realise how so true that statement is.

Available from all good bookstores and online from UK amazon here and US amazon here.

Vanessa x


Comments (7)

October 6, 2016

Thanks for sharing Vanessa! This sounds like a great read – will be ordering! May I ask where the wooden acorn spinning top is from – it’s beautiful. 💕

Vanessa in Scotland
October 6, 2016

The wooden tops are from Spartan in Austin, Texas. I agree, they are so pretty. x

October 6, 2016

I just finished reading it yesterday and I have to agree with everything you say. For me it was particuliarly interesting since I’m not American (but German), so looking at the supbject from the perspective of an American mother was super fascinating. I found myself surprised a lot more often by how she described the ‘American’ way of parenting than parenting styles from other cultures she describes. I pariculiarly loved the different approaches on food ( I had also read her interview in ‘lunch lady’) as I have one of those infamous picky eaters.
What I loved most about the book is that she never says that one culture does anything better than the other. SHe gives different perspectives and some statsistics but leaves the interpretation quite open for the reader. In the end, what I take away from the book is that you, as a parent, should always base your parenting decisions on what you’re most comfortable with but that one shouldn’t forget to question one’s own desicions and those of the culture surrounding you. Looking across borders can always help to realize that there is no one way to parent!

Annie from Brimful
October 6, 2016

I am so glad I saw you post about this book on IG – it’s quite possibly the best parenting book I’ve ever read. Thanks! It’s convicting and inspiring all at the same time. When I’m finished with this book, I want to read Loh’s newest one, The Path. 😊👍🏻

October 6, 2016

Thank you for the recommendation Vanessa! I put it to my leading list. If you like these type of parenting books, I would also like to recommend one: Mei-Ling Hopgood: How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting. I read it before my eldest was born, and that was reassuring and funny at the same time. I was reassured that there is not one way to do this parenting stuff right.:-)

October 6, 2016

This is a book I’m really looking forward to reading, thanks for highlighting it! And like Dalma above I also read How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and thoroughly appreciated it for the wide variety of child rearing perspectives and approaches to family functioning it presented. Being Irish I have my own views on raising a family, and my in laws being Greek and Italian have another view, while our pediatrician who is French has other views and I find it all very useful in the ongoing discussion of what’s best for our children and family. Here in NYC I often find that “parenting” feels like a competitive sport! So I appreciate all the different approaches to this topic. After all, it seems there are as many ways to raise a child as there are children in the world, no?! Thanks again.

Lizzy in Minnesota
March 14, 2017

Thank you so much for recommending this book! I’ve started recommending it to all of my expecting friends. With my first daughter, I struggled to balance cultural norms (I am from the US and my husband and I live there, but he and his family are from Italy) as well as my own personal beliefs. I was constantly stressed about the idea of co-sleeping and wondering how important it was that we taught our daughter to sleep in her crib. In the end, we went with what worked best for us (co-sleeping), but I think I would have been much less troubled had I read this book earlier! I love the message that in the end, no matter where you live, all of us as parents are just trying to do what we think is the best for our children.

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