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Parenting Around The World, Through The Eyes Of The WorldPost's Staffers

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In Tokyo, a single mother who works as an editor for HuffPost Japan rises at 5 a.m. each workday to pack a lunch for her teenage son before leaving for her office an hour later.

In British Columbia, a news editor for HuffPost Canada nurses her baby, while her husband makes breakfast for their toddler.

In Madrid, a HuffPost Spain editor and father of two school-aged girls says he has "chaotic" mornings. "We have to be relatively organized so that the girls, who must be at school by 9 a.m., are not late, but we don't have a routine."

In London, a blog editor for HuffPost UK is awoken before sunrise by the "a-goooooo" calls of his 5-month-old, who is "bored stiff of being in his cot and ready to start his day." After about 15 minutes, "we buckle and bring him into the bed," his father says.

It is easy to focus on the differences between parents around the world. I write this from the U.S., where we Americans have become obsessed with mining myriad cultures for insights on better parenting. Our reading queues fill with books about how French parents supposedly raise better behaved children and Asian parents, more accomplished ones. We know that American parents are seen by the rest of the world as too indulgent and too hovering.

It was in the spirit of different styles of parenting that The WorldPost surveyed its editors and reporters worldwide. But from Europe to Asia to North America, we raise children more similarly than one might think.

There were differences, sure. At HuffPost Canada, for instance, women get a full year of maternity leave, while in France and Spain they get four months because of different parental leave laws. Grandparents are more likely to be part of the childcare plan in some countries than in others. Working hours away from the children varied, too.

But far more striking were the similarities -- the universal, human, redefining experience of being responsible for someone who depends on you entirely.

"You are no longer the center of your life," the editorial director of HuffPost Spain said in response to the question, "What has most changed about your life since you've had children?"

The UK blog editor agreed, replying, "Not much hasn't changed in some shape or form."

A blog editor for HuffPost Italy, who is the father of a 6-year-old, said: "Scheduling. Everything now needs to be organized. There is little room for improvisation."

Parents everywhere struggle with the desire to do this parenting thing well. "What does it mean to be a successful parent?" we asked. "If when a child grows up he feels he wants to make a contribution to the world, then I think the parents can consider themselves successful," mused the front page editor in Japan.

"A successful parent is one who raises a child to become a happy, healthy, independent, intelligent, empathetic and loving grown-up," said a senior editor in Canada.

Her Canadian co-worker, divorced with an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, agreed: "To have prepared my kids adequately so that they can feel empowered and ready to take on life's challenges independently, while knowing that help is always going to be there from their parents should they need it."

We all admit to fear that we will screw it up, or that the world will do that for us. "What are your fears?" our questionnaire asked -- eliciting this response from a HuffPost France editor about her infant: "Her father is very afraid of other children, especially the boys, when she's going to be old enough to flirt with them."

From Japan: "The state of the Japanese economy."

From Spain: "That they will end up suffering, that they won't find work. That they won't be happy."

From a lifestyle editor in Canada who is still on maternity leave: "Other than the general worries about his safety (which I assume are completely normal ... right?), I worry about the state of the world in which he'll be growing up. What will further environmental deterioration mean for how much time he gets to spend outside? Will security concerns over everything from peanut allergies to terrorism mean he'll grow up in an absolute bubble?"

And we all carry some kind of guilt. When we asked, "What do you feel most guilty about as a parent, the Canadian lifestyle editor answered: "I love this question, because it speaks to the certainty that you are feeling guilty about something, it just depends on what stage the child is at." For her it was an inability to breastfeed.

For the news editor in British Columbia, it was "not having enough time to spend with" her baby and preschooler. For the Italian blog editor, it was spending too little time at home, and rarely being there for dinner.

"When I didn't know my son had a learning disability," said the editor in Japan, "I used to scold my son when he didn't do his homework and would throw a bucket of water at him ... I wanted him to get into a private junior high school, but I misunderstood him."

But despite the fear and the guilt and the responsibility, we still can't wait to see what lies ahead.

"Introducing [my son] to new things is the most excitement I get," said a father who works for HuffPost Canada. "From the first time he ever saw bubbles at about 6 months and his first concert at 18 his first trip to Disney World where he bounced with Tigger and the first time he saw a vinyl record player just a few weeks ago.

"There's something immeasurably special about seeing or doing something for the very first time, and with young children that happens all the time. Seeing his tiny little mind blown is the greatest of pleasures for me."

A blog editor in France agreed: "For now, I can't wait to show him the world, the little things: play sports with him, listen to music, teach him simple stuff, show him nature, enjoy peaceful moments with him and his mother, and make sure he enjoys a life without stress, some kind of safe cocoon I guess."

And so we end our days as we began them, doing the best we can.

In Tokyo, the teenage boy gets his own dinner, because his mother won't be home from work until 11 p.m. In British Columbia, the toddler's parents give him a bath, read to him and put him to bed. In Madrid, the girls "go to bed later than they should, because we always have dinner late and, inevitably, they always play for a while after they eat." And in London, the 5-month-old "has his bath at 5.30 p.m., which is the highlight of his and his parents' day. After his bath, he is fed ... He then gets burped, gets in his [sleep sack] and (hopefully) goes down for the night. That's the plan."

Around the Web

Parenting Around the World - Huffington Post

6 styles of parenting from around the globe - Christian Science Monitor