Skip to main content

No Matter Where You Live, Parenting is the Same

I am writing this column from the crown jewel of Indonesia…Bali! We are on a speaking tour and have done parenting seminars called “Raising Responsible Kids” with parents from Vietnam and Jakarta.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

I am writing this column from the crown jewel of Indonesia…Bali! We are on a speaking tour and have done parenting seminars called “Raising Responsible Kids” with parents from Vietnam and Jakarta. After our little rest for a few days in Bali we will have the opportunity to do the same in Singapore, Bangkok in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. How lucky are we?

This is our fourth trip through Asia and we never cease to be amazed at the fact that no matter where you live, parenting is the same! Even though cultures and economics and religions are very different, every parent wants to raise happy, self-confident, responsible children!

Asian parents’ stories are full of drama and sorrow along with the joy just like ours. In Vietnam we met a single father whose partner left him with their one-year old daughter to raise on his own… for about fourteen years until she showed up with another daughter by a different man, who he also adopted even though she was not genetically related to him. They are two of the brightest, most lovely girls you would want to meet, despite their hardships.

At an amazing restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, I sat by a wonderful mother whose son owned the restaurant. She was an amazing designer and had decorated the Asian-Fusion Restaurant with enormous talent. She told of meeting her husband as a refugee in Australia after the Vietnam War. He had looked across the room and knew instantly that she was to be his wife. The thing that makes this love story fascinating is that he was eighteen, she was twenty two and eight months pregnant. The father of the baby, an abusive gambler had deserted her. She said that her mother had told her never to hold hands with a man or kiss one either because she would immediately become pregnant and that the baby would emerge from under her arm. With that great information, it’s not a wonder that she had no idea what she was doing when she got involved with this loser, whom she didn’t hold hands with or kiss! The story has a happy ending as they did marry and had that child (who now owned the restaurant) and four other beautiful children. They were both fabulously gifted and have become very wealthy as well!

In Jakarta, which is larger than New York City, we did a seminar for the magazine empire. Our sponsors were the Parenting Magazine of Indonesia and also the Indonesian counterpart Ayahbunda (meaning MotherFather). About a hundred delightful parents showed up for a day long seminar.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

Around ninety percent of Jakarta is Muslim and as you might or might not guess, the audience looked exactly like an audience in the U.S. There were a few head scarves worn to show their outward devotion but all were just struggling to be the best parents they could be. I sat at a table at lunch and discussed labor and delivery with about ten young mothers. Their health care system is very good (except for the poor…sound familiar?) with one difference. NO pain relief unless you have a C-section!

What a delight it was to be with another set of parents for a two day seminar there. Even though they all had nannies, housekeepers and drivers, their issues were just about the same as ours: How do I protect my child from the dangerous things they hear in the media? How can I make them responsible for their things, their choices and their own goals? How do I keep from spoiling my child in a material world?

It was fun to talk about the importance of having a family mission statement, family meetings, family laws, formalizing family traditions, setting up a family economy and helping their children make some good decisions in advance as well as discussing how to talk to their kids about sex. The last hour on the second day, their children joined us. Bright and happy, they seemed to have the same questions, the same curiosity, the same bright minds, same worries, same resentments and sometimes even the same “cluelessness” as our own little children.

The farther we go around the world, the more we realize that “families are families” and “truth is truth” no matter where you live, what your economic level is or what your religious beliefs are. Even though working fathers and mothers may not be with their children as much as they would like, all parents agree that letting their children know that they are their first priority is crucial. If they show that commitment through having a family infrastructure that helps kids feel they are part of something bigger than themselves as well as showing unconditional love, parents can produce happy, responsible children, regardless of outside factors. It’s a small world after all!

See more of our trip on our blog at


When Kidnapping was Legal

I am writing this month from Perth, Australia. With my husband I am on a speaking tour with six stops in Australia and then five in China. It is an amazing, life-changing opportunity to learn about the culture of families and their history first-hand. The story of one group of families here is as heart-wrenching as the history of African Americans in the U.S.

Wake Up Call!

Everyone is fretting about the economy! That means everyone! Having just returned from an eight week speaking tour which included Los Angeles, Saskatoon, Canada, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur we have realized that not only are families the same in their worries about discipline, teaching responsibility and setting up a family infrastructure, but they are also all worried about the global economy!

cell phone

The Entitlement Trap

When we started thinking about entitlement we saw it as an enormous problem with modern families. But little did we know according to our explosion of responses that this just might be the biggest issue in today’s parenting world.

Making Christmas New Again

For those of you with small children, I must say that for many years you have to “pay your dues” to Santa Clause before you’ll be able to try what I am about to suggest in this column.

Keep Reminding Yourself of How Much Fun You're Having!

Our job is probably one of the most interesting and fun jobs in the world! My husband Richard and I get to travel widely meeting the wonderful families of the world. We have recently returned from a five week trip to Australia and China. There we found to be true what we realize every time we do an extended trip overseas: no matter where people live…Europe, Asia, India, the Middle East, or across the street, parents want the same things for their children.

Who is This Kid Anyway?

One of the silliest bits of “wisdom” ever imparted to parents goes like this: “Children are like lumps of clay and parents are the sculptors.” This leads parents to believe that with the proper time and influence children can be shaped into whatever parents would like them to be.

“No No No!”

I have recently decided to say no. My two year old daughter continues to inspire me. How easily she says no- without having to call her therapist or ask all of her friends what “she should do.”

A Boring Evening at Home

It’s the month of thanksgiving and Thanksgiving…my favorite holiday! It gives us a formal reason to remember to be grateful for our blessings! On Thanksgiving morning for many years when all our children were home we would have a roll of adding machine paper (any roll of paper will do) on which the children started writing things they were thankful for.