Parents in the United States are at a breaking point with school closures and a lack of reliable child care.
In Italy, parents often have the support of family members.
In Latin America, many parents value socialization and are encouraged to meet with friends.
Navigating a worldwide pandemic has been stressful for parents across the globe, but parents in the United States operate in eternal state of crisis. With school closures, a childcare crisis with many day care institutions closing forever and a lack of reliable childcare, parents have to do it all.
Actually, according to a 2021 study of parents in 42 countries, parental burnout ranked highest among Americans. We spoke to some parents in several countries outside the United States who say they are doing well find out why.
Italian parents often have strong support systems
The Italian government demands all to mask themselves and Vaccination is required to attend work or university, said Candice Criscione, an expatriate living with her family just outside Florence. While the United States has only 63% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID, Italy is over 76%.
Many Italians also have one excellent support system when it comes to raising children, she said. “Here you see grandparents picking up children after school and families weighing childcare. If you need help, you will have no trouble finding it,” Criscione said.
Even when parents feel exhausted from juggling jobs and parenting, “there is a general consensus that sacrifice is needed and there is trust in what scientists and authorities communicate,” he said. Katherine Wilson, living in Rome.
“In the United States, there is always a pressure to do everything and at 110%,” Criscione said. It includes being amazing parents, teachers, partners, staff and friends. “Parents here do the best they can, but recognize that they can not be perfect for every role, every day,” she said.
Some parents in Argentina pooled resources for guidance
At the beginning of the pandemic, Mexican mother Diana Bueno Bieletto was on full alert like everyone else, but that fear has since whistled off. In addition to having the support of grandparents, a cultural norm in Mexico, Bieletto said parents often do not prevent their children from interacting.
“You see kids outside playing in playgrounds, malls, schools, beaches, parks. I think we value socialization in Mexico even more than health.” said Bieletto.
Luis Enrique Rodriguez, who lives in central Mexico, said there are moments when he feels tired but not burnt out. “I think we culturally have more support mechanisms than people in the United States, and maybe we’re not so focused on fear. For the first six months, we were very strict about isolating, but then we started daring. [out] more and more, we are just hoping for the best, “Rodriguez said.
For Violeta Noetinger, a mother of four in Argentina, the onset of the pandemic was exhausting. To live in a society that is very dependent on domestic help, which suddenly unavailable due to limited transportation, she said she felt “completely abandoned.” But as time went on, the parents pooled their resources.
“We hired private tutors for small groups at home – even in violation of local guidelines – to ensure that our children had some form of safe, limited and somewhat periodic learning and social contact. If I have to think about what saved us, it was small groups we formed with other parents to help each other, “said Noetinger.
An American stationed in Switzerland experiences more of a sense of collective responsibility
Per Ola Wold-Olsen, a father in Norway, said people in his country tend to have faith in their government and its institutions, something that has not changed during the pandemic.
Even with homeschooling and homework, Wold-Olsen said he has seen families do well. “For the most part, parents are frustrated with how little we can go to the office, travel and meet in large groups,” Wold-Olsen said.
Rachel Meyer, a U.S. expat living in Switzerland, said she has noticed a sense of collective responsibility for public health in Switzerland that appears to be lacking in the United States. “The individualistic spirit that drives party-political divisions over mask mandates and vaccination resistance makes survival of the pandemic particularly difficult for American parents,” Meyer said.
“Because of government-run weekly mass tests and mandates for student masks, kids have in here Switzerland has largely managed to stay in face-to-face school during the pandemic, “Meyer said. She said this alone has been supportive of both the mental well-being of both parents and students.
Grateful for riding out of the pandemic in Switzerland instead of in the United States, Meyer said, “It’s hard to stay healthy when 50% of your community thinks COVID is a scam.”
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