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Differences in How Polish People Raise a Child and How Americans Raise a Child

ElmhurstTom 1 | 1
5 Jan 2010 #1
Czesc! First post on here. I am happily married to a Polish woman and we live in the suburbs of Chicago. We have a 13-month old child and over the course of the last year I have noticed some significant differences in the way she raises a child and in how I do things with the child. At first I thought it was just a man-woman thing, but the more I have gone through this, the more I got to thinking that perhaps it was a difference not in gender, but in nationality and how raising a child is different in Poland than it is here in the States.

Some of the issues I have noticed is that she is a kangaroo mom in the fact that she is always holding our child and with even the slightest wimper she is attending to his needs, when it is clear to me he is perfectly fine and just wants someone to pick him up. The baby still sleeps in the bed with my wife and there is no plan to end that anytime soon. She dresses him way too warm inside with layers of clothes. These are just a few of the things that I do not necessarily subscribe to and I am wondering if anyone had any insight into the differences between how Polish people raise children compared to the way Americans do. Any insight anyone might have on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

espana 17 | 948
5 Jan 2010 #2
poland is better .
Britain pays child benefit for more than 50,000 children living abroad
37,900 from the 50.000 children live in Poland.

this made the poles the fleas of the eu :)
TheOther 6 | 3797
5 Jan 2010 #4
Welcome to the crazy world of parenthood and motherly love... :)

How your wife pampers your baby has nothing to do with her nationality, but all with her personality.
ChrisPoland 2 | 123
5 Jan 2010 #5
I agree that most of what you describe can be attributed to your wife's own personality but I think the dressing the child too warmly is a Polish thing. I am American with 2 small kids in Poland and often have complete strangers (esp older women) inquire if my children are cold. Inquiring is too polite to describe it. In fact they are usually insisting that my children must be cold to which I ask "Czy my sie znamy?". Sorry but for me 50 F is not cold enough for a snow suit.

You might also begin to notice that (in my opinion) many Polish moms and grandmas are obsessed with their kids food consumption. On one hand it is good, they make a lot of homemade things which I as a "Polish" mom do too but many moms/grandmas cannot tolerate it when a child skips a meal because they simply are not hungry. It's a big issue between my mother-in-law and I.
krysia 23 | 3058
5 Jan 2010 #6
These are just a few of the things that I do not necessarily subscribe to and I am wondering if anyone had any insight into the differences between how Polish people raise children compared to the way Americans do.

That's one trigger that caused my divorce.
I was always with the baby, always holding, nursing, sleeping with the baby and husband got very jealous. He was American and brought up differently than I was. Even though I was born in the US, I grew up in Poland. Then when the other baby was born he went berserk and neutered himself without telling me so I won't have any more children. Just to punish me. Because I paid more attention to the baby than to him.

Many new fathers go through this stage, that they are not the "king" anymore and feel like they are ignored. It's immature behaviour and some men cannot understand what a mother goes through emotionally and physically. A child is the biggest event in a woman's life, she has waited for so long for it to be born, has been with the child for those 9 months and to her that is the most precious thing in her life.

Also in America they don't want children drinking from a bottle after the age 1. In Europe it's normal for 4-5 year olds to still drink from a bottle, and what's wrong with that? As long as they get their milk it doesn't matter where they get it from.

I don't like the American way to raise children, they are so backwards on their raising profiles. Pacifiers are a no-no after 1 year of age. In Europe 5 year olds still have pacifiers, so what? In the US when parents go to work, the babysitter raises your child. Americans are more impersonal when raising their children, while in Poland there is more closeness to a child, which is hard to understand for Americans.
Sokrates 8 | 3345
5 Jan 2010 #7
We arm our children with knives and make them fight till first blood in sandboxes, thats the Polish way, when i waa 4 i had to kill the mailman with my bare hands and subsist on his carcass all winter.

Your wife is not a true Polish mother.
ChrisPoland 2 | 123
5 Jan 2010 #8
Sokrates-You made me laugh :)

I am one of those backwards American mothers but the difference is I am raising my child in Poland. Yes, it is no big deal if a kid has a pacifier or a bottle when they are 4 or 5 but what for? Neither of my children ever used a pacifier and could drink from a cup at one. Why? Because they wanted to learn. They still had a bottle and later a no-spill cup.

I am sad for the 4-year-old girl from my daughter's pre-school who still drinks from a bottle and eats jarred baby food and baby teething biscuits while my daughter is "King of Breakfast" awarded not for cleaning her plate but for feeding herself. Even my 1 1/2 year old is proficient enough with a spoon to feed herself a lot of things and she does it because she wants to. She screams, "Me do" or "Ja sama" and I oblige. Maybe that's backwards to some people but I think it is natural independence.
f stop 24 | 2495
5 Jan 2010 #9
Polish mothers are bonkers about drafts. I live in Florida and they would rather sweat than have fan blow cool air on them. Especially at night - they think they'll catch pneumonia. Same thing about sitting on stone, or something cold. Or drinking something cold!

I won't even get into ice cubes...
BTW, bottles and pacifiers till 4-5yo are bad for the teeth.

I noticed a lot of latin mothers will carry their kid around until the kid himself gets tired of it. I think many mothers separate themselves from their kids mostly because of going back to work or other personal or social obligations.
Polonius3 983 | 12333
5 Jan 2010 #10
Most mums tend to be more doting than dads, and most Polish married couples tend to be more child-orientated than American ones. Probably in time through global influence this will change in the direction of Americanised 'modernity'. But it all works out in the end. At present, most Poles are still reluctant to send their ageing parents to an old-people's home, and there is a stigma attached to this in Poland. But when Western-style family atomisation becomes a fact in Poland, both parents will become less child-orientated and their kids will have fewer qualms about shunting them off to public care facilities.
Spaceman77 3 | 58
5 Jan 2010 #11
Sorry for the intrusion. But I must mention that I live in America too.
You have just described my wife when we had all of our three children. They looked like wrapped tamales even when it was hot. She slept with each kid on the bed just to make sure they would sleep OK and would wake up at 3 in the morning just to make sure they are breathing OK. The difference is... my wife is mexican.

So obviously, it doesn't have anything to do with nationality. I would dare to say that it has to do with "morality".

You see... American women don't treat their kids the way a polish or mexican woman would.
In result, you have kids that are having sex at the age of 9, or doing heavy drugs at the age of 13, 14. That's why you have shootings inside schools every year in america, when you don't see that on any other country. Why? because parents don't show love to their kids. They don't protect them enough.

That's why, my friend, you should be proud of your wife and love her even more. She is raising a kid with love that would grow to be a fine man; and not a punk that is going to make tomorrow's news.

Just my opinion.
TheOther 6 | 3797
5 Jan 2010 #12
Why? because parents don't show love to their kids.

They are not able to show how much they really love their kids because nowadays both parents have to work their asses off to make ends meet. Working poor - no time for kids.
Foreigner4 12 | 1768
5 Jan 2010 #13
Because I paid more attention to the baby than to him.

I've seen this with a fellow I know, his wife only speaks to him when she is either a) talking about the baby or b)angry at him about something. He ain't a happy man.

Immature? that's a bit rich, it's as if you're stating if a man doesn't understand his woman who is new to motherhood then it's immaturity but if a woman doesn't understand her man who is new to fatherhood then, well you just sort of assumed it's a one way street didn't you? I don't wish you any ill will but you're perspective seems a bit one sided.

A child is the biggest event in a woman's life, she has waited for so long for it to be born, has been with the child for those 9 months and to her that is the most precious thing in her life.

Are you sure you're speaking for all women on this one? I'm not a sister so I wouldn't know. If this is true for all women then, well, i guess that's one thing less i don't know.
king polkakamon - | 542
5 Jan 2010 #14
In my opinion if the wife keeps in line her marital duties and does not neglect them using the chld as an excuse,the husband will have no reason to object hhis wife-baby bond.
Patrycja19 62 | 2683
6 Jan 2010 #15
Are you sure you're speaking for all women on this one?

there is a different bond women share with their children, one which cant be understood
by a man because he doesnt carry this child 9 months , he doesnt feel life growing
inside him, and for whatever reasons, we are born with instincts that hold true
if someone even comes close to our child/children, we have built in explosion devices
that will go off any given moment if our child is hurt/sad/something wrong.

The bond that fathers have with their children is so much different, and the fathers
generally have that ( let them be attitude) or they will be ok attitude.
but often, mothers can tell when something is wrong, ( instinct) a feeling we get
maybe has something to do with our psych, how we click with our children.

its very strong and unbreakable.

Krysias husband was way overboard, he was apparently immature, because
I have not seen this type of behavior ( before ever) but I have seen men jealous
of their wives ( and other men) who try to weasel their way into their lives.

thats a whole other issue.

I dress my kids warm and I grew up american, even though my parents grew up
in a polish setting.

if the baby is cold, that might explain the layers. kids dont always feel it, but if they
cant talk, how can they tell you if they are cold or hot? if she feels that its cold
maybe it is ( since she holds the child alot)

as for kids having bottles till they are 4-5, I think they should learn to drink from a cup
and if they do want a bottle, give them one without the nipple ( time to break that

pacifiers are ok , better then thumbs- I had a friend who didnt use a pacifier
she still sucks her pinky finger and she is 42 years old. it made her teeth go
out ward from sucking.. I think this is the reasons for getting the thumb suckers and
pacifiers out of the mouth at a decent age because you want your smile to be straight
and if you dont break the habits when your young ( as its painfully truth) some dont
want to break those habits and its not something I would want to be caught in
public doing if I was a thumb sucker.

not good for jobs either.. lol
krysia 23 | 3058
6 Jan 2010 #16
but if a woman doesn't understand her man who is new to fatherhood then, well you just sort of assumed it's a one way street didn't you?

yes it it because it's the man who always thinks this is a big issue and makes a big deal out of it blaming the woman for everything.

This is the difference between a man and a woman: there's a car accident. Inside is a husband, wife and child. The husband will try to save his wife first, than the child. The woman will save the child first, then the dumb husband who probably was driving and caused the accident in the first place.
cjj - | 281
6 Jan 2010 #17
Hi Tom,

I'm originally from Ireland - had my first baby in Canada and my second in Poland. For you - I'd guess it's probably a mixture of so many things that it's hard to put a finger on any single one. :)

If your wife is close to older Polish people - and depends on their influence/comments for her own parenting style - then there would be some Polish influence, certainly. Some other new mothers - like I did - rely more on books / parenting websites. But added into that was a large dollop of my own personality and what I personally did or didn't like.

Kangeroo'ing as you call it is very popular world-wide (as far as I know - it's nearly 7 years since my last child was born) - and that's not just a Polish or even American thing. Google for baby slings and you'll see the industry ...

Once you start, hard to stop (stopping means lots of noise, tears and snot - from the child, usually)

Co-sleeping has always been popular - for many reasons I guess. In my opinion you either like it or hate it. I personally hated it, but I know many mothers from different continents who thought it was near-essential.

My children always had their crib but even with that we had times when tears and wailing were necessary in order to move on to another mode of behaviour (close out the old one - convince the child that yes, it was time to let go).

I've noticed here (in Poland) that children are very warmly dressed indeed - both indoors and out - and the houses themselves are often 25C+ in the winter.

Do you and your wife plan to have any more children ?

my 2cents
OP ElmhurstTom 1 | 1
6 Jan 2010 #18
Thanks for all of the responses. I appreciate them. To answer the question from the last post, I am not sure if we will have any more kids or not. That is to be determined. I knew raising children was a hard job, but the last thirteen months have been the hardest of my life. I often times feel the methods used by my wife and in turn me, are simply too much. The day consists of washing bottles, doing laundry, giving him a bath everyday, one of us sleeping with him (even when he is asleep, she is afraid he will stop breathing or something), waking up twice in the night to make bottles for him, waking up early to clean bottles before he wakes up, play with him whenever he is awake (that does not mean sitting 10 ft away while he plays, that means being with him step-by-step as he learned to crawl and now walk). In other words, there is no down time and he is a very needy baby. I happen to believe all of the love we have shown him has turned him into the needy and clingy baby he is. However, I might be wrong. I think my wife spoils him too much and now when in a situation he is not comfortable with, such as when we go somewhere, he cries and only wants to be with my wife. That hurts me some as he does not feel comfortable enough to want me to hold him.

Anyways, I have no idea if more kids are in our futures. I have no life at all right now and while I expected my life to change a lot, I have no time to even sit down for 10 minutes to do something on the computer or watch TV. I have five other brothers and sisters and all but one have kids and multiple kids at that. All of them seem to have more time than I do. They all can balance their lives well and do other things outside the child. I can't figure out why I can't. Is is the Polish way? Maybe. Is it simply my wife? Maybe. I happen to think it is a combination of both.

Lastly, what does the Polish culture feel about letting a baby cry and in particular, letting a baby cry himself/herself to sleep? My wife will not do it. Is the way my wife feels similar to that of other Polish women?

scrappleton - | 829
6 Jan 2010 #19
He ain't a happy man.

Yeah.. reason #704 not to get married. ;- ( .. No wonder strip clubs make so much money.
cjj - | 281
6 Jan 2010 #20
I can only answer for myself - with not a scrap of Polish blood in me. And I'm afraid I'm in blunt mode tonight ...

A child crying themselves to sleep? Many many mothers I know would never condone that and again, they're not Polish. I've done it myself, and he bellowed for 3 hours the first night. He was 8 months old at the time - strong as an ox while I was falling apart after chemo and r/therapy.

(The morning after the 3 hours (during while I didn't sleep a wink) he was jumping up and down happily when I went to say good morning : within 3 nights he was happily self-soothing during the night when he woke/stirred)

One niggling at the back of my mind, however, is "not apartment-block appropriate". A pretty high %age of Poles live in tiny apartments in an apartment block and their neighbours would probably lynch them if they let their kid cry too long in the night.

I asked about additional children because it would seem that the first child gets the luxury deal - following additions get reduced packages right down to "bring yourself up and let me know before you leave for college"

My first child was much needier (as you put it) than my second -- I spent many years of weekends without a sleep-in because she woke early and demanded my attention. She wasn't good at playing by herself - still isn't - but once she learned to read I encouraged her to do that at every opportunity and now thank god she loves reading by herself in the morning. Child number two, however, can amuse himself for a long time in the morning -- totally different personality.

The point buried in there is that some of this might simply be your child's personality ... first baby and all that (birth order is supposed to have some effect ? can't remember where I read that).

At the end of the day - my opinion again - your life as a family is not only about 3 of you, but you and your wife need to have time for an adult-adult relationship as husband and wife *without the presence of children*. This might only be a meal out once a month, but it needs to happen, and I would say it's a right and a responsibility.

Breathing and etc. Do the statistics not say that co-sleeping has a higher risk of SIDS?
As my Canadian doctor put it just after my daughter's birth: "don't bother waking up to check -- you'll never catch the moment unless you stay awake all night"

Anyway, at 13 months we're not talking about an infant any more.

Washing bottles. You use a dish-washer, right? And why is he waking twice a night to be fed? Ok, I'm obviously missing something here because I would expect a child of 13 months to sleep through the night. I *needed* mine to do that because broken sleep would kill me (I work full time)

Everyday baths. Oh the shame: I've never washed mine everyday. "Top and tail", yes, but not a full-blown steam and wax.

Ok - I'll stop here because I've probably insulted a number of readers :) I usually do when I get talking about children. It's a very emotive topic ... I've seen women nearly come to blows over the various topics.

irishlodz 1 | 135
6 Jan 2010 #21
the dumb husband who probably was driving and caused the accident in the first place.

Krysia, shocked by your 2 contributions. You're obviously enormously bitter towards your ex husband and men in general. Clearly your divorce was nothing to do with you!

4-5 year olds drinking from a bottle and using a pacifier is not normal. Pacifiers cause deformities in teeth that cost a fortune to fix.

Tom, I'm Irish and living in Poland. Families here tend to be much smaller and as a consequence children are subject of a huge amount of attention. Grandparents play a huge role in raising babies and although largely positive, it can overwhelm the parents at times. The over dressing of children is common here. They dress them for worst possible weather all the time. I have yet to turn on our apartment heating as the neighbours over do it so much. Its -20 celcius outside.

I have seen 2 friends of my wife who are obsessive of their new babies to a hugely unhealthy level. One refuses to let anyone else hold the baby and had not spent a minute away from the child in 6 months. Not even to go out for a meal!

The arrival of a child has a huge impact on the relationship of a couple. Long term having a child sleeping with their parents is going to damage a relationship in many ways.
sister act 2 | 88
6 Jan 2010 #22
Hello I am Irish living in dublin, Married to a polish man and have the polish sisters in law and mother in law from hell. So 4 years ago on the 14th of april I gave birth to the first born grandchild to my polish in laws. on the 19th of april one of my sisters in law gave birth. They were really pissed of that I had won the race to have the first born grandchild. From me this was crazy to me,were they not happy that they had two healthy grandchildren.? I have noticed so many differences between how we raised our chilldren. For one my sister in law for two years was refearing to her son as my baby this and my baby that all the time. I refeared to my daughter always by her name which is mave since the day she was born. It is like this her baby is just her property that she owns, as she gave her baby life,where as with my daughter mave I feel I have been given a gift of this wonderful daugher who I must ensure grows up to be a healthy well balanced woman.Thats all that I want from my daughter mave is that she grows up well balanced and most important happy and independent. How ever my sister inlaw is already groming her son that he has to take care of her when he growss up. Another difference is that I did not breast feed simply because, I am self employed and went back to work 3 days after the baby was this was extermely frowned on by the polish inlaws why wasn't I breast feeding. (my sister in law sat back and recievd single mothers allowance rent allowance and had her boyfriend living with her.)I brought mave swiming daily since she was a baby and this was also frowned on. Once I sugested that my sister and law and baby join us that was scorned at and I was acuccused of trying to catch her baby a flu. another difference would be, my mave hated wearing socks or she would suck her feet and then she would be wearing wet socks so I stopped putting socks on her well the in laws accused me of child sister in put tights on her son even during the summer. months. Mave always was a great eater at six months she stopped the bottle and could down an Irish breakfast no problem at four years my sister inlwas baby is still taking the bottle at night and is a really fussy eater.My sister inlaw follows her son around every where he is never out of her sight. Ifeel sorry for him my daugher comes and goes from her friends house as she pleases and of course with my self or my husband keeping an eye she was out playing in the street with the other children until 10pm during the summer months my sister in law spends every second with her son and he doesn't have any friends. Only doting polish grandparents and aunties. With big open eyes and mounths when they here of my daughers outings. ( WITH SHOCK AND HORROR) strange that they don't have shock and horror looks on their faces when they see their grandson been transport in the back of a his mothers latest boyfriends van in is buggy with no child seat alongs side latest boyfriends plumbing tools. Sister in laws son is always sick and she brings to the docter for a cut. at some polish gathering mave hurt her finger is was only a scrape, I told her don't worry you have 9 more fingers she didn't need it (joke) and gave her a ice pop and she rang off happy mother in law of course was horrifed about what I had said to mave about her finger and told me I should of brought her to the docter.
king polkakamon - | 542
6 Jan 2010 #23
I see a lot of similarities between polish and greek upraising.Especially this with the food and the clothes.I remember my grandmother ''he was such a good boy.He ate so much.''
cjj - | 281
7 Jan 2010 #24
stopped putting socks on her well the in laws accused me of child sister in put tights on her son even during the summer. months.

ha ha ha this brings back such memories.
the locals here really don't do "bare feet on babies" well. i never shoe'd (or even sock'd) either child when they were non-walking infants during the summer. so there i was, walking through real and I noticed a gaggle of litte girls following me round the aisles, pointing and whispering .. wide-eyed. In the end they plucked up the courage to approach me ... pointed at my (poor) baby and asked if I didn't have any socks for him. I suspect they feared we were very very poor (I was probably in slob mode, not dressing up for my Visit To The SuperMarket as is the norm here). I gave them a very mouthful of very cheerful - but very fast and very long - English and they just ... fled. I have expected to see them cross themselves as they disappeared.

A few weeks later my Dad was pushing Son through another Mall and got accosted by a pompous Babcia who berated him for not having put socks on the baby's feet. I was far enough way not to be visibly part of the group, so I could hear him get the full works. He smiled happily, nodded his head and thanked her in English as he didn't understand a word.

One thing I would say, though -- apart from the Babcia's fussing too much, there is REMARKABLE freedom for children to wander around. And they do. So either there is a huge spread of behaviour, or this umbilical cord snaps at some point. I have a friend whose neighbour allowed her 3 y/old to wander where he would. Ok, they live down a very quiet country road, but there are forests all around ...

The Babcia's ... my MiL doesn't even live in Poland :) ... but they generally seem a strange bunch. Very strong-willed, and strong-minded ...
Foreigner4 12 | 1768
7 Jan 2010 #25
there is a different bond women share with their children, one which cant be understood
by a man because he doesnt carry this child 9 months.

great, but your response doesn't really answer the question i had posed.
king polkakamon - | 542
7 Jan 2010 #26
I think polish parents caress their children a lot and so polish girls crave for touching and caressing.(not a bad thing).
Trevek 25 | 1699
7 Jan 2010 #27
From a British perspective, one thing I notice is that Polish parents seem less likely to use corporal punishment outside the home. I remember when my sister was visiting once her little son was, well... basically being a brat. His father gave him one wallop on the behind with his hand and junior knew he'd over-stepped big style. The Polish parents looked shocked! Interestingly, I've rarely heard Polish kids talk about physical punishment, spanking etc (which I did when i was in Britain). I wonder how widespread it is.

A british friend of mine is married to a Polish woman (in Poland) and they recently had their first child. of course, the mother was panicing at every sniffle and wouldn't be happy until the baby rattled when you rocked it, with all the pills, vitamins and medicines on the market. Her husband had a more british approach of, "It's just a slight cold. let him build up some resistance." he was soooo happy when the doctor told the mother, "Your husband's British, isn't he? Well, he's probably right!"

It's also interesting that Polish kids seem to take a lot more time off school through sickness than I remember british kids doing (maybe I have a bad memory). It would be interesting to view figures.
cjj - | 281
7 Jan 2010 #28
there is a reason for having an apteka on every corner ... all of them apparently doing enough trade to make it worth their while
bullfrog 6 | 602
7 Jan 2010 #29
Well, theme seems to become similar to another one on PF, so I copied the response made on the latter, seems relevant..

Itotally agree with English Poznan. Polish Babcias are over protective of kids when young, which doesn't allow them to develop any resistance to minor affections. Plus the people, or at least the ladies, are not adapted to the latitude of their countries; never seen so many women craving for sunshine than in Poland! All this explains why Polish ladies have a life expectancy 6 years lower than in the UK or Germany, and 8 years lower than in Iceland! (see Youth in Europe report by Eurostat on on?p_product_code=KS-78-09-920
rich55 3 | 49
7 Jan 2010 #30
I live in the uk with my Polish g/friend and I've noticed how quick Polish parents here are to take their kids to the doctor for the slightest cough or sneeze; even to A&E for an upset tummy or such things! Still, after a few four-hour waits they usually get the message. I'm sure there's some truth in the belief that such over-protective parents prevent the child developing a strong immune system as some of the kids seem to suffer constantly from minor illnesses. A Polish guy I work with can practically tell you every variation in his kids' temperatures for the previous 24 hours and rushes home during working hours for seemingly harmless ailments they have! But to be honest, without wishing to be provocative, even many of the Polish adults I know seem to be a little obsessive with the state of their health: it's never a cold or a sniffle but always a fever or 'flu and any enquiry into how they are feeling results in a ten-minute detailed analysis of their physical wellbeing! Of course my g/friend is strong as an ox, never sick, and treats illnesses, including those of her children, with a complete lack of sympathy. Is she unique?!

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