All Around The World, People Love Their Children
Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving. But everyone does this.
We travelers often ask ourselves: “Are people more alike than we are different?”
As Brent and I travel, one way I’ve seen how people of different cultures are very much alike is how they treat their kids. The whole world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, obviously, but everyone seems to love their children very much.
I even have photographic evidence.
It doesn’t matter the country or the culture — kids are kids wherever you venture.
And parents are parents. There is definitely something wonderfully life-affirming about watching children and their parents together.
I only have a single memory of my maternal grandmother, who died when I was four. So I find something very special in seeing smiling grandmas with their grandkids.
I don’t think I see as many kids in America as I do outside of the country.
Outside of America, kids seem to me to be more integrated into their communities, even in big cities.
I don’t think Americans love their kids any less. But Americans live differently than most of the rest of the world. They spend much more time in their cars, and people seem busier too. And in the U.S., the lives of children sometimes seem just as harried and tightly scheduled as their parents.
Outside of America, I think people and their children spend more time in public places (where I’m more likely to notice them). America seems to have fewer such places, and they’re less centralized. And in the suburbs, Americans are maybe more content to keep their kids at home, in their bigger houses and private backyards.
Whatever the reason, I love seen children together with their parents, especially when they really seem to be enjoying each other.
I also really like seeing fathers very involved with their children.
When I was younger, I considered having children one day, and I think I might have made an okay dad. But it wasn’t something Brent wanted, and I’m ultimately very glad we didn’t have them.
Instead, I get to be a godfather and uncle, real and honorary. And as a photographer, I get to enjoy watching people having fun with their own kids.
Michael Jensen is a novelist and editor. For more about Michael, visit him at MichaelJensen.com.
Love this. As a parent and as someone who has spent much time visiting US schools and working with kids, I can't help notice the joylessness that modern America imposes on family life and childhood. It's always good to be reminded that this is not the case everywhere. Part of the antidote is the wonderful friends and family members who step up to support, you awesome people, you!
I love seeing the kids with their parents out and about. I wanted to have kids once upon a time, but it didn’t happen. So I get to be the best aunt in the whole wide world (according to multiple sources…after prompting from me. Hey, you gotta make sure they love you so they take care of you when you need it!) I feel like it is kind of like skipping to being a grandparent without having had kids myself. The best of both worlds!