Achtung Baby || Book Review || 2018 New Release
I have received this book through NetGalley, meaning i have not spend money on this book put i am still sharing my own honest option!
Autor: Sara Zaske
Release Date: January 2nd
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Parent Self-Help, Self-Help, Cultural Differences, Rising Children, Advice on Parenting
When Sara Zaske moved from Oregon to Berlin with her husband and toddler, she was surprised to discover that German parents give their children a great deal of freedom. In Berlin, kids walk to school by themselves, ride the subway alone, cut food with sharp knives and even play with fire. german parents do not share her parental fears and their children were thriving. Was she doing the opposite of what she intended, which was to raise capable children? Through her own family's often funny experiences as well as interviews with other parents, teachers and experts, Zaske shares the many unexpected parenting lessons she learned from living in Germany. Achtung Baby reveals that today's Germans know something that other parents don't (or have perhaps forgotten) about raising kids with "selbstständigkeit" (self-reliance) and provides many new and practical ideas parents everywhere can use to give their own children the freedom they need to grow into responsible, independent adults.
Nice view into the German culture and ideas of living and raising children, an interesting read not just for parents looking for advice but also for people wanting to learn and see different cultures, noticing differences and similarities. Its a fantastic book to notice your own upbringing and compare it to a different way, be it that you are German and see the American way or from another country and can compare two different sides with your own... no matter what it is an interesting read and one of the few American written books about germany that are actually realistic and honest what Germany is like!
More detailed thoughts:
Okay let me start this out with:
I am not a mother, i do not have children i take care of (at least not the human kind -do furry kids count?!?)
BUT i was interested in this because i am German and i always interested to see an American share their option on Germany. Because honestly most of the time? Its HORRIBLE and wrong and just... in which year are you living because we are no longer in world war 2?
So yes, okay?
I only requested this book because it has a german title and the subtitle of an american mom learning the german art was just enough to make me click "request" on NetGalley and read this book.
But honestly? Its pretty GOOD!
I think its a nice book if you simply want a view into a different culture -or like me are just curious to see your own culture compared to a different one and actually see the differences.
I would defiantly recommend giving this book a read! If nothing else, it is quiet entertaining to read the author struggle through german's bureaucracy and all the paper work.
(because yes, she got that PERFECTLY!)
Lets start with me saying that:
I LOVE her for actually saying that America did not save or ended the second World war, that America is not the sole saver of everyone and that they did not influence Germany and make it into the country it is today.
Because THANK YOU! Its nice to read that from an American, that actually summaries the European history and America's part in it as it most likely was and does show that Germany is not this huge anti-everything country. That Germans are not the devil, evil or against any and all people that are not blond and blue eyed.
I also appreciated that she actually said she expected germany and its people to be completely different to how they actually are.
Because that is just how is.
We all have specific stereo-typical notions we grow up in from different countries around the world.
I grew up with the believe that Americans all only ever eat McDonalds and eat it in from of their TV. I am just guessing here but i don't think thats really what all of America is like.
Moving on the to actual "Parenting aspects" of this book:
I think that her entire attitude towards letting kids explore, learn and decide for themselves what to be scared of what to do and when is great. And yes in some way resembling some aspects of how kids in Germany do grow up.
And she is defiantly right that in germany most kids spend a good amount of time outside especially when they are still in the ages between toddler years and 10 years old. Not as much in the last 10 years as it has been when even i personally was growing up, but yes, kids in Germany are mostly told to go outside to play and run their energy off.
(can i just add that i never even thought about that that might be something new or strange to anyone? Because how else would little kids play if not outside in any and all weather for the most parts?)
Its also nice to read that the author clearly took some nice parenting ideas with her from Europe.
I honestly think that we could all learn from each other on how to raise our children, maybe find a way to combine different aspects to finally raise an entire generation of children that don't fear everything they don't know, don't hate people that look different or believe differently then they themselves or even just generally learn that every human is just the same as any other human in most aspects.
So it was GREAT to see those principles being talked about and mentioned.
I also loved how she shared little snippets of her kids how they struggled with the culture differences and how her daughter ask her if it was allowed for the kids to wait for their mom in a cafe until she had gone to the toilet.
For one because that entire concept i a bit strange for me as someone having grown up with it being completely normal that as soon as you can go to the toilet on your own, you go do that even in a cafe when you know or can find it on your own, or when its just normal your parent can leave you in a place that like that for a few minutes until they return.
So reading that it is NOT something completely normal and typical was a bit of an eye opener on just how different growing up in different areas of the world really are.
And now lets get into the negative (or should i say the things a German finds a bit annoying and strange because i never heard of it in that way and shouldn't i have as a German?):
- its really, really, extremely over simplifies and generalises Germany as a whole.
Berlin is a huge city, its also a world city with a huge mixture of different cultures, believes and school systems all mixed together. I am not saying its a whole different world than the rest of Germany, but it is quiet different to a lot of other areas in Germany. Especially since -as the book itself states- Berlin was split into two very different Germany's for a long time. So it mixes a lot of very different German believes together.
What i mean by that is (For example i am not listing EVERY SINGLE thing here because that would be about the size the actual book had, but just... you know, some examples to showcase what i noticed right away and found bit annoying!):
- German kids go or ride their bikes to school alone -at the latest from second year on.
Which is NO!
Excuse me? What are you talking about!
Lets start out with the biking!
Not all german parents let their kids ride their bikes to school basically from second grade on. For example its actually not allowed in Bavaria where i live until the kid is in fourth grade -or in other words at least eight, most of the time nine years old and actually have to complete something that i can most easy translate into a "bike license" (meaning you have to take a test that shows that you can successfully navigate your bike through traffic without problem and only after you pass that test and get your "license" you are allowed to drive your bike to school!)
And while it is true that a lot of kids walk to school alone from second grade on, they don't walk ALONE, they go into groups of other kids that meet up at the latest two streets from their home.
German public schools short their kids from specific districts the houses are marked under. So specific neighbour groups of houses all go to the same school, and with that a good amount of children go to and from the same school at the same times.
There are at least always in the morning specific adults present on busy streets to assure that kids don't get hurt.
And that is how i personally as a German know that it goes down with letting kids go to school in the whole of Germany.
So yes, sure in a way in Germany Kids from a very young age go to school without their parents.
But they do not go alone.
They go with at least three to four other kids either their age or older and on the way there are a few adults placed that look out for them on streets that might be dangerous.
I don't know if that is something unique or strange or different to america. Who knows? Apparently if the book got the American side right.
- since we are on topic of schools... shall we talk about that?
Because that hippy-dippy- lets all play and have a great time mojo? Thats "waldorf" schools. Which are basically special education places where its a lot more easy going and slower paced learning with lots of breaks.
i am not in any way saying those are bad schools! They are actually good schools, but sadly hard to get places in for most kids and also a lot of them are not public but private or you have to have a special needs child to qualify for them in many areas in Germany (maybe thats different in Berlin. Could be. Possibly)
But they are NOT the norm in germany. The school that the author description in America -teacher talking and talking and talking and handing out lines and punishments if you are not doing what they want?- THAT sounds like a typical german school!
Also the after school "hort" the author mentioned? Not something that most schools actually offer, its a special program that a kid has to go to after school most of the time not even in school but for example housed in Kindergärten and are not for doing homework but rather to keep the kid busy until the parent can come get them after work.
I am not saying that they don't exist in the way the author described them. But they are not the norm at all in germany, and not typical in the way that she described them as.
- And than there is the entire section on parenting time:
the book basically states that every one that has a child is allowed up to three years without problem, either mom or dad, during which they will get paid and than get their job back if they take those years without problems.
Sure theoretically on paper that might even be mostly true.
Most people are lucky if they get six months, and the payment they get after two or three months is no where near what they normally make, so that most people have no choice but to go back to work as soon as possible to be actually able to continue to make the money they need to ... you know buy stuff? For example for the kid they just had?
Also i will not even touch the subject of that that entire deal with the fathers being able to take that time to make it easier on not discriminating against specific women in jobs. The characters i have for this review would not be enough to clearly prove that so completely wrong.
Lets just say that in theory, yes sure in germany there is such a thing as parent time and you even earn a little money and either parent can take it, even the father, but yeah... just because something theoretically exists does not mean that it actually works... and leave it at that.
so there are some things in this book that as a German, born and raised and still living there as an adult, are a bit of head scratchers.
still this book was not a bad book
And of course its hard to put an entire country and all its different states, customs and ideas into one book. And she could have hardly named the book "the Berlin way of rising a child" so i get it.
And for the most part, Sara Zaske did a great job with sharing how Germans raise their children.
Have you read any book of this kind?
Interested in reading this one?
Let me know!
Until Later, Lovely Book People!