Parenting Culture Gap - Valentine's Day Edition

According to Wikipedia"a culture gap is any systematic difference between two cultures which hinders mutual understanding or relations. Such differences include the values, behavior, education, and customs of the respective cultures. Culture gaps can relate to religion, ethnicity, age, or social class. Examples of cultural differences that may lead to gaps include social norms and gender roles."

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the reading audience; I have a parenting culture gap. That's not new to me. I am afterall a Nigerian parenting Nigerian-American twins in Canada. I've always known that it would be a tight-rope walk for me as the twins grew older, but I did not expect my first culture gap event so early. What event you ask? Valentines day of course.

Last time I checked, valentines day was a day for lovers to celebrate stuff - a romantic time for older couples and a day of hormone filled events for teenagers. For babies and toddlers though, I expect that valentines day is just another day. Boy was I wrong! The daycare planned a valentines day party for the kids and asked parents to bring snacks so I dutifully went to the store and purchased cheese puffs for the class and that was that. When I picked up the girls this evening, here's what I got:

Baby Valentines
Each of the girls got a little valentine's card from just about every other kid in the center. In 2 million years, it would not have crossed my mind to buy valentines cards for the twins to give to their classmates. Not at this age anyway. Talk about parenting culture shock! I'm just glad the girls are too young to know that they went to school without any valentines cards.

In all honesty, this is an inconsequential matter for now. However I need to work on my knowledge of some of the norms around here so my babies are not socially disadvantaged among their peers due to cultural differences.

I suspect this will be the first of many posts on on parenting in North America for expats. While I'm on that note, Megan and Brad commented on yesterday's post expressing their surprise that we could survive on just 4 books. Peeps, I need to tell you - mommy is not the one doing the reading. I'm an avid reader and one of my dreams is to raise kids who love reading as much as I do. However, I am quite content to achieve this by surrounding them with books but not necessarily reading to them. At least not at this stage. I know a lot of parents are able to read to their babies, but so far reading time hasn't worked in our casa. How do you get twin toddlers to sit still? I never make it past one page before the girls start trying to flip the pages by themselves or grab the book away from me or get bored and walk away. We'll call that Tuesday Confession!


  1. First, get a length of rope and tie them down. That's the only way to ensure they sit still.

    I recommend using board books to start, ones that have lots of pictures and colors. Our girls love "Goodnight Moon". We sit them down and point out things. As they learn the book, they start pointing them out to us.

    Always keep in mind that while little hands trying to turn pages can be frustrating, you probably know the story and how the book ends, so reading the book isn't for you.

    At some point you'll appreciate them turning the pages too soon. It means you are that much closer to finishing the book for the 15th consecutive reading.

    Hope that helps!

  2. You know---we had our small group from church here last night, and one family brought Valentines for the girls. I had NO idea that we were handing out Valentines at the age of two. Especially since they received suckers, and our girls have never had suckers (and I'm not ready to give them suckers now). Then, the little boy I babysit on Wednesdays brought the girls a Valentine.

    I don't think you need to be from Nigeria to feel out of sorts with the whole thing. I would have never thought to give Valentines at this age! Or really ever. It's just not a holiday I'm really into.

    With regards to the reading books thing----I get that moving around a lot the last thing you want to keep track of is a bunch of books. You're doing what works for you and your family----my girls LOVE to sit and read books, but you know---the little boy I baby sit really doesn't, and his mama really does try. Do what works. Always gotta do what works ;)

  3. Oh boy! I probably would have *known* I was supposed to send Valentines but I probably would have done it grudgingly. Its ridiculous because they don't know the difference.

    Reading- I like my girls to have access to their books and we have a few comfy places nearby that they can sit down and "read" whenever they want. They are also permitted to pull all the books off of the shelves whenever they feel like. I want them to know that those books are FOR them and their enjoyment. We do take short little reading "breaks" throughout the day but they don't always pay attention and sometimes they hop up after one or two pages. Which I think is fine. A lot of the books we look at at this age just say "Cat" with a picture of a cat etc. So we so "Oh! Here's a cat! What does a cat say? Meow!" and do the sign language for "cat." Its not really reading. I would encourage you to focus less on the "reading" and more on "looking at books." Like you, I want my daughters to inherit my love of reading and I believe that starts with exploring books. Sometimes they have explored the pages right out of the books...

  4. I was unprepared too. Daycare sent home a list of names last week in case we "wanted" to send Valentines. The teacher emphasized it was ttally optional. Don't stress over it. They won't know the difference anyway...

    Well, thankfully, I did something. I made homemade heart-shaped crayons for each child (only 10). I admit...I caved under the pressure of mommy guilt.

    I say thankfully because when I picked them up, each had a bag of Valentine's. I would have felt like I lost mommy points (although, at this point, who's counting??)


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