Monday, July 11, 2011

Brazilians & Love for Children

Let's be honest, kids are freaking annoying. All kids! This goes double if you haven't actually birthed/raised any. Kids have an amazing way of slowly increasing your tolerance for the intolerable. It's practically an art form.

That is why I'm always so impressed by my childless Brazilian friends. They actually adore other people's children! Really! Even kids of people they don't know. That last one is a huge kicker for me. Maybe it's just my friends but in my country the real love for a child comes with a relationship of some sort with a parent.

In Brazil, apparently, you just have to be a miniature. They love you no matter who you belong to, maybe even in spite of it.

So take our Brazilian friends, they practically smother my children with adoration and love. The patience, interest, and adorable love of them is enough to stop my heart in amazement. Any one of my non-parent Brazilian friends come over to play with my children. They'll talk to me once the kiddos are in bed. I mean, they pause in the middle of the sentence to answer a question like a seasoned Mom of 3.

Thus it comes as no surprise that I fall in love with Brazil all over again every single time with meet up with these guys. This weekend was no exception. We had an amazing lunch at my place on Saturday, where I made shrimp dishes for the first time thank you very much! They were awesome, in case you were wondering. Sunday was spent playing a park in Lagoa and then a great long lunch (actually more like snacking, picking, and beer drinking for a couple of hours) at Bar Lagoa.

My childless friends didn't shoot even one dirty look my way the entire time at the restaurant, even when I let my kids sit under the table. (I don't care if it is dirty just as long as they are quiet). Actually, my friends joked with them while under the table! People, that's just how Brazilians roll. You have got to love that!

Have you ever noticed a difference in acceptance of children from one country to the next?


  1. I wonder if your question could be partially answered by style differences in children's books from one country to another.
    I think those German tales involving little Gunther losing an arm because he did not obey Papa Klaus when told to stay out of the tool shed are quite revealing. Anyway I thought this article which talks about such things is quite interesting.

  2. love this post!
    I like that when u are in Brazil and a baby starts to cry there's always someone who comes near the baby and tries to make the baby smiles... :)

  3. That is very true Anon!

    Gritty, you may have a scary point there

  4. Rachel,

    I have always been aware of this strong Brazilian cultural fact of loving children unconditionally.
    I remember hearing my parents and other adults talking about how in other countries people were cold towards children and had a completely different relationship with them.
    Now that I have been living in the US for 15 years, it's easier to understand the cultural differences.
    In Brazil I remember my sister, who is a Dentist, having a hard time to leave my parents house. She was 32, a business owner, a very independent woman, but my parents were throwing a fit because she decided to live by herself, imagine that, the nerve!!! :)
    She was the last daughter to leave the house, so she suffered more pressure than the rest of us.
    My mother lived with her mother all her life. After she got married, the grandmother was part of the deal, my dad was fine with it. They actually have a great relationship.
    I think it's a whole different family dinamic, many families tend to stick together, really together, together as in "under the same roof" and they love it.
    My parents home always had many people coming in and out, relatives, friends, babies, children.
    The more the merrier is the preferred life style for many Brazilian families I know, including my own.
    By the way, my sister finally left the house, lived by herself for a couple of years, and is now back with my parents and every one is very happy. :)
    So, back to your point, perhaps Brazilians treat children like kings because they want to have as close as a relationship they can, thinking on the years they will have a chance to talk their kids in staying with them.
    Sending a elder to a Nursing Home in Brazil is the ultimate insult, it's the worse thing you could do to any relative.
    So, on the same hand that you see folks treating kids with such kind regards, you see kids taking care of their elders when they grow up.
    I have seen some families in the US eager to see their 18 year old kids leave the house and then when those kids are older they won't think twice when it's time to send their parents to a nursing home, after all, they never developed a strong relatioship anyway.


  5. I found your blog a few months ago after I learned that we would be moving to Belo Horizonte later this year. I have a two year old and a four year old, so I'm glad to hear that they like kids as much as they do! Somedays, I don't even like my own ;)

    I used to live in Seoul, S Korea. Koreans love kids too and view them as a gift for everyone to enjoy. If a subway train or bus is crowded and a mom with an infant or small child is left standing, any grandma that has a seat will offer to hold the child and the mom will pass the child off without fear or hesitation. They just don't have the fear that everyone is out to hurt their kids like most people in the US have been brainwashed to believe. I was a preschool teacher in Seoul and one of my American coworkers lost one of his students (a preschooler) while on a field trip to the zoo. He was freaking out and told our Korean coworker. Her response? "Oh, really? Let's take a group picture!" Not even one ounce of concern which was really strange to us. The kid was eventually found, but unfortunately, he missed the group photo :)

  6. Hi Rachel,

    I always mean to comment, but never do...but I love reading your blog....!

    Here's another somewhat-related example that led me along the exact same train of thought recently...

    After breezing through the Policia Federal priority line in Rio a few weeks ago, toddler in tow, I found myself waiting in line at US customs in Houston, at 4:45 the following morning. For a good 40 minutes. Just one more in a huge line of exhausted foreigners who had travelled all night to get there. By myself with an awake and very tired three-year-old....who decided that she urgently needed to PEE after about 20 minutes in the line.

    You can imagine how much fun the next twenty minutes were...I almost wanted her to start screaming, just to see how much it would take for the immigration agents to get annoyed enough to let us skip to the front of the line! ;) (Or would they ever?) I was reminded of how great it is to travel with kids in Brazil, and in Latin America in general - and it even crossed my (perhaps slightly delirious?) mind that the Policia Federal isn't so bad, after all!


  7. Yes!! I noticed it when my daughter and i traveled to ecuador for three weeks. i was blown away!! In the entire time we were there i don't remember seeing even a single temper tantrum from any child. The only tantrum i saw came from what appeared to be another American traveler's child. Everyone doted on my daughter and gave her such genuine attention and empathy and tried to make her happy and comfortable. EVERYONE did this!! All aged people! And strangers on the street would see her and say "how beautiful" in spanish. It was a real treat.