This created a conversation on how the Lebanese perceive us, Dutch, as mothers.
In general we are seen as rather unfriendly beings with our children. Or actually, all children. We are severe, and we discipline too much. And when we discipline, we discipline all children involved, whether they are our own or not. This, in general, does not go down well, we’ve noticed.
One of us, who does all kinds of fun-activities with her children, and who likes to involve the neighborhood children of mothers who cannot be bothered to get out of bed as well, was told by one of the play-dates of her daughter that ‘she did not really love children.’ Why? Because the house rules apply to everyone, even the guests. We do not feed our children whenever they want, but rather at set times, and if they’re hungry at two, when they refused to eat their lunch at one, well, than it is tough going until six. That is perceived as being unfriendly.
Another view is that we are careless. How can you let your child run around barefoot on a garbage belt with rusty nails sticking out of wood? Granted, that is a bit of a scary thing. But worse-case scenario is that you’ve got to run to the ER for a tetanus shot and stitches. But if you keep running after them and protecting them, they’ll never learn to look out for themselves.
It is not so much an issue within the household, as it is with the extended family and the outside. The cultural differences are not that big, but they do exist.
And so we grappled with this topic for a while, on an empty beach, totally ignoring our kids who had a ball between the rusty nails and the broken class. I hope they will remember this day on the beach, when they built this gigantic tent.