Parenting and babies- Nepalese and Australian differences

I’ve noticed that Rabindra and I have a few different views of how children should be raised.

The Nepalese way of parenting seems very different to what we are accustomed to in Australia.

Here are a few topics I will touch on today:

  • Delivery of the baby
  • Co-sleeping
  • Dummies
  • Role of mothers
  • Breastfeeding
  • Raising of child
  • Beauty pageants

I recently saw this article  which highlights the sad cases of babies who have died while sleeping with their parents.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Rabindra a while ago about this exact topic- co-sleeping between babies and parents.

He said that in Nepal, all babies (newborns included) sleep in the same bed as their parents up until they are 1, 2 or even 3 years of age.

I told him that in Australia it’s very uncommon to sleep with our babies because we are warned about the risks of rolling/putting our arms etc over them and suffocating the baby to death.

Rabindra told me he’d never of babies dying whilst sleeping with their parents. When he asked me where our baby would sleep, I told him in a cot (I even had to explain what a cot was) and he said that it was cruel and that any person who would do that doesn’t really love their baby (even though I said it would be in the same room as us.)

It would be UNTHINKABLE that after 6 months the baby would have its own room!!  (GASP)

Dummies are another foreign thing to Nepalese people.

Many aussie babies loveee their dummies

When we were shopping for a family member’s new baby, he picked up a dummy and asked me “WHAT IS THIS?”

I said it was for teething and so the baby doesn’t put strange objects into their mouth (come to think of it I don’t even know, it’s amazing how commonplace dummies are for babies in Aus and we don’t even think about why).

Another thing I found interesting was what some might see as a sexist remark. 

When we were in New Zealand, we saw a lot of fathers outdoors with their young children, without the mothers.

Rabindra said to me “I think in New Zealand women don’t really love their babies. Look- the dads are with their babies everywhere. No mums.”

I got angry and asked him why he said that. He said that growing up in Nepal, you didn’t see that very much. Mothers are always the ones with the children.

Fair enough. But still, I tried to explain that in countries like Australia and NZ, fathers have a much more hands-on role with raising children so don’t expect to be lazy.

Nepalese mumma with baby

Another interesting one: the birth of a baby.

In Australia, I would say 99% of women would have their husbands in the delivery room of the hospital when their baby is born. Many women would hold off, even if in heavy labour, to wait for their husbands to arrive, before their baby is born.

In Nepal this is a massive NO-NO. It’s an all-female affair. When I told Rabindra he should be there for the delivery of our baby, he was MORTIFIED AND SHOCKED.

Maybe this exclusion to men explains why Rabindra is so immature in regards to cleaning up baby poo and his shock at actually seeing where a baby comes from!

Furthermore, I’ve heard that even after a baby is born, no men visit the mother and the baby for a good while after (like brother in laws, fathers etc even sometimes their own husband).

Breastfeeding is another topic that has been discussed. Rabindra told me that, despite it being right or wrong, Nepalese women are considered “bitches” if they don’t breastfeed (Rabindra doesn’t believe this because he understand it’s not possible for every woman). Some could say many Australians also hold this view as well but by god nobody would ever say it out loud.

I think it’s because the benefits of breast milk are really drummed into mothers over there, how it’s overall much better for their health etc etc (which is true any way).

How girls are raised is also interesting to me.

Nepalese mothers put heavy eye make-up on their baby girls which would be considered quite appalling to many people in Australia. Some mothers would say it is a form of child abuse (not me but some would).

Nepalese cutie baby with kohl (eyeliner) on eyes

In Australia there is a lot of emphasis on letting kids be kids. i.e. not getting them into make-up and beauty stuff when they should just be enjoying kids’ things.

Personally I am quite shocked when I see those American beauty pagents shows. There was outrage in Australia when ONLY ONE of the shows came to Australia. Children’s groups were up in arms and the whole event was boycotted in the end I think.

I remember showing Rabindra this TV kid beauty show, and he said how cute the little girls looked and I said I disagreed with those shows because the parents put all this pressure on their girls to be beautiful and win.

Rabindra said he didn’t see the problem with it and that it was a nice activity for girls to be involved with. SIGH.

Lastly- the topic of raising older children.

If you’re married to an Asian, I’m pretty sure they can tell you stories about how they were smacked over the head if they didn’t wake up early to study before school or didn’t study late at night after school.

I guess it’s different over here in that people are encouraged to do activities outside of studying i.e. sport, socialising with other kids, activities like drama or singing classes.

Of course, study is important but it’s not encouraged 24/7 like it is in much of Asia.

These are just some of my musings and experiences with Rabindra. It’s not reflective of all Nepalese people although I sense Rabindra is not alone in his views above.

As you can see, Rabindra and I have some major differences to sort out when it comes to the future with babies and all things kids.

I can’t tell you right now whether our baby will sleep in the same bed as us or sleep in a cot, or whether or not they will be allowed to have a dummy…fun times ahead

  • Can you relate to what I’m saying?
  • What differences do you and your partner have when it comes to babies and raising children?
  • Are there things you are totally against i.e. sleeping in same bed as baby
  • How do you compromise?

Please share your comments here!

This entry was posted in Cross-cultural, Culture, Differences, Intercultural Relationship, Nepal, Women and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Parenting and babies- Nepalese and Australian differences

  1. tashsn says:

    Wow, this post is really thought provoking. Me and A try to discuss it sometimes. He is not very fond of future discussions. He says “we’ll see” but it does bother me though, especially about our prospective children. All the points you mentioned above are some things I worry about too. But I think at the end of the day the mother has a bigger role in all things “household” so using dummies, making the child sleep on its own, not allowing people to smother makeup over the little one and co-parenting will fall into place. It just has to. Its not about Asia. Its about the century we are in. I am Asian too but we have a similar lifestyle as to what you have mentioned, my mum always says, women hold the helm to the house and Im sure you too can work it out.
    But I’ve told A, I don’t care about your phobia (he says he might faint) if your not in the delivery room holding my hand.. Im not even getting in there! 🙂
    Good luck!

    • I agree with your Tashn about it being the century we are in, not just about Asians. However I think many peopel don’t think like us and plus I do like some of the old traditions anyway 😉

      • kassiekarki says:

        Thank you so much for posting this blog! Wow! SO much I didnt know! Me and my husband talk often about children, but obviously we have much more to discuss. When I read about the no support in the delivery room, I texted my husband imediately and THANK GOD he said he would have no problem being there for me. 🙂 I dont think I could go through such a major event in my life without him.
        As far as the babies wearing eyeliner it sounds interesting to me. I don’t think it’s something I would do personally, but as long as it has no harmful effects on the child whatsoever I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. Different cultures do different things. If it is something my husband really would prefer for our children I think I could see myssekf allowing it after a little bit of my own research.
        Beauty contests are a regular thing here in America. I don’t really see a problem with them if the child enjoys it. I think all little girls should be pampered and made to feel like beauty queens every now and then.
        Co sleeping however is something I cannot compromise on. I’m scared to death of having an infant sleeping in the same bed as me. I move all over the bed in my sleep. There is too much risk there. Plus I have heard horror stories of mothers accidently smothering there own children. This is something me and my husband have not discussed yet. Hopefully he agrees with me right away because I hate to aruge. I do agree with the cot in the room, or cradle as we call them. I think it’s a good idea to keep the child close during the night so that you have easy access in case of an emergency.
        I love all the comments and opinons on here. I’m so happy I found this blog! I too think most of our parenting advice will come from both sets parents. I have no doubt our children will grow to be respetcable Nepalese Americans and will be taught both cultures and speak both languages.

  2. Bibi says:

    Well, this certainly is a can of worms!
    Yes, Nepali parents do often sleep with their children in the same bed til they’re 3-4 yrs old. In fact when the child gets older it will often sleep with another sibling or perhaps even the maid! Sleeping alone is considered unusual & unpleasant. Yes, I’ve seen grown men sleeping in the same bed.
    ‘Dummies’ are called ‘pacifiers’ in the US. My mom used to call them ‘plugs’. No, you will not see Nepali babies with ‘dummies’ stuck in their mouths, maybe sucking a finger or a rag that is safety pinned to their top. Even though there are ‘orthopedic’ dummies available that not supposed to harm baby’s mouth, I really don’t think they are necessary.
    I’ve seen Nepali men playing with & carrying their babies. Not for great periods of time, mind you. But you will not see Nepali men changing diapers. (In fact I’m the one that cleans the kitty litter box around here) Nepali parents also ‘oil massage’ their babies regularly.
    The ‘kohl’ eye make up you see Nepali babies (boys & girls) is meant to ward off the ‘evil eye’ & potentially eye infections, unfortunately the preparation often has lead in it. Apparently the ‘kohl’ used to be made from the soot of sacred lamps.
    ‘Beauty contests’ are an obsession for Asians in general, be they for adults or children. You’d think they invented ‘beauty contests’.
    No Nepali men do not participate in the child’s birth, that is a ‘female’ only thing.
    Yes, breastfeeding is fortunately promoted heavily in Nepal, in fact I saw a woman at the very busy veg market with her breast exposed suckling her child just the other day.
    Nepali parents do ‘smack’ their kids. Usually on the head. I live in a relatively affluent area here in Nepal & they ‘smack’ their kids here just as much as in the poorer section. I believe it is because they honestly do not know any other way to deal with misbehaving children (like time-outs).
    Depending on where you live in Nepal there are varying degrees of quality of education and opportunities for extracurricular activities. In Kathmandu there are some sports & arts activities for kids, outside of Kathmandu not much. Socializing for kids is not really even thought of. We have a badminton set, croquet set, American baseball set, volleyball set & an aging Nintendo Wii, We are DEFINITELY the most popular family in town!!!!

    • Hey bibi, glad to see alot of my observations are quite accurate. Also i didn’t know they put kohl eyeliner on boys as well. Very interesting. I agree about Asians obsessed with beauty contests. It’s so true. iS ur husband nepali? do you guys have kids yet?

      • Sorry to say this Rabindra seems really immature and stuck up in time. Why everything he disagrees with has to be about not loving the babies/kids/children or who ever?

        The postpartum taboos especially those related to men from the conjugal family were designed to provide respite from imposing men. It is not the pregnancy that is tabooed it is the sexuality that is a taboo. For desis sex, sexuality are taboos if they had a say they would ban the words and declare our populace never has sex and the babies just drop from where ever…

        Grooming practices again are community specific, it is interesting how people make opinions without even knowing the composition or ingredients used in the local products.
        Kohl is not only used to beautify and ward off evil eye but is applied puposefully in an ugly faishon to make the baby unattractive to any evil to be fall on him/her. Along with kohl in eyes there is also a big ugly black spot place on the cheeks or corner of the forehead. This same dot is applied on the cheeks of a south Indian groom at the time wedding when he sits at the altar.

        Dummies/binkies are widely available in urban centers and rural alike and often are filled with honey. Here in US I see children sleeping in strollers with binkies stuck in their mouths, at times it feels it is just an excuse to keep the child silent and occupied. I have seen most ugly teeth kids could ever have thanks to binkies and small mandibles.

        About child sukling an exposed breast…
        It a very natural act and is acceptable publically in many parts of the taboos world. The strict taboos and shaming is only in the communities that remained removed from direct contact with nature and historically engaged in constant fights with enemy communities.

        Desi Girl

  3. Kay in India says:

    Ya know–i was put to sleep on a [custom made] cot as a new born until I was about two and a half and then I had my room…and this was in Kathmandu, Nepal. All of my friends in school [was in Nepal till I was 12] had their own rooms. My mom didn’t breastfeed me [something to do with medicines] and no one was mean to her about it except maybe some old women from my dad’s side–but they’re illiterate and were probably married at 13 so they get a free pass. And you definitely get pacifiers in Nepal! I have a picture of my mom, when she was a kid, with a pacifier in her mouth. This was in the 60s. Very surprised that Rabindra didn’t know what it was.

    I think it might be a socioeconomic thing–most Nepali people live in small houses in a joint family setting so they cannot give their kids a separate room. Also, the more well traveled a family is, the less they adhere to these kinds of beliefs.

    Will definitely be interesting to read about how you guys come to a consensus on raising a kid!

  4. Abby says:

    Great topic Casey! It really opened my eyes. For me, most parenting ideals aren’t set in my mind yet, but I’d be really sad if my husband didn’t support me during labor. That’d be my non-negotiable. Oh that and changing nappies! You’ll have to learn to deal with baby poo, Rabindra! 🙂

  5. americanepali says:

    Our good friends just had a baby and we met the newborn for the first time over the weekend. There are a lot of food things that new mothers traditionally get– like eating a red rooster everyday, and eating rice three times a day, etc.

    Our friend (Nepali) was there when his wife gave birth. He didn’t seem to think that it was wrong or strange, although his wife’s mother was also in the delivery room– which I don’t think I’d want my mother there.

    They are also putting the baby in a crib next to their bed. I think they are worried about SIDS and are following the hospitals advice, but as you said they believe the baby should stay in the same room as the parents and that putting a baby in another room is “cruel.” Our friend’s older sister has a 3 year old and he still sleeps in the same room with them.

  6. KC says:

    This is an interesting discussion to me. Simba and I do talk about future parenting (perhaps a little too much actually) and I think we know there will be some differences of opinion and styles. We have already agreed to present a “united front” but I’m sure I will have to privately let him know when I disagree with his method 🙂

    I sent him this blog and he said he actually agrees with most everything you (Casey) say. That makes me happy! I am also totally apalled at the eye makeup on babies. I think it is cruel because if the baby cries (as babies tend to do) then it will get in their eyes and sting/burn. Simba told me once that it is made of some kind of natural stuff that isn’t supposed to hurt the baby…but I still find the practice kind fo awful. Why not let babies be babies? Their eyes are so beautiful and innocent and they don’t need black kohl to make them look pretty.

    I fully expect Simba to be a “hands on” kind of dad. And I am sure that he will be because I’ve seen him with children and my nieces and nephews and he is great with them and very playful and fun. I think he’ll do a wonderful job.

    Where we will probably disagree might be in terms of discipline. I think we’ll both be somewhat strict but in very different ways. I’ll be strict about things like manners, politeness, sharing with others, etc but I’ll probably be much more laid back about things like bedtime, keeping bedroom tidy, and day to day things related to structure/routine. In this way, I think we’ll balance each other out nicely. I think we’ll both encourage our kids to be very open with us and not feel like they have to hide things. But we will probably disagree on discipline because I’m very anti-spanking and Simba is all for it. One of us will have to change our mind-but I don’t plan on hitting my kids and I’m hoping they have the personality where they want to please us and a stern lecture is all the discipline they will need (hey, a girl can dream!). I think the gender of our future kids will play a big part in our parenting too. I suspect if we have daughters that Simba will much stricter than if we have sons.

    Thanks for the great blog-got me thinking about some things 🙂

  7. great post as usual, in India I have found many different ways children are raised here, especially the sleeping together bit, even in affluent families I know of full grown brothers and cousins sleeping in the same bed and whole families sleeping in the same room (even with spare bedrooms!) Have yet to come across eye liner kids though! If I did I’d wash it off!

    What really gets me is in Hinduism the ritual of shaving the babies head even girls! I’m gonna have major issues with that one when our time comes!!!

  8. Amanda says:

    This post made me laugh. It remins me of so many of the conversations I have had with mero buda. He thought I was crazy when I said any babies would have their own bed and eventually their own room. He actually said I could haveown room if I was going to be so cruel but he couldn’t possibly leave a small child alone in the dark. He completely agrees with Rabindra on this point… I can’t wait to get a whole bed to myself 😉

    I was also told I should breast feed until a child is four years old. Considering kids start school at three in Nepal there is no way I am doing this! Again he thinks I’m mean but I do not want a talking, walking, thinking, school uniform wearing person, feeding off me. I CANNOT see that happening.

    Surprisingly though he didn’t blink at being at the delivery room and he wants to be a stay at home dad. I think that might just be because he doesn’t realize how hard it is being a full time parent!

  9. Amanda says:

    Not sure where my other comment went but it is too hard to type on the iPad so I’ll just finish with this… I was told that the eye liner was to promote good eye sight. I was dubious about the potential of eyeliner as a vision enhancer so mero buda told me to ask his mum.

    They seemed so sure of its power and so outraged that we don’t use it that I’m pretty sure this might be something I’ll have to give into if I want them to compromise on bed breast feeding and sharing a bed until the kid is 40!

  10. Great post!!

    The differences are amazing and some quite thought provoking! Sometimes I get offended by my husbands views on these topics but have to remain calm and realise that they have a very different way of doing things compared to us.

    “S” didn’t want to be present at the birth of our son, but eventually I talked him into it and now he wouldn’t want to not be a part of it like he did at the beginning. It’s just something they don’t do. It’s only the female members expected to be present and the father comes after the child is born.

    Dummies were not an issue, he was fine with them.

    Yes, he also feels that the mother should be with the child at all times otherwise the child is being less loved and cared for. Quite ridiculous to me, but he takes it very seriously and that’s why I am ALWAYS with our son… I have let someone look after him for an hour while I stacked firewood once but “S” wasn’t home so he didn’t have a say. He was shocked when I told him but he saw that our baby was okay so it wasn’t a bad thing “that time”. But he will not tolerate us leaving him for an hour so we can have a coffee or a meal out together!

    Co-sleeping is an issue… as I mentioned on my blog. He gives me the good old guilt trips about wanting our son who is now 10 months old to sleep in his own cot. Our son has been in our bed most of his life and yes I’m cruel for wanting him to sleep in his own bed! Never mind the fact that we cannot have a good nights sleep and are doing it hard atm due to sharing a bed! It’s something we must endure!! I tried telling him about the risks if SIDS, I actually have a few friends who have lost their children to this and he refuses to hear of such things and nothing will happen to our son *according to him*… this topic drives me insane!! I won’t give up though, he will sleep in his own bed soon enough!!

    When it comes to breastfeeding, he saw how difficult it was for me (breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to some like it does to others. There are many issues that may complicate breastfeeding or even stop the body from producing milk). I wasn’t able to produce enough milk even while under the medication that increases it!! So I tried very hard for 4 months but eventually he wasn’t getting enough and we had to switch to formula. “S” was fine with this and didn’t make me feel bad about it.

    Being a hands on dad was an issue while I was pregnant. He kept insisting that he was to do nothing when it came to changing nappies/feeding/bathing the baby etc. When our son was born, he was cautious about handling him because of his size (he was afraid to hurt the baby) but eventually he loved being a hands on dad and now feeds and baths and changes his nappies except for dirty nappies (he actually gags pretty badly lol).

    If we were living in India, I doubt “S” would have been such a hands on dad and probably would have been more traditional with his culture and I would be the one doing most things along with his female relatives. Living in Australia, has seen him adapt as much as he can to our way of doing things and even though he had and still has some strong feelings about certain things, after our son was born, he changed almost straight away and in fact wanted to take part in most things. A lot of it is fear of the unknown and what they don’t understand 🙂

  11. Bex says:

    Hi, I will come back later to finish reading everyones comments, but I just want to share my story, Im married to Nepalese guy, and have a daughter from a previous relationship. Im guessing my husband its quite open minded for being Nepalese, but I havent visited Nepal yet. He is a fantastic father figure with our daughter, she is 5 now and we have been married a year. I know this is not exactly acceptable in Nepali culture, but its been working very well for us. We have discussed having more children, and I was really upset to hear him say he wont be changing nappies or feeding the baby in the night. Im quite a strong willed Aussie woman, and after raising my last baby completely alone, this scared me silly. But even if he wouldnt be interested in changing nappies, Im sure he would spend a lot of time with the baby, he spends a lot of time with our daughter now, and really loves taking her out for fun things (more than he takes me lol).
    He also told me he has never seen dummies before, and mentioned we should take the idea to Nepal hehe.
    Im Australian by birth but have always co slept with my daughter. She is five and is still not sleeping alone… becoming a problem now maybe! But I wouldnt change it for a thing, and would do it all again with any future babies, me and hubby agree. He is like as Bibi mentioned, and hates sleeping alone. Before we live together he was sharing a bed with his roomate, which is totally normal to them.
    I feel Australians can be a little bit too strict with babies and worry about “training” babies. Ive been told by Asian people that I raised my baby a lot like them.
    I also breastfed for 2 years but understandably its not always suitable for all mothers, but I believe in trying to make it work.
    I think Im lucky with my husband, he is very open minded about a lot of things, but I think we share similar values when raising children.
    I know if we do have a baby he will be there for me and with me at the birth, even if it makes him freaked out, Im sure it will still be harder for me!
    The only thing I worry is having met our daughter when she was older he really ha no idea what its like having a helpless baby who wakes up all the night long…..

    One more thing, I never heard about the eyeliner on boys but I know when my husband was a boy his mother pierced his ears because she didnt have a girl. I kinda like how they dont have the stigmas on male children like we do about being macho.

  12. ariapahari says:

    This blog post is very interesting and every eye opening.

    In terms of adorning the baby, that definitely does I have also seen old pictures of relatives and friends as babies and they are wearing so so so much eyeliner (gajal, as they say in Nepali). I had never thought about the negative effects of it before- that would really sting if the baby started to cry. But I don’t know what the gajal is made of. Whenever I have met babies of friends of relatives in Nepal it is not uncommon for the baby to be wearing a certain type of bangle on their wrists and ankles. I don’t know the exact name of it, but it is usually gold and has clasps so that it won’t fall off.

    The baby is also adorned for the pasni, or rice feeding ceremony. I don’t know too much about the reasons behind the ceremony- I think part of it is signifying the child growing up- maybe the first taste of solid food? I am not sure. But I was looking through some old family albums and saw pictures from my pasni. I was all dressed up in a red and gold outfit, gajal, the works- and I was about 6 months old!

    Another part of being raised as a Nepali girl is the Gunyo Cholo. It happens around when a girl an adolescent. I had mine when I was around 12 or 13. This also signifies a girl growing up. During the Gunyo Cholo she wears a sari for the first time, and gets blessings from all of her relatives. I don’t think all Nepali families do this with their daughters, though.

    Thanks for posting this blog, it was very eye opening!

  13. ariapahari says:

    I asked my parents about the gajal. They said that it is handmade from natural ingredients, not like the chemicals that are in brand eyeliner, so it doesn’t sting if it gets in the baby’s eyes.

  14. nepali jiwan says:

    I’m all for co-sleeping in theory. When you think about it, it does seem kind of strange to put a baby all the way in another room alone. But in practice, what about when the parents want some time to themselves. How do Nepali parents who let their kids sleep in their beds work that out?

  15. There are lots of differences in parenting between Nepal and Australia and most of them are due to circumstance and culture.

    Lots of things you have mentioned above are changing now. For example when I was baby I didn’t have my own room so I was sleeping with my parents. The reason for that was , we were in joint family so there was not enough room. But when my parents had my brother, we had our own house so from very young age my brother slept in a different room in a cot.

    Both male and female babies in Nepal have thick black eyeliner from very early days. The eyeliner they use is not for cosmetic reason but is homemade which is believed to help the baby have better vision and eye when they grow up. Also babies get massages everyday in sun or in front of a heater using mustard oil. It helps them to be strong and healthy.

    Regarding dummies, 23 years ago I remember my brother having one. and if you go to any supermarket in Nepal, it is easily available.

    Breast milk is the most important food for the babies so Nepali woman seem to make sure they breastfeed as long as it is required. If for some medical condition, they couldn’t, I am sure the society understands. My mum had some problem with her one breast while I was small and I had formulas to replace breast milk. I am sure noone consider her to be a bitch.

    Children born in Australia have lots of privilege compare to children born in Nepal. In Australia, you can quit school and join trade and still you can have a good life without problems. If you are good in sports or dance or acting you can make career out of that so parents are encouraging theirs kids to live heir dream.

    In Nepal that is not the case. As you know Nepal is poor country so unless you really study hard and have a degree, noone will give you good paying jobs. Actors, dancers and sports person always have to work second job to support themselves. For tradie or labour worker, wages are low. Parents always want best for their kids so Nepali parents want to make sure their kids are well educated so they can have a comfortable life as without education it is really hard in Nepal to have a good life.

    We really haven’t talked a lot about having children but when we do, I am sure there will be lots of suggestions and ideas from both our parents. I am sure I will follow Nepali tradition as long as I feel the reason behind is logical. Also our kids will grow up here so I will take lots of Australian value into upbringing of our children.

  16. Padmini says:

    I like what I know of how my *former* Nepali boyfriend speaks about child rearing. Of course, to see a white person parent in that way may be considered abuse where for Asians its okay. So double standards apply to races as well as genders.
    I was in the unique position of having a child when I met the Nepali man I was with. She was breastfed for a long time (more than two years). He thought it was weird how comfortable I was to nurse in front of anyone. Maybe if you are a breastfeeding mom in the US, you’ve gotta be bold or you won’t last because it certainly isn’t well supported, despite the “Breast is Best” campaigns. But he used to say he’d never marry anyone that wouldn’t breastfeed their child. He agreed with me that it was better to use chamber pots (look up elimination communication) than diapers, but if diapers were necessary then cloth was the only option.
    He believed that under no circumstances should babies be given food before the rice feeding at six months old. I was dedicated to breastfeeding exclusively until 6 months and he was happy to learn that I was as equally dedicated to the no food rule. And also that I believed the first food should be rice, despite my European heritage.
    I was committed to baby wearing and even when my daughter was two, would still wear her on my back in a wrap. He thought that of course mothers should always hold and carry their babies and yes, two-year-olds are still babies. I (well, we after he entered our lives) co-slept and he felt most adamant about this being necessary at least until early childhood.
    I was determined to ensure that my daughters diet was 99.9% whole foods cooked at home and he was pleasantly surprised to learn that no, not all American moms give their kids potato chips, Mc Donald’s and cold cereal as staple foods. We had a lot of talk about parenting and child rearing.
    So where would the abuse come in? I think “kortas” as he called them and knuckle-smacks as I call them are an acceptable way to discipline certain behaviors. Not that I’d think its okay for everything, but I will use it from time to time. I’m not above spanking. I believe in strict rules and strict consequences. I don’t think calling a fat child fat is wrong. One thing I love about Nepalis is there ability to be painfully blunt about such things as body image or personal responsibility. Is my child going to be grounded for getting a “B” when she’s 13? We’ll see if the B was her personal best or because she choose fun with friends over studying.
    A lot of people judge certain Asian parenting beliefs as “babying” or “codependent” even “antiquated.” I really think its one of the best examples of attachment parenting there is. Now, adult parenting, that’s where I get into my disagreements.

  17. rhondda says:

    hi i was wondering if u know anything about nepalese raising of the baby? we own a bakery and our baker is nepalese as is his wife, he has said something to my partner about his brother has to come over and raise the child as the wife is not allowed to touch the child for 6months. i just cant find any reading on this and am interested in it

    • HI Rhondda I have not heard anything like that at all, it’s quite the opposite for all the Nepalis I know. The baby has to spend their time with the mother as much as possible in the first 6 months

  18. As a Nepali-American who has lived in Nepal, AUS, and USA…here are my thoughts:

    1. I undstand that physicians are now starting to educate about the risks of putting kohl/gajal on babies. However, traditions take a long time to break so best wishes with that one! I personally don’t like how babies look with the heavy eyeliner so we didn’t practice this. We did compromise due to family pressure by putting the black dot on the forehead (only with our firstborn though). Our second child was a micro preemie so we had bigger things to worry about.

    2. If your husband insist that you ALWAYS be at the child’s side, please share that a Nepali therapist highly recommends this is NOT in the child’s best interests long-term, especially if you are raising your child in a Western culture. Nepali parenting is heavily based on fear (dhar), which promotes anxiety long-term. However, this does not come from a bad place. Scolding and using fear is a way of showing that you love your kid and want the best for them. This easily lends itself to helicopter parenting, which are not helpful in fostering independence and self-reliance as both AUS and USA cultures highly value these traits. My husband and I take “shifts” when supervising our kids, especially during social functions. We take an egalitarian approach in our marriage and parenting so this wasn’t a huge issue, unless we wanted little more freedom to have fun at parties 🙂

    3. For us, we had a “pack n play” right next to our bedside until we felt the kids were ready for their own rooms. This was not only to reduce risks of SIDS but also for bonding and convenience for nighttime feelings.

    Best wishes in your parenting journey, and remember to take the Best of Both Worlds Approach (BBWA)!

  19. Kimberly says:

    I am an American married to a South Indian from India. We are planning to move to India in December 2012. We have a four year old son, delivered one month BEFORE we got married 🙂

    I practice attachment style parenting. I have breastfed my son for four years, he is STILL co-sleeping with me, I was ADAMANT about not circumcising him 🙂 & I cloth diapered him. I never made use of dummies, or bottles, or disposable diapers. This was all by MY CHOICE, as I have been a vegetarian eco-feminist for the past 10 years. My husbands beliefs just so happened to align with mine, and so our relationship progressed very quickly. Lucky for me his family is educated and liberal and already has some American family members. I am also six years older than he is, very headstrong and we have a very non-traditional relationship (compared to both traditional Indian and American marriages).

    I can tell you this, had I made plans to circumcise our son, that may have ended in DIVORCE 🙂 lucky for my son and husband I am very much opposed to circumcision ever since I began studying the topic 10 years ago.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with cosleeping, as it is generally considered safe. Keep in mind that many of the cases of people rolling over their kids involve drinking, sleeping pills or prescription medications, and/or parents who are extremely overweight. When you breastfeed and cosleep with your child, you sleep with one eye open at all times 🙂 I believe it is most beneficial for mom and baby.

    I would never dream of allowing my son to sleep in his own room, even though he is four I still consider it cruel and unusual punishment for a child. My grandma coslept with me until I was eight years old. Sorry to say but I agree with your husband there.

    As for the eye makeup on girls, that is also unheard of in South India so I can’t really comment on that. Regarding the husband not spending time with the children, THAT would bother me. My husband was in the delivery room when my son was born, watching them stitch me up, and so forth. He was my one and only supporter during that time, and I would have been lost without him. His parents came from India to help with the baby, they were very happy to have a grandchild, and very accepting of us. Perhaps they did not have a choice, but there have never been any ill feelings and I am VERY greatful for that.

  20. Dee says:

    Hi, as a nepalese born and raised there, and now practising pediatrics here in US, I think I see both sides. I am a mother to two beautiful children too. I practiced in Nepal,then UK and then moved to US. So I feel I have seen it all!!
    The liner that is mentioned above is a kind of paste, not a liquid liner that is applied on the outer parts of the eye and sometimes a dot is made with the same on the forehead. It doesn’t sting and is to ward off evil eye. However cosmetically it’s not pretty! I do not encourage it on my patients and had to dissuade my mother in law and mother from applying on my kids.
    Regarding pacifiers or dummies, I am amazed that R Hasn’t heard of it or seen it. Saw them plenty while growing up and I had one when I was an infant. That may have to do with access.It might not be so prevalent in villages.
    Co sleeping, I completely agree. Though I grew up in a middle class family, I shared my room with my sister and sometimes slept with my mom. The babies always sleep with their parents esp till they are around 2. I have 2 kids and though I advocate against co sleeping to my patient population, and have seen umpteen cot deaths calls early mornin g(around once a month!) , its a primitive maternal bonding thingy! I hate to admit but sometimes I would smuggle them in my bed when they were babies. I think not having enough rooms for everyone might be a factor .
    Dads are not as hands on, they love their kids though. That’s a cultural thing. My husband raised my 2 kids while I was being trained as a pediatrician and taking calls and was away from home.
    Once they are outside the setting, I’m sure most of them would feel comfortable!!
    Being present at delivery could be a cultural shock to many nepalese men. Fr my husband in a faraway land without family, I don’t think he had an option !!!!

  21. she says:

    haha… this made me laugh. Being a nepali girl in a foreign land, seeing a foreign land for the first time (apart from India in a trip), I’m having some culture shocks too. It’s good to see the other side of things in these posts. The cot thing.. yes, we do have a “kokro”, the swinging cot. But I was indeed shocked to know babies are left in a separate room. You nailed the right word – “UNTHINKABLE!”. 😀
    The other shock I felt was toilets! I mean toilets without water supply next to you. I’m still having a hard time coping with that. Not sure if it’s the same in aus, but here in nz, they don’t have locks in rooms, even bathrooms and toilets … another shocker!

    • what other kind of culture shocks are you experiencing in new zealand? is it really different for you?

    • Sara McKee says:

      I live in Australia, my mum always had this thing “there won’t be any locked doors in my house” that of course does NOT apply to bathroom and toilet, you are allowed some privacy and dignity and usually although u won’t have a lock on your bedroom door it’s courtesy to knock and get a response before entering. The only problem I once had was because in Scotland we usually just say “coming” it was translated as “come in” and was a little awkward lol!

  22. Sara McKee says:

    My fiancee is Nepalese living in Australia, and I am a white English speaking resident from a Western Country. We have discussed our options when we have children in the future, and I must say he is far more understanding. He said that in the Newar caste that people do that to their babies (the makeup etc) but in his caste that would actually be considered very inappropriate and very much frowned upon for a child. Also the rituals you speak of where only women may visit after birth etc do not happen amongst the Bahun caste at all. His own father was present in the room when he was born and was very proud to do so, plus all of the male family members visited following birth. I don’t have an issue with the pacifier/dummy thing really, my own son spat it out the day he was given it… and as for sleeping in the same bed that did happen with him for a few years but I explained that after a certain age in Australia it’s considered inappropriate for a child to sleep with their parents. And honestly… wouldn’t we rather be enjoying the healthy sex life that we already have? lol He agrees with me, and whilst it’s a difference in culture it’s certainly easy to agree on. We take turns in the care of our son (I was actually a single mother when we started dating) and we are now engaged to be married. Your partner sounds like he is extremely traditional, I hope he can get used to living in the West, it will be nearly impossible to live with someone following a Western lifestyle if he can’t get past these basic ways of life. AS for breastfeeding btw, plenty of mothers do use the bottle though most start off in breast feeding. It depends on communities, you are more likely to find bottle fed babies in the more modern/city communities. I think the great thing about coming to Australia is getting to integrate into Western Culture. My fiancee is a perfect example of this. However he chooses not to take much to do with the Nepalese community in the city we live as they choose not to integrate and segregate themselves from so-called “Westerners”. They are also very unaccepting of single mothers which is the reason we have not been able to keep many Nepalese friends here. However I’m happy because we are truly in love and his family in Nepal have been very accepting of our relationship. I wish you all the best in your future together… but maybe he needs to chill a little!!!

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