Teaching children self-reliance


Is letting go of guilt and giving kids more freedom a better way to parent? When this mother saw that kids rode subways and played on a playgrounds unsupervised in Germany, she realized American parenting needed to change.

Sara Zaske is an American author who lived in Germany for six and a half years. She wrote about the differences between German and American parenting practices in her book "Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children." Zaske suggests that today's Germans know something that American parents don't about raising kids with "selbstandigkeit," or self-reliance.

When Zaske joined Salon's Alli Joseph on an episode of "Salon Talks," she explained how American parents carry too much guilt regarding their children's independence, especially when it comes to childcare. "They [Germans] do not have that sense of guilt. At least in East Germany, childcare is seen as something good for the child. It's good to be around other kids. It's good to learn from other adults and have new experience," Zaske said. "Children really need more than just two people, just their parents. They are growing up and exploring their world, which means they need to meet and interact with other people."

Watch the full episode above to learn more about the lessons Zaske thinks Americans can learn from the German education system.

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