When Sara Zaske moved from Oregon to Berlin with her husband and toddler, she was surprised to discover that German parents give their children a great deal of freedom. In Berlin, kids walk to school by themselves, ride the subway alone, cut food with sharp knives and even play with fire. German parents did not share her parental fears and their children were thriving. Was she doing the opposite of what she intended, which was to raise capable children?
Through her own family's often funny experiences as well as interviews with other parents, teachers, and experts, Zaske shares the many unexpected parenting lessons she learned from living in Germany. ACHTUNG BABY reveals that today's Germans know something that other parents don't (or have perhaps forgotten) about raising kids with 'selbstandigkeit' (self-reliance), and provides many new and practical ideas parents everywhere can use to give their own children the freedom they need to grow into responsible, independent adults.
Zaske details her experience mothering in Germany to present a portrait of German-style parenting that is at once entertaining, surprising, and instructive. With curiosity and insight, she reveals how many of our parenting assumptions stem not from evidence but from insecurity and fear - Kim Brooks, author of The Houseguest and Small Animals, and editor, Salon.com
This is a beautiful book. Zaske uses her personal experience raising her children in Berlin to reveal the differences - fundamental and trivial, serious and humorous - between German and American parenting, finding lessons in the ways Germans rear their children from birth to adolescence. Zaske probes our cultural differences and mines the hard data to offer us her pungent observations. Her insights deserve our attention - Robert LeVine, author of Do Parents Matter?
I was completely drawn into this marvelous account of how Zaske learned to trust her children and allow them the freedoms they craved. It is the story of one family and, at the same time, of childrens' and parents' lives in two huge modern nations. I recommend it to all American parents, educators, policy makers, and others concerned with children's lives and the future of our society - Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn: How Releasing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life