When you go into another culture, you really don’t know what you will discover, what things will strike a cord because they were not what you expected.
One of the things that most struck me about Paraguayan society was the involvement of the daddies. The young dads were as active participants, as the moms were. From what I could see Paraguay was doing an awfully good job of splitting the parenting duties 50/50, especially those duties which require a nurturing approach.
Most of the kids were there with both parents. It was so touching to see that the dads were doing the cuddling, the play, the feeding, all of it. And all of it without self-consciousness or the awkward “look at me, I’m doing my Mr. Rogers impersonation” sometimes seen on playgrounds in my neighborhood.
Not only were these dads being the ones to wipe up the spittle and soothe the crying infant, they also showed their emotions without shame. The dads were just as likely to cry as the moms. The dads’ faces were as deeply troubled as they waited and waited for their child to emerge from the Operating Room. I fell in love with the daddies of Paraguay for being so sweet, so vulnerable.
Smile. Be happy.I have to admit that one reason I was so touched by their behavior was because it was not what I had expected. In my mind was the notion of Latin American machismo that really had no place in Paraguay. I guess the lesson here is that no preconceived notions ever have a place no matter where we go. Travel with an open heart and open mind ready to see what is really there. Even if where you are traveling is to your neighborhood grocery store.
Smile. Be happy.
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