TikToker Breaks Down Major Differences Between Parenting in the US vs. Spain
Parenting in the United States has a less-than-stellar reputation. Pop culture often portrays parenthood as an exhausting, soul-sucking exercise in futility that leaves many parents a shell of their former selves. However, a new viral TikTok is reminding American parents that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The TikToker, a woman named Ana Gildersleeve, regularly posts videos about Spanish culture, attractions, nightlife, food, and more. However, a recent video about parenting norms between the US and Spain blew up on TikTok earlier this year, amassing more than 2 million views and 391,000 likes.
This TikToker says Spanish and American parenting are very different
In the video, Gildersleeve makes a few important observations about the unnecessary expectations parents place on themselves in the United States. For instance, Gildersleeve says American parents rarely interact with their friends on weeknights. Instead, they operate around their child’s schedule and bedtime.
In Spain, she says, parents hang out with their friends almost every night of the week, bringing their children along for the ride instead of putting them in the driver’s seat. Additionally, playgrounds in Spain often have a coffee shop or bar attached to them. Parents are able to congregate and have a drink while their kids play together.
Gildersleeve also noticed that American parents have a hard time making and keeping plans and playdates with fellow parents. In Spain, it’s apparently very common to call up a fellow parent friend out of the blue and meet them at a nearby park.
Perhaps most importantly, there is much less shame involved with Spanish parenting culture. In the US, Gildersleeve notes, Americans expect mothers to abandon their lives completely. Any parent who lets their kid stay out late or takes time to hang out with friends at bars and clubs often face criticism.
This is not the case in Spain. Parents are still people where Gildersleeve is from. Nobody expects them to preoccupy themselves with their children 24/7. Mothers who want to hang out with their girlfriends can do so without judgment. Allowing a child to sleep in a stroller while their parents go out is perfectly acceptable behavior.
A lot of that boils down to isolation, as well. Where Spanish families often stay close to one another, American families tend to separate themselves from each other. Because of this, Gildersleeve says many parents don’t have “a village” to help raise their children.
Check out the full TikTok for yourself:
Commenters from America reflect on these stringent cultural norms
Gildersleeve’s video prompted a wave of commenters, mostly American, to share their own experiences with restrictive parenting norms in the US. One of the top comments reads, “We’re overworked, underpaid, and can’t afford groceries or medical care. We’re all so stressed out.”
In a similarly relatable comment, one commenter wrote, “We don’t socialize after work because we live an hour away from our jobs.” On that same token, another commenter chimed in to say, “This is exactly why I became a city planner in the US — walkable cities could solve all these issues!!!”
One comment even pointed out the expectation that women who become mothers must shed their sense of self and youth to fit in. “I also noticed in Spain older women still dresses very fashionable,” the commenter wrote. “I feel like a lot of women in their 30s in the US start dressing like grandmas.”
Another commenter was curious to know more about the mental wellbeing of children raised by happy, socially fulfilled parents. “I bet kids in Spain are turning out great cause their parents are happy I’d love to see research on this,” they wrote.
Lastly, the people who don’t yet have kids appreciated this video as a reminder of what’s to come. “This is such a good reminder for future me,” one person wrote.