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‘A World of Babies’ looks at how different cultures view parenting

Ask five parents about their parenting style and family customs and you will likely get five different – sometimes conflicting – answers.

Now, expand that proposition to eight societies around the world. That’s the premise of “A World of Babies,” by Alma Gottlieb and Judy DeLoache. The recently published second edition features a new introduction and eight new or revised case studies that directly address contemporary parenting challenges, from China and Peru to Israel and the West Bank. It is written as imagined advice manuals to parents, addressing cultural traditions and more. Rather than a “how-to” for readers, the book gives context to how cultures view parenting.

The book’s topics range from universal to controversial. No topic is off limits, addressing such things as allowing pre-school age children to run freely with friends around the mountains and beaches of the Faroe Islands.

While the topics may prove challenging and even shocking in some cases, the fact that each chapter is written as a fictional child care manual does make it accessible beyond college classroom use. Most importantly, it challenges parents to think about where their beliefs about childhood come from, how they are shaped and how they fit in around the world.

“A World of Babies,” by Alma Gottlieb and Judy DeLoache is published by Cambridge University Press.