When you move to a new country with your children, you obviously want them to feel good in their new home. One of the first things that struck me when we moved to Sao Paulo, was the friendliness of the Brazilians, overall, and their candid love for children in particular.
Discovering the Brazilians friendliness
Whenever we would go for a walk in our neighborhood, we would get compliments from complete strangers: “oh these kids are so cute!”, “such beautiful children”, “they’re so nice/polite/…”.
At first, since we lived in a quiet neighborhood, we would mainly come across older people, and thought they were probably loving grandparents, appreciating any child. But after a while, we realized it was not just the elderly: people from all ages and groups, from teenagers coming out of school, to taxi drivers, cashiers, customers in stores… everyone had that same super friendly behavior towards our children, towards all children. Brazilians just love them!
Explaining the Brazil culture shock
At that time, my portuguese teacher told me about one of her former students, a German mother, who was sincerely shocked by the brazilian friendliness towards her kids. She would feel very uncomfortable and even scared. In many countries, we were taught and teach our children to beware of strangers, especially those being too kind to them. We are scared they have dark motives. That’s why my teacher insisted on explaining the brazilian society does not share this fear. It’s far from being a perfect society, but when it comes to children, they share one opinion: “children are precious”. For being the future of the country, for being still innocent, for being cute. Brazilians like children and want them to know they are appreciated for who they are, just as they are.
It takes us foreigners a little time to adapt to such benevolence and kindness at all places and all times, but it’s so pleasant and so beautiful that you naturally tend to change your way of acting and become friendlier towards unknown children…
Downside of the brazilian children-friendly culture
Well of course, every rose has its thorn, this is no exception. Being so kind to children also involves not telling them when they misbehave, so that you can sometimes witness some odd situations. Like this one kid wanting to stand on the checkout counter at the supermarket, and as his mom wasn’t saying anything, other customers wouldn’t complain either, and the poor cashier was forced to smile as if everything was fine…
This kind of unpleasant situations bothers people, but they won’t complain. Which leads to situations like I once experienced, as I was sitting at a terrace with my kids, when another customer walked up to me and complimented me on how well-educated and well-behaved my kids were! I was really surprised, especially since I had just asked them to be quieter!
Reverse culture shock
If you asked me what I miss most about Brazil, I’d say without hesitation it’s the Brazilians’ nature of character, their openness, their kindness, their friendliness, especially towards children. When we changed country, it was weird at first, not seeing anyone looking at the kids, smiling at them, touching their hair, nor talking to or about them. In other countries, random people will tell you how cute your dog is, not a word about your kids. Brazilians do like dogs a lot, but they’ll compliment kids first. The children also got used to the friendliness and needed some time to adapt to the difference of culture, to understand they were not less acknowledged and appreciated, but that in other countries, people don’t always express it so openly…
So if you’re looking for a kid-friendly place, Brazil is certainly on top of that list!