Enjoy a fascinating conversation with Mei-Ling Hopgood about her adventures in parenting around the world, from raising her children in Argentina where bedtimes are often “flexible” to looking at how play, meals, and chores are approached in other cultures. A delightful discussion that may help parents feel a bit more flexible in their child-rearing practices.
Mei-Ling Hopgood is a journalist, author and professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing and Communications. She has written two books, Lucky Girl, a memoir, and How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, an expIoration of parenting in different cultures. She has freelanced for various publications, ranging from National Geographic Magazine and Marie Claire to the Miami Herald and the Boston Globe. She worked as a reporter with the Detroit Free Press, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and in the Cox Newspapers Washington bureau. A recipient of the National Headliner Best in Show and ICIJ Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting, Hopgood was won investigative and enterprise journalism awards. At Northwestern, she holds the William F. Thomas Endowed Chair and specializes in teaching narrative writing, global and multicultural storytelling and inclusive journalism practices.
Things you'll learn from this episode:
How to expose children to other cultures without getting on an airplane.
Taking a more relaxed approach to meal time
Speaker 1: (00:08)
Hi there. Welcome back to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I'm so glad that you're here. This podcast is all about helping you have more fun and fewer power struggles as you raise your children and your teens. I'm your host, Susan Stiffelman, and the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting With Presence. And it's my honor to share some of the things I've learned in my 40 plus years as a family therapist and educator, or mom, a teacher, so many different career paths, but they all converge here and we cover everything. Everything that has to do with raising joyful, resilient children with guests like Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Monadelahooke, Martha Beck, Kristin Neff, Janet Lansbury, Debbie Reber, Maggie Dent, Julie Lithcott Haims, and so many other wonderful and wise speakers. Before we get started, make sure that you're taking advantage of everything that we offer for parents by visiting susanstiffelman.com.
Speaker 1: (01:06)
You'll be able to get my free newsletter. It has lots of inspiration and support. You can also find out about my Monthly Parenting Without Power Struggles membership program, which is for parents who want my ongoing personal help and are co-parenting with a narcissist support group for those who need that kind of support. There are also, gosh, over 35 deep dive 90 minute masterclasses on everything from the gifts of ADHD with Dr. Ned Hallowell , Tools from Neuroscience with Mona Delahooke, helping Behaviorally Challenge Children Do Well with Dr. Ross Greene and so many more. I'm gonna be offering a fantastic masterclass with Terry Cole, author of Boundary Boss, and that class is called Harmony at Home, A Boundary Boss Approach to Parenting, and it will be added to the replay library just as soon as it airs live. It's gonna be one of those not to be missed sessions.
Speaker 1: (02:00)
It's gonna have so much support for anyone who's ever said yes, when they mean no or who are ready to break with people pleasing patterns. I read her book and I read it in two days and immediately asked her if she'd do a class with me. So you can find out email@example.com. Now let's get started. My guest today is Mei-Ling Hopgood, Hello, how are you? Oh my gosh, I'm so happy that you're here. I loved your book so, so much that I reached out to you before I'd even finished reading it, . So let me just tell people a little bit about you and then we'll jump right in. I have some great questions for you and things to talk about. Thank you so much. So Mei-Ling Hopgood is a journalist, an author and professor at Northwestern University's Middle School of Journalism in Media. She's written two books. The first one we're gonna talk a lot about today, how Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, which is an exploration of parenting in different cultures. And Lucky Girl, a memoir Mei-Ling is a recipient of the national headliner Best in Show, an I C U award for outstanding International Investigative Port reporting and holds the William F. Thomas Endowed chair at Northwestern University specializing in teaching narrative writing, global and multicultural storytelling and inclusive journalism practices. So you're a heavy hitter,
Speaker 2: (03:24)
, sometimes they don't feel so heavy a hitter or, or smart, you know, appearing can be like, can throw you off in any given moment, even when you think, oh, I got this right.
Speaker 1: (03:36)
Yeah, totally, totally. So as I said, this is your book. For those of you who are seeing this on video, it's just you can see I've got it marked up. It's, I don't know, it really affected me because I traveled with my own son when he was young. And so I seldom that I find another parent who took that path, although you took it radically more than I did. Can you just start by sharing a little bit about what the book is and the story is behind it?
Speaker 2: (04:04)
Sure. Thank you so much. So I, I have an really international background. I was adopted from Taiwan when I was a baby and came here. I was raised outside of Detroit with my parents and two Korean brothers. So I already kind of started out with this international background and a intrinsic search to, to figure out where I fit in the us but sort of in the world both, you know, psychologically and just literally where I fit in, you know, in terms of looks and background and what my culture was. So I ha I think I had an innate like questioning about those things. And I always had a travel bug. I, right away in college, I studied in Mexico. I was interested in doing international journalism. We traveled a lot and I traveled a whole lot as a journalist and as an adult.
Speaker 2: (05:08)
And at the same time I met my birth family in Taiwan when I right outta college. And so all the time I'm sitting here thinking, what is, what, what are my beliefs? What is my culture? I am, I'm Chinese by ethnic origin, but I studied in Latin America and that became sort of an expertise area. I definitely knew more Spanish than I knew Mandarin even when I met my birth family. And so I was always, again, looking in adulthood for, okay, what, what do I believe? How do I wanna live? And and I just, I really loved travel and part of that is probably fitting, again, the search to fit in and in the world. So this is a long way of saying, you know, I was living abroad as a journalist in South America and I had been thinking because I had observed my birth family and their practices, right, of, of the, I have a huge birth family, lots of older siblings with kids, and they did, they thought things that were radically different from what, you know, the sort of the middle class Midwestern upbringing I had.
Speaker 2: (06:35)
And in my travels for stories, same thing, you know, whether you're on you're visiting native people in Brazil or you are in Europe, you know, writing about a family, doing something different or in Africa, it was just so fascinating to see and observe how other people do things and what they believe I'm sure for yourself. Right. what you saw with your son.
Speaker 1: (07:02)
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And, and what he got to experience,
Speaker 2: (07:06)
Speaker 1: (07:07)
He went to India for the first time. We took him when he was two and a half, and then again it's seven and 10. And and he's those memories, especially as he was a little bit older, they're just, I emblazoned on his consciousness and then it was Africa and a lot of different places where I know our kids, you know, they can't help but have a knowing or an understanding inside. Now not every parent can offer that to their children, but I think that you've shared some stories that might enlighten all parents to bring more, less rigidity. Right? I think that was the thing that I really took from when you're exposed you yourself or your kids to how things are done in other cultures and places that it loosens the grip of some of these things that we believe so staunchly about what's right and what we should be doing and what's fair and all what we deserve and all of those things.
Speaker 2: (08:01)
Right? Absolutely. I mean, and, and so one, the first anecdote that I talk about in the, in the book is still striking to me to this day, right? I, I mean, we come from a judgey American viewpoint about what's right, or like the idea that there's an actual right. And I remember when we moved to Buenos Air and I would see kids out with their families extremely late, like, I mean 11, 12 at night running around the restaurant or at parties and sort of that judgey instinct as a, an American, what are they doing up, you know? Right. And sort of slowing down my mind and being like, wait a minute. There's a reason why they're up. Right. And there's, there's really good conversations to have with those parents who are like, of course they're gonna be with us when we have dinner, which is really late. Right. And of course, you're gonna be part of the social lives that we have put together. We want them to be with their extended family, whether they're tired or not, you know, that's less of a value than, you know, like really having them be there and if they need to fall asleep, they're gonna fall asleep where we are versus running home, putting them in bed, you know? Right. And that our lives are constructed around their social Right. Structures.
Speaker 1: (09:25)
And that's, you know, shocking and confronting. And I'm not gonna say, you know, where I land on that because I have opinions on both. That could argue both sides.
Speaker 2: (09:37)
Speaker 1: (09:38)
But I gotta say I've had parents who had an opportunity, for instance, to travel because for many years I was a family therapist and educator in Malibu, and I had very famous actors and producers and, you know, people that were, he heavily working, they were working all the time. And they often would have an opportunity to take their kids with them to a set for a shoot and they would say, oh, but we don't want Johnny to miss first grade. You know, he might miss two months of his first, and I'd be thinking like, go take Donny. You know, there's not that much you're gonna miss in favor of the experiences that they could have in these other places. So let's start by talking. So you've talked, you've referred to what's going on in, in your particular case it was Argentina and the families were not hyper focused on bedtime at eight. And we know that consistency is important and that children need a certain amount of sleep. And so we could we'll just say that those are a given, but you're just pointing out that kids will sometimes just lay down on an auntie's lap or on the bench of the restaurant. Right. Do you wanna say any more about that? Cause I wanna keep going. There's so many countries that you covered.
Speaker 2: (10:50)
Yeah, I mean, I, I guess, I mean, and I would agree with you, and it wasn't that the families didn't have consistency of some kind, like during the week when they'd have to go to preschool or to school. But the con but the idea of the child adapting to the, the family's rhythm. And so you're at a party and you have 'em there, you put 'em to bed in the host's bed. I mean, like, it it Right. That existed. And in an acceptance of children in adult spaces, like in America, we'd be like, oh, kids don't belong here at a party. Or there was separation in some sense, but much more like, I remember I didn't have kids and we hosted parties and people would bring their kids and be like, can we put them to bed in your bed? And that was such a like, oh, what is that?
Speaker 2: (11:46)
At first? And then I came as, you know, I had both my kids there, they came to appreciate it so much. Wow. Cause they could be part of it. Wow. But they could also be, I could have still the adult time that you need. So it wasn't completely, you know, oh, free for all. Okay. And certainly, and I'm happy to talk about this, we were talking about it earlier certainly the, the teachings of the sleeping gurus and, you know, that people were really adapting to that too. And some people didn't do those things. Yeah. As a cultural norm with the family. It's like, why would grandma would be why, what I would say, why would I not wanna have my kids here now?
Speaker 1: (12:32)
Amazing. And and we also know that children who are hyper now there are kids who are highly sensitive or they're on the spectrum and you, you know, the structure is necessary. So I'm not gonna throw that out. But for many children that flexibility is now internalized. So I saw this with my son who at one point we flew from Nigeria, Nairobi to Australia, I think it was like a 47 hour flight. And it's like, and he's a very comfortable traveler. He had traveled from the time he was very tiny and had to kind of make do in various set settings. And so we can also have some faith in our kids' ability to adapt. And I think to some degree we, we've drunk the Kool-Aid in terms of, oh gosh, children need everything so regimented that in a way we raise kids who are not very flexible. Do you, do you see that?
Speaker 2: (13:31)
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I do think you, you point out something important though. I mean, it, it's always, for me during this, this exploration, it was always the why and the cultural context. And y Americans don't tend to eat as late as Argentines. Yeah. I mean, it's not gonna be like, we're all out . I mean, at 10 starting our meal I used to ask a friend who's a also was a journalist, and they didn't get home from work until like nine 30. So the answer to me when I asked this question of them while I was doing the book, they were like, we wanna have dinner with our son. So it, it, it doesn't exist in the same cultural context. Right. So the importance of all these elements of routine and it, it's like, it, it it applies in a different cultural context. Yeah. Okay. So it's like here, people don't generally stay out. Yeah. You know, wait till 10, eat for dinner.
Speaker 1: (14:27)
Yeah. Yeah. And I'm sure that, you know, one thing, and I was very curious about, I don't wanna go too far onto it cuz of the other ideas I wanna talk about, but you know, if you have a child who on occasion is staying up till really late, how are they showing up at school? That's at eight.
Speaker 2: (14:41)
Exactly. Exactly. I mean, and there's tantrums in all countries as we know. So it's not there's always a regulatory, you know, period. .
Speaker 1: (14:53)
Yeah. Ok. Alright. So the next one I wanna talk about again, in this fabulous book that you've written is about meals and oh my gosh, the anecdote that you wrote about what goes on in France. And can you just share a little bit of the, the, the, the initial story of what you walked in on with these little kids having what they were having and then maybe spin off from there?
Speaker 2: (15:19)
Yeah, I mean, I think that it, so, and there's been other books written about French, you know, I know parenting of course bringing about Bebe and some other it's just a French way of thinking about food. You eat what's on the table and you don't you don't do kid food. And that was occurring at a, actually more than France when I would travel. It's like sort of the expectation. You take what's on the table versus you make what the kid, there's a little bit of a, anyway and I myself had strung feelings about my kids eating and wanting that to occur also. And I'm trying to think of the anecdote that you're referring to. Well,
Speaker 1: (16:08)
You, and you're talking about lunchtime at LaMi Maria. Oh, yes, yes. In this little French village. So they've got fresh par, boiled green beans dressed with olive oil vinegar and salt and pepper. These are two and three year olds and then the next meal, you know, and they encourage each other. Then they have some fresh bri and some fruit for dessert and then roasted chicken with, you know, I mean,
Speaker 2: (16:30)
Yes, I would like to sit down and eat that. I know, right?
Speaker 1: (16:33)
Speaker 2: (16:36)
And you know, it's like, how can you not love food then? Right. I mean, you know, it's so hard as a parent to do that kind of good cooking. It's not like I, you know, of course. But it's just the exposure. I, I just admired that, that I, what I like the most about it for me as a parent is thinking about what food do I like and what food would I like to eat? Yeah. And hopefully putting it out there now, and you understand these, I have two kids and one would eat anything. And I have a much pickier younger one, so it's still sort of my view is kind of putting it out there. And she's more as a teen, but , but like putting it out there, try it and see, and that's sort of this forceful, you know, making 'em eat. But I mean it, and it is again, cultural context and pure context. Right. If peers are eating.
Speaker 1: (17:33)
Yeah. You talked about that in the book. How one of you know, one little girl doesn't want to eat then, and then the other kids are going, oh, this is so good. But you got fish purees and you know, these I mean words, I don't even know what these things are, but you've got the the pasta with, with roast bee salad and PEPs of salmon and wiping.
Speaker 2: (17:57)
Right. I mean, and that's true. Like, so I would also give an example of my Taiwanese family, right. They things that I, you know, a kid, like I remember I was at, when I was writing the book, I was visiting them and we were at this big family dinners and there's courses after courses and my little young niece who is not young anymore, but walked up, popped the eyeball out of, you know, a whole fish and popped it in her mouth. And, and I remember my sister, who's also adopted, and I, she's Swiss and I go just like being like, oh my gosh, that just happened. Right. , it, it's just, I mean, and I do think cultural context in peer
Speaker 1: (18:40)
Speaker 2: (18:41)
Influence has a lot to do with it. Yeah.
Speaker 1: (18:44)
But I think that the beauty of, of what you've written about is more to speak to an, a thread that I think runs through so much of parenting, which is why I was so excited about it. It's not the details if whether you implement this idea or that one because as you say, some of them won't really apply or just a little too far afield. But it's the thread that I'm interested in, which is relaxation, which is sort of unc unclenching your fists and letting the knot in your stomach, uncoil having to do with a trust in your kids. And for instance, if you sit down to a beautiful meal that someone's prepared and your child says, I hate this, I don't wanna eat any of it, that you can say, oh sweetheart, well it's up to you. You know, I, you might enjoy it, but there's not a fixation on it. You know, I've done a class on meals, it's a masterclass, I've done a class on sleep. Those are available. So those are deeper dives, but just to sort of skim the surface and say, when we are less attached to what our child does or doesn't do, there's a great quote, he who is most attached to a particular outcome has the least amount of power.
Speaker 2: (19:51)
Speaker 1: (19:52)
And that a lot of times like, oh no, what if grandma who made this amazing, you know, weird concoction that Johnny's never seen gets offended because Johnny's turning up his nose or saying, Ooh, that looks like vomit or whatever. . Like, if we can be less, whenever we're less needy, whenever we're less needy around our children, then there's so much more space and freedom for them to be who they are and maybe eventually to get hungry and try it without us sort of scrambling to make the food that they would rather have or anyway, I think so much of it is about us.
Speaker 2: (20:28)
Yeah. I love that. I lo it's exactly what you see in these different places because I mean, it is that outcome. It's the control, it's the idea that there's one thing that they should be doing. Right. And believe me, I have to work on this every day. Yeah. My, with my kids still. And you
Speaker 1: (20:48)
Have two teenage daughters
Speaker 2: (20:50)
Who change and , like, they just, they like one thing one time and then now they don't. And they're in a whole different phase. So yeah, I think it's like holding on to the control to the control and the idea that there's an outcome that's the best. Oh gosh, I love it. Other than the kind of happy, healthy, right. They
Speaker 1: (21:12)
Mm-Hmm. . So let's talk about, this was a big one too, play because a lot of parents now I am a big fan of parents playing with their children when they want to, when they can. But I have a membership program and parents meet with me twice a month. And there is a, a question that often comes up, which is around my child does not know how to play by him or herself, they can't do it, and I have other things to do, or I have a baby, or I'm working from home. So can, can we sort of just play around, play around. Ha I didn't mean that with talking about the idea that children can entertain themselves sometimes and that parents don't always have to be their playmates.
Speaker 2: (21:54)
Right. Right. I mean, I mean, in most, I in many cultures, like historically parents had to go to the field and work. Right. They had to, in Mayan villages, they had to go out and work in the fields. And they had in, in many places still parents go out and work in a and kids have to take care of each other. And most of the time they figure it out. I mean, this is, I love anthropologists. They're so matter of fact about these things. It's just like, they're like, you know, they just, they learn to play, they learn to walk to school, they learn. And I think there's somewhat of a trend here, right. I've read lots of like, what is it? The the
Speaker 1: (22:39)
Free range parenting. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (22:40)
Free range parent. Yeah. You know, and, and play in terms of, I mean, I am not, and have never been like a role loving the role play kind of, I'm a, I'm a playful person, but I've never been like, oh, I love to get down and do like pretend Barbie or something. But the whole idea of finding your own way to play I think appealed to me anyway. I just think that most of the time people and humanity children played with each other. Yeah. And in villages and in tribes and in, in community settings. I mean, we see it at our playgrounds, right? Yeah. They wanna do that. Yeah. mine had little interest in me being around when they did that too, and I like that. But for sure there is more, like, there was a number of examples in this in the book, but just there was more play and it's kind of parallel. There's also work, like there's a talking work that are different.
Speaker 1: (23:49)
Let's segue into that because that's kind of mindblowing. I think parents will find that. Just wait, what? So yeah. Right.
Speaker 2: (23:57)
So there's lots of researcher that I I I in the book and we, I talk about the Mayan ethic of like, you contribute to the high household. It's not like chores. It's literally you need to do x, y, and Z task to help the household survive. And the practical, the feeling of practical contribution in Amaya household that you were you're going to help cook, you're going to help gather the, you know, gather what ever foods or clean up, but not as a paid chore. Right. But rather part of the functioning of the household. Right. And again, it's really hard for us in a western in a, in a, in American middle class setting to kind of, to, to do that in a way that's organic. I think some parents do it better than others. I try, I've kind of found something now, but it's taken a while.
Speaker 2: (24:59)
It's still like kind of this negotiation of our chores rather than Okay. I, I mean this is the one for me that's kind of been motivated off of what I learned from my end family on the work that my y my youngest is now cooking one meal a week and she really enjoys that. She gets to contribute to the household in that way. Wow. And knows it makes, it makes that night easier and she enjoys it. And there's such a difference with that than, oh, you have to fold your clothes or like, you have to do this versus I feel like I'm contributing in some way.
Speaker 1: (25:47)
Nice. And how old is she?
Speaker 2: (25:48)
She is turning 12 in this next. Yeah.
Speaker 1: (25:51)
Speaker 2: (25:52)
Speaker 1: (25:55)
I love that. It's funny that the language that you're using that they're contributing to the functioning of the household is exactly what I say when I talk about chores. Those words contribute functioning of the household and that we don't pay for that. That it's part of their, their participation in the team of the family. And parents, again, have very little confidence, partly because they don't see it around them. Right. I think if it's the norm, it's easier. So I, you have a beautiful way of talking about the integration of play with work. Can you say a little bit more about what a two-year-old might be doing that might feel like play to the child but actually be contributing or a three or four year old,
Speaker 2: (26:38)
That was my experiment, right? I was gonna have her water, the plants up , but they love water. They love the idea of, you know, like taking out the water and playing with water and just, and so, so that there is some play in that level of like what they're doing. I mean, I'll admit it takes work to get them to play to work .
Speaker 1: (27:02)
Speaker 2: (27:03)
It was like the, the hose was really, she was little and the hose was really heavy or helping her carry the bucket. Right. Which is not like the traditional way , I mean, parents and, you know, that are busy in the field are gonna be like, you gotta take that bucket. And that's, but I mean, again, it's again, the context of where I was trying to do things was different from the context in, in which the families did it. But I always thought of it as inspiration. Nice. Like, I, I hoped too that my book or or this exploration was inspiration and not advice or not like prescriptive. Like cuz I am not an expert like you and I just observed the differences and I was like, oh, this is, this is inspiring. Can I really potty train my kid this early? Can I do these things a little bit differently than I would've read in the typical or seen my, my friends do. Yeah. But again, the cultural context in the environmental context is so important. Yeah. Yeah. You can't exactly yeah. Copy what is happening yeah. In another culture or place.
Speaker 1: (28:17)
Very well said. And, and I think the exposure to the ideas is really what's so interesting and that I was so excited to do this session with you just to encourage people to widen their view. Particularly now, and I could go off on a four hour tangent, so I'm really gonna restrain myself. But the thing about children being on screens and that screen is the only way for many children that they enjoy playing anymore, it's almost the only activity they enjoy. And we know that there's a high, high addiction, there's a lot of stuff going on in the brain when the switch gets turned on and that it requires an effort and a vigilance and a commitment in parents way beyond. Just, can I encourage my child to eat what's on their plate or help out a little bit around the house?
Speaker 1: (29:10)
Then we have to also overcome, I just wanna do this. I'll be five minutes it, you know, one more game. So, but it's been my observation that when the screens are turned off for a period of time, and I'm doing a class on this actually in June with an amazing woman, Tiffany Shela who wrote a, a book about taking a tech Shabbat a 24 hour period off screen and then next month on boundary boss setting boundaries. And so a lot of these things are in service of us looking at what's actually in the best interest of our child and our family. And I think these ideas that you're talking about, if we can just entertain some, some way of maybe being a little bit different from our friends and our neighbors and taking a few chances where the screen goes off and we don't play with their child and we don't do everything for them and we kind of convey a trust in their ability to kind of get there.
Speaker 2: (30:11)
I think those are amazing. And I can't, that, I can't say enough how much I think those are important. I think if you wanted to apply, like it's not that if parents are interested in kind of these cultural explorations and observations, I don't think you have to go travel to do them. Right. You can go to festivals. I mean that's a beginner level, like entry level, but like the idea that you go and you're around different cultures and people and to your point right, that you're off a screen and you are hyper present to people around you to differences to the beauty of life, to the complication of people and to make those observations. And I'd be interested to hear like about your son, I mean, just having to be present to, wow, people are speaking a different language, people are doing things differently, this looks and feels different, the smells tastes different, is off the screen, it's experiential, it's a deeper learning. Yeah. Yeah. And a questioning of why, or a questioning of like, so what is my cultural, you know, like just kind of like, and of course that's older, but even little kids, right? If you're able to have some exposure to different music. Yes,
Speaker 1: (31:36)
Speaker 2: (31:38)
You're present in a way that screens just it. Wow. You can see the shows about little, you know, we were talking about little kids walking our, you know, in different cultures, but just the idea that wow people eat things that are different, the music's different. The start of a question of I am not the only center of the universe thing way to be Right. And wow, people might do something differently and that's interesting. Yeah.
Speaker 1: (32:05)
I think that's such a great point. Just going to a, a festival, you know, whether it's a cco de Mayo or whatever it might be in your community Ethiopian Day, you know, like where you're trying different foods and seeing different cultures and dress and language and, and providing that exposure to our children. It was interesting cuz my son traveled quite a lot. We, we traveled a lot and I traveled a lot with him on my own. And when it came time to doing his year abroad or his study semester abroad, he ended up going to Dakar in Senegal where his friends were going to Europe, kind of cool places and living in like the, the basement of this senese, you know, Senegalese family. And you know, I remember he wrote me to say, yeah, we, they sacrificed a goat today on the roof. And then we, you know, like that, that he had that kind of opportunity early informed his, I think his sense of being a world citizen.
Speaker 1: (33:04)
And so you talk about other things, we won't be able to go into everything again, you guys for, you're on the YouTube. Here's the book, how Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting by Mailing Hop. Good. It is so good. I needed a fiction book and this happened to be here and I picked it up and that's my been my book. It was just so readable and so fun. You talk about other things too, like potty training, some shocking and amazing things and fathers, I loved the chapter about fathers, so I really encourage people to check that out. Last question, you know, that may take some thinking, but do you see any indication in your daughters that they had a different early experience in their lives com compared to, although I hate that word , I don't like comparing, but you do see them in the context of their peers. They're being raised in what the Chicago area now?
Speaker 2: (33:58)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Speaker 1: (33:59)
So is there any evidence that their early years were a little bit different?
Speaker 2: (34:06)
A couple things. So the first thing I kind of just finishing the, the festival and then visiting. I mean, and I think this is probably the same with your family, just to, if you, if you start to, to have those adventures and questions with your kids to come at it with a level of respect and curiosity, but respect and curiosity being important and not like, oh, the culture's there for to teach me something. Right. It's sort of just an openness that we are humans and we are engaging and we are just learning from each other and respect as it if, if that's something that someone wants to do more of. So, but Bo bouncing off of that, I would say definitely my kids. So we moved back from Buenos when my oldest was four so long time ago. Right. And my youngest was a baby.
Speaker 2: (35:07)
So I mean, in terms of real memory, I'm not sure that like, I mean, it's gonna be limited for sure. When we got back, one of the, the anecdotes that I still love to this day and the value that I put on bilingual, multilingual, like education and, and learning another language is my daughter the young, the oldest was so like speaking of play and a and in any given situation, she wanted to play with other kids and she would run up to them and say, you wanna play with me? And I remember one time in our public library, sh there was a shy other child and my daughter Sophia went up to this child and was, would you wanna play with me? And this child, like kind of was shy and not answering and then she changed and said [inaudible] like in, in in Argentine Spanish.
Speaker 2: (36:04)
And I, and I was like, this is the value psychologically, she just reached out to that child thinking, I can reach out in this way. Very, that's selfish, right? my kid wanted to play. But the idea that you're reaching outward and that you had a different kind of experience in that way, I, I really like it still resounds with me and I think that I see that in the way they engage now with people, with their peers, et cetera. We did, I did almost every year except during the pandemic, we went to Buenos airs, we returned because I, I started a program there, a journalism program there. So they've gone back and so they have a connection with their roots, their citizens still of Argentina, so, and us. So I wanted to maintain it past that sort of nascent memory thing.
Speaker 2: (37:06)
Right, right, right. So they have a connection with it. That's, that's great. Based on travel, well, we've traveled a lot internationally. We've seen my family and I do think there's this sort of openness and definitely like you said for your kids, like they can travel on a plane better than they can travel in the car because they, we have been lucky and fortunate enough to be able to do those things right. With sort of their adaptability when faced with those unknowns, I think is good. An openness about who, what their identities are and like, yeah.
Speaker 1: (37:46)
Speaker 2: (37:47)
Speaker 1: (37:48)
Beautiful. Yeah, that's beautiful. And I love that you say you don't have to travel. Most people can't travel the way that right now, but you know what, there are neighborhoods in almost every urban town that are, you know, all there's so many cultures so close to us that we can get to know and participate in there, there and with respect, with curiosity, with an openness, with a and
Speaker 2: (38:10)
Like one family, right, exactly. Exactly. One family in your neighborhood that it's just, it's the same. Sorry, I, I don't know. Yeah, no,
Speaker 1: (38:18)
Speaker 2: (38:19)
Go ahead. It's the same kind of at different levels, but sort of that hesitance to, to reach out to someone like a family that might be a little different is the same larger, you know, it's larger to go live somewhere of course cuz you're doing, but it's the same. Can we, can you open those communications and connections and it's the same barrier like our, you know, not being sure of something someone or that is different and some Yeah. Practices that are different and approaching it with curiosity versus threat, you know? Yes. And, and understanding if you, if you can make that friend, there's learning that is gonna go on every way. Yeah. And and for your kids. Yeah. So it's just, I I think of it as kind of the same barrier but on a different scale. Right?
Speaker 1: (39:13)
And if we look and we pull the camera back and we say, well, how is the world possibly gonna get over this fever that we're in around hate and divisiveness and there are so many families from other culture or there's refugee families that, you know, would be, you know, we need to bring into our lives, you know, to, to create these connections. In the end, we're all the same. And I think that if we can raise our little ones to not see the barriers that so many have now, you know, have, have has created so much pain for so many, this is the, the beautiful age to begin. So thank you so much for this beautiful work. Thank
Speaker 2: (39:53)
You. You're doing
Speaker 1: (39:54)
Truly. I could just talk on and on. As you know, we are going over time a little bit, but I appreciate you taking the time and any final thoughts?
Speaker 2: (40:03)
No, it's been an honor to chat with you.
Speaker 1: (40:06)
All right. So tell people or I can just hold up the book. Is there anything in particular that I know that Lucky Girl is your memoir and this is the mm-hmm. the other one?
Speaker 2: (40:15)
Yeah. No, I mean that's, it's just an honor to be here and thank you so much for having this great conversation.
Speaker 1: (40:23)
So this is Mei-Ling Hopgood. Good, everyone. Now if you've enjoyed this episode then we've enjoyed having you and , please consider leaving a comment or rating or a review. It really helps us get the word out and I know that there are people that would love to know about this fascinating conversation. If you could just send the link or share it if there's a topic you'd like me to talk about, please send an email to Susan@susanstiffelman.com. You can go to actually susanstiffelman.com/podcast. You can get my free newsletter and hear about the classes and the programs and the memberships that I offer. And don't forget that I've got this amazing class coming up on Boundary Boss Parenting with Terry Cole.
Speaker 1: (41:14)
So let's just take a moment and I always like to wrap up Mei-Ling with just kind of settling us back down and acknowledging ourselves for wanting to grow and to learn. Maybe pat yourself on the back, parents who are carving out a minute or two to sort of show up and keep learning what could be more important than growing and learning to raise more compassionate and caring children in our world. Okay, then remember, no matter how busy life gets, look for those moments of sweetness and joy. Take care, stay well and we'll see you next time.