Different ways to do childcare in India and Norway

Hi everyone

My previous article about how TopGear insulted India resulted in a quite interesting comment from a Norwegian living in Mumbai. She pointed to this article about how some children of NRI have been taken care of the Norwegian Childcare Service. I must admit that I haven’t really seen this case in detail, only a brief article in a Norwegian newspaper, so it was interesting to see the Indian view of it.

It seems like the case is based on a very different understanding of how to bring up children. For me living here in India, it is not really a surprise to see such issues. In the Norwegian article it is claimed that this is not due to misunderstanding of cultures. As I don’t know the case in detail, I can surely not answer on that. But that there are some very different ways of doing this is for sure. Again, I will not point any fingers and say what is the right or wrong way, just state some of the observations I have seen. Actually I discussed this with some of my colleagues just a few weeks back. There is no doubt that India is going through a lot of changes right now, and that this affects the whole concept of what a family is. I think I say nothing wrong when I state that previously the wife should take care of the home, and that was her primarily response. The husband on the other hand was the one who should work and get the income. With more girls now working, this is changing. There is more pressure on the girls to also earn money. How does this affect the way children are brought up? What my two colleagues, who are both married girls with one child each said, is that this mostly affects the girls. The Indian man, as they said, will not change. The girl will have to do both the office work and the housework. One of them live together with her parents and she said that she is the one who will take care of her daughter during the weekdays, while it will be her mother who does this in the weekend. The husband will do little or nothing for the same.

How is this in Norway then? Well, first of all, I think it is mandatory that also the husband take some maternity leave! Not sure how much is mandatory, but I think it is at least four weeks. As late as yesterday I was with a non-Indian and non-Norwegian friend and we discussed this issue. I said that for me it would be obvious that I would change my behavior if I got a child! No matter if that should happen in India or in Norway. I would surely have at least tried to adjust my work so that I would be able to do my part of the childcare. Some people here would maybe look at me in a strange way, but well, that is just the way I have been brought up. If it should happen that I actually get a child in India, off course I would have to adjust to how things are here, but I do still think that adding some of the Norwegian “flavor” to childcare would not be a big problem. Maybe I’m wrong here. But well, that’s at least my opinion.

Last summer I wrote a post about a book called “Love Will follow”, which is a story about how the Indian marriage have evolved over the last few decades. This might also explain some of the issues discussed above.

In two weeks time I will be back in Norway and do a lecture called: “Why is cultural understanding so important when offshoring”. (Article in Norwegian). The whole presentation will off course be made available here after it is done. But I guess I can tell that one important conclusion is that when you work with different cultures it is important to use that difference as your advantage not as your disadvantage. Yes, there are some differences, but try to look into that as something positive, not something negative! It have taken me about one and a half year to get to there, but now I at least do try every day to live up to that idea.

Talk to you soon



2 thoughts on “Different ways to do childcare in India and Norway

  1. Bravo Karsten!
    You make an interesting point about looking positively at differences in cultures. Do you think we in Norway follow this path – I assume you are aware of the situation of integration of immigrants here and they are required to be as Norwegian as they could.
    Although nobody can force an immigrant to follow the Norwegian way…believe you me if you dont you are a social outcast.
    Point is your philosophy is something that the politicians in Norway need to look and may be try to learn actually from India.
    Learn to adjust, assimilate and absorb as they say in the land of ganges. I think that has been the beauty of Indian civilization. Norway is coming to terms with globalization but does not want to adjust, assimilate and absorb, rather it wants the immigrant to Norwegianize herself/ himself.


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