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How Children in a Maya Village Do Chores (npr.org)
382 points by curtis 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 202 comments

I know this is a bit petty, but I've stared to resent a little that even though I'm Mexican, I'm not considered Western. What am I, then? Eastern? Central? Southern?

I'm not just arguing about the geography, but about the culture. I feel much more like a Canadian or a USian (or a Guatemalan) than I feel like an African, Middle Easter, East Asian, or South Asian. I speak the same languages as Europe, have been mostly exposed to Christianity and its cultural heritage, read the same books and watch many of the same shows as Europe, the US, and Canada, I use sit-down toilet, not squat toilets, and I eat mostly with forks and knives, not with chopsticks or with my fingers.

While it is true that the culture of the Mayans in my country is slightly foreign to me (as it is to most Mexicans, since most of us are not Mayan, and the Mayans have always had separatist tendencies to begin with), I still feel like the Mayans and I are by now part of the greater western world than any other part of the world. We shouldn't be so foreignised.

My resentment, of course, comes because "Western" is being used here in the sense of money-having, with a certain air of superiority, however well-intentioned or benign this air may be. True that culture and wealth go hand-in-hand, but I think we're all more alike than different. I didn't like doing chores as a kid and I don't know a lot of Mexicans who did. We're more alike to those who self-apply and exclude us from the "Western" label than we are different.

My friend, this was something that surprised me 15-20 years ago when thanks to the Internet I started to interact with Americans. At the end Western is a code word for White dominated places or sometimes just Anglo. This came from Huntington's Clash of Civilizations a profoundly ignorant work.

As you wrote you can live in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo or Mexico City, huge cosmopolitan places, maybe you have some recent relatives who came from Italy or Spain or Portugal, speak Spanish or Portuguese, are Catholic, read Cervantes, Proust, Camoes. Listen to Opera or Rock or Baladas. But somehow you are at outsider. Sam from Indiana is the only true inheritor of Homer, Pindarus and Quevedo legacy.

At the end my advice is to scoff and move on.

Reminds me of a quote about culture in star trek: somehow, in this utopy, they only know of Shakespeare,an edgy hard boiled detective character, Captain Proton and baseball. The vision americans had for the ST utopia was very los angeles centered.

Are there any notable SF works where it's more or less impossible to estimate the culture and era of the author?

It's an SF precursor but it seems to me few people know that Frankenstein comes from a book written by a woman 200 years ago (I just realized it's that old. Surprised no one produced a 200th anniversary movie).

And now a story on the front page about her mom!


Perhaps the Culture series?

That's one of the greatest comments I've read on here.

100% gringo here, UK-born Australian. About 10 years ago I started meeting latin americans online (also filipinos), I liked them so much I learnt spanish and was soon chatting online 95% with latin american friends. Played Clash of Clans in a colombian clan hehe, love watching online chess tournament commentary in spanish etc. Am starting to love Portuguese too.

I've come to hate the word "American" meaning estadounidense, its arrogance and effrontery; I try not to ever use it. (It was hard not to respond below to the many astoundingly ignorant, half-coherent comments on that subject.) I love the 'underdog' feeling of the online latin community. It's largely from the language barrier I guess, non-english speakers being 2nd-class netizens. And the people are happier, nicer, friendlier than those in the West.. I really got to disliking white culture. I noticed that in latin america, the darker the skin and less European the people, the more I liked them. The only really ignorant, ugly, self-deluded people I came across in the world, meeting people in many countries, were White/anglo people - UK, Australia, especially the USA. There seem to be whole towns there full of white people bigoted and ignorant way below anything I've experienced in other countries. (I can never stand this site very long, with its own superior brand of those same qualities. It's not an air I want to spend my life breathing.) I started warning latin americans who wanted to learn english to be careful, that it's poison. I didn't want them to lose their....total non-anglo-ness.

I'm not sure why it's like this. Maybe the Catholicism, the history etc. Maybe just that white people are crazier.[0] I'm not into "Proud to be nationality X", but maybe some latin pride wouldn't go astray here, or, you know, pride not being white anglos. Also, I saw in some movie someone saying that the greatest latin american contribution to the world is the latina; there's something to that. :-) I feel fortunate to have been able to make latin americans and latin culture a huge part of life, to learn that it's superior in many ways to the one I grew up in.

[0] See how cruel the whites look. Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think they are mad. - a New Mexican Indian chief, to Jung

EDIT: Would the downvoters care to explain why? It's not a surprise :-) but hearing why would be....enlightening. Thanks.

It's unclear to what extent your comment is serious or facetious but I want to point out that even if we ignore the explicit racism, your vision of Latin Americans is also implicitly bigoted and condescending to a very large degree. In "warning" them against Anglo culture you are essentially implying that they are akin to magical innocent hobbit incapable of making decisions for themselves and who should never change so that they can continue accommodating your fantasy understanding of their lives.

American here. "Anglo", as you might call it.

As other commenters have mentioned, perhaps not outright, your comment carries a great deal of racist undertones.

I've travelled a bit through Europe and have travelled through Mexico for around 1.5 years.

I love Mexico, it's culture, and its people. Like all people, they largely wish to have a happy life.

With that said, each individual should be judged off their personal merit.

In many ways I feel there is a great deal of similarities between Mexican and American culture, in particular (and perhaps ironically) when comparing Mexico to the American South.

To counter your point, I've seen just as much racism and classism among Mexicans/Latin people as I have Americans (many Mexicans are quick to point out that they are also "American". This is technically correct)

Personal anecdote: I was sitting at a house party with some friends for Mexico's Independence Day.

I met someone new, we exchanged pleasantries, and the next words out of his mouth were "I don't really like your people" after he found I was American.

This conversation ended amicably after I asked him how he would view me if I'd say the same thing about Mexicans. He reconsidered his point.

Anyhoo, judge people off their individual behavior, not based on the color of their skin.

> EDIT: Would the downvoters care to explain why?

It might be that you are trying argue away one prejudice with another.

Exactly, I too agree with the grandparent, but I think parent has pushed too far on the other side of the spectrum.

Saying that as a Brazilian that is astounded every time Latin America is implied to not be 'western'. I would feel offended, but I understand that is useless to me, the same thing with the term 'American'.

Let them live in their happy bubbles, it's a disadvantage of their own creation.

Man, go spend a couple months in Cuba. Prejudice and bigotry doesn’t really discriminate based on colour! They’re on the whole the loveliest people I’ve met, but go out rural and they’re basically the Cuban version of your racists white redneck

You love "Latin culture" and hate "white culture" that's great man... But your argument doesn't really make any connection to the parent comment about what is Western and what is not

> Would the downvoters care to explain why? It's not a surprise :-) but hearing why would be....enlightening. Thanks.

Your comment has a condescending tone towards the people you claim to like. As if they're some king of exotic animal that you are so priviledged to watch in their natural habitat, and shame on these crazy western people who are oh so racist! There's plenty of tourists like that here in Brazil, and it rubs plenty of us off in the wrong way.

> Mayans and I are by now part of the greater western world

"Western" is used as short-hand for the cultures "that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence."

Modern Mexican culture could be argued to be "Western". It would be difficult, on the other hand, to argue Maya culture is Western.

> I feel much more like a Canadian or a USian

Linguistically, the use of "USian" strikes back at your argument. There is no ambiguity when someone says "I am American," as people from only one country identify themselves as such. Using the term "USian" thus explicitly rejects one's affiliation with the United States.

> difficult, on the other hand, to argue Maya culture is Western.

At this point, many of the younger generation of Maya are quite western, at least in Mexico (go to university to become doctors or engineers, live in the city (or are urbanizing their communities), wear blue jeans and makeup and basketball shoes, listen to rap music, build houses with flush toilets and big TVs, drive SUVs, post to facebook from their smartphones, etc.), and their children absolutely will be. Their grandparents who only speak their indigenous language, are illiterate, spent their careers as migrant agricultural workers, etc. were not “western” except insofar as the broader western political system shaped their society and economy and ruthlessly exploited them.

> Using the term "USian" thus explicitly rejects one's affiliation with the United States.

In Mexico, the USA is called the Estados Unidos or EE.UU. The Mexican word for what you call “American” is “estado-unidense” (or maybe more commonly, “gringo”), and when writing in English, USian seems like a reasonable translation. Calling US citizens “americanos” sounds unnatural and presumptuous in Spanish [it doesn’t help that there is a lot of bad blood between Mexico and the USA, what with us starting an unjustified war and conquering/stealing half their country, something which is discussed thoroughly and bitterly in Mexican schoolbooks].

I think you are misinterpreting the grandparent poster intended based on your own biases. What the term “USian” rejects is not “one’s affiliation with the United States”, but rather it rejects the United States’s perceived imperialist claim to the whole western hemisphere. But the grandparent poster did not necessarily intend this rejection consciously, but may just be mirroring his own cultural context.

> many of the younger generation of Maya are quite western

"Western" is a cultural label. One can be modern, educated, affluent and something to aspire to without being Western. Many modern Maya are Western. Maya culture is not.

> Calling US citizens “americanos” sounds unnatural and presumptuous in Spanish

I am making a point about a comment's English diction in a discussion we have carried out entirely in English.

> there is a lot of bad blood between Mexico and the USA

I don't object to the term in general. Just its usage in this argument. OP argues for a single cultural umbrella existing over Mexico and the United States. In the context of that argument, highlighting the divide isn't helpful.

"There is no ambiguity when someone says "I am American," as people from only one country identify themselves as such."

That's... not really true? I mean, it's true in the sense that everyone "knows" that when you say American, you mean "someone from the US". But that doesn't mean it doesn't bother people from other countries in the Americas. And even if they speak e.g. Spanish, they will tend to also speak English, so it's not like they aren't exposed to this concept.

Of course it's true. You say yourself, everyone knows what it means. It's totally unrelated to say that not everyone likes the usage.

Still ambiguous, even if people guess right.

Please let me know which countries have "America" in their name and I will be happy to refer to people from any of them as "Americans".

You must never call anyone "European" and "Asian" then, owing to the lack of countries incorporating those terms in their names.

I think a reason this is less noticeable to people from the United States is because our continental model is different from the model taught in Latin America (7-Continent vs 6-Continent). In Argentina, for instance, you're more likely to learn there is one continent called 'America' that encompasses what people from the US consider two continents - North and South America. So for a person from the United States there is no conflict in referring to people from a continent vs. their own country because they are all distinct. A person could be 'North American', 'South American', 'American' or even 'Latin American' and the terms are completely clear and distinct to someone from the United States. There is no term that groups people from both North & South America together in English (that I am aware of). This naturally causes problems for people that don't think about continents that way and feel that 'American' referring solely to people from the US is condescending because it uses the continental term they are accustomed to and also excludes them from it. While I agree it is condescending, I think it is unintentionally so, and it is rooted more in language and geographic convention. While I try to be aware of it and avoid using the term 'American' where it might cause offense there isn't a widely adopted alternative in English. The opposite is the case in Spanish, where it would be quite rude to refer to oneself as American when one means Estadounidense because thats the term that matches the culture, language, and convention.

Indeed, when people try to refer in English to the concept of "the American continent", they usually have to say "the Americas".

I think some people's Spanish has adopted this habit, saying e.g. "los pueblos de las Américas" or "las culturas de las Américas" more than "los pueblos americanos" or "las culturas americanas", but I don't have a broad enough exposure to Spanish to understand its prevalence and connotations clearly. (Maybe it's most common in the U.S. due to influence from English?)

That's actually not a bad point, and probably one of the reasons "American" caught on, together with the fact that "United States" is 1) ambiguous (other countries are/were called "United States of X", I believe and 2) very hard to turn into a catchy name for the people.

Doesn't negate the point of how some people feel about this.

South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela

Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama

North America: US, Canada, Mexico

i.e. The Americas

But American is just shorthand of United States of America, and rolls off the tongue better.

I postulate that most Americans aren’t trying to claim all of the Western Hemisphere, it’s just what’s currently being used.

So to demonstrate you're from the USA, culturally, you have to be so self-obsessed as to imagine USA is the only country in the whole of the American continent?

I don't necessarily doubt it; but it's kinda hilarious.

Like if a friend said "I'm a lot like you" and you say "you can't be, I'm an arrogant asshole".

> Linguistically, the use of "USian" strikes back at your argument. There is no ambiguity when someone says "I am American," as people from only one country identify themselves as such. Using the term "USian" thus explicitly rejects one's affiliation with the United States.

There is ambiguity to me, because I consider myself as American as the US does. What does America mean to the US? It usually means things like the beauty that Luis Miguel sings about,


new opportunities for immigrants, such as for Salma Hayek's or Shakira's ancestors, and freedom, such as when Morelos wrote "prohibit slavery forever, as the distinction of caste, being all equal and only vice and virtue distinguish an American from the other."

The good associations that the US has with "America" are also associations that the rest of the continent has with the term too. Thus, I want to share the broader term. I and all Mexicans are American first like the US, and more specifically Latin American. A Latin American is a kind of American, not something completely different.

I use the term American more broadly to point out our shared affiliation, not to exclude the US. But to someone who wants a shared term all to themselves, asking them to share feels like exclusion to them.

>new opportunities for immigrants, such as for Salma Hayek

Of course she was getting pigeon-holed by Harvey Weinstein and the Hollywood machine who were trying to limit her opportunity to take on roles that didn't rely solely on her beauty and ethnic background.

It is still a country of some opportunity but much of that opportunity comes from fighting against the existing power structures.

I was talking about the Lebanese diaspora in Latin America, in case that wasn't clear. They were aiming for "America" and landed in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and the rest of Latin America. Well, this is America too, they thought, let's make a new life here.

I am USian. I have never liked the ambiguity of "American".

Also, are Greeks "Western"? Are Italians? Croations? Austrians? What is "Western"? As a child it was confusing to me that those east of the Bering Sea are westerners and those west of the Bering Sea are eastern.

To be very USian, I was also puzzled as a child why Ohio was midwestern. It seems mideastern to me. I would call Utah midwestern.

>> There is no ambiguity when someone says "I am American," as people from only one country identify themselves as such.

Well, they have the right to do so when talking among themselves. When talking within an international audience, good manners suggest sticking to definitions that are internationally agreed upon.

America is a continent, and US citizens are not more American than any Canadian, Argentinian or Peruvian is.

>America is a continent,

But it's not. North America and South America are just as separate as Africa and Eurasia.

>sticking to definitions that are internationally agreed upon.

"American" is used as the demonym pretty much everywhere in the world other than Central America and South America. So that advice is backwards.

And try to empathize by imaging that you can't call yourself a demonym, and you have to either go by a bizarre acronym like "RAian" for the Republic of Argentina, or when someone says "I'm French, what about you?" you have to say "Well, I am living in the Republic of Argentina"

Then turn around and direct this at Australians. They apparently have no right to their demonym either, because New Guinea is part of the continent. And in their case, it's actually part of the continent.


Papua New Guineans and Indonesian Papuans already have their own names for themselves, but what if they also want to say they're Australian? Let's have everyone switch from "Australian" to "CAian" for the Commonwealth of Australia.

San Marino is literally on the Italian Peninsula, so "italiano" is off completely. They need to start going by "RIano" or something.

And how many countries are in the South of Africa?

> "American" is used as the demonym pretty much everywhere in the world other than Central America and South America.

Solely by misappropriation. America was world-wide known as a continent before England sent their colonizers. Somehow migrating to America was misappropriated as meaning "migrating to the English colonies in America". Somehow the United States of America became the only America.

I have the theory that if their name had been less generic, say United States of New England, The word America would have retained its original meaning.

Of course the only reason we use the term "American" is because of the USA! It's a natural term for residents of the USA, and has become ingrained in English by virtue of America being the largest English speaking country for nearly 200 years. Do non-English speakers have a problem with this? In Spanish the term for USA is "Estados Unidos" which isn't problematic at all.

It has nothing to do with language, it's about regional identity. Imagine if the French told Europe that France is now Europe, and what was Europe will now be called the Europes. It wouldn't matter if they say it in French or German.

> But it's not. North America and South America are just as separate as Africa and Eurasia.

Could you clarify that? I understood that as both cases are separated by a channel (Panama vs Suez), or did you have another meaning?

Well in both cases North/South America and Africa/Eurasia are on different tectonic plates.

Gotcha, thanks!

In English (which is the language being used here), American is the demonym for citizens of the US, while Canadian, Mexican, Argentinian, Peruvian, and Brazilian are the typical demonyms of citizens of Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, and Brazil.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonym

I'm aware that there are some continent categorizations that group North and South America as one continent called America, so one could use American to mean people who live in one of what are understood in other categorizations as North or South America. (Is that the continent categorization that you're familiar with? I just recently came across this, so if you wouldn't mind sharing where you learned this, and whether you're familiar with categorizations that count North America and South America separately, I'd be interested to hear more about it.)

That doesn't, however, mean that the usage of American to mean citizen of the US is wrong: it's very widely used in English worldwide. USian is assuredly not widely agreed upon as an alternative, at least in English which is the language of discourse here. Words have multiple meanings that need to be understood in context. Sometimes that context needs to be clarified.

In Italy we use the word "americani" (Americans) but we can also use the word "statunitensi" (that would be Unitedstaters). It's not as common but everybody understands it. IMHO the latter term is more appropriate but I agree that when speaking English one should use whatever the English speakers use (the same for any other language.) If you guys will change the way to refer to the citizens of the USA, I'll do it too.

good manners suggest sticking to definitions that are internationally agreed upon

Who came to the agreement that "American" is only a denonym for someone who lives in the continents of North and South America and doesn't refer to someone from the US?

Look at how people from the US are referred to in some international languages: un américain, Amerikaan, Amerikaner, amerika-jin, Amerikano, etc.

America is a continent, and US citizens are not more American than any Canadian, Argentinian or Peruvian is.

Someone telling a Canadian they aren't American is a completely different concept from referring to someone from the United States of America as an American. Quite frankly, your argument doesn't follow.

And the internationally agreed upon definition is that people from the United States are "Americans." I'm sorry, the real world isn't perfectly logical, one must adapt to irregularity.

>I know this is a bit petty, but I've stared to resent a little that even though I'm Mexican, I'm not considered Western. What am I, then? Eastern? Central? Southern?

It's not about the geography. It's more about development (e.g. money) and culture -- and in essence an arbitrary historical capture of the term by Western Europeans and WASP-like Americans to mean themselves.

It's best to not thing such terms as about what their etymology or direct meaning is "western = west", etc, but instead consider how they are used in practice.

>I'm not just arguing about the geography, but about the culture. I feel much more like a Canadian or a USian (or a Guatemalan) than I feel like an African, Middle Easter, East Asian, or South Asian. I speak the same languages as Europe, have been mostly exposed to Christianity and its cultural heritage, read the same books and watch many of the same shows as Europe, the US, and Canada, I use sit-down toilet, not squat toilets, and I eat mostly with forks and knives, not with chopsticks or with my fingers.

Hundreds of millions of people in the areas you've mentioned have all the same characteristics as well.

>True that culture and wealth go hand-in-hand, but I think we're all more alike than different. I didn't like doing chores as a kid and I don't know a lot of Mexicans who did. We're more alike to those who self-apply and exclude us from the "Western" label than we are different.

Why try to be a member of a BS club that doesn't want you anyway? It's not as if being Western is any great achievement, that's just the way westerners use it when they laud themselves. With the rise of China, India, Brazil, and eventually Africa, the "West" is an increasingly insignificant part of the world. It just had a head start on plundering a new continent, and then the rest of the world -- which put it ahead of the rest of the planet for a while -- then again, Rome once was important too.

Insignificant or not they will live on through the consumerist culture they have refined and disseminated, just like the Romans live on in Western mores themselves.

Even that is easy to change. All it takes if a few economic busts and/or environmental issues, and here comes religion and frugality and so on again...

Like those Roman mores had themselves been supplanted by orthodox/catholic Christian (and then puritan protestant Christian) mores the west.

Most of us brazilians see ourselves as western... It's not a question of being a member of a club, it's how most of us define most of our heritage, so somebody denying that seems at best very awkward and at worst very offensive.

Re use of "Western" in the article:

This in no way whatsoever invalidates your complaint, but my suspicion is they were looking for some acceptable means to indicate "well-heeled, two career couples from wealthy developed countries who don't pay enough attention to their own children." They were looking for a polite way to characterize their target audience that doesn't sound racist, classist or -- worse -- judgy of the very people who pay their bills that they would like to gently tell "It's a good idea to make the time to involve your messy toddler. It will pay dividends later."

Reading this article, I don't really get everything under "What About Western Kids?" subheading.

Everything listed there you would have found during the frontier days of America (and still do in some parts), so does that make America not western? I don't know it's very confusing. My parents are from Greece from large families and had this exact same experience growing up -- you had to do your part -- and Greece is known as the the birthplace of western civilization.

Again, confusing to me. Western is just some huge bucket now that doesn't really have meaning.

On another level, I can kind of relate to you not knowing what type of "western" you are. On a whole, (this might sound confusing) it's the Roman West that is overrepresented in "Western Civilization", but you also had the "East" western civilization as well, and very much has some things in common with what some people know was "East" (as in Asian), but still distinctly "Western"

But I am with you, I don't know either sometimes.

My ancestors a few generations back who lived in the American west (or a generation or two before that were rural peasants in western Europe), and my rural Mexican peasant friends today live pretty similarly. You could take many stories of white Americans’ own great-great-grandparents who migrated to the US from Europe, change all the names and places (but few of the other details), and the story would be entirely plausibly that of an undocumented Mexican or Central American migrant today. This is one of the reasons that anti-immigrant hysteria is so ironically and tragically hypocritical.

I think it would be fair to call frontier America “non-Western” in the sense of the word used by this discussion. Maybe “non-industrialized” would be a better word.

jordigh: if you grew up in a middle class Spanish-speaking family in a city in Mexico, you are most certainly “Western” in the sense used here.

> Western is just some huge bucket now that doesn't really have meaning.

I sincerely think it just means "northern european" to some people.

English and French colonists did not mix a lot with other races, unlike Spanish colonists. There are many exceptions, like the Métis in Canada, but that did not happen very often.

Later, the US and Canada received various waves of immigrants from Europe, making multi-racial people an even smaller portion of the population.

In recent years, multi-racial couples have increased. This happened mostly because interracial unions were illegal in some states (examples include Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924) until a US Supreme Court ruling invalidated that and any similar laws.

That being said, what is considered "Western" or "white" has changed over time. For instance, Italians and Irish were once not considered white. Honestly, it's not important and I strongly recommend you to stop worrying about that.

I highly recommend these links if you want to explore cultural differences between US and Mexico:

- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuHqSHZyUMc

- https://archinect.com/tacos/casa-vs-house-differences-in-us-...

Personally I think Mexico's top priority is get rid of its pseudo caste system, dominated by the descendants of Hacienda owners, nepotism and corruption.

@partycoder you are dead wrong about that. The English and French racially intermingled a lot more than you might think. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/12/genetic-study-reveals...

I read the article and it do not see how it refutes my point at all.

I don't think it's petty, but I think maybe people should be a little more charitable. If you point-blank asked the writer whether she considered Mexicans Western, I have little doubt (though we can't be sure) she would respond in the affirmative. The issue is context.

What seemed to happen here was the idea that the Mayan parenting method has seeped into the broader Mexican culture to varying degrees. I don't know the extent to which that is true (maybe strong geographic component), but that's the idea that the author is reporting on. That's the context that was setup. From there sloppy writing and sloppy language made it easy to equivocate cultures and, finally, make a seemingly absurd distinction between Mexican culture, as a whole, and Western culture. Some of the blame should be placed at the feet of her scholarly sources, if the author's quotations and paraphrasing are accurate

Also, FWIW from 1970s to 1990s there was the Chicano cultural movement in the U.S. (and perhaps Mexico?) that sought to distinguish and emphasis indigenous Mexican cultures from Western culture. I don't think there's denying that as compared to the U.S. the national identity of many Mexicans is complicated by the fact that indigenous identities and cultures are far stronger, in numbers and emphasis. (And this is different than the hyphenated American identities, or the identities of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants. And it's different from Native Americans in the U.S. because they're disenfranchised and have no political power.) That reality can be difficult for Americans of any ethnicity to fully appreciate, but especially for white Americans. It's not that white Americans don't understand complex identities. There are plenty of people who strongly self-identify as Irish-American, Italian-American, Mexican-American, etc. It's just that many of these identities no longer conflict with the broader national identity (particularly the former) and so they have little experience navigating the tensions that other people struggle with, particularly with nuances around vocabulary and context.

It's definitely worth pointing out. But people don't respond well to opprobrium. Resentment is harsh. Do you really mean resentment or just frustration? To my mind resentment implies you feel no shared identity with Americans, which conflicts with your statement about having a shared Western identity. I'm a white American who has traveled enough (including in Mexico) to not only feel a shared identity with Mexicans, but one much stronger and closer than simply Western. I couldn't even begin to articulate the bounds of that identity (the precise bounds are no doubt peculiar to each individual), but I feel it when I travel (to Asia, to Europe) and I have a conviction that it exists, objectively and independently, whether people realize it or not.

Keep in mind that this article was written in response to a book that an anthropologist recently wrote. At the risk of sounding distrustful of academics, I do sometimes wonder if some anthropologists view the world through an "us vs. them" lens - trying to understand the differences in cultures. FWIW, as a person of 100% European decent who grew up in New England, I consider all of Latin America to be Western for the reasons you pointed out (with the exception of the un-contacted Amazonian tribes).

I'm from central-eastern Europe and I feel the same. I've spent a few years in Latin America and I'd call both the regions "new" or "satellite" or "not-core" West. Germany or the US may be the original core West, but LatAm and CEEurope are West, too.

Whether to include also Russia, that would be my question.

Russia is certainly out since they don't share even the same alphabet.

Yes, and out with Greece too!

Yeah, I guess alphabet is out too. It's abecedary in the West!

Russia is not part of, nor "recently" founded from, nor relatively heavily influenced by, Western Europe.

I don't know why there's a rush to identify as Western; usually it's used pejoratively.

You did say the Mayans are foreign to you. This article is specifically about their culture, not broader Mexican culture.

Can you expand why you want to be considered to be Western? I don't, even though I live in the US and face discrimination (sometimes) because of it.

I agree with you. I mostly see "Western" used as a synonym for "NATO". In addition to Mexico, there are countries in Europe (Russia) or democracies with huge economies (Japan, ROK, India, Brazil) that aren't described as Western.

> I mostly see "Western" used as a synonym for "NATO"

I think of it as the corpus of cultures drawing heritage from the Ancient Greeks and Romans. If the Homeric epics have a home in your culture, it's Western.

That said, the term is muddied enough to be somewhat useless for general discussion. Particularly given how it's been co-opted by racist elements in American politics.

Except that Islamic culture drew heavily on them too, especially the Greeks.

Those of us who consider ourselves Western are right to consider the Greeks and Romans among our cultural forebears, but we're not the only ones who can or should do so.

> Except that Islamic culture drew heavily on them too, especially the Greeks.

Most of the reason Europe was able to even have access to Greek works was due to Arabic translations, in many cases the originals do not exist anymore.

While in Europe the barbarians were ravaging the remains of the Roman Empire and entering into feudalism and the 'dark ages', Hindu and Greek works were being studied and improved in the Arab world (e.g. Algebra, Algorythm words coming from Arabic works).

These later would be brought to Europe via trade with italian city states and copied by the church.

I think the term "Western" is often mixed up with "Westernized", which has a rather different connotation. I live in Japan that is not technically Western at all, but very well Westernized.

Pretty sure it's this above all else. The US is also not in "The West", but it is in a sense "westernized" (it just never had a period where it wasn't "westernized" because of its origins).

The two terms are holdovers from centuries ago, when "The West" really did mean Europe and "The East" meant east Asia (and The Orient was in between, the Middle East + west Asia).

There's even an XKCD about how confusing it can be from the US (or, really, the Americas in general): https://xkcd.com/503/

Orient is just opposite to Occident. But as an en-gb native I've never heard it used for anything other than, basically, [Silk-Road era] China.

I guess people might use it for Japanese, Thai, Mongolian, Malaysian, etc. but definitely not for anywhere from India Westwards.

Westernized made sense 100 -200 years during the era of the first huge cultural exchange (or imposition). Nowadays Americans drive Hondas and play Nintendos, calling Japan "Westernized" makes less sense.

I am 40 and from Europe, when I was in school, "latin" America, that's how it's called, was clearly considered West.

What you are experiencing is something that seems to arise from the US only in more recent times, maybe the last 15 years or so.

If you want to use words to differentiate, there have to be some break points. The same could be asked by Russian. They are mostly of Christian Faith, and, speak a language that is very similar to some European languages.

If I remember right, Huntington (Clash of Civilizations) introduced the Ukraine, Turkey and Australia as countries that needed to make a decision which part they wanted to belong to finally. Maybe, one could argue that Mexico is in a similar spot.

What alternative does Australia have?


There are some significant cultural/heritage differences between Mexico and the United States. The current population of Mexico is a result of large scale admixture between indigenous people and European colonists, whereas essentially no such admixture occurred in the US. Also, the US is culturally descended from Northern Europeans, whereas the European aspect of Mexican culture is descended from Southern Europe. The Northern/Southern cultural divide in Europe is pretty significant and I would guess that, in practice, the term “The West” primarily refers to Northern Europe rather than Southern (or Eastern) Europe.

Most Mexicans I know remind me more of Italy (where I'm from) than USA. Might be my personal experience. Take it as just my 0.02.

So? Isn't Italy western?

i can't help but wonder if what you're feeling is magnified by the tone/voice/perspective of that particular collection of the population known as "NPR reporters." IMHO, NPR's view of the world, its culture, its word choice and tone are unique to NPR. i personally don't always relate very well to it.

You are right, but "western" as its used colloqially doesn't really mean anything.

The term "western" has multiple origins, but the two dominant ones are: (1) European (especially british) terminology, from 17th-19th century history and political science (2) Cold War concepts where the world is divided into 1st, 2nd and 3rd world countries depending on political alignment.

West European narratives from the late British, French & Dutch Empires goes roughly like this.

(1) Classical greece is the "craddle" of (western) civilization. (2) Greeks spread "the light" worldwide with alexander, What he called hellenization they call westernisation (3) Rome eventually took over. (4) The pure values of the west empire was degraded by the decedant east. The (wrestern) roman empire fell and the dark age began. (5) The light of the west was rekindled in the Renaissance (6) The torch passed to west european empires, who dutifully picked up the white man's burden, spreading civilization and light to the world again. (7) britain passed the torch to America, which is Athens' true succesor.

This is the basic narrative running through most 17th-19th century anglo-american history and philosophy. It's comically self serving. So bogus it's hard to know where to start.

First, Greece was never "Europe," in any sense that includes britain, germany, etc.. Europe remained tribal and "uncivilized" (non-urban) for 2,000 years after the Classical Greek civilization spread far and wide. Greece (and after that, Rome) was a place the western periphery of the Mediterranean and middle eastern cultural complex. This region including lots of long lived, large & complex civilizations: Egyptian, Bablylonian, Hittite & Persian empires. Advanced Phoenician city states. Greece's urban culutre fits squarely into this wider culuture. Nothing western about it.

This would not have been controversial to plato, alexander or julio cesar. They looked to egypt, persia and the "east" as the predecessor and contemporary civilizations. They credit Egypt constantly. They didn't know or care about europe as we think of it, and certainly didn't consider themselves part of it.

Second.... this kept happening in every age. The European dark ages actually ended when Europeans regained cultural contact with the "east," via the arab expansion into western Europe and the crusades.

Basically, the concept of "western civilization" is a farce. There is no such thing. It's a false narrative about the origins of european civilization, giving it an indigenous origin. It was just to embarrassing to admit that Europe was tribal until 600-700 years ago while the east had been "civilized" for thousands of years.

Later on (now) it gets equated with democracy, rule of law and such, the political ideals of western europe and the US. None of these originate in the west. None of these are even traditional in the west. American democracy is no more descendant from Athens' than a hundred other ancient city states' political systems. They just happened to know about athenian democracy, through an accident of history.

These days, "western values" has come to mean feminism, liberalism, pluralism, gay rights... Anyone over 30 can tell you that these are not traditional western values. These are modern, cosmoplitan values and they thrive in the places which are not traditional.

TLDR, Western values roughly mean descendant from greece, according to silly 18th century british intellectuals. Mexico is (culturally) more descendant from Greece than the US or Brittain. Basically, it's BS. Western doesn't mean anything.

I see your point. I'm also puzzled by how Americans seem to talk about Spanish-speaking people as if they are some kind of race.

It's data compression. Americans talk about "white" people as if they are some kind of race!

You are American (Latin). Western means not-communist, since almost the entire world favors collectivism over individualism, almost no culture is 'western'. The default position is socialism, in the case of the North America colonies (post revolution) the model of ancient Greece was re-imagined to create a new type of country, so far it has been highly successful yet not very equal. this means if you work hard you can provide for yourself but if you work smart you can leapfrog a lot of hard workers and if you work hard and smart you can become filthy rich and start manipulating the entire system. the checks and balances and freedoms in place are supposed to limit some of the economic imbalances when a ultrarich guy like Rockefeller with Standard Oil or Bezos with Amazon wants to make himself defacto king. If you want a comparison with ancient Rome, Trump is Crassus, and the outrage and resistance to his nomination and presidency hints at an established dynastic patrician class of American politicians who refuse a common businessman to infiltrate their halls of power.

If you prefer to be a competitive individual who is only compelled by their own inner morality to help others you are western. If you prefer to live in a society where everyone thrives and there is broad equality, safety and harmony then you are of an eastern mind. The argument of having both or a mixture becomes a contentious historical and political issue, having your cake and eating it too. China is making a strong attempt at blending these two ideas into a new political theory, spearheaded by Xi Jingping's One Belt One Road Initiative and the addition of new member states to the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation).

> Western means not-communist,

No, it doesn't.

> since almost the entire world favors collectivism over individualism, almost no culture is 'western'.

You can favor collectivism and still not be communist, so that doesn't follow even if the preceding claim were true.

> The default position is socialism

No, it's not, and you seem to be conflating socialism, collectivism, and communism, which are not the same thing.

> in the case of the North America colonies (post revolution) the model of ancient Greece was re-imagined to create a new type of country

No, it wasn't. While classical references (Roman as much as Greek) were trendy at the time, the basic model of government was very closely modeled on contemporary European models with vary slight tweaks.)

18th Century contemporary European models? European or English? The Spanish are in a 200 year decline, French revolution led to Napoleon, Germany is still the Kingdom of Prussia, Russia will continue to be an Empire until 1917. Could you specifically name the models and tweaks? The founding fathers borrowed from English common law and government, because they were English. Did they set up a Tsardom? A dauphin? An emperor?

I am conflating socialism, collectivism and communism because they fall under an umbrella I have dubbed eastern thought, not because they are the same thing. They are branches inheriting ideas from a root tree- which happens to span the entire world. Can you name another culture which elevated the individual above the collective?

I could've also said western means non-islamic, given that West vs East dates back all the way to fracturing of the Byzantine Empire and later the Crusades. But we don't live in a bipolar religious age, not since the fall of Christian influence and the rise of the Enlightenment, around the same time we are discussing. The real debate of the 21st century is which type of capitalism will succeed, co-operative or competitive at the international stage, this is why I mentioned China and the SCO. I felt it was important to highlight the economic thread given all the wasted energy on race, religion and gender politics.

> I am conflating socialism, collectivism and communism because they fall under an umbrella I have dubbed eastern thought, not because they are the same thing.

Your argument required that they were the same thing (and not merely under a common in umbrella) when said that (1) Western means non-Communist, (2) most of the world is collectivist and therefore not Western, and (3) the global “default” is socialist.

Also, socialism and communism are both Western in origin as philosophies, collectivism is more general and doesn't really have a single origin. To call all three “Eastern” thought is to invent novel terminology with no connection to the normal use of terms.

> I could've also said western means non-islamic

And been just as wrong. If you wanted to use a religious distinction and at least be close to being accurate, you could say “Western” means those societies that were on the West side of the Schism of 1054, their direct descendants, and those reshaped by them as a result of falling in war or who have deliberately modeled their societies on them without being compelled.

You'd still probably not quite be right, but you'd be close.

[i.] Which 18th century contemporary European models was the American Constitution "very closely modeled after... with vary[sic] slight tweaks"?

[ii.] Where are the other cultures which raised _the_ individual above _the_ collective? As opposed to cultures which raise one individual (ruler) above one or more collective (people).

[iii.] East-West divide was exclusively between Catholic and Orthodox and not commonly between Christendom and Islam? When someone says East vs West your mind jumps to Catholic and Orthodox and not Occident and Orient? I wonder how "Eastern-Europeans" feel about that given centuries of Mongol and Ottoman invasion and occupation, east of the west but west of the east.

Any terminal injustices committed for the sake of brevity (me) do not counterbalance willful ignorance to engage in productive discussion (you), hitherto answering direct questions relevant to your emphatic critique. Style reflects character or lack thereof, content reflects intent.

Replying in good faith and restated in full for clarification:

Mexicans are Latin Americans [1]. Social competition favors democracies [2]. Social cooperation favors monarchies [3]. Monarchies are the normal structure of human civilization [4]. It follows that social cooperation is more common for human beings [5]. I used communism (capitalism), collectivism (individualism) and socialism (conservatism) to contrast their (western) opposition (in brackets) [6]. Western was synonymous with the US for the latter-half 20th century, individualistic capitalism with conservative values [7]. 21st century "western" is better re-framed in new terms of competitive (western) vs cooperative (eastern) capitalism, especially prescient given the recent G7 and SCO meetings are re-polarizing the world into a geographic West and East trade bloc economic war [8].

Which of these sentences [1-8] do you disagree with? Complex terms change across time, western is not some monolithic constant, it's very name indicates direction of travel away from something and towards something else, hence it's continued use.

I have provided sufficient refutation; without subsequent productive engagement future communication will be refrained.

If you are reading, understanding, and participating in Hackernews you are western.

> I've stared to resent a little that even though I'm Mexican, I'm not considered Western. […] about the culture

Don't worry, you are part of Western high culture. Anyone who would not acknowledge this as true is quite ignorant of history.

Many of my thread neighbours are astonishingly unable to provide an accurate definition of our culture or have the wrong idea in their head. The toilet and eating utensil preference is not important, but the shared values are important: guarantees of civil and human rights, living in freedom, rule of law, equality, individualism, tolerance, practising liberal democracy, society implementing market economy with free wage labour and historically shaped by Christianity and Enlightenment.

"The Mexican-American kids, aged 6 to 7, were doing about twice as much around the house as the middle-class European-American kids, on average,"

It's implied but not outright stated in the above quote: We are talking about households that are much, much poorer on average than "middle-class European-American kids." This is backed up by the photos in the article.

So, if you have nothing else to do because your parents don't have the resources to supply you with a TV, a video game system, a tablet, a computer, a cell phone, etc ad nauseum, then you can either sit around twiddling your thumbs and dying of boredom or you can involve yourself in whatever the nearest human is doing as a means to occupy yourself.

The other piece of that is that poorer cultures wind up naturally more people centered than richer cultures, which wind up more thing centered. When my kids were little and we didn't have much, they learned to take turns and share not because of some kind of cultural magic, but because we didn't have a lot of stuff, so they basically had to share. In a family wealthy enough to have one of X for each and every family member (or whatever), then you don't need to learn to share or take turns. You just use your thing and leave their thing alone.

I'm all for promoting more real involvement with kids so they are better socialized, etc. But I think there are very big problems with acting like culture evolves separate from material wealth and details like that.

There are some other important differences:

(1) Extended families live in a small area. There are many nieces and nephews and cousins so kids are playing in a big group of family and other neighbors, and e.g. girls start taking care of younger family members starting when they are 5 or 6 years old.

(2) People work close to home, on work that is more or less comprehensible to a child, and often in groups. A group of people farming, minding sheep, weaving, washing clothes by hand, milling grain, cooking, chopping wood, making furniture, foraging for mushrooms, hunting rabbits, ... can easily get kids involved in small tasks.

(3) People spend much of the day talking to each other, gossiping, cracking jokes, singing together, eating together, ... instead of reading or doing other solitary activities, spending time at remote jobs, driving around in cars, etc.

But yeah we definitely shouldn’t romanticize rural poverty. Having years where nobody has enough food and all the old sick people die, commonly getting hit by disease epidemics, spending a whole life on hard menial labor and ending up with a totally wrecked body by age 50, sitting in small totally smoke-filled rooms over a wood cookfire every day (this is as bad or worse for health than the heaviest cigarette smoking), sleeping on a board or on a dirt floor with a blanket covered in fleas, needing to make your own cloth from scratch for anything, needing to carry water long distances on foot every day for all washing and drinking, .... are all pretty unpleasant.

And let’s not even start on the part where rural peasants are constantly getting beat up and having stuff stolen from them (or worse) by colonial overlords, foreign corporations, local thugs, ...

There’s a reason that when given the choice a large proportion of people flee rural peasant villages and move to (sometimes distant) cities, even when further exploitation awaits there.

My mother is one of 12 kids. My father grew up on a farm, dirt poor. Your description to some degree fits my childhood. There were some really good things about growing up that way.

But I was not thinking about romanticizing rural poverty. I was thinking about unfairly vilifying modern people whose choices grow out of wildly different circumstances, as if "your children should be doing more chores!" is yet one more metric to feel pressured by because two career couples trying to keep the family housed in a world where you can't afford to have a full-time parent at home really need yet one more reason to feel like failures who just aren't trying hard enough.

> I was not thinking about romanticizing rural poverty

This is why I led with “but yeah”. I am agreeing with you.

> two career couples trying to keep the family housed in a world where you can't afford to have a full-time parent at home really need yet one more reason to feel like failures who just aren't trying hard enough.

Living in San Francisco, we know many couples who need to keep both parents working and would love to take much more time off work to raise their kids if they could afford it, but also many couples who have plenty of extra cash and still keep both parents working and offload child-rearing to nannies or daycare or grandparents, sometimes it seems because the parents just have no idea how to interact with children or would rather stay at the office. (Maybe that’s unfair; just my anecdotal impression.)

It is definitely a great luxury that I can stay home with my kid while my wife works full time. But taking care of a kid is also pretty time consuming and emotionally demanding.

Not arguing here either. Just taking the opportunity to add another detail that I felt I failed to clearly state in my original comment.

I'm here to make conversation and sometimes that back and forth exchange sounds like arguing when I in no way mean it to.

You dont need full time parent at home. That is really not the need. I also agree that "your child should do more chores" is just another guilt tripping of parents. If your child is lazy to wash dishes after dinner, absolutely needs to do more. But, as long as the child contributes without temper tamtrump to age-appropriate activities you all do and are needed (and still have time to learn and play), it is perfectly fine.

There is no need to artificially emulate a group of people living in different environment and situation.

My recollection is you are not American. America has this romanticized ideal from the 1950s of a nuclear family with a full-time provider (the father), a full-time parent (the mother) and 2 or more children. This has not been reality for quite a long time. Our demographics have diverged from that in recent decades. But that mental model continues to basically poison American life, in part by dictating cultural norms that work for that lifestyle and don't work for any other.

If you come from a different context, maybe that doesn't need to be said. But in America, it very often needs to be said that a lot of Americans can't afford to live that way anymore because, if you don't say it, the assumption is "You neglectful parents, selfishly pursuing careers instead of taking care of your kids." Because America is very neurotic about some things.

Yes, you recall right.

I think that romanticism you talk about is inconsistent too. There is romantic memory of "playing outside alone whole day coming back only when lights are out" and criticism of todays parents who dont allow that. Simultaneously, when the kid is playing alone for an hour and half after school because parent is in work, then it is treated like a neglect.

I used to go from school to extracurricular activity alone (sport, music, whatever) and then home and then be alone for around an hour or two and it was no big deal for anyone.

And that period also spawned go-to-work kind of feminism which I fully understood only after I spent some time at home. Like, as much as everyone talks about it as luxury, I was really really unhappy and it affected a lot (including how I am with kids). For all the "most important thing in the world" rhetoric, it is just that, rhetoric and ideology designed to make you feel ashamed if you don't like it and make you shut up about it. Because it is supposed to be luxury you should be thankful about, despite that lifestyle not being actual historical norm for most of population most of time (Housework in the past was way more work then it is nowdays. Women did not played with children all the time, they washed cloth, sewed, cooked, cared about animals and what not most of time.).

Kids also really did play outside unsupervised more and/or with siblings, cousins and friends to help keep them safe instead of an adult. I think some larger fabric of social life has changed and we can't figure out how to translate historical parenting patterns into modern life in a way that makes sense.

I think a lot of parents feel very stressed right now and that fosters these weird conclusions that "if only X piece were like the good old days, everything would work" and it's just not true. Then "X piece" changes from one conversation to the next, like the six blind men and the elephant. What we don't realize is we mean we are dealing with an entirely different animal, so to speak.

We need to somehow create a social fabric that is more parenting friendly while not creating a social fabric that assumes every family is a nuclear family or that actively promotes the idea that marriage and children is an ideal to strive for. In the US, we absolutely haven't yet figured out how to do that.

Some things that would likely help: a less car centered built environment and universal health coverage.

I think that a lot of stress would go down if we stepped away from the idea that parent must be that superhuman entity always perfect always present always in control.

I have noted how quick people are to call parents lazy when parents choose action that is practical to them. If parent looks at phone at playground, parent is lazy and don't care and neglectful. Just, chill, people. If parent is active, then it is helicoptering. Again, just chill, people, most likely it is all ok and both kids will be fine.

I did not played with large group of friend who would look out to me. I had few same age friends, no more responsible then me. So, i think that the change is not just that. And also, per memories of my grandparents who had large pack used to say "kids are cruel" because that was their experience of how large unsupervised pack of kids acts.

The cruelties of familiar children, like siblings, cousins and neighbor kids, are typically presumed to be less harmful than the cruelties of random strangers who may be pedophiles etc.

I'm not saying its necessarily true. I'm just saying it tends to be less feared.

Another thing that has changed is that people move a lot more. My parents bought a house when I was three. I graduated high school with kids I went to kindergarten with. Historically, buying a house for life was much more normal. Knowing the same people for many years made it easier to calculate risks.

One of the reasons we have the saying "better the devil you know" is because familiarity allows you to adapt and figure out coping mechanisms for known problems. Unfamiliar territory routinely endangers you in unexpected ways at unexpected times. Being caught unprepared can easily have worse outcomes than familiar problems, even if those familiar problems are potentially equally dangerous.

Americans haven't really learned yet good metrics for when to butt out and when to feel responsible in some way for people they don't know all that well. So, as a group, we butt in a lot when we shouldn't.

You do at least need constant adult supervision, yes?

I think the article is helpful for a family in such a situation who might not otherwise think of, say, folding the laundry while hanging out with the kids and being receptive to offers of help, with the idea that down the line the kids could have the job of folding the laundry.

The vast majority of people are raised with either a shame model or a guilt model. If there is any way for it to be interpreted as a judgy lecture that "you're doing it wrong!", most people will take it that way.

If people hear it the way you hear it, that's great. But a lot of people won't hear that. They will just hear some new source of Puritan guilt and that tends to be counterproductive.

I agree with the implication, but I think you're at least somewhat wrong, and I still thought it was a great article. Specifically, I think that I'm going to be taking this idea to heart with my own child.

The reason I think you're wrong, btw, is that even my son (2 yrs old), who is certainly not lacking in things to do, seems to be very interested in helping us around the kitchen. Every time I'm cooking, he comes to look at what I'm doing. I'd actually kind of discouraged this, at least somewhat, but I'm rethinking this now - maybe I'll try to find a way for him to actually help, next time.

I was just noting what I felt was an important detail that the framing was glossing over. I think to some extent you are reading in things I did not intend.

This will vary some depending on the child and the circumstances, but children tend to be interested in what other people are doing. I wouldn't characterize it as trying to be helpful per se. I would characterize it as trying to engage with others in some way and trying to understand the world.

If you have only one child, then the parents are the people that child is going to tend to want to engage. If you have more than one child, they may take more interest in their older siblings, who are more developmentally accessible. They are closer in size and ability, thus easier to mimic.

My oldest was always wherever I was and he wanted to engage with the objects I engaged with, such as pots and pans or my books. He wasn't terribly interested in his toys. My second child both liked toys more and also had an older brother to follow around. He wasn't constantly underfoot.

But I'm glad the article was good food for thought for you. Happy parenting.

> I was just noting what I felt was an important detail that the framing was glossing over. I think to some extent you are reading in things I did not intend.

Totally possible! And for the record, I found your post great food for thought as well!

And thanks for the details on your children - good to hear. We're expecting a daughter so I'll soon have a chance to see how it works with 2 children :)

I don’t think the article is saying there is anything magic about culture, just about doing chores around and with your toddlers (I have toddlers). It doesn’t take much money to park your kid in front of a TV or a cheap tablet. If anything, parents with more resources have more options. I can see why children in wealthy families or just “wealthy cultures” would not be encouraged to help with chores, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be.

> poorer cultures wind up naturally more people centered than richer cultures, which wind up more thing centered

Source? Comparing Switzerland to the United States, and even within the United States, wealthy versus lower-income regions, I found lower to mid-middle class households to possess a more-pronounced attachment to possessions than households higher up. (Partly because attaining those things may have involved sacrifice for the former.)

I was not thinking of deprived families within a wealthy country. I was thinking of indigenous cultures and less developed countries.

I have taken formal study in things like social psychology, I have read a lot and I have traveled and had friends in various countries or regions. I can't cite a specific source that says that. Some of it is personal observation.

In the US, the Deep South where I grew up has historically been poorer than the rest of the US. Bringing the South in line with wages for the rest of the country was part of the impetus for establishing a federal minimum wage. The South is also much more people-centric. Some people interpret this as warm and friendly. Others view it as nosy, busybody and butt-in-sky.

I was taken advantage of by someone from a less developed country. It occurred to me after the fact that in countries where physical labor and human knowledge are primary forms of capital, people are treated as potential resources in a way they are not here. The way I was used and mistreated was incredibly calculated and I can't imagine most Americans thinking that way about another human being. Which isn't to say we are better, just to say the thought process was sufficiently alien that it took me a long time to recognise it.

If you read history, military campaigns were viewed differently than they are today. When you conquered land, you wanted to wrest it from the hands of the rulers while not overly alienating the peasants. This is because the peasants were the means to work the land. You couldn't go in with a tractor and a handful of people and grow crops. If you didn't get people with the land who were inclined to be reasonably cooperative, you didn't really gain anything, in part because local knowledge was critical to successfully farm. It was also very labor intensive and it fostered attitudes and policies that modern Americans can't really fathom.

The way you felt taken advantage of seems extremely similar to the way Americans feel about "big corporations". Maybe it is less face to face, it it's the same concept.

And of court in a country with such a huge legacy of slavery, taking advantage of people is very American.

And there's the classic American activity of the "confidence scam", used car sales, MLM, crack/heroin/meth dealers, fake rehab clinics and fake debt counselors... Anywhere there are more clever people than accessible valuable problems to solve , taking advantage pops up.

My wife and I stumbled across this thinking recently. We have an 18 month old and we started putting him to work. I rarely open or close a cabinet, microwave or dishwasher if he’s around. We plop him on the counter when we cook and he holds ingredients and utensils. Just today I was hanging something on the wall so I had him hold the screwdriver for me. We found that he’s thrilled to help and we never force him. Our initial intention was just to keep him busy but I’ve seen two similar posts on HN recently and I’m now realizing there’s a bigger social, reaponsibility, and familial lesson here.

My Dad was like this with me. As I got older I got to support bits of wood he was sawing, bleed radiators, drill holes, mix concrete, and even wire plugs (under supervision, of course). These are some of my most fond memories growing up.

Now I do all of the building and decorating work in my house myself. I was up on the roof repointing ridge tiles yesterday, for example. My friends don't understand but it's all just second nature to me. It saves a huge amount of money and is very satisfying to live in a house that you've worked on yourself.

These are definitely great skills to have, and even in this day and age of being able to Google anything, just having the confidence to handle power tools and the knowledge of what's possible makes all the difference.

A video of toddlers wanting to help:


Resonating with a point in the article about telling kids "you're not involved in this task", I've noticed that my American neighbors are quite reluctant to allow their kids to use knives, light candles, fill glasses, and some cooking tasks that could result in a lot of mess. As what looks like a consequence those kids are rarely able to help get dinner on the table when they come over.

An uncharitable explanation would be overprotectiveness, but I wonder if it's also simply a lack of time: if the kid is mixing a cake and the batter spills on the floor it is additional work; if they cut their finger it will delay everything. Whereas if you can help your kid become competent you can trust them to look after themselves in more and more situations.

There is also a responsible way to teach them these skills. My wife bought my 3 year old a nylon knife which is sharp enough to cut strawberries and potatoes but arguably safer than a butter knife. I was amazed how quickly he took to using it and is SO EXCITED when he gets to help prep dinner.

I think an overarching child-rearing strategy we have used is to treat our children as people who have valid needs and capabilities. Crazy, I know. But you constantly see parents doing things like going out to dinner and drinking wine for 3 hours while their bored 4 year old makes a scene, and they get surprised and blame the kid. Our boy rarely flips out, partly because we anticipate normal reactions and avoid putting him in bad situations. And the long-term benefit of that is when we are forced into tough situations, like a 7 hour plane ride, he generally weathers it better because he isn't used to suffering crappy situations all the time.

This is working with nature, which results in highly efficient parenting — vs fighting nature in the name of convenience, ending up facing the consequences and wasting magnitudes more time in the process.

I think you may resonate with Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves — a book focusing on natural parenting.

People have different ideas of “responsible”, and different levels of risk they are comfortable with.

I read an article a year ago about an anthropologist doing field work somewhere in a hunter-gatherer village in Africa marveling that a 9-month-old baby was playing with a machete. The anthropologist asked the mother if she was afraid the kid would get hurt. The mother said “he’ll figure out soon that the machete is sharp, and then be careful after that.”

Personally handing a baby a machete is a bit much for me, but my not-quite-2 year old and I walk around barefoot all the time in the city, and people are constantly asking me if I’m worried about broken glass or whatever.

I love Teacher Tom's mindset. He views risky activities as essential for kids to learn how to be safe. While supervision is important, meddling is unhelpful. They can do a lot when we step back and let them explore their own physical capabilities. I've adopted his phrase: "I won't help you, but I won't let you get hurt."


I love how he makes ridiculous suggestions so that his students use critical thinking instead of blindly following authority:

'While plugging in a glue gun, I once said to a group of older kids, "Have you ever tried sticking your finger into an electrical outlet?" They came down on me like a house of bricks, "If we did that Teacher Tom, we would die!"'


My mindset with my son as he started walking and climbing was to allow him to experience natural consequences as much as possible (within reasonable safety limits, of course). I've been very impressed by how careful he is when climbing.


I don't understand. Obviously the kids learned that by their parental authoritu drilling a false myth into their heads, not by direct experience and critical thinking.

Not sure I would call this a “false myth”. Obviously most of the time these shocks don’t cause serious injury, but from what I can tell from a quick web search thousands of kids every year end up in the emergency room after sticking stuff in wall sockets or grabbing cords with missing insulation.

Sure though, it would probably be better to let them play with circuits plugged into a non-lethal battery and get a few minor zaps, then explain that connecting a circuit with your body between the two sides of a wall socket could cause severe burns, other serious health problems, or even a fatal cardiac arrest if you are unlucky.

A wavy chopper makes a great first blade. My 17-month-old had a blast cutting strawberries the other day. Next I'll let him try something firmer like carrots.


Letting your toddler fill glasses, etc. is like refactoring. It costs way more time now than filling them yourselves but if you don't ever let them do anything, you'll find yourself in a mountain of technical debt with a child who is incapable of assisting with any tasks.

More than that, you might find yourself with child who lacks a sense of self-esteem and self-agency and struggles with these things even into adulthood.

My mum told me something important once: Your kids want to help. Let them. Kids are something you should live with and involve in your life, not something you designate to an hour of “kids time” once a day.

Both me and my sister started learning to cook when we were 5 or so, we helped with dishes, we set the table, we learned about cleaning up after pets. Of course we both tried to purposefully forget it when we were teenagers, but the skills and confidence to be okay without help were there when we needed them.

If I ever have kids, I hope I’ll have the patience to take the same approach.

Nothing worse than a person suffering from learned helplessnes and that stuff starts early.

My 5yo daughter has taken to using a perfectly child-sized book on Cupcakes (Peggy Porschen Cupcakes). She can pick exactly the one she wants from the pictures and then helps to make them. The latest batch of chocolate cupcakes produced by her and my partner (who's a professionally qualified baker) were some of the best I've ever tasted. Above any that my partner has made on her own.

They've done this fairly regularly (a batch every couple of months) for the past couple of years.

The article seems to think it's lack of time:


Sure, toddlers may want to help, but let's face reality here. At first, they really can't do much. They can be clumsy, destructive and even enraging. Their involvement in chores often slows things down or makes a mess.

For this reason, many parents in Western culture rebuff a toddler's offer to help, Mejia-Arauz says.

"We have mothers tell us things like, 'I need to do a chore very quickly, and if my toddler tries to help, he makes a mess. So I'd rather do it myself than having them helping,' " she says.

People think it saves time and trouble to push their kids around in strollers instead of letting them walk (very slowly at first), set them in walled cribs for 12 hours per day instead of letting them move about, sit them in high chairs to eat, get them to play in small fenced places with no sharp corners, let them stay in little rolling walker chairs, pre-process all their food into mush, not let them climb up or down stairs, not let them climb up the slide, not let them throw things, rush over and smother them at every tiny trip, ....

By the time the kids are 3 or 4 they are still insisting on being carted everywhere, are weak and uncoordinated compared to their less sheltered peers, are timid and less willing to follow their curiosity, and don’t know how to do anything. In the long run the parents are forced to babysit them much more closely for much longer, can’t rely on the kids to help with anything, deal with worse tantrums, etc.

There's a couple of outliers in your list IMO.

Long-legged "high" chairs raise the child to a comfortable table height. How else do you expect then to sit at the same table as much taller people?

Giving soft food, to people with no teeth, also just seems entirely sensible. We pretty much all just ate the same food at family meals, but even then we'd mush vegetables and pre-chew meat (from about 5-6 months). Otherwise the child is just going to be swallowing under-chewed food and have digestive problems.

People marvel at how our 2yo walks but a few hundred meters (it's bizarre!), if they're not doing a couple of K a day how do you even tire them out! When they're too big for a sling they need to walk.

The problem is not with sitting in high chairs ever, at any age. The problem is with being carted from one stationary place to another and never getting to move about, even up through age 3 or 4.

My kid eats at least half his meals standing on his feet, starting when he was 14 or 15 months old, either on the kitchen floor with a low table, or on chairs at restaurants. Another quarter of meals he is sitting in a high chair. The last quarter he is sitting on someone’s lap or a booster seat or some other arrangement.

But someone could certainly sit in a constrained chair for every meal up through age 2 and still manage to get plenty of time to move independently. From age 2.5 or 3 kids could be sitting on a Tripp Trapp chair or the like, something that lets them sit at the table without being stuck.

Eating soft and pre-processed food is similar: kids who don’t have any molars yet can’t chew much, but I see 3-year-olds eating nothing but mushed up food. Biting and chewing hard foods is what the jaws and teeth were evolved to do, and if they don’t get a chance they don’t develop properly. I had friends whose parents cut the crust off their bread, shelled nuts for them, peeled shrimps, only ever gave them boneless pieces of meat, etc. even as teenagers; we shouldn’t be infantilizing people who aren’t infants.

Lack of time is a huge factor. If you need to catch a bus to work at a specific time then you simply can't let the toddler drag out breakfast cleanup for an extra half hour.

Alternatively one can look at it as an investment that'll save time later.

> An uncharitable explanation would be overprotectiveness, but I wonder if it's also simply a lack of time

“Lack of time” meaning prioritizing other uses of time, sure. To some extent this is the result of strong economic pressure, but I think part of it is not understanding child rearing.

There is a work bench in my daughters class - kids aged 4-6. I has metal saws, hammers, nails.

I don't have a toddler yet, but I do anticipate prohibiting knives for a while. I keep them very sharp; any of my chefs knives could easily remove small digits.

Another commentor mentioned nylon knives though, maybe this is an interesting possibility.

Reminds me of something I read from Jared Diamond, wherein he said that in traditional societies that he had investigated, the kids play is just small versions of the adults life, that gets more and more realistic until it's the real thing. So, a child gets a piglet to look after, if the adults raise pigs. This would make sense from a biological point of view; the young watch the adults and imitate what they're doing as well as they can, getting better and better by practicing it.

It reminds me also of what I've learned about speaking a foreign language; you can't learn enough to be good at it first, then start speaking. You have to just start speaking it even though you're horrible. That's how you improve.

Yes exactly, I give my children mini-screen devices so that they will be ready for their career of sitting in front of an adult-sized screen for 8 hours a day.

This is easily the best thing I have ever read in HN

Yes, kids have a great appetite to become more adult and take great pride in it. I suspect what the psychologist was observing was that children were eager to start doing the things that earn appreciation among adults. This doesn't translate at all to the affluent west where housework is taken for granted and doesn't earn anybody respect. I think kids are sensitive enough to intuit that it's because there's no social reward in proportion to the effort, and as a result people do as little as possible and pursue other ways to establish their social worth.

I think all humans deserve respect and a decent wage, but treating housework (and its ilk) with contempt is the source of the great progress of recent centuries, automating work to increase productivity and wealth and leisure time for those who want it.

I remember when I moved away for college I was so shocked at how quite a few people basically couldn't look after themselves at all. I ended up teaching one guy I lived with how to do the most basic things. I actually had to show him how to put a duvet cover on, how to boil rice, how to use a washing machine, the fact that if a chicken fillet is 50% pink on the inside is not yet finished. He had never done any of these things himself before. I should have seen the warning signs when he moved in and his mother was unpacking and folding his underwear and putting them in his wardrobe for him. He was the worst that I seen but there were plenty more that weren't that far off.

> He had never done any of these things himself before.

Not only he had never done these before, but he had never paid attention for a single minute how they were done by his parents, he did not care, things appeared, ready done, that was the natural way of things (like cargo cult in a way) and he had no interest in the process. I had a friend like that (to make things worse, he then moved straight from his parents' to his girlfriend's, so it went on like this until he was 27...)

On the other hand, I almost never had anything to at home because my folks were of the kind who like to do everything themselves and do it quick, so there was nothing to be done, but I spent all my time questioning and above all observing them. Children are curious in general, but I have always been much more than average. So, whenever I was left alone (it happened frequently) or when I was later dropped in real life, I never had any difficulty, I could just reproduce their way of doing things.


I think that in a same country/culture, there is also a difference between countryside and cities. I grew up in the countryside and all my school mates were living in farms, and they were more than happy to help their parents after school (or event to miss school to help with field work sometimes). I mean, it is much more interesting (and for some of it, it gives a feeling of responsibility like an adult) to feed the poultry, bring the cattle back to the stable, drive the tractor, help fixing tools, work a bit of wood and metal, discover mechanics, move and arrange straw bales (in the times when they could still be moved and arranged) and a hundred other things; than doing house chores (laundry, dish washing, floor weeping, OK you do them once to try, but then it gets boring as soon as the second time comes...). And there is not much more to do when you live in an apartment.

There are negative sides to boarding school, but developing some functional and emotional independence is definitely a positive. When I arrived at University I was immature in a lot of ways, but much better prepared for that sort of life than those who hadn't been to boarding school.

I’ve found Montessori blogs to be a great resource of ideas for how to involve my toddler in meaningful work. Here’s one of my favorites: http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2017/04/practicallifebabyt...

Would you mind sharing more links to these blogs ?

How We Montessori is a great one. I've read her entire archive! http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/2018/05/fos...

Nicole Kavanaugh also has some really good stuff: http://www.thekavanaughreport.com/2016/06/practicallife2.htm...

And I like This Merry Montessori, though Lindsay is no longer posting actively: http://www.thismerrymontessori.com/?p=901

"Practical Life" is the phrase Montessorians use for the kind of real-world meaningful work described in the article. A google search for "practical life" plus a specific age will turn up tons of great ideas and really expand your conception of what kids at that age are capable of!

The secret is there is no secret: kids just want to help so let them.

Curious to know if they're just modeling the adults. I mean, if I set them to work and sit around catching up on Game of Thrones, its not the same thing as if i am working all the time too.

Yeah, kids tend to mimic parents by default so if you are an helpful adult around they will just pick up that behavior. Add to that positive reinforcement loops and thats how you create habits.

My mom related to me a strange phenomenon. My sister's kids, who stay with my mom and who my mom raises, along with all their friends, have managed to gamify chores all by themselves. They compete to see who does more for their respective families. My mom says that this was due a couple pairs of enterprising parents who likely read about a technique on Facebook or somewhere.

It cements my conviction that when you do parenting properly, you're not just making your life and the lives of your kids easier, but you're improving the whole neighborhood.

There's a relevant Paul graham essay about how teenagers are basically neurotic lapdogs because throughout much of history they would assist with everything and would be an apprentice..etc, but now are locked away at school (similar to a prison or daycare where their parents drop them off so they can work).

It's a great essay that I can't do justice if someone can find it.

I believe it’s this one: http://paulgraham.com/nerds.html

Some relevant excerpts:

“Bullying was only part of the problem. Another problem, and possibly an even worse one, was that we never had anything real to work on. Humans like to work; in most of the world, your work is your identity. And all the work we did was pointless, or seemed so at the time.”

“If life seems awful to kids, it's neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters (as your parents believe), nor because life actually is awful (as you believe). It's because the adults, who no longer have any economic use for you, have abandoned you to spend years cooped up together with nothing real to do. Any society of that type is awful to live in. You don't have to look any further to explain why teenage kids are unhappy.”

I think he's spot on here. The culture clash between a society where the young are to be incarcerated in some kind of padded safe space and a society where the young are junior members of adult society is all too apparent in Western Europe.

Youngsters from my neck of the woods are lining up to enter the wealthy European countries and the politicians and anatomists have been whipped up in a panicked frenzy trying to determine from X-rays who is over and who is under the arbitrary age of 18, while any culturally sensitive person will plainly who are grown men of military and marrying age where they come from and who aren't.

And what do the ones who qualify as "children" or successfully lie on their applications get? They may be grown men where they come from, but men who are too naive to realise what they are lining up for is to be castrated by the welfare state. They are asking to become incarcerated children, and when they realise where they have been lured, who can blame these strapping young fighters for embracing gang culture and shooting up their host neighbourhoods in endless retaliation between the various lord-pretenders of the flies?

Very interesting.

I thaught my toddler to help dad make his coffee in the morning... Puts the capsule in, pushes the long button, takes the capsule out... Then he smells the coffee and says 'nice' and feels the cup and confirms a job well done by saying 'hot'.

It's surprising how quickly he learnt how to do it, and how keen he is to help dad do it, for no gain of his own.

On the other hand begging him to eat, trick him, or entice him with rewards has had very little impact.

I will try to involve him in most things now.

My 3 year old son is the only one in the house allowed to operate the Keurig now. He will throw a fit if anyone tries to make their own cup.

I did this with my almost 3 year old. Except I use whole beans and a drip coffee maker. He tares the scale, weighs the beans, dumps them in the grinder, grinds them, and puts them in the coffee maker. The only part he doesn’t do is get the water because he’s not strong enough to push the button for filtered water in the fridge.

I made the mistake with my first two kids of not involving them early enough. Now they think work around the house is something only mom and dad do.

If anyone wants to see this in action, someone took a video of their two-year-old making coffee. It’s impressive! (And adorable) https://www.paulaspencerscott.com/single-post/toddler-making...

But, imagine, if the kids fucked up once and burns his face with that coffee, many of use would be blaming the parent for involving him in such a dangersous task for a two-year-old.

At no point does he carry the mug. I hold the mug, he barely touches it. He knows when something is dangerous if I've told him in the past.

Spend enough time in rural developing parts of the world and you'll see an awful lot of kids with burnt faces and hands. Not burning their kids so much is something I do have to give western society credit for, as critical I otherwise am of it.

And with the entire premise of our reality came crashing down...

"We have mothers tell us things like, 'I need to do a chore very quickly, and if my toddler tries to help, he makes a mess. So I'd rather do it myself than having them helping,' " she says.

I see some women do this but exchange the "toddler" with "husband". The husband will ofcourse see this and not try to help in the future because he feels insecure or just happy that she is happy doing it herself. It isn't too late to train new things just because you aren't a toddler any more. This focus on getting your toddler learning algebra or play the violin as early as possible isn't productive, let the kids be kids. This includes letting them help at home ofcourse.

If you don't help your wife around the house you're not a "husband", you're a "man child".

Until the kids all got smartphones... what chores?

Raise your kids in a single shared room without any convenient forms of unlimited entertainment, where they must either witness all the work they're not helping with while bored and guilty or participate, and see how magically helpful they are.

Raising my kid in a house full of books, massive TV, most iPads, iPhone and MacBooks released lying around. The ideas still work. Cleans the floor, takes a great interest in making sure we’re all well fed, keeps stuff tidy, tries grooming, and stirs my coffee and blows on it if it’s too hot. A year and a half old.

My floors are the cleanest they've ever been because my 17-month-old nags me to vacuum. I've been meaning to get him a little Dirt Devil or something, so he can do it himself. (He tries with ours but it's just a little too big for him to manage.)

Sounds premature for either of the parent comments to be making any kind of claims to success, but I wish you all the best of luck.

Think we're listing it more as anecdata to support the approach mentioned in the article. The article is validating the approach as much as something that's not a controlled decades long study can, which I suppose we're happy enough with.

Excuse me while I just go and write a motivational talk about your Developers encouraging "acomedido": "It's not just doing what you're told, and it's not just helping out. It's knowing the kind of help that is situationally appropriate because you're paying attention."

Gold dust!

>>Even small tasks, like raking leaves, can give kids a sense of pride and accomplishment

A line lifted straight from EAs PR Agency?

After 18 or so years of grinding you can unlock the Adult trait for your character.

I found it infuriating to read this article and realise there was no mention of Dad.

Maybe his absence is an overlooked part of it?

As a father, I do chores with my kids, and the trope that only mothers and house-wives do chores is really tiresome.

Maybe there's another way to get kids involved in chores - make sure Dad doesn't get away with not being involved, too.

The family that cleans together (that means Dads too), live happily together.

The parenting industry generally ignores the implied existence of "dads", because they (we) are a failed useless target group that buys nothing.

If your wife is a house-wife (i.e. doesn't have any other job, while you have a fulltime job) why would she not just do all the chores that she can do?

Because she does not want to. Then either you do it or if you too don't want to do it just leave it undone.

Most chores are optional anyways.

If you are a house-wife or -man doing chores related to your home and family is literally your job. How can you argument with "don't want to"?

My argument is that as an adult you decide what you want to do. Even if you are hired and you are working for someone when he tells you to do something you can decide you don't want to do it and don't do it.

And that's when you have written agreement as what you should be doing at your job. There's no written marriage agreement that says what married woman should do when she has no job.

There are still choices to be made with finite time. Do you spend extra time helping your son understand his algebra and let the laundry accumulate for a day? Do you spend the time to cook from scratch or spend the extra money to buy prepared food? Economics applies everywhere, including the running of a household and use of time.

Some people mop the floors every day. Other people don't do that every day. Can we say whose decision is wrong?

The higher standard of both partners should apply, and should be held-up by the partner that stays at home. If they don't match there's something wrong.

E.g. if you want fresh warm food for dinner and your wife just always buys microwave food because she doens't like to cook, then you got the wrong wife (resp. she got the wrong husband).

Or if your are a slob and mess up the house, and your wife nags you to clean up after yourself because she cares about having a clean home. Then she got the wrong husband and vice versa.

My approach is, when you want something done, you have to be ready to do it yourself or stop wanting it.

If you want home cooked meal and your wife doesn't cook for her own pleasure they you can ask her to do it for you, if she does, you must thank her, if she refuses, you must accept and respect her decision and either stop wanting home cooked meals or make them yourself.

Of same approach should be applied by both spouses.

As far as I know that's best recipe for happy, conflict-free life.

Expecting someone to do something will lead to disappointment, miscommunication and general decline of relationship.

But then why do I need a wife? To be clear I was talking about 100% stay-at-home wifes. If she's also working 100% at some other job than it's another story. (Then the question is more why 2 people in a household have to work 100%...)

Maybe there is some specific thing that she especially dislikes for some reason... Or maybe there is something that only you like, and takes a lot of effort to do... But in general the stay-at-home partner should care (and do sacrifices) for the family.

Otherwise that's the point? To have one more mouth to feed at home?

> But then why do I need a wife?

For emotional reasons. People function better when they are under the impression that there exists another human being that gives a shit about them, that respects them, that will listen to them and actually care what they say. People without spouse sometimes find hard to convince themselves that this is the case.

If you are emotionless person maybe you really don't need a wife. Cooking and cleaning services are cheaper than wife. You also don't need a child because they are expensive and give no benefit. If you have them as an "old age insurance" you might get very disappointed because support from your child as you get old depends on how much emotional connection with you they had and that might be lacking if you are a person that finds money more important than emotions.

If this is the reason you thought you needed a wife, maybe what you need is a housekeeper? Or, perhaps it's time to start using one of those meal delivery services?

In parts at least yes... and children. Which result in love and a family.

But if women nowadays refuse to do both those things, that also fails.

What is a wife else? Some female room mate, that pays rent with "love" whenever she feels like it?

> What is a wife else? Some female room mate, that pays rent with "love" whenever she feels like it?

Life-long friend that supports you however she is able to, respects you, accepts you and lies to you so you can feel that you are a better person than you actually are, which altogether helps you with achieving whatever goals you aim to achieve.

Personal advice for you. Please wait with marrying someone till "having another mouth to feed" and "rent" is a rounding error on your salary so you can learn to appreciate other things.

This may be good advice for this particular situation, but it's kind of grim if we generalize. Should only those with corporate-approved existences procreate? Maybe we should ask the corporations...

Mature humans can relate to and support each other in a marriage in both easy and difficult situations. There are limits, of course, because humans, but if everyone waited until everything was sorted out to get married there would be like ten marriages a year.

I meant my advice just for Double_a_92. By reading what he wrote I just think he might have trouble finding happiness in life until he outgrows the issue of money.

This advice is not meant to be generalized. A lot of people are perfectly capable of appreciating human beings in their life for what they are not for the bottom line they provide or cost and services rendered by them and can lead happy and harmonious life even with strain on resources. I'm just afraid that Double_a_92 is not one of those people, thus my advice.

It's not only about money. It's about balance and fairness. You ALSO provide life-long friendship and love to your wife, AND also financial support (I guess it's about money after all). So she should also provide more that just the love... I.e. doing housework in a proper way and taking care of your kids.

Or do you think it would by okay for the (employed) husband to suddenly stop working and go into social welfare because he feels like it?

I guess you could still accept the unfairness if there is nothing better, because we only have one life and it is probably nicer with a partner... But still.

> ... AND also financial support


You might get hit by a truck next week and then your wife, if she actually loves you, respects you and gives shit about you, won't dump you because you no longer have any money but will figure out how to get enough money to get you both through this.

If she is with you just for your money, or you are with her just to throw money at her and expect your laundry and cooking and cleaning to be taken care of then you might just as well skip the relationship. She might get actual job and you might get profesional services instead.

> Or do you think it would by okay for the (employed) husband to suddenly stop working and go into social welfare because he feels like it?

Of course it's ok to stop doing the job you don't want to do. Especially if you can get enough money elsewhere (social welfare) to survive.

Opposite of that is staying in the job you don't want to do and gradually loosing respect for yourself and suffering growing resentment towards yourself, your job, and the people you think are the reason you absolutely must never stop doing what you hate so they can get money. You can always earn more money. But you can't unbreak your broken mind or relationship.

If you consider your job personal sacrifice and your money, your most important contribution then... well, it doesn't work well in the long run.

> I guess you could still accept the unfairness if there is nothing better, because we only have one life and it is probably nicer with a partner... But still.

Fair doesn't mean equal. And equal doesn't mean fair. It's best if both sides think they themselves got better part of the deal. It doesn't matter what and how much they are actually contributing by any objective measure. Perception is what matters.

If monetary contribution is what you value then find women that earns way more than you do. Then figure out what she values and you don't mind doing or acquiring, and give her that. You'll both live happily ever after together.

Thanks for this! As my own marriage approaches, it is disheartening to see things like GP post. What you have here makes much more sense to me.

Interesting not a single male show up in this article

Maybe in this case is because of some aboriginal custom. However, in poor communities near the big south american capitals, these behaviors are often a result of not having many chances when growing up. These, and other reasons as the sense of belonging, are widely studied in teen pregnancy field.

Is there a version of this article that isn't behind a “consent”-wall?

I find it a bit disturbing that there is always the general case 'children' in the headline and in the article, but no mention of boys, only girls doing the work and in the pictures.

There’s plenty of mentions of sons in the article, just no pictures.

Plenty? I read the article again and found only one.

Sorry, misread. Only the dish washing example is a boy, but I don’t think this is inherently gender specific.

Mexicos (and many other) current culture is not exactly known to be gender neutral on most (all?) things. Sorry, but I am a little skeptical about your assumption...

Probably isn’t, neither is India where I’m from. Boys would be heavily discouraged from doing kitchen or clean chores even if they tried. But the principles and techniques in the article seem to be gender neutral, even if their application in the cultures studied isn’t.


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