Raising Multicultural Children: The USA Versus Italy

If you follow this blog you already know that my husband, Francesco, and I are talking about having children. For those of you that don’t come here often, it scares the holy shit out of me. Like every couple thinking about having children we have a lot to think about. Like any multicultural family, we have some additional things to consider as well. Here’s my list of things that I’ve been considering/worrying about. Not in the order of importance. Actually the opposite of that. I really just like to delay the not amusing things because I avoid my problems.

*Talking about raising kids in Italy really makes some expats crazy pissed because they think that Italy is flawless and maybe it is perfect to them. I get it, people  want to defend their decision to raise their kids in the US.  But just a warning, if anyone is a dick I’ll change their comments to say something about how they can’t stop eating cat turds or something equally as hilarious to me.

1. My vagina. Goddamnit I like her. But, I did call around to all of my married male friends with children to ask about their wives vaginas and they all said, “Dude, it’s totally the same.” And I was like, “Okay but define the same.” And one friend screamed, “You are fucking crazy! The same means the same! As in it’s the same size and looks the same as before. You need therapy. Er, more therapy. Stop worrying about your vagina!” So that’s the blessing and the curse of having mostly male friends. They can fill you in about their wives vaginas but then they get an attitude when you ask them if they took measurements. This is the problem with testosterone. They hate measuring things.

2. My ass. I’m basically built like a Baboon. Any weight gain goes directly to my ass and saddlebags. My boobs never grow. I don’t gain weight all over like those lucky women who are like, “Oh, I gained 20 pounds,” and you can’t even tell because the fat kind of goes everywhere, even to their earlobes and elbows. If I gain 1 pound my ass becomes dangerous when I make sharp turns. Size isn’t important but the thought of having to buy all knew pants sounds really hard. Trying on pants is actually work and it makes people sleepy. At least it makes me sleepy. And dressing rooms have terrible lighting. What’s up with that?


. Wine. Don’t get all judgy, if you’re one of those “normal” people who aren’t a borderline alcoholic. How am I going to go an entire year (or more) without drinking wine!? How do women do this? Please, I need to know.

4. Where will we raise our kids. Italy or the US? It might sound like an easy decision, I know a lot of people who are screaming, “Italy! The culture! So relaxing! Oh my God you idiot, there is no question!” Italy is lovely, there’s no denying that but she has her flaws just like the US has flaws. Every place is flawed. So which place is less flawed in the areas that matter to me. A pros and cons list? Shall we? If you have anything to add please leave it in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you guys think.

Italy Vs. USA


  • Italy is pretty. I’m a visual person and I prefer the way that cities like Florence look. It’s just visually inspiring. What a pretty place to grow up!
  • Children study a lot of things in the free education system that is comparable to private schools in the US like Latin but it’s free. Free is nice.
  • Our kids would be really good at soccer.
  • The crime rate isn’t outrageous. Probably no school shootings. Although it’s becoming more common for young boys to murder their young girlfriends in fits of jealousy in Italy so…hmmm. No, I still think Italy is safer. As long as our daughter doesn’t date a psycho.
  • People love kids in Italy. It’s easy to do adult things with the kids around because people aren’t insane about overly protecting kids from people smoking and drinking and adult conversation.
  • Kids can go into bars. This is both a pro and a con maybe.
  • The lifestyle can be more relaxed but this isn’t necessarily true. Many factors influence stress levels (money, etc).
  • Great food (although the mafia is destroying the environment and produce is becoming increasingly toxic).


  • Sexism. While gender equality needs to be improved in the US too, the mentality towards women in Italy irritates the shit out of me. Yes, it varies depending on region, and is the worst in the south in some regards (which is where our kids will spend a lot of their time).  The media is terrible, more or less depicting women in only two archetypes: The whore or the saint. I know more than one couple who have left Italy with their daughters to avoid the specific kind of sexism that exists in Italy. This is a big one for me if I have a daughter. Actually, it’s also big for my sons too. If my son came home from school with the idea that he gets special treatment because of his penis I might smother him. With kisses. And then ground him for life. Also, violence against women is really, really bad in Italy. That worries me.
  • Religion. My in-laws are extremely religious so our kids will be exposed to a lot of ideas that I don’t necessarily agree with like that God pushes down little girls who lie. Yeah, that’s a thing in our family. True story. Holy shit. Our kids will not be Catholic and Francesco worries that they’ll be outcasts because of this. I actually don’t think it will matter to peers but he seems to think it will make our kids feel left out. That makes me sad.
  • I don’t have any kind of baby support network in Italy. Most of my friends have left the country for economic reasons. I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving my children with my in-laws because of the “Jesus will punch you,” thing, but also because we disagree on parenting styles. They’re extremely authoritative, and they don’t have enough respect for our differences for me to trust them.
  • Economy. The economy in Italy doesn’t seem like it will have pulled together anytime soon. Even when it’s at it’s best the job opportunities aren’t that vast, and companies underpay their people so much I can’t even wrap my head around it. An engineer with a Phd basically makes the same as a McDonalds employee in the US. Yeah, true story.
  • Our kids wouldn’t be spoiled and doted on. I hope that wouldn’t make them feel unloved since most of their peers would come from homes where they’re constantly fretted over. Also, I feel like people would find my, “You’re arms aren’t broken, do it yourself,” mentality abusive.


  • You can make $$$ what you’re actually worth which is nice. Then you can save money, take vacations, and live without being on a constant budget.
  • I have a strong support network in at least a few states.
  • The OBGYN’s are better or at least they give off the impression of being better. I’ve been to a gyno in Florence and that was fucking terrifying. I would not let them guide a baby out of my guts.
  • Everyone we know is fairly progressive so our kids would have a great network of other progressive friends to play with. We wouldn’t have to worry too much about any intense religious  ideas or about a “young girls place in the world,” or pressure for our son to be “manly,” via my in-laws. In other words, I feel like our kids would fit in more in the US.
  • Mexican food. Well, diversity in general. I like the idea of our kids growing up in a diverse place where everyone is different. There isn’t just ONE acceptable way to be which can breed bigotry, nationalism, and elitism.
  • This could also be listed as a negative but the US really pushes ambition and there really is a “can-do,” attitude that doesn’t exist in Italy because the people’s hopes and optimism is trampled by the shitty government and limited opportunities. I love the “dream big,” thing in the US. In Italy I’ve talked with some pretty damn cynical twelve year olds.



  • You’ve got the money but not necessarily the time to enjoy it. It’s the country to make money, not to necessarily relax and enjoy life (with the exception of a few cities and states).
  • Crime. A lot of places in the US are extremely violent. It has a high rate of violent crimes. So, so many psychos in the US.
  • Protestant work ethic. I love the ambition but don’t like the pressure to perform that comes along with it.
  • Frat kid culture (yes, it’s a small number of young people it’s so weird).
  • Sugar in pretty much everything. They probably add sugar to sugar.
  • Education is expensive if you want the best the US offers. Although, in the US they focus a lot on application which they don’t do as well in Italy. Italy is a lot of memorization and theory. They don’t teach the kids how to apply things in life. Kids leave school with less real-life skills, according to all of our Italian friends.
  • The selfish, individualistic mentality can breed some pretty sociopathic, entitled assholes.

So that’s my pros and cons list at this moment. I’m sure that list will change, grow, or shrink as the weeks go on. If you want to weigh in on this I’d love to hear it.

5. The last thing I’m worried about is actually the most important. Will I be a good mom? Will I be selfish? Will I have the energy to keep up with them? Will I be able to care enough but not too much in all the right areas? Will I still love them if they grow up to be a libertarian? (Just kidding, my sister is a libertarian and I still love her).

I’m close to my parents but for the most part I kind of raised myself in a lot of ways (which is probably explaining a lot right now…right?). My parents were young and made typical mistakes that teenagers make but those “typical,” mistakes heavily impacted me in both good ways and bad. It’s always been important to me, if I ever were going to have kids, to be ready.  But I’m aware that there is never a right time and nobody ever feels totally ready. And who would be? I mean, it’s kind of a big deal and totally weird (have you ever seen a zygote? Evil seamonkey!).

In the meantime, I’m watching everyone around me trying to learn from their mistakes, or from the things they’re doing right. I’m analyzing, googling, and terrifying my husband with statistics and videos of child birth. Naturally. The whole thing is scary and I can’t believe that people just have kids. HOW DO YOU DO IT!? I need your secret.

I’m trying not to sound too crazy. I’m just trying to be logical. Weighing pros and cons and trying to write it out instead of being anxious while Francesco and I try to make some decisions. Lists are always helpful. Who doesn’t love a good list?

Go ahead and put your thoughts in the comments below.

60 thoughts on “Raising Multicultural Children: The USA Versus Italy

  1. Very well done. This is some really, heavy stuff and I appreciate the way you go about presenting it and your honesty all around. I obviously cannot speak to the pros or cons of Italy for raising a child since I don’t live there, or have kids; but I can speak to the US. I think another big con is the overwhelming sense of entitlement that many kids have in our culture. I am as progressive and liberal as they come, but this does not equate to a sense of entitlement. I have an educational background (used to teach high school and now work as a college recruiter) and I just think that American kids have a sense of entitlement in education that did not exist in the 80’s when I came of age in school. Another con would be our consumerism and over the top capitalism…too much focus on the material and not enough on culture or substance. I wouldn’t add much to your pros. As for Italy, I think maybe some of the cons can be addressed by you and the values you instill in your kids as their parents. No place is perfect and you cannot underestimate your influence as a parent.

  2. You need both. Up to 11 or 12 years old in one country then boarding school in the other to give them some connection. Take your pick as to where you start…

    • I agree! My boyfriend lived in Santa Barbara, CA until he was 14 and Italy from 14 to 28. I think he got the best of both worlds🙂

  3. It sounds like the best of both worlds! America to live and Italy for lots of lovely holidays! Perfect no stress!

  4. Do give your children the gift of dual citizenship. It would be easiest if they were born in the USA as I think they can claim citizenship in Italy through their patrimony. AND you would be more comfortable with the medical environment. Also do raise them bilingually: Mom speaks English to them and Dad speaks Italian. If you do end up raising them in Italy, they will be prepared for careers in the U.S. or elsewhere based on having perfect English thanks to you, Mamma.

    What about YOUR careers? Will both countries work for both of you? Italy has some employment challenges to say the least.

    • As long as the American parent can prove residence in the US for at least 5 years, 3 of which were after the age 13 (or thereabouts) it is relatively easy to give your child US citizenship when born outside of the US. So, it’s not too important where the child is born in this case, because I’m sure she can easily provide the proof necessary. But, it is almost 100% cheaper to give birth in Italy!

  5. Schools? I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I just can’t with the Italian public school system. How can a “socialized” country not provide the basics….like books, paper….and toilet paper? How can it not be The Great Equalizer when more than half of the kids cannot afford The Big Gita at the end of high school? And they just go. A couple of my students have asked teachers to organize a trip closer and less expensive, and got mocked saying if they wanted to “Go to Lucca or Pisa they could take the regional train “.
    No acceptance for creative answers, regurgitated information without debate, teachers can evidently not show up, no substitutes, kids just have gym or religion for 3 hours instead.
    I think your lists are important on both sides and the choice is rough anywhere.
    But I am constantly disgusted by Italy’s schools and I know it sounds offensive to people who send their kids there, but maybe someday enough clamor will start to change crap.

    • ^^ Wow, this is horrifying. Childcare however in the form of asili nidi is very cheap (approx €300 per month), can be excellent and there is a focus on providing nutritious and balanced food for the kids.

  6. I’ve done both … our first child, a daughter, was born in Italy in 2006. We moved back to the US when she was 2, because there were no jobs to be had in Italy. Our second child, a son, was born in the US in 2009. Yes, at that time we both had full-time jobs, but honestly, the extra money didn’t make life easier. Except for the fact that my job provided the health insurance. This is one of my big pros of living in Italy – free, or at least affordable, healthcare! When our kids were 2 and 5, the company I worked for went belly-up. I was without a job, and we were without health coverage! Yes, we could have been covered through my husband’s job, but that would have ultimately taken almost half of his paycheck every two weeks, which we could in no way afford at the time. It was a very stressful 6 months … I was constantly looking for a new job and worrying what would happen if one of the kids (or us) became seriously ill or injured. At least in Italy, no matter our financial situation, our kids will have medical care when needed. I don’t have to contemplate if my daughter’s high fever is ‘bad enough’ to warrant the $100 charge to see the doctor and possibly be told ‘nothing to do, it’s just a virus.’, or if we should wait it out and have that money to buy groceries next week? In Italy, if there is a concern, I just take my child to the doctor (or even, sometimes, the doctor will come to us!) without worrying about being able to afford it or not. We had been living in the US for 4 years when my husband was offered a job teaching at a public high school in Italy (a position he originally applied and tested for more than 10 years earlier – typically Italian!) and since I was still out of work, and he hated his job, it was the perfect opportunity for us to move back. Also, it’s a permanent, government job … he’s got that position for life, he wants it! It’s been nearly 3 years now, and while no, we don’t make the same money we made in the US (not even close!), in general, things are easier. Less stress, less worry. It takes longer to save money to take trips, we have to be more frugal and really think before making any extra purchases, even the smaller stuff. But I think it has made us appreciate all the extras a lot more than we did before. If you’re ever up in the Lago Maggiore area, let me know …🙂

    • Indeed, surely the free healthcare is tempting? Like it’s free to have the baby unless you choose to see a private gynecologist for the duration of the pregnancy. But there’s no need to. I see you had a negative experience with one doctor in Florence but I’ve had a baby here and found all the obgyns (mostly men) to be fantastic – am wondering what the gyno you went to see did to make you think they’re all so bad?!!!🙂

  7. We are talking about starting a family soon-ish, and it’s looking like we’ll be doing so in Switzerland, where neither of us is from! The culture is pretty close to German though, I think. My biggest worry is that my kids will end up being little Germans and feel no connection to my country/culture/language. So no advice here, but a lot of sympathy.

  8. Your Virgo need for perfection may be part of the problem. Which also includes being too analytical. What does your gut say???

  9. Make the decision carefully. Do not let other people influence this decision, including your husband. You will most likely be the one who does the majority of the work once that child is born. Francesco’s parents will be very involved and will, without a doubt, push the issue of religion. Just be realistic about all these things. Whatever you think might be bad will most likely be worse (middle of the night awakenings, constant changing of diapers, criticism by your in-laws, and possibly Francesco’s push to baptise your child so he/she “won’t feel left out”). It’s hard work to raise a child well and life as you know it now will cease to exist. Just be sure you are ready for the change. Good luck!

  10. Concur with Paula Jensen-holm. I could list off a lot of cons about America, but it has a brighter future to offer than Italy. I’ve lived half my life in the U.S. and half here in Italy — plenty of time to assess both fairly.

  11. I’m going to try not to write reams as I’m raising an English/Italian toddler at the moment and am pregnant with a little girl.
    We’ve come to the conclusion that when children are young as another poster has said, up to even teenage years Italy is not a bad place to raise a child. Children seem to grow up slower (now I sound like my Mum!) they spend more time outdoors than in malls and generally consuming materialistic things. There seems to be a greater amount of community activities and events that make life with children and for them more pleasant, you have places to take them, they are welcome there etc. But once they get to stage of wanting to get a job things become more limited. As for your list:
    Number 1: Yes it is really is the same, and it’s not a weird concern I know I lot people who were concerned about this🙂
    2: You look very slim I’m sure you will be one of those people who you can’t even tell is pregnant from behind. With my first I was just a football out front and didn’t put on much weight. With this pregnancy despite being sick solidly for 3 months I am like a big wide spread out blob and everything has got bigger. I was initially gutted and now I just realised it will go, there is no point worrying about it. It totally is possible to lose baby weight. It’s not easy but possible.
    3: The thought of wine makes me feel sick. I guess that is how women cope without it.
    Pros and Cons: Obviously I agree with all the pros. Cons wise, sexism is rife unfortunately, one of my concerns about having a girl is that my FIL will not be that interested in her compared with his adoration of my son.
    Religion wise we got married in a Catholic church in Italy and because I’m not Catholic had to sign something that said I will raise my children as Catholics. Luckily my Husband and I take this with a pinch of salt. Most religions teach the general code of what is morally right and wrong. I have no problem with that. I will always teach my son just as much about my background as he learns about his Italian one. And we see it that when he’s old enough to make his own decisions about whether to stick with one religion or another or none he can.
    We try and think of all these issues as an opportunity. You really have a lot to bring to the table if you can give your child two languages, two outlooks on religion, a multicultural aspect having lived in different countries. We know we as a family we never properly fit into to certain places. I will always be the weird English Wife that doesn’t cook a 3 course meal for the family every night of the week, doesn’t wrap her children in scarves til June and my Husband will not quite fit in because he is now used a fair and meritocratic society not one built on who you know and who can get you an opportunity because they are your mother’s, brothers’ uncle. But we are happy to be different.
    Number 5: The fact that you are asking the question about whether or not you will be a good mum means you will be! There is a great book on this by Gina Ford called “Good mother, bad mother”
    And as for how do you do it? To be honest it is a massive learning curve especially when you don’t live near any family who can help but it is without doubt the hardest but best thing we’ve ever done. And I’m sure you will be awesome at it!🙂

  12. I’ve never been to Italy and only been to the US once, so I can’t compare the cultures without resorting to stereotypes. I don’t have children either. But I have worked with babies for about 10 years, so I think I have a good sense of what’s important for mums, having heard about their experiences for that long. And as far as I can tell, the most important thing, at least in the first couple of years, is to have a good support system around you. If you feel you’d find it hard to have that in Italy, then you might be better, at least in the beginning, staying in the US. I completely understand were you’re coming from, having left Portugal at 23, lived in the UK for 10 years a couple in Germany, and now back to Germany again, I really can’t decide which place is better. Well, good luck. And stop watching YouTube videos of women giving birth, that will scar you for life.

  13. I agree with your pros of raising children in Italy except for the public education system–unfortunately it is neither free (parents pay for everything from school toilet paper to private tutoring and babysitting to cover frequent teacher strikes/sickness) nor good (see OECD PISA and PIAAC results). However, another pro is how easy it is to give children a variety of experiences here, from the incredible diversity of Italy’s cities, countryside, seasides, and mountains, to the ease of exploring other countries nearby.

  14. Holy cow I think you’re about as ready as anyone ever could be! It’s amazing you put this much thought into it. You clearly have no idea how lucky your future kids are for having a mother that thinks about these things to this extent. I must say, it sounds to me like you should do it in the U.S. Just do pregnancy like they do in Italy, where a little wine IS JUST FINE.

  15. I have to say that I love the town that I live in. It is a small country town in Varese that while everyone knows your business, they are fairly open. Some of my friends (other moms) are wiccan, buddist and muslim. We will sometimes ask each other ‘you didn’t hear me screaming at the kids last night, did you?’, even though we live a couple of blocks away.
    There ARE other moms who share our opinions (or most of them anyways) and thoughts on raising kids, husbands, etc. You just have to find them.
    As far as the wine goes, my strict GYN told me that I could drink half a glass of wine at dinner. My daughter is now 5 years old and perfectly healthy. Only problem is that she has my sense of humor!

  16. Hello,

    I am not your typical reader, I’m sure, because I am a retired teacher and in that strange category (strange to me, too) as “older.” So after working as a teacher for many years, this is my take. The U. S. A., although good in many ways, has become a terrible pressure-cooker for most regular people. Work has always been so much more important here, as you know. More important than, well…living a good life. It has only become worse, in my opinion. I can only speak from the perspective of public education, but that has become terrible for teachers and for kids. Corporate American has taken over. They saw money to be made and went after it with a vengence… with testing, charter schools, etc. And our government said “fine.” They didn’t care what teachers thought. Of course, we are just hacks and don’t know anything. Let people who never taught a day in their lives (and never would! too much like work!) take over. The things that have happened made my life hell these last few years. Luckily, I was able to get out! My point here is that there is very little regard and thinking (government policy) about what is good for the average person. It is all about money. All. About. Money. Breaks my heart. And with Ferguson and the militarization of the police force… a sad state of affairs. I would think if you could afford a vacation to the U.S. once in a while, that would be nice. But living in Italy, with all of the art and culture and proximity to other wonderful countries, seems to be a better, a more humane choice, for bringing up a child. No, it is not perfect. Nothing is.

  17. Raise your children in Italy…if you don’t want them to become cannon fodder for deranged, sociopathic politicians and our money grubbing “defense industry” who would sacrifice YOUR kids for profit and political gain.

  18. I’m divorced, with two kids (6 and 9), and remarried to an Italian. Now I live in Italy and for the time being I’m homeschooling the kids. I’ve spent a couple days at an elementary school here and I really LOVED the freedom and closeness the kids develop here. Being a mom already, the things you are worrying about when your child is a baby-these things are fleeting! How and at which hospital you deliver, nursing or bottle, gaining weight, body changes…..obviously, as women we DO think about all of this. But I promise, once you have a child the time moves faster than you could ever imagine and then they are turning 10 years old and NONE of that sh*t mattered. At all. For me, education is basically all you need to compare. Because like everything about kids, those 13’ish years will also fly and you will want the aftermath of their education to be as good as possible. My two will be going back and forth since I share them with their father in the States. But my husband and I want to have a baby together and I’m always taking mental notes about the Italian childhood and schooling that I observe now living here. I understand, it’s a lot to consider. What will be, will be.😉

  19. You are really overthinking it. It will be 6 years before they start school anyway and MIL issues are universal. Good luck! Having children will be the best og most amazing thing you ever did in your life.

  20. Your kids will be fortunate to have the option of imbibing the best of both worlds. Living in the US with summers in Italy will keep give them insights into both worlds. Once they are 18, they can decide where they want to live. The biggest pro for the US is the fact that kids grow up with choices which fosters individuality. I am not saying other countries don’t but the level at which it is encouraged in the US is beyond others. And finally, it does boil down to how you and your husband raise them. If a trip to the mall to buy mores crap is your idea of family time, then yes there will be problems. I highly doubt it both of you fall in that category🙂 ( opinion purely based on blog posts)

  21. I am American married to an Italian and living in Florence for upwards of 15 years – yikes! I have two young children, and for what it’s worth, I am very glad to be raising them here (and I’m not a hard-core I love everything about Italy person). Many of your pros and cons are spot on, but for me the best thing about raising kids here is that they still have a chance to really be kids and have a lot more independence than American kids do. American culture is so competitive now – even when kids are babies parents are already comparing growth percentiles – here my paediatrician would just write “tutto bene” or “cresce bene” which is really all that matters, right? Also everything in America is SO commercial now – you have about a thousand diaper choices or snack combinations, each available with a different Disney Princess. It’s just too much? And I think you’ll find that you create a huge support network here when you have kids with other expat Moms who you never even knew were in Italy, but having kids brings you together (in a good way). Biggest drawback for me is that while living here can be great for so many things, it’s harder, and with kids that increases. There’s a big difference in basic things like grocery shopping. In the US you can put your kids in your car which is parked inside your attached garage, go grocery shopping where your kid can be clicked in and out of the car and shopping cart with carseat, and then drive back and unpack groceries while your kids sleep in the car and scenario. In Italy that same experience (if you live in the city) is extremely complicated and rather exhausting. Anyhow, I could probably go on for years so I’ll stop. Good luck – nowhere is perfect and you and your husband will have a great adventure with it whatever happens!

  22. Pros and cons to both and I can really only give input from the US side. I agree completely with what the first poster said about the cons of American society – and it seems to be only getting worse. In addition to the sense of entitlement, materialism, consumerism, there is the ludicrous lack of global awareness. The US is so big, so “tough,” so “we’re #1!” etc. etc. that those who grow up here truly don’t grasp, or respect, different cultures around the world. Then there is the fact that the government is so screwed up (I realize Italy is no cup of tea either, but as my aunt who now lives in Sicily put it, the govt-corporation corruption here is much more “sinister” because it’s more secretive whereas in Italy it’s just out there.)
    Other things:
    School – there are many, many good free public schools in the US, so I don’t think you would need to do private.
    Healthcare – I don’t know the quality in Italy, but it is free…here it can really, really cost you a lot.
    Citizenship – does it matter where your babies are born in terms of them being able to have dual citizenship?
    Languages – the US is ludicrously behind in this. Most schools do not even start offering a second language until middle school, and then it’s often only French or Spanish.

    Obviously, parents can do a lot to combat the negatives of growing up in either culture, but I think the ideal situation would be something like:
    Attend school in the US but spend the 3 months of summer every year in Italy, or vice-versa. You can certainly find areas here that are more focused on community, locally sourced foods, etc. – I live in one of them here in Burlington VT – so that’s good at least for the kids but I wish that we could spend every summer in Italy starting right now to really give them a more worldly experience. It is so much easier if you live in Europe because you can hop on the train and be in many different countries with different cultures so easily – here it is so hard and sooo expensive to get an entire family overseas for a vacation.

    Good luck and I certainly have input on all the birth stuff too but I can email that – I don’t want to horrify your readers with gory details.

    • You’re going to be an excellent mom just for the fact you’re anticipating all of these factors.

      Keep in mind the influence your in laws and your own family will play.

      My mothers side is Polish, my fathers side is Russian. They both traveled over to Europe / Eastern Europe and Russia quite frequently when I was growing up and felt they were rewarding me with option of travel when I was older as opposed to being a given influence when I was younger. I wish they had kept more doors open to these experiences when I was growing up. You can’t make up for lost time and I’m scrambling to piece back together my past now that my parents are older.

  23. And another wondeful blog and post.

    My love for Italy is similiar to yours. The food is amazing. The scenary is amazing. And the laid back lifestyle is a life I will never experience in the a States, let alone NYC.

    Based on my 4 visits to Italia and the friends I have made, Itlay is indeed very extreme. Italia is a country that embrace family and like you mentioned, a country that love children. In the States, I find people live to work. In Italy, people live for family. But, I have also come to find out it is a big challenge to live in Italy when it comes to healthcare, education and technology.

    Healthcare in the States is by far more advanced than the healthcare in Italy. My first medical encounter in northern Italy, small city of Novara, confirmed the statement above. I rather not go into details, but trust me. I recall entering a room with one man (doctor?) with his feet up on the desk. And two women (doctors?) quickly diagnosed me without taking my BP and body temp. They did not speak English. And I barely speak Italian. Thank goodness for my translator app on my iPhone.

    Education. Recent article I came upon covered young students protesting and rioting in Milan on a proposed and adopted school reform bill just made me shake my head. Something I have not heard of or came across in the States. The school system in the U.S. is not perfect, but I must say much more advanced than the school system in Italy. Bottom line, I do not want my child spend his day protesting when he can be in class learning.

    Technology. Italy just recently announced a project underway to increase broadband network. Italy’s telecommunication infra has been the same for the past 20 years. Roaming service still exist in Italy. I can not recall when roaming service existed in the U.S.

    On a fair note, how can Italy and Italians progress with the current government in place and especially the mafia running the country? Hopefully President Mattarella can bring positive change and exude all the beauty Italia has to offer and to a country I fell in love with.

    Perhaps you and hubby can raise your kids on a transcontinental basis? It would be cool to have kids travel back and forth the first five years and then take it from there. During the fifth year and beyond, spend 10 months in the States and 2 months in Italia?

    And by the way. Coming from a Tiger mom, you will make a great Mom. You and your husband will make a great foundation for your future kid(s).

  24. Reading you post reminded me of my hyper analysis of the pros & cons of whether or not to have kids (15 yrs ago) then reading the replies, I saw someone mention that you are a Virgo and I thought -ah! That explains it – I am a Virgo too. So, I understand what you are going through. It’s anguishing. Especially if you feel as if you are playing beat the clock. Sending you a hug.
    I ended up deciding not to have kids at all.
    I recommend you listen to the little voice inside of you/your gut/your intuition…
    I was born & raised in the US in an Italian american culture and loved it. I am a dual citizen (of US and another EU country) and if I had children I likely would have raised them in the US but made sure they felt a connection to their heritage and like citizen of the world.

  25. Wow…a heavy subject and a lot of input from your readers. Since I don’t know you well and have never raised a child overseas, I can only speak from experience about raising three children to adulthood and now assisting with my grandchildren by babysitting them during the day for my children. We have had hard years, and easy years. But the most constant thing which I and my wife have given our children and grandchildren is love and acceptance. We have taught them through the years not to judge people by your initial reaction to them, but to get to know them first. Education is important, that’s true. Culture is of importance also. Of the utmost importance for your children is the security of knowing that you love them, you will be there for them and that they can count on you for the stability they will need to become the type of adults you wish them to be…not matter which country or countries in which you raise them.

  26. You have made many good points. I can tell you that as a former teacher, education here in the States is frustrating at times, not just to the teachers who are under enormous pressure, but to parents. I ended up pulling my 9 year old son out of the public school system and now homeschool him. We are planning to move to Italy next year. My husband already works throughout Europe and we both agree it would be best for our family to live in Italy. I do have one funny story regarding healthcare and the soaring costs here in the US. Just hours after my son was born in 2005 the phone rang in my hospital room.. it was the Billing Department. They told me they needed me to go ahead and pay a portion of the bill. I asked what “portion” they needed. I was told $5000. I laughed and hung up! It took months and months to pay off the bill, and we had good insurance. Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best!

  27. Some of this is perception. First, the religious thing: rate of Church attendance is actually significantly higher in the US than in Italy (est. 25%, in the latest research, to 39% in the US.) Moreover, Catholics aren’t literalists, so they believe in evolution and vaccines and junk. The Big Bang Theory originated with Fr. Georges LeMaitre, a priest and physics professor. It helps not to think seven days has to mean seven days.
    As far as sexism goes, I think the rape statistics on US campuses speak for themselves, but in case they don’t, the stereotype of Italy’s violent macho culture and physical and sexual violence isn’t reflected in the statistics. According the 2012 UN report, physical and sexual violence across a woman’s lifetime were about twice as common in the US (probably stress and poverty, for those who aren’t being rewarded with big salaries.)
    Interestingly, the highest rates of sexual violence in Europe were in the UK and Sweden–Swedish researchers, looking into a variety of explanations, seemed to conclude that the culture of binge drinking plays a part.
    That said, salaries are better in the US, for professionals at least. And having childcare is important. I do leave my kids with a conservative Italian mother-in-law. I don’t know. She’s religious, but also she loves the shit out of them, and my religious grandmas didn’t stop me from being a goth-y pagan fornicator in my youth. I think I’m more bothered by the junk food she gives them, but then I’m sort of the mind that they should be exposed to all sorts of people and views and grow up with options.
    It sucks not to drink while preggo. That’s just that.
    And I’d rather be raising my family in Germany than Italy, so this isn’t an Italophile view.

    • Hello love. Yes, I’ve read those stats. I’m definitely not saying that the US is the safest country out there. It certainly isn’t (although our country is also massive compared to tiny Italy so naturally our rates are always higher in everything). Another problem is that violence against women is insanely underreported in Italy so the stats in Italy often do not reflect the actual problem unless death is involved. Domestic violence and femmicide are very pervasive problems in the country, The Repubblica, and other papers report on it pretty regularly. The current PM has called violence against women in Italy “an epidemic.” Here is an interesting article by the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/19/world/europe/a-call-for-aid-not-laws-to-help-women-in-italy.html?_r=0. Italy also has one of the lowest ratings in Europe for the treatment of women and gender equality or at least it did a few years ago.

      • I secretly admit to reading Giallo every week, and the amount of violence against women is frightening…..but to me what is more frightening is the *very* prevalent attitude that it’s still all the woman/girl’s ‘fault’–especially in the south. “F” is a pretty good magazine dealing with women’s issues and stories, and in the last issue, there was an article about a woman from Puglia, “arranged”, basically to be with some guy from their town. It didn’t work out on her end and he tried to kill her, paralyzing her instead. She is the subject of “look how she’s showing off on TV” gossip—by WOMEN in her hometown. It’s just so disgusting.
        I feel like a real cynic when I post on your blog but you bring up so many important issues.

  28. Some of this is perception. First, the religious thing: rate of Church attendance is actually significantly higher in the US than in Italy (est. 25%, in the latest research, to 39% in the US.) Moreover, Catholics aren’t literalists, so they believe in evolution and vaccines and junk. The Big Bang Theory originated with Fr. Georges LeMaitre, a priest and physics professor. It helps not to think seven days has to mean seven days.
    As far as sexism goes, I think the rape statistics on US campuses speak for themselves, but in case they don’t, the stereotype of Italy’s violent macho culture and physical and sexual violence isn’t reflected in the statistics. According the 2012 UN report, physical and sexual violence across a woman’s lifetime were about twice as common in the US (probably stress and poverty, for those who aren’t being rewarded with big salaries.)
    Interestingly, the highest rates of sexual violence in Europe were in the UK and Sweden–Swedish researchers, looking into a variety of explanations, seemed to conclude that the culture of binge drinking plays a part.
    That said, salaries are better in the US, for professionals at least. And having childcare is important. I do leave my kids with a conservative Italian mother-in-law. I don’t know. She’s religious, but also she loves the shit out of them, and my religious grandmas didn’t stop me from being a goth-y pagan fornicator in my youth. I think I’m more bothered by the junk food she gives them, but then I’m sort of the mind that they should be exposed to all sorts of people and views and grow up with options.
    It sucks not to drink while preggo. That’s just that.
    And I’d rather be raising my family in Germany than Italy, so this isn’t an Italophile view.
    Good luck!!

    • Thank you thank you thank you for a bit of sanity.
      Reading previous comments, I was wondering which country these people were talking about.

  29. Sounds weird, but maybe try a part time nanny job? See how you are with a kid all day once or twice a week.

    It’s good you’re thinking of all these things, I think it shows you’ll be a good mother. Something else I’d suggest is the talk about circumcision, if it’s a boy. People are crazy weird about it in the US & cite bizarre reasons like cleanliness (we have regular access to water, thanks!) or my favorite, “I want him to look like his dad.” Because apparently boys spend their whole lives looking at their dad’s junk. But anyway, I know your dad’s side is Arabic, which I’m assuming could mean Muslim, which could put a different pressure on the circumcision. Being Jewish, I thought about that angle back before I got my Fallopian tubes locked down. Like, I don’t see the point in slicing off a part of my kid’s body for no reason, and I don’t consider “God said so to this guy once a couple thousand years ago” to be a good reason) but how will this fly with the other Jews in my life? I’m not particularly religious, but I love the cultural aspect & feeling like a part of something bigger than me. Would my son feel unincluded if I didn’t do it? Maybe it’s just a weird concern I have, but anyway.

  30. I think you worry too much. If you want to have children, you’ll get them anywhere. They will be happy in Italy as well as in the US. The big question is: where do YOU prefer to live. I am Dutch, live in Italy and my son was born and is raised in Italy. He is a happy kid, and I think that would have been the same if raised in Holland. It is us parents, that have to decide where we would want to live, our children will be happy either way. Growing up they will make their own decisions and may as well move to another country. That’s what we did too, isn’t it?

  31. Leggo da molto tempo e non sono ancora intervenuta, lo faccio in italiano spero non ti dispiaccia. Sono italiana e vivo in un paese vicino a Firenze, non so se sia meglio crescere un bimbo in Italia o negli Stati Uniti, ma credo che questa città abbia molto da offrire a un bambino, anche dal punto di vista culturale. Leggendo le tue preoccupazioni poi, non posso che dirti che noi non stiamo crescendo i nostri figli secondo la dottrina della cattolica e nessuno ha alcun problema per questo (magari ai miei suoceri farebbe piacere, ma non è un dramma). Leggevo invece che un’enorme percentuale di statunitensi non voterebbe come Presidente una persona dichiaratamente atea. Allo stesso tempo, mi perdonerai, rimango sempre un po’ stupita quando leggo affermazioni sulla pessima sanità o il rischio di omicidi commessi da uomini a danno delle donne con cui ahnno una relazione come un problema tipico italiano. Basta guardare le statistiche del WHO (per la sanità) o dell’ONU sui cd homicides by sex, per avere un quadro un po’ diverso.
    Detto questo, credo che il punto fondamentale sia, dove tu ti senti più a tuo agio con l’idea della maternità e, più in generale, se ti senti a tuo agio conl’idea di diventare madre.
    Ah, il peso si perde, la vagina torna a posto, la “testa” cambia

  32. Well, I’ve got a 9-year-old whom I’ve brought up in Italy so far, so I can tell you a lot from the horse’s mouth.

    First, whoever taught you about the birds and the bees omitted the most most important information. You do realise people with kids don’t have sex, don’t you? You will have no time to care about the dimensions of your hoo haa (which will be vast, everyone lied to you) because you will be busy getting intimate with somebody else’s poo multiple times each night, having your nipples used as a teething ring and, once that phase is over, it is also quite a turn off to notice a toddler watching at the edge of your bed whilst engaged in procreational activities.

    Also you seem convinced you are going to have a girl which, by the biological Law of Sod, guarantees you will have a boy. Who picks his nose.

    It’s up to you if you actually do the birth in Italy or America but the fact that I was given a cesarian with no pain management whatsoever might be interesting data in helping you make your decision. The Catholic church disapproves of pain killing.

    The Italian school syllabus is far better than I expected – but you have to ask around the neighbourhood like mad and get a “raccomandazione” to have your kiddo in the class with a good teacher. It’s much easier than you’d think to be subversive with the Catholic brainwashing and garbage instilled into them at school. You just need to establish a good close relationship before they start school and give them plenty of cultural input in the toys and books you buy them, the TV you let them watch and the places you take them on holiday.

    Your lack of a support network is going to be massively important and since I had to cope without any help whatsoever, I can honestly tell you it was the hardest thing I have ever done. You can work extremely hard to create a babysitting group of mothers, but you may have noticed Italians have no qualms about letting everyone down if it suits them. I so wish I had had my mother and sister around the corner.

  33. Sicilian housewife, both my girls’ schools have Catholicism as a choice, it’s not mandatory. I do think it is a choice in the public school system. I also know for a fact that you can give birth in other hospitals than Catholic ones, or maybe it’s different in Sicily?

    I am an European expat here, before coming here I lived 10 years in the States, so I have some experience in both countries and if I am absolutely honest by far prefer living here in Italy. It’s not because I love the bureaucracy and other less fortunate things, but because I found that people here are sweet, generous and genuinely caring about me and my family. I love how socially active people are, how an evening out quickly can turn into a night out in great company.

    There’s good and bad everywhere and in the States a lot of things work much more efficiently, you can make more money etc. but at the end of the day I’d rather be here where the shops are closed every afternoon, than live in a 24 hour shopping environment if everyone is lonely and so afraid of not appearing perfect, that genuine friendships are very hard to come by. Countless were the times that I was the ‘flavor of the month friend’ to someone in the US, and the next month I’d been traded for someone else new and more exciting. This does not happen here and neither does it in my own country.

    Maybe the cultural gap is just too big between the US and Italy, because every American I’ve met seems to have a very hard time adjusting to life here, and I had a hard time adjusting to life in the US too. Well, not the lifestyle, but socially I was the odd one out. Never got the ‘I’ll call you next week’ and all the things people say with good intentions, or with the intention of making you feel good now, but not the intention of following through. When someone says to you ‘that I just know, that I’ll know you for the rest of my life’ and the month after they ditch you, it is a great insult where I come from. I never put a gun to anybody’s head, or wanted them to make such profound declarations of love and friendship if it wasn’t true.

    Sorry guys, if I’m offending anyone, but in Europe we don’t say things like that easily, and if someone does, you have a friend for life. Friendships are not casual for us and therein lies the biggest difference between our two cultures.For that reason alone I’d never let my children grow up in the US, always having to change friends and never being allowed to attach themselves to anyone.

    I think that kids are better of growing up here, to be having childhood friendships that lasts long into adulthood. I have quite a few of those myself and it is priceless having these people in my life. Nothing can beat that, not even good schools and hospitals.

    • That’s a really interesting experience. I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m actually pretty surprised. I’ve had the same friends since I was a teenager. They are pretty loyal and die-hard. I can count on them for pretty much anything at any time. I know the type of American you’re describing but that’s a very specific type of person. Often selfish and entitled, but being my own country I can spot them a mile away and am pretty good at avoiding them in life. I can see how that would be very hard to do if it’s not your culture though.

  34. Oh man that’s tough! I moved to Italy (with Italian marito) when our daughter was almost 3, meaning she could already speak English well before starting straight away at ‘Asilo’. Compared to the UK, I feel the education here is way more thorough, though as you say, highly academic, and I imagine far-less able to cater for those who need a more vocational path. On the family front, I was fortunate enough to know my in-laws were going to be great – very practical, modern people, so I wasn’t facing any of the Catholic shite which I can imagine is a nightmare. My daughter now goes to Nonna two afternoons a week so that I can work from home (and is at Asilo for 5 hours every morning – and that’s all free). I hear what you’re saying about not trusting your in-laws with your offspring, but hear me out – children unite us like nothing else, their ‘powers’ to transform relationships can at times be nothing short of amazing. A friend of mine who recently had twins told me that in just one evening stuck in hospital with one of her tiny babies who had an infection, her relationship with her mum – who came along to hold her hand – was made new. That said, I know you’ll be dealing with the Italian Nonna, who is one truly awesome creation. But, you’re clearly a girl of principle and one who’s not afraid to tell it like it is – and in that case, you may well be able to come to minding-arrangements where they follow your rules, and care for the baby in a way that continues what you practise at home. Which may well involve laying down of (your) ground rules. But remember, so much of it is led by the baby itself, that for most of the time you won’t feel like you’re the one running the show anyway! And if my experience (no family, in Dublin, prior to moving here) is anything to go by, you’ll give your right arm to handover baby to someone who loves him/her while you go and shower, take a nap. It’s exhausting, and you do need support. Just don’t underestimate the power of familial love! They may be infuriating but if they give a damn and they’re THERE, it’s not a bad place to start.

  35. You’ve have quite a few thoughtful pro’s and con’s! Here are my thoughts:
    #1. The Vagina: I’m a nurse, I currently work in the operating room. I’ve seen a lot of vagina’s. I promise you that yours will go back to it’s original shape after childbirth. After giving birth to my daughter, I took a mirror and looked at my vagina (only 3 days after giving birth)…bad idea. It takes a few weeks for it to get back to where it had been…but IT ABSOLUTELY will !!
    #2 All people are selfish and it’s natural to wonder if you will be good parents. I was a single mother when I became pregnant at age 27. I was selfish, independent and scared. But everything changes when you become a parent. It happened to me when I was about 22 months pregnant and sitting in the bath tub. My daughter moved and caused a ripple in the water. For the first time it felt real, like there was this beautiful, little child in y body. I was so happy and from that moment, I just knew that I wanted to be the best mother for her!
    #3 Education in the US isn’t the greatest. It is only as good as you (the parents) allow it. My daughter goes to a good school, but she is a typical kid and takes her free education for granted. I have to encourage her to study (make her study!), help her with her homework…I am in constant contact with her teachers, because she will always slack off and not put in any effort if she doesn’t have to. We live in a nice suburb with nice schools, it really is the parents and teachers that work together to create good students.
    #4 The food. I want to move to Italy with in the next 5 years to get away from all of this super-processed, genetically modified, high fructose/sugar US food. The incidence of cancer is astronomical and I honestly believe it has to do with the typical American diet and all of the junk in our grocery stores. The food industries cares about the American Dollar and not about the person eating the food they have processed and altered. There is junk food everywhere and no matter how much you try to have your child eat healthy, they will always want the junk that their friends are eating. There are so many obese people in the US, incredibly obese people (I didn’t even know that they made clothing that large). When I went to school in the 70’s/80’s, there was always one or two over weight kids, now it is almost 50%.
    #5 The people. As the saying (sort of) goes “The grass appears greener.” There are plenty of arrogant and racist people here too. Just like everywhere. You just have to raise you kids correctly!
    #6 wine, your butt, weight gain.. When I didn’t know I was pregnant (about 4 weeks pregnant), I was out with friends and drank plenty of Margarita’s and got quite a bit tipsy! It didn’t effect her at all. But, I didn’t drink when I was pregnant and had not desire, because I knew that I was ding all I could to be a good mom. Also…I’d recommend that you to your husband now about this, because if he’s drinking a lot of wine in front of you while you’re pregnant, it’s not nice and too tempting. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is real and it causes serious birth defects.
    Also, it takes 9 months to gain the weight and about 9 months to lose it. It will come off. The first year is stressful and you lose it just trying to keep up with you’re new role. I have stretch marks on my stomach. I have them because I have a wonderful and beautiful daughter. I wouldn’t change them for anything, they prove that I’m a mom!
    #7 You’re going to be great! Stop worrying and start trying!! Being a mother is a gift! There is no bond greater than the love a mother has for her child.

  36. I’ve been following your blog for about a year now, and I very much identify with so many of your experiences! My husband’s parents are from Naples, but live in Florence, which is where he was raised. That’s where we met, and have now lived in the US for seven years. I’m not sure I have much, if anything to add, but it is so refreshing to see all of my concerns voiced by someone else! All of my (American) friends seem to just have babies and have none of these concerns, whereas I’m paralyzed by them. And I feel that nobody understands!.

    Because of my job we are definitely going to continue to live in the US, so I mostly struggle with how to be sure to give them enough exposure to the parts of Italian culture I like? How to be sure they get enough time with their other grandparents? (without them influencing too much with their ways. I love my husband, but sometimes I question how his parents raised him. And they suffer from “knowing the best way to do things.”) I also worry about how differing child rearing opinions between my husband and I will be difficult to navigate. As some others have mentioned, I have thought of summers in Italy when young, then boarding school in Italy when older to get a balance in each culture. A plus is that although we live in a smallish city, there’s a decent sized population of Italians that have moved here for engineering jobs and I like that that will give any future kids more contact with Italian culture.

    I loved living in Florence, and would love to live there still. But my practical side is too strong and I could just never justify the economic cons of living there. We just returned from our annual visit, and I felt like Florence and looked so run down it made me sad. More empty store fronts, not one of my husband’s friends has an actual career and half of them don’t even have jobs. All anyone bitches about is the economy. At this point, I just don’t see how (for us) there is a promising life there? I guess we’re fortunate that we can choose, and can have more economic benefit from living in the US while also having as much connection with Italy as possible, and take the best of both worlds. Also, living in a smaller area reduces concerns of violence, crappy public schools, etc. Best of luck with your decision, and I look forward to seeing how you navigate things!

  37. “Religion. My in-laws are extremely religious so our kids will be exposed to a lot of ideas that I don’t necessarily agree with like that God pushes down little girls who lie. Yeah, that’s a thing in our family. True story. Holy shit. Our kids will not be Catholic and Francesco worries that they’ll be outcasts because of this. I actually don’t think it will matter to peers but he seems to think it will make our kids feel left out. That makes me sad”.

    This is really strange!
    Typically the 95% of Italians catholics are lukewarm about religion.

    • I know, but did I mention that my mother-in-law is a bible teacher? Another thing is that they’re from a small village between Rome and Naples and religion seems to be a much bigger thing there than in Florence. My husband has a friend who had an exorcism because he was having “bad luck,” which meant that “demons must be involved.” So…my life is extra weird.

  38. Hey lady! I have to say youre right in track with several actually all points I agree with…..I currently live in northern Italy and I come from atlanta….I used to have usher in my backyard and now I have chickens and my future In-laws…..glory!….needless to say I get. Another thing to add To Italy is that you also get a crazy amount of time off paid (cough cough) for like 9 months after you have a baby….can we say #ballerstatus?…. regardless having a baby is stressful not to mention trying to decide which country is better…..my friends back home just have to decide paper or plastic…. You seem quite strong but I know there’s a lot of head trash in this decision….even though you didn’t openly ask for my advice I feel schooled already on these points because I’m living out all of these things on a daily basis… My conclusion is as follows…. being a mom doesn’t matter where you live….I’ve seen bad moms and good moms in every place….you and the hubs have more advantage because at least you guys like us have even the option….the other awesome part is that your kids will too have the option so your decisions and life have only created more opportunity for your family. So will you make a good mom? I don’t know….I think only your dog knows that one….and he isn’t dead yet so at least that is looking good. And I get it all about the religion and everything…..I’m the same way lady….but it doesn’t matter….if a kid is going to be made fun of…..it doesn’t matter where they are….of course as parents we want to give them the best and minimize this as much as possible…..it is a tough battle not to mention throwing in two countries…..I too had to start word vomiting all this kind of nonsense as it isn’t easy being around Italians but they have their perks and vino… https://learninglanguageandlove.wordpress.com/category/italy/
    I have just begun but as you can see I stumbled across your blog this morning and at least I don’t feel crazy after reading what you have written. In Italy my love Marco always tells me that everyone thinks the other persons grass is greener than theirs…..the truth is that ours really is…not many people can live a life like Lara Croft…..and escape to another country when s#%! Gets a little hairy…..thanks for all the writing and validating what I thought was insanity on my part….. Or maybe we are just both crazy….who knows or cares!!! You’ll figure it all out….you’ve already come this far…..just continue to Thrive on.

  39. Hello! I lived in Ny untill i was 8 and then we moved to Italy(Sicily).. Let me tell you, they need to go to high school here in Italy because it’s so much better..When I went back to ny as an adult al the people i met didn’t know anything at all, my education could be compared to people with some college education, that is crazy! And here i just went to liceo classico!
    At the moment i am living in sicily and let me tell you i love it for vacation but to live?NOPE. Just can’t wait to go back, i miss NY like crazy..My husband too and he lived his whole life here, but adores NY.
    BTW awsome blog! Ciao

  40. Hi! I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. My husband and I are in the same boat right now. We have been married for a little over 4 years and we live in Pistoia. There is always a constant debate about what to do, where to go, when to go…..but what if we….you get the idea. So I totally feel you on this one. I suppose living in Florence is a bit more multicultural, at least you can find more English speakers and there are several programs to support English speaking activities and play dates…I haven’t really found too many of those where I live, so I would say you are pretty fortunate to be where you are. I guess you just have to remember that you don’t need to put a deadline on your decision about where to raise your kids….you are never stuck!

  41. Hello from South Korea, Canada and now Central Italy. Sadly I can’t say much about raising kids but let me tell you my story. My parents weren’t perfect. They were insanely quick-tempered, verbally abusive(my mom), slightly violent (my dad) like typical Korean parents. They made shit tons of mistakes which emotionally hurt me a lot that somehow leaded me to suffer from minor depression and severe anxiety such as biting my nails, 3-day-isolation from the real world(Knock knock!Ya there?), OCD and chronic distrust. For those things, my gut tells me who is going to be good parents. Even though my parents were freaking ^*@$&, they “admitted their mistakes”, “apologised” me for what they did to me, and “tried their best to get better”. They read some weird books like family psychology, how to become better parents, why are we toxic parents?, etc which was a big deal for my family because Korean societies taboo psycho-stuff and it, of course, affected my parents but they got over that shit for me which always makes me feel way better about my parents. So what I wanted to tell you is that as long as you can be honest with yourself, your husband and your children and try your best to deal with some issues, everything will be okay, and it seems you will be a good mother because you asked yourself if you can be a good mother and how to parent your future children. My gut tells me you will be great! Ciao.

  42. Great discussion here. I’m married to an Italian and we’ve lived in Boston for the last 7 years. We’ve got a 6 YO boy. I will bring up my wife’s three biggest issues with living in the US. The first is food. All of the expats we know bitch about the quality of food – both in restaurants and in the grocery stores. We have about 5 restaurants that my wife is willing to go to, and none are particularly inexpensive. As for groceries, I hit 3-4 stores every week because of the need to get Italian stuff (e.g., prosciutto cotto) and the inconsistent veggies/fruit/meat. This food thing also plays out in our son’s school. He gets 20 min for lunch. Most of his classmates don’t really eat, but we send him with salad, entree and fruit. He struggles to eat it in that time. The parents here don’t find this to be a problem, but for my wife, this is child endangerment/cruelty.
    The second issue is the Italian language. It is getting better, but the US has a culture that extinguishes second languages. Some of the expat communities (e.g., French, German) are really organized and have effective after school classes. The Italians, however, just assume that their kids will speak Italian and they aren’t really willing to volunteer. They don’t take it seriously until their kids are 7 or 8 and REFUSE to speak Italian. Then they try to slap a bandaid on it. My wife insisted (to my family’s dismay) that our son not start English until he was 5. It has a made a big difference as we already see kids drifting away where he is not. In a nutshell, it is easier to raise a kid in Italy speaking English at home than vice versa.
    The third is that the educational system here is really driven towards doing well on standardized tests. Massachusetts does really well (and our town is well above MA average) when compared to pretty much anywhere in the world, but we are concerned that his education is going to be all about excelling on a multiple guess test. In Italy, my impression is that the education can be deeper/better if your kid is smart or committed, but that the system is not kind to the bottom third of students.
    My wife left Italy 20 years ago largely because she didn’t fit in with other Italians. We are now considering going back because these issues are a real problem for her. My sense is that, because I can work remotely for my current employer, we might be insulated from the worst excesses plaguing Italy.
    As for your concerns about being a parent, they are pretty normal. My wife said many of the same things, but now she’s settled into a nice mamma-mammonino relationship and can’t imagine not having him.😉

  43. I definitely enjoyed reading this post-and all the great responses to it. My advice: go where you feel most comfortable to give birth. I love me my epidurals. Then, go live where you will get most support in terms of free childcare so you can recover from the realities of 24/7 parenthood. If your in laws would watch the kid more than your friends/family here, then live in Italy. Trust me you won’t mind that much if they take the baby to the church/temple/mosque/Pentecostal revival while you go out with your husband or friends to grab a drink/talk like an adult for an hour. I understand money is a huge draw for the U.S. but that can come with working insane hours and crazy expensive daycare/nanny care. And while there’s only one way of raising a child in Italy-there’s like 4 million ways here and you be judged for whichever you choose:). I chose a more Traditional upbringing-I only work part time, make pasta almost every meal, and in many respects I’m probably more European. We live in a home half the size of any of our married friends, travel and vacation is the priority over stuff, and I have a quality over quantity and less is more attitude:). Schools, hmmm. I think grade school and hs is better in Italy even if there is no tp. but I think live where you are happiest, and that may change as they grow up.

  44. Here is a useful piece of advice to make the best choice!

    Starting fron the following meaninful premise:

    Knowledge + Experience = Creativity

    Hence, the logical conclusion is that because of the fact that the best knowledge in the world is written in English, the best choice if you want to optimize the chance that your children will be creative adults is living in the USA!!

    Not because USA is far better than Italy ( which isn’t true at all !! ) but mainly because is a country in which English is the first language and for the reason above mentioned would be the best choice for your childrens’ education!!

    All the best!

    Fabrice, greetings from South Italy.

    PS congratulations for your blog, original and amusing contents and furthermore, a good way to train my English!!

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