LAOS: Parenting Interference

LAOS: Parenting Interference

phtooeyWhat are the rules for parenting other children or giving parenting advice or just plain parenting interference? And what is the appropriate response?

I imagine it differs by country and culture, by personality and preference. I’ve been scolded in both Mexico — and now, in Laos — about not dressing my children “warmly” enough during the “cool” season: (Here, what is considered “cold” to the locals is perfect and refreshing for us to enjoy, say, in jeans and a t-shirt without wrapping ourselves in sweaters and down jackets like everyone else around us.) With an understanding nod and smile, I always reply with a cheerful yet emphatic, “To us, this isn’t cold. It’s perfect!”

For all the concern in other countries about my children being cold, there is a surprising lack of concern for their over-consumption of sweets. One time while waiting to board our plane, a troupe of Korean men and women each gave my kids a piece of candy, repeatedly. After one or two, I asked my kids to politely say, “Thank you.” After the fourth, fifth, sixth piece, I made them do the same while I motion a polite, “Thank you, but please, no more.” Then, when they cojoled my kids to take even more, I resorted to a stern-faced, “NO thank you,” and prohibited my kids from escaping my firm grasp. Enough is enough no matter how kind the gesture.

(Another candy incident that elicited an immediate “No” from me without even a “Thank you” was returning to our hotel in Vietnam late at night with two obviously over-tired kids and having the doorman hand them a bowl (yes, a bowl!) full of candy to grab!)

Dee Harlow (Laos)

One of Dee’s earliest memories was flying on a trans-Pacific flight from her birthplace in Bangkok, Thailand, to the United States when she was six years old. Ever since then, it has always felt natural for her to criss-cross the globe. So after growing up in the northeast of the US, her life, her work and her curiosity have taken her to over 32 countries. And it was in the 30th country while serving in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan that she met her husband. Together they embarked on a career in international humanitarian aid working in refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, and the tsunami torn coast of Aceh, Indonesia. Dee is now a full-time mother of three-year old twins and continues to criss-cross the globe every two years with her husband who is in the US Foreign Service. They currently live in Vientiane, Laos, and are loving it! You can read about their adventures at Wanderlustress.

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FRANCE: My Biggest Cheerleader


When my legs felt like lead, I thought of them. When rain and snow pelted my face, I thought of them. When I closed my eyes and wished it was over, I thought of them. 13 charities. 13 reasons to keep on moving.

In September of 2012, still battling the war against the baby weight I had gained in pregnancy and losing (my own “baby” now three and a half), I decided that running seemed like a good idea. Except that in September, I had never successfully run a mile in my life, not even once. I needed a goal to keep me on track, a motivational tool to push me out the door before the sun rose on cold fall days in Paris. Armed with the idea that a half marathon was “completely possible,” I set out to find the most interesting, and difficult, half marathon I could find. A race at the Great Wall of China was first to leap out on the page, but as I scrolled down further, there it was: the 2013 Kilimanjaro Marathon in Tanzania.

Later that evening, I said to my husband, “I’m going to run the half portion of the Kili Marathon in March,” and my husband, slowly raising his eyebrow said, “That’s great, but shouldn’t you run a 5K first?” (more…)


Jacki, or “MommaExpat,” as she’s known in the Internet community, is a former family therapist turned stay-at-home mom in Paris, France. Jacki is passionate about issues as they relate to mothers and children on both domestic and international scenes, and is a Volunteer Ambassador for the Fistula Foundation. In addition to training for her first half marathon, Jacki can be found learning French in Paris and researching her next big trip. Jacki blogs at H J Underway, a chronicle of her daily life as a non-French speaking mom in France.

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SOUTH KOREA: Doing Justice During Lent



We are in the midst of the Christian Lenten season. About 20% of Koreans are either Catholic or Protestant, so even in this predominantly Buddhist country, I am seeing signs of the Christian faithful observing the 40 days leading up to Easter.

The observation of Lent was not in my faith tradition growing up, and I do not identify as Christian. That said, I decided this year, for the very first time, to observe Lent in my own way.

I love the idea of setting aside a specific amount of time to step back, take stock, and reflect. As I began my research into the origins and practices of Lent I kept coming across something I’d never known; this idea that Lent is a form of justice to God, self, and others and that it is a time to call things what they are.

Calling things what they are. (more…)

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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CANADA: Out With The Old… or Maybe Not

CANADA: Out With The Old… or Maybe Not

4289782818_a19dd14312It is a truth universally acknowledged that every parent has experienced the pain of stepping on a Lego. Some day, hundreds of thousands of years from now, archaeologists will discover our perfectly preserved bodies and wonder what those evenly spaced circular dents on the soles of our feet are.

The first time I had a serious run-in with one of my kids’ toys was when my younger son James was two. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I walked smack-bang into a toy truck. If the truck had been made of plastic it wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was made of metal.

My foot connected with a sharp corner of the truck and I got a fair-sized gash. Because this happened during a rare moment in which both kids were asleep at the same time, I couldn’t howl in pain and hop around on one leg. I had to just stand there and bleed quietly.

Five years later, I still have a scar on my right foot. And James still has the offending truck. In fact, both of my boys still have just about every toy they have ever owned since the day they were born. My attempts to get rid of some of them have not gone well. (more…)

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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Uganda, Shot@Life, Capitol Hill, Champs & Mohammad!

Uganda, Shot@Life, Capitol Hill, Champs & Mohammad!

It takes a lot for me to leave my family behind for a week like I did to go to Uganda. Actually, it was the only time I’ve ever done it, sparked by an URGENT matter.  Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease?
Doesn’t sound pressing enough?
Well how about some math…:
Shot@Life 28 Days World Moms Blog 2
In the time it takes for the Shot@Life 28 Days of Impact campaign to run through the blogosphere, statistically,120,960 children will succumb to vaccine-preventable deaths in the developing world.
And February is the shortest month.
That is 1.5 MILLION children in a year will die a death that we could have helped prevent for a few bucks. Yes, a few bucks, even just one buck, in some cases. It’s so simple.  
Last October I left my family for a week and flew to Uganda with a delegation from the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.   (more…)

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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