As more and more families move overseas in pursuit of employment prospects and a “better way of life” we are seeing more and more young children travelling to all areas of the globe. There is a particular thread in the Greece forum entitled “Are there any young English speaking Mums in Thessaloniki?” which offers a very interesting insight into bringing up a child in Greece and the potential cultural differences and issues to be aware of.
Same language mothers
While this particular thread was started by a young lady from the UK who has moved to Greece with her young child and her husband it has attracted interest from all areas of the Greek population, both Greek nationals and expats. It would appear that more and more young parents overseas are looking for advice and assistance in settling down to their new life and feel happier speaking in their “mother tongue”.
Young children and young mothers
While the vast majority of people who have contributed to this particular post are young mothers with young children, many of whom would appear to experiencing motherhood for the first time, there are some older mothers who are also looking for advice and potentially looking to help others. It is worth remembering that motherhood can be a very difficult period of anybody’s life and in theory it can become more difficult if you are located overseas away from your immediate family and friends.
There are a number of issues which have been broached on the thread with regards to cultural differences regarding breastfeeding, prams and other everyday matters which new mothers and new fathers may experience on a regular basis. One issue which can be difficult to discuss, and even more difficult to carry out, is breastfeeding without causing alarm or embarrassment to those in the immediate vicinity.
It would appear, as in most countries around the world, that views on breastfeeding in particular will vary from person to person and from place to place. If you are discreet there is no reason why you cannot continue with this practice if it is something which you are comfortable with and ultimately your child needs.
Travelling around town with your child
For many people it is not the headline grabbing subjects on which they require assistance, it can very often be the practical areas such as travelling around town with a young child. There is a very useful comment regarding prams and so-called baby slings with a recommendation that prams are maybe not as useful in built-up areas where steep curbs can often lead to accidents and problems. It seems that more and more people are now happy to use so-called “baby slings” which will allow you to keep your child close to hand and avoid issues such as pushing prams through crowded streets and crowded shops.
The safety of children in Greece
There are a number of comments from expats and Greek nationals regarding the safety of children in Greece which would appear to be very positive and should put the minds of young parents and young children at rest. However, while there is a general feeling that the Greek population are very welcoming of children, young parents need to be vigilant and ensure their child is as safe as possible. Do not take any chances that you would not take in your former homeland because ultimately until you know the area and the culture you must err on the side of caution.
Life with a young child overseas
In this particular instance the young mother in question has moved overseas with her husband who has found a new employment position in Greece. The indication is that the young mother may often be left at home while her husband works although she will still need stimulation and company of her own. As a consequence, a number of people on the thread have shown a willingness to communicate with each other and indeed meet up, as well as offering advice about places which they can use in and around various Greek cities, towns and villages.
Integrating with the immediate community
It is vital that any new expats shows a willingness to integrate with the immediate community and it is even more vital for young children and young mothers. While many people will probably look towards the expat community as their first port of call when landing in a country such as Greece, there are many positives to looking at the wider community in due course. Ultimately, expats come and expats go and if you invest all of your time and effort into one particular group and they leave the area then you will be left “high and dry” and potentially have to start again, creating a new social circle.
While this particular thread is ultimately about the welfare of young mothers, older mothers and young children, in the back of every parent’s mind is how their child will adapt to life in a new country. Even the briefest investigation into this particular area will show that young children are very skilled at adapting to new environments and in many cases it is the younger children who will adapt quicker.
If you move to a new country, on a long-term basis, and purely and simply concentrate on your immediate family and the employment situation, you will soon become very lonely and very detached from the local community. You need to think of your situation as if you were at home and looking at a move to a new area and integrate yourself and your family as soon as possible.
This is a very interesting insight into life in Greece for both mothers and children which will put many fears to bed and give hope for the future. There is nothing wrong with being concerned and being cautious when moving to a new country but ultimately, unless you open up and integrate with the local community it can be a very lonely life and a difficult experience.