This theme has been a natural background to my thoughts for the past nearly seven months, but has taken several steps toward the foreground in the last few weeks. I heard rumors that David C. formed many of his opinions about the way he wanted to raise his children while he was working as an au pair in France. I certainly have a different perspective now than I did before I came here. Previously, I assumed that I would be able to figure things out when I got there; that I didn't really need to work it all out right now; that of course, I'll basically just follow the pattern by which I was reared. I have also been theoretically aware that culture has a great and formative influence on our lives. This year is something of a cross between a training session, and an observation class in parenting, in culture, as well as in how the two interact. I have found the most dramatic representation of the difference between American and German styles of parenting can be demonstrated in the fact that spanking is illegal in Germany (as in many European nations). The reason I find this significant is because whether it is symptom or cause, it is representative of the German mindset regarding parenting. From what I have observed in both my guest family and other families I have encountered, German parents are very indulgent and maintain hardly any authority. Even the non-physical punishments that I have seen commonly applied in the US such as time outs, or revocation of privileges are virtually non-existent here. I find this harmful to both the kids and the parents because without authority and the freedom to enforce that authority, parents resort to trickery, manipulation, and yelling to coerce the children to obey. In turn the children learn to manipulate, trick, and yell. I awaken nearly every morning to the dulcet sounds of Carolin yelling at her mother because she doesn't want to do some thing or another; which sounds are generally repeated in the evening as Carolin fights against going to bed. Unfortunately, many of her sweet moments are also not particularly genuine because she has learned the art of manipulation is an effective tool in getting what you want, trumped only by crocodile tears. Really, it isn't spanking or not spanking that concerns me; the thing that is really saddening is the fact that I don't see the parents working to instill selflessness, kindness, and obedience in their children. It often seems that they are merely concerned with keeping them happy until they reach adulthood when they're on their own. All of these thoughts come at the tail end of nearly three quite difficult weeks and this space is severely limiting the scope and detail that this subject deserves, but nevertheless, I am learning to deeply appreciate you parents I know and see working so diligently to instill virtue in your children regardless of how difficult that task may be. Thank you especially to my own parents for working so hard and sacrificing so much for your children.