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The Italian Guide to Parenting
Learn the essentials of being a mamma or papa' in the Boot
Becoming a parent is a rite of passage – and usually a baptism by fire – in any country. But Italy, especially southern Italy, takes this whole parenting thing to a new level. There are countless unwritten rules that you won't know about until you break them. Believe me, then you'll know. Everyone will tell you, even and especially old ladies you have never met who see you with your child in the middle of the street.
My nearly 3-year-old son and I have lived in Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples in Italy, periodically during his short life. And I regularly hear from those strangers in the strada. I could write a book of rules based on their comments. But I won't bother. I'll boil it down to the most important, so you know what to expect. Keep in mind that this is meant to be humorous so I'm exaggerating. Sort of. Not really.
Rule #1 – Breastfeeding is the only option.
I'm a real American in that I believe mothers should have choice – formula, breast milk, both, whatever works for them. Your kid is going to turn out fine whichever route you take. What's most important is feeding our kids' love.
Rule #2 – Anything cold is the work of the devil.
Rule #3 – Dress for warmth no matter the weather.
Whatever rule has them wearing these shoes applies to babies because they need to have an undershirt, jacket, socks, and a blankie whenever they are outside in a stroller even in the middle of July. After all, a breeze might pass, which will cause the colpa d'aria or the touch of air, which will cause pneumonia or the sniffles, both of which can be fatal. This rule has one exception – the beach. On the beach, babies are pretty much naked. Newborns are fairly well covered because of the sun. But toddler boys wear a diaper and a speedo if they are lucky. And little girls wear only bathing suit bottoms (and no tops) until they are about 9 years old. No joke.
As an American, I get it all wrong. My boy wears shorts and tees in the stroller (often with no socks or blankie) and he has a rash guard, boardwalk shorts suit, and hat (when he cooperates) with layers of sunblock at the beach.
Rule #4 – Babies are wild when you don't give them enough chamomile tea.
Rule #5 – When nothing else works, feed your baby pastina.
Now that I've shared these rules with you, I probably will self-destruct. Since I admitted to not following any of these rules, I probably will get deported on the first flight back to the United States. But now we can all follow the rules when in Rome (or Ischia, whatever the case may be).
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