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whats its really like raising kids in italy?

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GREAT post Georgette... though many of the replies gave me knots in my stomach.

Claire- Congratulations on trying! Pst... we are too (shhh!), and it's been fairly rough going so far. If you ever need a rant or a moan I'm here hon.

I do not want to raise children here. The asilo closest to my house looks like it's falling down, the playground seems a death trap, the park is completely void of a playground at all, the sidewalks/footpaths are sporadic, I disagree with babies constantly wearing shoes before walking age, and I think crushing a biscotto into a bottle for an afternoon snack is strange (haha, ok, not that bad, but I was on a roll). And what's with constantly bundling them up?? How do Italians suppose other nationalities' children survived past infanthood?

I asked my husband, "did you have computers in school?". No. "Do you think there are computers in schools now?". No.

I had to volunteer M-F in the summer with a childrens' program in my hometown from the time I was 14, then paying job from 16 on. This just doesn't. happen. here. I will not have my children living with me until 30+, and I don't even want them going to university here as really, it sees so many college students here just dick around for 10 or so years, take an exam every six months or so and???

I don't even want to go into giving birth here... my hospital options are grim to say the least.

Sorry for the ramble. These are just some of the many things in my head right now.

I know there are so many exceptions to what I'm saying is the "typical" Italian way of raising kids. I'm only focusing on the bad right now, because that's what scares me. But I have to remember my husband's one of those exceptions- had to work at the family company during the summer, and on demand during the schoolyear, finished university at 23, lived abroad, cooks, does laundry, and married at 26. If my kids turn out like him I'll be thrilled... just feels like we'll have a lot working against us.

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I must say this last thursday I got the feeling that things are slowly changing here.

My 3 month old daughter had to be recovered in the hospital for 2 nights due to fever. When we took her in, she was wearing a thing cotton body (onsie) a thinish long sleeve teeshirt, a thin cotton zipped up hoodie and a windbreaker type of vest that was about as thing as a regular teeshirt. I was wearing a heavier long sleeved shirt and I was fine that day. However DH was wearing 2 heavy sweaters. This is pretty much normal for us.. I dress lightly and he dresses up a bit more. Since I come from Minnesota, I have really no idea how I should dress the baby.. like me or like my husband.
It turned out that I had over dressed her 'way too much' and that I should dress her how *I* am dressed since 'the mom is always right' LOL.

Anyways, I was very happy to see that they are starting to say that it is possible to overdress babies/children. I have actually been seeing fewer and fewer kids over dressed lately as well. So maybe some things might very very slowly be changing?

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28 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 18th April 2010, 10:54 am

bellaciao wrote:I must say this last thursday I got the feeling that things are slowly changing here.

My 3 month old daughter had to be recovered in the hospital for 2 nights due to fever. When we took her in, she was wearing a thing cotton body (onsie) a thinish long sleeve teeshirt, a thin cotton zipped up hoodie and a windbreaker type of vest that was about as thing as a regular teeshirt. I was wearing a heavier long sleeved shirt and I was fine that day. However DH was wearing 2 heavy sweaters. This is pretty much normal for us.. I dress lightly and he dresses up a bit more. Since I come from Minnesota, I have really no idea how I should dress the baby.. like me or like my husband.
It turned out that I had over dressed her 'way too much' and that I should dress her how *I* am dressed since 'the mom is always right' LOL.

Anyways, I was very happy to see that they are starting to say that it is possible to overdress babies/children. I have actually been seeing fewer and fewer kids over dressed lately as well. So maybe some things might very very slowly be changing?

When I was in hospital with Daniel at 20 months the other mothers would keep the window tight shut and it was like 35 degrees in there (it was christmas) and I couldn't sleep at night for the sweat. I was so happy when on the third day a doctor came in and threw the window open and said it was unhealthy and that if anyone shut it I should open it again! Hooray! A couple came in with a three yr old and he had a fever and she wrapped him up in bed; the nurse came in flung the covers off him and told the mother to strip him down to pants and vest. The child wet the bed and the mother kept saying 'I don't understand why did u wet the bed, why why why?'On and on and on she went at that poor child and somehow I resisted saying 'the child is only 3, he is very sick and you have brought him into a strange place...' I mean is she stupid or what???? grrrrrrrrrrrrh!

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29 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 18th April 2010, 11:06 am

Carrie - I know the prospect of having a baby here is scary. DO you can gohave the option of going back to the UK for the third?

I lament about almost everything here, but when I have the possibility to move back to the UK I get scared. I don't know what is going on there anymore and I feel like as things are manageable here maybe it is a case of better the devil you know. Also, depsite my area being very working class (by this I mean it is considered one of the crapiest areas in South Rome), it is a safe area and I feel that they are safe here and that people do take an interest in the growing up. I had a council house for a couple of years in the UK and I HAD to get out of there coz I had no intention of my child growing up around those people. affraid The UK is no longer the place it was when I grew up and I have no idea about the schools there. If you live in a rich area you are OK, or at least you can maybe pay for private schooling, but otherwise it is just a question of fortune. Italy is much less violent than the UK (from my experience), and it doesn't have a gun culture, or a let's get drunk and be violent culture (just a 'phone' one!). I dunno anymore ... things change so quickly and I don't even know where I belong or where I wanna be anymore! affraid When I go back to the UK I am so happy, but when I return to 'home' I breath a sigh of relief to be back. Maybe I have been away too long. BOH!

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30 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 18th April 2010, 11:45 am

Lizzie wrote:I lament about almost everything here, but when I have the possibility to move back to the UK I get scared. I don't know what is going on there anymore and I feel like as things are manageable here maybe it is a case of better the devil you know. Also, depsite my area being very working class (by this I mean it is considered one of the crapiest areas in South Rome), it is a safe area and I feel that they are safe here and that people do take an interest in the growing up. I had a council house for a couple of years in the UK and I HAD to get out of there coz I had no intention of my child growing up around those people. affraid The UK is no longer the place it was when I grew up and I have no idea about the schools there. If you live in a rich area you are OK, or at least you can maybe pay for private schooling, but otherwise it is just a question of fortune. Italy is much less violent than the UK (from my experience), and it doesn't have a gun culture, or a let's get drunk and be violent culture (just a 'phone' one!). I dunno anymore ... things change so quickly and I don't even know where I belong or where I wanna be anymore! affraid When I go back to the UK I am so happy, but when I return to 'home' I breath a sigh of relief to be back. Maybe I have been away too long. BOH!

I so agree with you Lizzie.... we lived in quite a disadvantaged town in the UK on the South Coast and there is a huge gap between rich and poor. Must remember to recognise when I have the rose-coloured specs on!!

I went into a Scuola Superiore yesterday morning to help out with an Amnesty International project about Discrimination and I was petrified at the thought.... my Italian is still rubbish and I thought that all the 16-17year olds would laugh at me... but nothing was further from the truth and we had a really enlightened discussion and they are really switched on! There is no way the class would be this mature and respectful in the UK. My friend and Italian teacher is their Italian teacher and she didn't have to 'keep order' at all. We played a game where they had a list of people to choose from to sit with them in the Carriage of a long train journey and many of them didn't choose. They said they would mind who they sat next to. People were people. This, of course was the right answer and it really gave me hope that something is happening to at least some young people in Italy. Many had friends from different cultures and races and had spent time with the Gypsy kids that travel around with the Fairs etc. even though their parents were not happy about some of these relationships. Maybe change is afoot??! I dunno, but I do know that I don't feel the same fear walking past a group of older teenagers here that I do in the UK... has anyone else found this or am I just living in some kind of weird bubble here in my town??

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31 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 18th April 2010, 12:02 pm

Thanks Carrie we might have to start a trying for a baby thread for rants hee hee

I keep reading about how bad the schooling here is and getting a place for one and i find it a bit depressing and i dont have a child yet! lol

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Carrie - is going back to the US once you're pregnant on option? Doesn't sound like giving birth of having a baby where you are would be a lot of fun.

I'm a huge whinger about Italy and I'm going back to Australia in October for my sister's wedding and I'll see how I feel being in Sydney. I KNOW that lots of things are way better there for kids, my job, life in general (for one thing - how I just miss the water and proper beaches!!!) On the other hand, I'll just be a regular person there IYKWIM. In some weird way it's fun being the whinging foreigner. I'm exotic!

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Going back to the US wouldn't be an option for multiple reasons. I don't have insurance in America, so it'd be out of pocket, there's the possiblity my doctor/the airline wouldn't let me fly etc.

I know the healthcare system is good (on paper at least... ranked 2nd by WHO). And that Italy has a lower infant/maternal mortality rate than most countries, including the US. I think if you're going to live in another country (a first world country at least!) you have to actually have the faith that this is a "good" place for you to be if you get sick, are having a baby, were in an auto accident. I think that if I felt adamant that I would not have a baby here, then I shouldn't be living here/contemplating raising a family here.

That being said, I'm still not thrilled about the prospect of it all. We'd probably use the hospital in Teramo, which is ok... certainly not comparable to the private birthing suites with couch for the husband and satellite TV like in my hometown, but then again what is? The building itself seems intact, which is a leg up on some of the hospitals I've seen here. I'm not sure if I'd want a natural birth, but I'm outraged that an epidural is not standardly available, and if you choose to do one you have to go through so much red tape, it's pratically not worth it! However last time I was at my gyn I saw a brochure for cord blood storage (more red tape, I know!), which was pleasantly surprising!

Claire- I probably wouldn't participate too much on a TTC thread here, but I'm not sure. I'm over on www.fertilityfriend.com, as csitly. It's a great site, lots of information and support, find me if you venture over!

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34 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 18th April 2010, 10:33 pm

Oooh I used that site too!

I've both had a baby and had a major medical emergency here in rome (and ended up having open heart surgery and spending nearly 7 weeks in a public hospital.) I did a ton of research before giving birth and luckily had lots of options since Rome is so big. But none of them were what I would have had back in Australia. That said, I had great medical care for both the medical emergency/surgery and also for giving birth. Maybe I was just lucky but the doctors I had did a great job.

For giving birth the best advice I was given was just decide what's really important to you - get that and don't dwell on the rest. In my case my big fear was an unnecessary c-section (I'd heard so much about how Italy has such a high c-section rate) so I went to a public hospital with a relatively low rate of c-sections, hired a midwife and tried for a natural birth (in the end I had an epidural though which was wonderful). OK so I encountered some rude nurses after the birth, I did not have the option of a water birth, had to share a room and a bathroom, there was no AC and my husband was turfed out after the birth but that wasn't nearly as important to me as the fact that I did not end up with unnecessary interventions and we were both fine. Obviously YMMV.

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35 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 19th April 2010, 10:32 am

Yeah thats what scared me that they seem to have c sections all the time here and thats something i really dont want! Shocked

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36 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 19th April 2010, 10:38 am

As far as the csections go, I think it depends on the area that you are in, as well as the hospital that you go to. For example, the hospital that a friend of mine gave birth in (is 'supposed' to be a really good one) only let her go thru 12 hours I think of labor before they told her that it was taking too much time and so they 'must do a csection'. However the place that I had my 2nd baby at will only do it if there is no other choice.

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37 Re: whats its really like raising kids in italy? on 19th April 2010, 10:56 pm

Yeah I agree the c-section rate is hugely depending on where you live in the boot. My midwife told me that in Campania they have an absolutely appallingly high c-section rate whereas in some parts of the North of Italy the c-section rate is as low as in Northern Europe.

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