Parenting around the world
Each issue, we speak to Kiwis who are raising their chicks far from the nest.
parents: David and Wendy Grant
children: Hannah, 16, and Grace, 8
Live in: Orissa, India
Was deciding to bring up your family away from New Zealand for a while a big decision?
Yes, a huge decision. We are a Christian family using the skills we have to empower others through training and employment opportunities. Our children are part of this journey and while it was a big decision, we recognise the incredible privilege it is to work, live and be accepted in a developing country, and to be a positive influence within that process. Our children are growing up having a broader worldview, the experience of living in a country so different to New Zealand, and the opportunity to learn to relate to people of another culture.
What’s been the best thing about it? The toughest?
The best thing is learning a different culture; this can also be the hardest! We love hearing our daughter Grace ask if she can “ask the government if she can be Indian so she can wear pretty clothes”, and reciting the ‘pledge’ at school where she says “all Indians are my brothers and sisters, I love my country (India) very much“. Hannah is able to understand the differences between a want and a need by living in a more basic way. She loves cooking Indian food and shopping at the local markets. As a family we now appreciate things we used to take for granted like power/water/healthcare/ our education system. The toughest thing is being away from family. It is also hard missing out on recreational activities and after school activities Kiwi kids do. We also miss the ease of relating to people of your own culture who laugh at the same nuances of language and relationships that relate on a heart level.
Would you describe where you live in India as child-friendly? What are your favourite things to do as a family?
Mostly where we live is child-friendly. There are differences between how boys and girls are treated and relate to one another. There are issues regarding child safety that we need to be constantly aware of with two girls. There is one park we can go to which has shade, a playground, and a kiosk which sells ice cream. Otherwise family time means a trip into town for a cool drink, a walk in the countryside, a movie at home or board games.
What are the biggest differences between bringing up kids in India and New Zealand?
All around us we see life being lived in such a different way to New Zealand. In our current village, 90 percent of our neighbours do not have a toilet. The power goes out at least a dozen times a day and we need to be aware of water: with no power, we cannot pump water to fill our tanks which are on the roof. We drive a scooter and motorbike – three of us go on the scooter, no problem. India is vibrant and full of life and colour. India loves to celebrate, there’s always a party somewhere, and the hospitality is amazing!