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Around the Globe, a Parent's Love Is the Same

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I learned something from my recent trips around the world: Whether you live in Beverly Hills or Borneo, a parent's love is the same.

two boys in medina in fes

Bruce Sallan: I just returned from a magnificent trip to the Canary Islands, Morocco and Portugal. Last year, I visited Africa on my honeymoon. Both trips were exotic, both trips had their highs and lows and both trips taught me yet again the universality of parental love.

It doesn't matter where you live, how much money you have, what you do for a living: We all care about our children. My kids worry about having the newest cell phone, trendiest clothes and other really important stuff, while the kids in the medina in Fez, Morocco, were worrying about selling their cart of cookies or looking for a handout (that they really needed).

But in spite of the poverty we sometimes witnessed, we also witnessed the miracle of childhood joy. We went on a camel trek in the middle of nowhere (an hour-long four-wheel drive journey from Marrakech), where we encountered a small village. What were the kids doing there in the dust and dirt? Playing. Running after each other -- having fun!

Our 14-year-old guide, Aziz (see photo), was a bundle of smiles and happiness as he led our small group on the prescribed "Lawrence of Arabia"-style trek. (In my mind, I was hearing Maurice Jarre's score and imagining I was Peter O'Toole.)

Parenting styles? Different, for sure. They just carry the kids different ways, give them different foods, dress them differently, etc. But do they love them any different? Not a bit. But what do I know? I'm just a guy.

next: Life Lessons from Kids
11 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jeff March 25, 2010, 7:26 AM

Bruce - missed you and glad you are back. I can’t believe you’re writing such a softie blog but I must admit I almost teared up. Welcome back. Now how about a hard-hitting piece on MEN! Really.

Sonnie March 25, 2010, 8:56 AM

Oh, how I envy you Bruce.

Danielle C March 25, 2010, 10:51 AM

I love this article! It reminds us how good we have it . Be happy where you are.

Emma March 25, 2010, 12:00 PM

Glad to see you back Bruce! Missed you. Good perspective from your trip on all human beings are the same at some level. The more we travel and interact with other cultures, the more obvious it is. And it’s nice to travel but doesn’t the always look great by comparison?

Leslie March 25, 2010, 2:05 PM

Bruce nice blog. Not sappy in the least. People need to be reminded about the basics. In my travels in third world countries, I would say that kids are less encumbered and free to be - kids!!

Lisa March 28, 2010, 11:50 AM

Bruce, I am reminded not only of the universality of a parent’s love but the poem by Nikki Giovanni called “nikki rosa” where she says “they’ll probably talk about my hard childhood and never understand that all the while I was quite happy” The things that we remember as children don’t tend to be the video games or how proud we are NOW that we once wore the trendiest clothes, but the fun we had with family, no matter how much money we had.

Bruce Sallan March 28, 2010, 5:50 PM

Lisa - boy, do I think you’re right! We do remember the especially hard times, but all the little ca-ca is forgotten, good and bad, and the loving moments stay with us (as they should). Thanks for the lovely comment!

Kathi Browne March 31, 2010, 6:39 AM

Just proves we don’t really need much to be happy… just some good old fashion love.

Bruce Sallan March 31, 2010, 12:09 PM

My point EXACTLY Kathi - thanks!

David April 2, 2010, 12:21 PM

I don’t dispute Bruce’s argument in principle. Yes, as a fundamental feature of human societies, parental love is probably universal, much like virtually all societies and cultures have mating rituals, kinship patterns, and certain other structural elements. But with respect to the relationship between parent and child, to say that the only thing that really differs is parenting style, well, that is to say a GREAT DEAL. For example, that the mother and father from one culture, who feel pride along with sadness when their son or daughter becomes a suicide bomber in support of a political cause, love their child as much as the parent in another culture who feel nothing but rage plus sadness if their child does as much —well, that is, to put it mildly, a difference in parenting style that makes all the difference in the world. In Christian tradition, God loved His only Son so much that He (God) allowed the Son to die an excruciating death, in order to produce a certain result for humankind. That choice may have come from love, but it’s no choice I would make as a parent — it’s not my style, so to speak. I guess that, in short, I am willing to agree that the love each of these parents feels may well be measured as equal; but what interests (or fascinates or worries or disturbs) me is that parental love per se can be taken in a variety of directions. We are doing the relationship between parent and child a disservice if we artificially separate love, an internal state of affairs, from the external action taken (or style demonstrated) as a parent by which that love is expressed.

Bruce Sallan April 2, 2010, 4:44 PM


You added a level of depth that my blogs just don’t allow for. I really was trying to just make a simple point that all parents love their children all over the world. Maybe “style” was a poor choice of words. Also, my other main point was that the joy I’ve seen on children’s faces worldwide is clearly universal and has nothing to do with parenting style or not.

Your comments are very literary - are you an English teacher/professor? Thanks for such a thorough well-thought out comment.

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