A popular Argentine psychologist and author of parenting books, and her daughter will provide their insight on local parenting practices here in Argentina and provide their tips on how to raise an emotionally intelligent child.
Full Interview Transcript
Kelly: I am so thrilled to be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I’m here with my husband and my two children.
Kelly: I’m curious, how would you describe the overall parenting philosophy here in Argentina?
Maritchu: There are many different types of parenting. I think we’re a little after you. When you were authoritative, we were too. But then you went permissive, as you call it, and we were still authoritative. Now, we are beginning to a lot of laissez-faire, many kids sleep with their parents, many on nappies until they are four or five.
Sophia: A lot of parents don’t read books, and they don’t want to, so these little books is like the little guidance about it. You can feel like your child, you can think like him. In the potty training it’s, “I don’t like this. I’m scared about it.” That’s nice because the kids understand what they’re feeling, and their parents understand what the kids are feeling too.
Kelly: In America, I know all my mom friends, blogs, but people don’t read all the time about childhood development and what’s right, how do we do this. It sounds like people here don’t really do a lot of reading on parenting,
Maritchu: Yes, we are beginning to. We are behind you. We have a lot of blogs now, and many mothers are talking in those blogs, and many people are asking questions on the blogs.
Sophia: There are a lot of opinions.
Maritchu: There are very different opinions.
Kelly: People just go to their friends or their parents to get information?
Sophia: Instagram, I’d say.
Kelly: Instagram, okay.
Sophia: It’s a source of information. Many mothers, like me, tweet on Instagram or put some post. Then other mothers read it and they influence. It’s nice. It’s like a community there that you can go for guidance.
Maritchu: It’s a new way of reaching influencers.
Kelly: I prefer Instagram myself.
Maritchu: The problem is it’s difficult to choose the person you are following. Maybe, I find people that are very confused because of things they read.
Kelly: Can you tell me a little bit about the book that you’ve written?
Maritchu: Okay. I first wrote this green book called “”How to Raise Confident and Strong Kids” because I saw the parents are always in a bad mood. They want [00:03:00]to go away from home. They didn’t want to stay with their kids because their techniques for raising the children are not so good.
My parents knew what they were doing, but I, as a mother and my husband too, had a lot of doubts. Younger people have more doubts than I had. I asked my mother, “Mom, what do I do when this happens?” And now, younger people don’t ask their mothers
Maritchu: My second book that is “Emotional Intelligence for the Family”. I think if we grew up with emotional intelligence, we would know exactly what we have to do with the kids. That’s why I think emotional intelligence is a lot more important and all the tips that I could give in on my other two books.
Maritchu: Emotional intelligence means to make a synthesis of the best of authoritative parenting, that is to be firm, and the [00:15:00] best of permissive parenting is to hear, listen to your child. If you can’t listen and be firm at the same time, that will get you kids.
Kelly: Yes. Give me some tips on that. How can you be authoritative and permissive at the same time?
Maritchu: You’re not both of the same time. You make a very good synthesis of both models. You learn to listen as the permissive model does. You learn too to be firm as the authoritative model does. That means a new model. That means emotionally intelligent raising.
Sophia: It’s like you have to understand what they’re feeling and help them cope with that. Also you have to limit their actions. “I don’t want to go to school.” “Oh, that’s not nice.” I didn’t want to go to school when I was a kid. And so I embrace that feeling. Ten I tell him, “You have to go to school. That’s what we have to do, but I understand you,” and that’s the way you do it.
Maritchu: There’s a big difference in the result in the way we talk when we first listened to a kid. Because when you listen to him, maybe you will tell him, “Yes, you have to go to the bathroom,” or maybe “Yes, you have to go to school,” and he won’t be mad.
I always say that if kids get mad, it doesn’t matter. What is really not good for them is that we get mad. Every time I try to see the world as the kid sees it, I won’t get mad because they are right when they don’t want to put off the TV. They’re right where they want the very big Lego box instead of a very small Lego box; that’s what we can afford.
Maritchu: What the new theories make very clear is children learn to listen if we listen to them. That was not that way when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I had to listen, because if I didn’t listen, I was in trouble. I learned to listen with a restraint.
Maritchu: Now we know that if you listen to your kids all the time, all the time, they will listen to you, and that’s magic, pure magic. That’s a lot less angry.
Sophia: The other thing that’s important is that they are good so they can learn good. They’re happy and confident, in a good mood. She had a good morning with her parents. Then they are in school, and they’re learning because they’re not thinking about the things that they’re worried about. That’s the thing matters the most and to be happy.
Kelly: Yes. What do you think is the number one concern the Argentine parents have?
Maritchu: I think it’s discipline.
Maritchu: They don’t want to be concerned about that. But as they don’t take care of the problem, when the problem gets big, they are really concerned. They will come to see me, “How can I solve this problem? My kid won’t go to bed.”
Kelly: What do you think are the biggest mistakes that parents make here?
Maritchu: Majority would be permissiveness. But there’s a quite a big group too that’s still doing things too authoritative.
Kelly: To know what you need, pick around the middle.
Maritchu: Yes. It’s logical. One was a reaction to the other one, and now we have to go back to the middle. The middle is the very good middle.
Kelly: Ialso want to just talk a little bit about how the children are raised here. I’m curious. For example, here, everyone goes out to dinner at 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock. My husband’s cousins said, “Why don’t you and your kids come over at nine for dinner?”
My kids are three and four years old. I’m like, “Wow.” My kids are usually in bed. For that, it was like a normal thing. I didn’t know how people handled sleep for that. I think it’s so important, but I don’t know how the babies are actually getting the sleep and when.
Maritchu: What’s really different here is that I think we have more emphasis in being happy doing things we like to enjoy. I think parents go out more. We do more things at night, but we have help here and many people can afford having help at night. Parents can go out and kids get to bed.
Kelly: Oh, leave the baby sleeping. Okay.
Maritchu: Maybe sitters can sleep at home or we can call a babysitter easily. It’s not so expensive as it is for you. Parents sleep really lucky because they want to be free and happy.
Sophia: And enjoy life.
Maritchu: They go out for lunch.
Kelly: Leave the baby at home and wake up when the baby wakes up.
Maritchu: Kids stay at home. You won’t see kids–Yes, now because we are in holidays. But usually, you don’t see kids by night in the restaurants.
Kelly: I’m curious on your stand on technology and how kids are using technology, especially at a really early age here.
Sophia: A lot.
Maritchu: We adults are in love with technology. We are resulting very bad models for our kids. I am seeing mothers that don’t pay attention to their kids because they are with their telephone in their hands, but I’m worried about it. I don’t think it’s only in Argentina. Maybe it’s worldwide. It really worries me because–
Sophia: We don’t have guidelines here. That’s the point. Because you have a lot of theories and things that do have studied there in the United States here. Everyone does what everyone wants, and maybe not.
I set the television free for my kid, and he wants to do whatever he wants to do. That’s the point. We don’t put limits, and so they are all the time watching TV because it’s what they want and because they see us do it,
Kelly: Even under three years old have the phones.
Sophia: They don’t have it on their own, but parents give it like a pacifier.
Maritchu: It’s a new pacifier, new and expensive pacifier.
Kelly: I feel like a lot of parents, like you were saying, people aren’t trying to. It’s harder not to give it to them.
Maritchu: It’s easier to give it to them, but it’s harder when you don’t give to him. You help them in many other ways. You have to solve problems in different ways. It’s very of important that they learn to solve problems in many different ways, not only with, there’s a pacifier. What’s at risk is the relationship, the human relationship.
Sophia: The bond between us, it’s true. Today all day with our phones doing things because we had to work. But I saw us, and I was like, “Why?” We are a mother and a daughter and we couldn’t talk about other things. We were like answering questions and doing things on the internet. It was interesting to see for us.
Maritchu: It is changing, but it’s not enough years have passed so that we will know what will happen with these kids when they grow up. They haven’t grown up to yet.
Kelly: Where can people go for more information on some of your research and books?
Maritchu: We have our books as books as eBooks in Spanish for the time, Instagram, Maritchu SeitunCuentos Para Crecer, Instagram stories, Facebook too.
Sophia: And a webpage too.
Kelly: Thank you so much for coming and giving insight. I think it’s just really fascinating to talk to people all over the world about views on parenting and what they’re doing, what works.
Maritchu: Thank you for calling us
Kelly: Yes, of course.
Sophia: We’re really happy. Thank you.
Maritchu: Thank you.
About Maritchu Seitan, PhD, Sofia Chas
Maritchu Seitan, PhD is a psychologist, and author of "Raising confident, motivated and safe children" (2011) of "Emotional training for the family" (2013) and "Latentes" (2015). She gives talks in schools and companies. For more information visit: https://www.maritchuseitunpsi.com.