Universal Parenting

Years ago in Jakarta, when I was deep in parenting books and spending just a little bit too much time obsessing over my very precious newborn, I joined a baby group.

When I look back I actually cringe at how intense I was with my perfect little traveller. I think I may have been that woman. The one who cornered you at the coffee shop and told you all about feed times, schedules, and how she’d tried putting mango in with the apple and pear that she’d frozen the evening before.

I was obsessed.

In amongst that obsession was thankfully a voice of reason. A girlfriend of mine was on baby number two and she was far more relaxed about it all. Her schedule had nothing to do with food mushing and everything to do with catching up for a glass of wine. She encouraged me to join her book group and it was on the way there, that she told me the story of a girlfriend of hers and her ingenious parenting skills.

Before entering anyone’s house, her girlfriend liked to have a little “pep talk” on what the behavioural expectations would be for the day.

“If you misbehave and I have to tell you more than once to stop, I will take off my shoe and belt you with it”.

I know, it sounds a little severe, but it turns out it was effective.

Each time the children began to wind things up just that little bit too far, their mother would make eye contact. And while she was applying the mother death stare, she would slowly run her hand down her leg towards her ankle as a gentle reminder that her shoe was right there. Waiting.

Worked. Every. Time.

It turns out, in some countries they actually take the threat a little further. The results are impressive!


Oh, and just before you do. Have you checked out the 4 kids, 20 suitcases… Facebook page? It’s just over there on the right, come over and say Hi. 

Sign up for the best bits here

Sign up for the best bits from our community of forty thousands expats. Every Saturday morning we’ll shoot you the five hottest topics from the world of expat.

Powered by ConvertKit


  1. I lived in Texas for 6 years and can’t believe that none of my friends or co workers ever shared this with me!

  2. Kirsty one of my 4 children used to go into ANY house, whether we knew the people well or not, and ask for food, immediately. Very embarrassing. So I gave her a peptalk – it didn’t involve a shoe but it did involve a death-glare. From then on she would saunter into ANY house and say, “Hmmm…something smells DELICIOUS”. It worked every time…I was never sure whether or not this deserved the death-glare…

  3. LOVE this. Mine is similar. In the car before we go anywhere I say to them “I know I don’t need to remind you, BUT….please behave, or else I will lock you in the car with the windows shut in the direct sun.”

    Stellar parenting.

    (PS. I was that obessessive Mumma when I just had my first newborn. Ridiculous.)


  4. I owe my quick reflexes to my mother’s skill with a maseur sandal : )

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hilarious. I’m sharing this post with my mother’s group 🙂

  8. I mean mothers group.

  9. LOL reminds me of my nonna – she was 5′ and used to wear cork healed sandals that boosted her height to an impressive 5’2″. She never believed in the advance notice that is the death glare and we never learned the art of ducking quickly enough. I miss her terribly, she would impress the heck out of my 3.

  10. Great post 🙂 def sharing with mothers group 🙂

  11. Yep, realy does work. I’ve found that too. The killer stare is also vital. But also basically good relationships – otherwise it’s just grown ups bullying kids.

Speak Your Mind