A few weeks ago I went to Paris with a few of my friends. It was a leisurely trip filled with shopping, picnics at the Eiffel Tour, and going to plenty of art museums. We were marveling about how beautiful the city of love was and noticed how there were so many more men than women walking around on the beautiful Saturday afternoon.
All, not just some of the parents at the playground were either couples or the children's fathers. At cafes and at shops, all we saw were fathers with their children. These children had very close relationships with their fathers, and it was extremely evident in the way that the fathers spoke to their children.
The next weekend, my friends and I went to Amsterdam. Curious to see if our theory was correct about the men in Europe being more involved in their children's lives, we started observing family life.
Astoundingly, we were correct. The men in Amsterdam were very present in their children's lives.
We walked past a school and many of the people standing outside the school were fathers waiting to pick up their children. Biking seems to be a lot more popular than driving in Amsterdam, and many fathers had tandem bicycles with their children.
At restaurants, there were a lot more families eating out, and spending quality time with each other.
In America, everyone brings their iPhone out to dinner and spend more time perusing media and chatting with people who aren't with them than they do interact with people in front of their own face.
In Amsterdam, people didn't even have their phones out at the dinner table and seemed to enjoy the company they were with.
Through traveling and studying abroad, I've noticed Europeans value quality time with people they care about more than Americans.
Many Americans are focused on work, especially men who can feel the pressure of providing for their family. Men in America are a lot less involved with their children than they are in Europe. Fathers spend time with their children and tend to take longer paternity leaves than men in America.
As I talked about how in Amsterdam they take pleasure in sitting in restaurants, taking their time and enjoying the company of others, this is seen in other European countries, such as France and Italy. Fathers and families are different everywhere and it was very interesting to see the juxtaposition of family life in Europe to my own experiences.