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Image: colourbox/S. Novikov

Parenting issues many Germans feel strongly about

Elizabeth Grenier
July 25, 2018

Although parents of young children worldwide are all confronted with these topics, here's what you need to know before you start debating them at a German playground.


The German expression "Rabeneltern" - literally "raven parents" - does not have a direct translation in English. It's an insult used to refer to negligent parents, derived from the original "Rabenmutter" (raven mother) that already appeared in 14th-century texts and even in Martin Luther's translation of the Bible.

The metaphor refers to the fact that raven chicks leave the nest before they learn to fly, and even though their mother still keeps feeding them there, they seem abandoned and vulnerable when they're left on their own.

Nest of ravens
A delicate question: What's the definition of a "good" parent?Image: picture-alliance/WILDLIFE/H.Schweiger

The term was therefore used pejoratively to describe working moms who weren't always around to take care of their children.

Nowadays, parents ironically describe themselves as "Rabeneltern" to precede any outside judgment, for example, when they - exceptionally, of course - let their children overdose on sugar in front of the TV while the adults sit around and drink beer.

Click through the gallery above to discover a dozen topics that are a source of sensitive debate among parents in Germany. The gallery below looks into classic German children's books. 

And you'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheGermans.

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