Parenting in Germany

Around 10.5 million children live in Germany, which represents 12 percent of the population. Most are raised in a family with married parents and have at least one brother or sister. Because both parents often work, more and more young children are being cared for in day care centers. Since 2013, all children from the age of one year have the legal right to daycare. Almost 820,000 children under the age of three attend daycare, much more frequently in the Eastern Länder than in the West. At the age of three it is time to go to kindergarten, as regular social contacts are important for development.

Serious life begins for children in Germany at the age of six. At this age, most of them start school. In the 2018/19 school year, some 725,000 students have been enrolled. The first day of school is a great day for everyone, celebrated as a family. Each student receives a school backpack, a pencil case and a “Schultüte”, a large cone filled with sweets and small gifts. In Germany, school attendance is compulsory. All children must attend school for at least nine years. Germany is a country with a very diverse population. That diversity is also reflected in families. According to the Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, almost one in three children today lives in a family in which at least one of the parents has immigrated or has a foreign nationality. Almost 4.1 million children grow up with more than one language and culture.

Children have the right to non-violent education, enshrined in the Basic Law since 2000. Furthermore, Germany ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child almost 30 years ago. Therefore, the country is committed to guaranteeing the well-being of all children and protecting their rights: they must grow up with good care and dignity. This also means respecting their opinions and enabling participation in decisions. In Germany, the incorporation of children’s rights into the Basic Law has been debated for a long time. This is going to happen now, the German Government has resolved it in the Coalition Agreement.

Some parents refuse vaccines, which are not compulsory in Germany. According to the OECD, 96 percent of children are covered by this prodigious advance in science, although other studies maintain that the figure is lower. This irrational belief only works if enough people are vaccinated. Without going any further, thanks to anti-vaccines, Berlin faced a measles epidemic in 2014.

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