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Raising kids in Brazil

Hello everyone,

How is raising kids in Brazil different from raising kids in your home country?

What are the activities that your kids seem to enjoy the most in Brazil?

Do you feel that the country is "family-friendly"?

Do you recommend Brazil as a good place to raise kids? Why or why not?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Not having any kids, I find it easy.

very expensive
know that everything the state organizes in the first world is horrible here (health care, education etc)
public schools suck, so private school (>1500 rs per month)
having them play alone on the street is hardly an option in the big cities, so you need to be with them all the time or go to private places

I think it is an amazing experience for my children to grow up in Brazil. It's very different here and so far we haven't had any issues. We are lucky that we can provide a life where they attend a private school (not international) and a very safe gated community. This is not cheap and will cost you a little more. 

The private school is roughly R$1.800 a month  for two children (probably R$1.000 for one kid) with a few other expenses throughout the year with books, school uniforms and field trips. You can either send the kids to school in the morning or afternoon. The kids enjoy half days of school and learn pretty much the same thing they were learning in America.

A gated community is not cheap and the prices vary. You could also consider a sky rise building which is cheaper, but there is no room for the kids to play. The community we live in has no walls or fences besides the big wall that surrounds us and the kids run where they want. Right now my kids are out riding bikes around the neighborhood without a care in the world. 

I recommend raising kids here if you can live like we do. Bad things happen all over the world, but I actually feel safer here than I do in America with my children. Of course we are as safe as we can be when out and about. With school shootings and other bad things that are happening in America at this very moment it is a lot safer here in my bubble of paradise.

My kids enjoy the freedom they have in our neighborhood, traveling to the Clube or to many of the destinations in Goias state, the many BBQ's, friends houses with sleep overs, the yearly trips to the beach in January and many of the activities that they also did in America like the mall and movies.

I think Brazil is also very family friendly. For instance when boarding a plane they call for families with children first and the elderly. Another example is at a restaurant they will bring you a crib or small bed if requested for a sleeping child. I have never seen this anywhere else in the world. It could also be a regional thing that happens in Goais state.

Health care is amazing and the cost of insurance is cheap. I would rate our experiences here in the past 2 years above that of American healthcare we had. We have never waited for care and even the ER visits are extremely fast. You have to pay for it to have good service. Most of the time we have bypassed the waiting room when we give our insurance card. The others are relying on the free healthcare and I am sure its terrible service. Like the old saying, you get what you pay for.

Good question.
Raising kids in brasil.


How old are they?
Do they speak Portugues?
Why come to Basil, work, etc?
Do you have a good income?
If you can fill me in the details, I can answer your questions in all honesty, I have been here 26 years with my family.
Chris

Hello Priscila,
First I need to clarify that Brazil has a friendly population, but few such "friendlies" are more interested in you than in either parading you as the "gringo friend" or thinking on how they could get some type of advantage from such friendship.
I don't believe that raising children in Brasil is a good thing for a couple of reasons:
1)  If you are at a middle class level, living next to middle class families, what you will have is both parents working to survive while their children are left to tend for themselves until mom/dad come home, and that will be a long time as schools are only four hours/day.
That makes it for potential disaster.  Children are curious and are ready to experiment on new things.  Without adult supervision who knows what could happen.
2) If you live around the upper class, your children will be exposed to usually spoiled brats who are self entitled and believe they have certain rights not available to common folk.
I lived in the Riviera (Bertioga) where, during Summer, parents would let their12 year old kids drive around the complex in their Mercedes, as if a kid that age could be ready to drive in public roads, particularly in a place that is poorly lit and has a lot of walking traffic, day and night.
Also, I found out that at the beach parties that my teenagers were attending there was a free flow of booze and some drugs.  Of course I stopped that.
3) I couldn't trust the streets enough to let my children go out alone.  I didn't know what could happen, who they could run into, and so on.  That made their lives fairly miserable.
Back in the US, as much as we complain, the schools are much superior, even the public schools and I don't have any problems with my children going out alone.  I always made sure to meet the parents before any of my children went to their homes for anything and always encouraged them to bring their friends to our home.  Always good to know what and who is going on.
Cutting short, no, I don't think Brazil is a good place to raise children, even if there are good parents, safe neighborhoods or good, stand up kids.

Do you feel that raising kids in Brazil is different compared to your
home country?

Absolutely. US families are always busy bringing their children to
sports activities especially on weekends. We strive to train them to
be independent as early as possible and try to the best of our ability
to send them to language schools and music lessons early if finances
permit. We train and give them the tools to compete later when they
fly out of the nest. Discipline is rigorous and not some badly behaved and spoiled brats I´ve seen in Brazil with very neglectful parents by the background.

What are the activities that your kids seem to enjoy the most in Brazil?
I´m single and not married but I´m sending two children of a Brazilian
family to a private school. These children love to swim at an early
age and love to play the guitar and piano.

Do you feel that the country is "family-friendly"?

Yes! This country love close family ties that you can even see two or
three families living in one roof. I frequent restaurants where I dine regularly with a very dear Brazilian family and they like the family so much that when we walk in, there´s no need to even order food and drinks. They bring the food and drinks automatically as they know our habits and likes and even a portable sleeping crib or hammock as oftentimes the children fall asleep due to long conversations over dinner. Restaurant owners has playgrounds for children as adults continue to dine. And it´s complete with women attendants.

Would you recommend Brazil as a good place to raise kids? Why or why not?

If there´s a better country, I would not for these reasons:

1. Public schools are really bad. They´re frequently on strike.
Friends complain that their first grade children can barely recite the
alphabet; barely write and can´t count from 1-100. Private schools are
very expensive where I live but worthed as evidenced by the childrens
capabilities and talent in math, writing, reading and comprehension.

2. Very dangerous to raise kids. There´s a lot of kidnappings and they
are very accident prone as they walk the streets with lots of speeding
cars and bad drivers. Brazil is number one in car accidents worldwide.

3. Crime rate is very high.

4. I would´t want my children to acquire them bad Brazilian upbringings and habits.
    Many especially the teenagers are very badly disciplined and doesn´t respect the
    laws and also the neighbors.

5. I sometimes worry that  an accident happen at the final days before a college graduation. A person I know had exactly that, after all the years of hard work. Brazil
is no. 1 in car accidents worldwide.

6. What´s the point in raising a child here if after graduation they receive a R$1,000
monthly salary - barely enough to live by.

   Sorry, but I would´t want to raise my children here. I´m planning on adopting and
   if successful, I would have to raise him or her in the US no matter what! Here, it´s ok temporarily -  for a child to learn the language. Live permanently here and educate him in this country? NO WAY JOSE!!!!
   

robal

I don't have much to say about it. I am not raising any kids here. One thing that I have noticed is that the well to do families are handing everything to their kids without earning anything. too much is spent on parties in my opinion.

Jim

You went into a lot more detail than I, Robal, but I agree with everything you said.

Well Robal, you have some valid points, but I will disagree. For my kids I think they appreciate what they have more by living here. They were spoiled in America and my oldest still says "in America..." every time I tell him no for wanting to buy a R$250 toy that is only $20 USD at Walmart in America. It just depends on how you raise them.

You also guide them to choose good friends that are not brats. There is many of them in my neighborhood, but many of the families came from nothing and are now raising their children in a better situation. They are mindful of what they have gained through hard work and tell their children they walked up hill each way to school as a child (minus the snow)...a little humor. 

Safety, it is a concern and we do everything to make sure we are not put at risk. You know us ex-military guys. My oldest son has caught on and knows his surroundings now. I have contingencies in place for different situations and won't hesitate. When we prepared for the move the murder rate in Albuquerque New Mexico was higher then that of Goiania, Goias. It just depends on where you live.   

I would say you are spot on with the driving here and that drivers in Afghanistan are safer than Brazilians. I've gone through the process to get a license and have no idea why people act this way behind the wheel. Most of the deaths I've seen is motorcyclist. If they respected the road and stopped lane splitting they wouldn't die. 

Schools here are the opposite of America, you need to invest in your child by providing a private education and extracurricular courses throughout their childhood. When they take the placement test for college if they score high enough they can go to the free colleges which are the best in the country. You can not rely on the public schools to do anything but provide enough education for a laborer.

I know my oldest will choose college in America and that's ok. I will leave it up to him to decide when its time. My children are way more happy here. They enjoy their childhood by not being locked up in a building 8 hours a day. It does require me to do a little extra with them, but its worth it. They can come home at lunch time, take a swim, eat lunch, nap and read a book or study with me.

Life is  amazing here! It just depends on your situation.

Hi Priscilla,

I'm a Brazilian living in the UK for the past ten years. My answers are based on my childhood in Brazil and what I see here in the UK.

How is raising kids in Brazil different from raising kids in your home country?
The Good in Brazil: 100% outdoors life: great weather all year around, perfect for practising sports and playing in the garden; lots of public holidays to enjoy with the family; cheap healthcare and private schools; free universities; a lot of fresh food and cheap restaurants; strong family values.
The Bad in Brazil: I wouldn't let my kids come back from school walking alone in Brazil, but there are ways around it. Brazilian Kids parties are huge, super expensive  and ridiculous (they look more like a wedding). 
The Good in the UK: decent public schools, cheap toys and electronics, beautiful green spaces. 
The Bad in the UK: A lot of processed food, very expensive to eat out, terrible weather, kids addicted to electronics, difficult to be friends with other parents. 

What are the activities that your kids seem to enjoy the most in Brazil?
I used to enjoy the outdoors. All my free time was by either a pool, a beach or in the garden and I always surrounded by extended family. I had a lot of contact with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and I loved it.

Do you feel that the country is "family-friendly"?
Yes, pretty much like the Spanish, Portuguese and Italians. Kids sleep late in the weekends and accompany their parents in everything. Loads of events and opportunities to do things as a family.

Do you recommend Brazil as a good place to raise kids? Why or why not?
In my opinion yes, IF you have the money to provide a good life such as private schools, nice gated communities to live in, etc. My experience as a child was very similar to what CraigF described above, therefore it was a little paradise. If you think how much private schools, private healthcare and a big garden will cost you in the UK, living in Brazil is a bargain with all year around sunshine. By the way, no one mentioned that yet, but universities in Brazil are free and they are great in my opinion (I studied in Brazil and in the UK). So maybe you will pay for basic education now (for a fraction of the costs in other countries), but your kids won't have a huge university debt to pay for the rest of their lives. However, if you rely on the public system, things will be difficult. After years living in the UK, I want to go back to Brazil to raise my kids there and my British husband is pretty happy with this plan.

If you need more information, let me know!

Hi Craig,

I'm a Brazilian living in the UK for the past ten years. Your answer brought me lovely memories of my childhood in Brazil. I wish you a lovely time with your family in my country, I was a very happy child there and I want to come back to raise my kids there too.
:)

LailaC :

Hi Craig,

I'm a Brazilian living in the UK for the past ten years. Your answer brought me lovely memories of my childhood in Brazil. I wish you a lovely time with your family in my country, I was a very happy child there and I want to come back to raise my kids there too.
:)

Your childhood is exactly what my kids have now. Outside all the time, enjoying the weather, surrounded by family, always an event or BBQ to attend with us, we have a huge garden, windows and doors open with the breeze coming through the house...paradise!

Yes the free colleges are the best in the country. My wife studied here and graduated with a MBA in America. So very similar experience!

I hope you get your wish and return to Brazil!

Craig:

It´s a pleasure to know how you´re managing your daily activities with raising your children in a country with a different customs and traditions. I do respect your opinion
and how you´re managing the daily grind.

I do however, once in a while break the training I´m trying to teach the children like frugality, of not living above their means. The children love American toys for the likes of Barbie for the little girl and the Marvel Iron Man series and Captain America for the boy. I just bought a Barbie house for the girl for R$1,600 that probably cost  around 160USD in the states. The boy´s  was cheaper for about R$450.

I´m very protective by nature especially to defenseless children and that extends to people that are close to me. That´s the reason for my disdain to many situations in Brazil.

LailaC:

Despite the many obstacles of living well in Brazil, I always try my very best to live
well within my means and carry good relationships with Brazilians. I have many friends and they do ask me a lot of questions why do I live in Brazil. Would it not be better to live in America with all the good things that they keep hearing? To make the story short and
end the inquiry right away, I tell them that there´s no perfect place and happiness depends of what you´re looking for and how you attain that objective.

For Brazilians, cheap health care means the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS).  which is free. Private insurance is rather expensive for the common Brazilian but affordable for the upper middle class. With a salary of R$880 (salario mínimo) that private insurance
is impossible even if you make a salary and a half which is R$1,320.

The free universities are the Universidade Federal system which is public. You have to pass a rigorous entrance exam to pass it and only the best minds enter the system. The private universities are expensive, I know, because aside from sending 2 children to a private school, I also send their mother to a private university. Upon her graduation
(3 more years), I will be free to go back to the US or to whatever destination I would like.

I agree on lots of fresh food available on the market. Prices have been skyrocketing lately due to an abrupt increase in prices of gasoline. Cheap restaurants, there are but I dine mostly in churrascarias. R$85 per person plus drinks and the tip here in Rio Grande do Sul. São Paulo is more expensive at about R$150 a pop.

With the stories you revealed, you were raised nicely - possibly with an upper middle class family. Not so many Brazilians has that opportunity...

robal

Hi Robal,

I agree with you, but it doesn't mean you need to be raised as upper middle class to succeed in life. My brother-in-law comes from a VERY poor background and he got a PHD in one top niche areas of engineering, all free paid by the government. Today he earns more money than me and my husband combined as lawyers in the UK. He was offered the opportunity to work abroad and he chose to stay in Brazil helping people and businesses through his work. My sisters had the same opportunities I had and not all of us achieved the same things. I think it's all about the individual.

Regarding the Federal Universities, traditional courses such as Law and Medicine are quite competitive. Others, not so much. I got into Law with 800 points and into English with only 520. Chose Law over English, that's why my English isn't great lol. 

I think every country you gain and you lose. What I gained in the UK was a house full of gadgets, toys and all sorts of paraphernalia. I remember the Christmases when each one of us used to get one single present. This is still better than most Brazilians, but so different from UK Christmas standards. For my personal concept of happiness, however, I prefer my weekends by the pool, free and surrounded by the love of my family.

I wish you a lovely time with your family in Brazil, despite its problems.  Have a nice Tropical Christmas!

Laila

Robal,

Yeah the toys here are ridiculously expensive and luckily I shipped the majority of the kids toys here when we moved. Now I usually will have friends hand carry a few for me with each trip they make or wait until we visit the US. It’s rare I buy toys here. We also follow Brazilian traditions of one present from us at Christmas. With family it ends up with 4 presents each year. Definitely enough! In America they would probably get at least 12 different presents.

The free universities are not that hard to get in to. Just need to study and apply yourself. Most of the families I know their children were accepted. Honestly not everyone needs a degree to be an entrepreneur. I don’t think everyone needs a degree to be successful, plus we all can’t be astronauts. Someone needs to be the janitor. You ever listen to Mike Rowe?

Hi Robal,
Toys, electronics, kitchen appliances and so on, are out of orbit in Brazil.
Clothes is something else.  I can't believe how expensive and with a very low degree of durability.
I have shirts and slacks that I bought in the US 10 years ago and still look like new.
Shirts here immediately start losing buttons and wearing off the collar.  The zippers in slacks break down... well just no good.  I buy a Nautica shirt (I like the brand) in Marshall's for about 10 bucks and it lasts forever.
Brazilians have no idea of how much they are being taken for by their manufacturers and retailers.

Thank you. We are currently working towards coming back asap. Goiania is on the list. Can't wait!

I don't know much about Goiania, other than going through it, many years ago, while on a trip to Brasilia with a friend, and meeting two lovely ladies who were in another car and having a good time until later in the day.  It seemed then to be nice, wide open spaces, wide avenues, etc.
Perhaps it would be a good place to be.
I like Brasilia lot.  However, I somewhat question the people I met there.  The public servants class that I met was weird.  The ladies would not wear sunglasses unless the name Armani or similar was on the frame.  Clothing had to have the designer's logo.
One lady I met, a friend of my friend, showed up driving an Audi and stated that her son wanted it to go to college.  "I could I give him an Audi to go to college?  I bought him a Porsche instead".
Other than that and some strange things that are allowed, such as an awful slum like building right in front of the Hotel National, I love the wide open skies there, beautiful sunsets in winter and what seems to be a semi organized city, rather than a messy web of streets like Sao Paulo.

Hi Ron,

About the brands' obsession in Brazil, you are right and it happens everywhere in the country to be honest. British people, for example, are not obsessed with brands as Brazilians are, but they have other issues such as the "Where did you spend your holiday?"/ "Do you rent your house?" obsessions. My opinion is that humans, in general, are judgemental and different cultures have different values, good and bad ones.

I personally like Brasilia as a place to visit. Lovely place with so much of the Brazilian History, nice restaurants and hotels. I wouldn't live there because the city is full of expensive, but old apartments. I prefer houses or more modern buildings.

Some places that I personally like: Some Sao Paulo State cities (Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Campos do Jordao, etc), Gramado, Canela, Florianopolis (to me, my favorite place in the world), Belo Horizonte and some other cities in Minas, Natal and Joao Pessoa.

Alo Priscilla,

It depends a lot on where you live, since each region, city, neighborhood has its peculiarities and problems.

Well, public schools are not good, as much as teachers strive to teach. There is a high degree of difference between social classes and above all there is a lack of basic education taught at home especially if you choose to live in big cities.
A second option is to pay for private education. That is not cheap and the child only stays in the school for half day.  Then, there is the need to find extra paid activities for your child. Public transportation is not adequated for a young child - no space ever for a disable person on a wheel chair. The solution is to buy your own car and new and second hand cars are extremely expensive.  I do not feel confortable to leave my child alone in open area or in public places due to violence, kidnapping, drugs and etc.

I live in a gated community and it is not cheap and the prices vary as someone already told in this chat. My kid plays inside our gated community. But, I feel it is not all right.

We choose our child to study in an international school (that is very expensive). Previously, my child was in a private Brazilian school, we noticed that our child was absorbing 100% of the Brazilian culture, consequently losing our roots, education and our foreign language. Because of the crisis and other factors many expat families left Brazil.

To dinner out with kids is easy as restaurants offer playgrounds but it drives the kids to be out of control. 

I do not recommend living in Brazil without having a private health care insurance. The public health system is a disaster.

Brazilians have suggested me a few rules to survive here such as: 1. while driving the car keep the car windows closed; 2. In certain areas, do not stop at red trafic lights. 2. If you go out do not take valuable belongs with you; 3. Always know your route before leaving your home. 4.Before getting in the car, look around to avoid kidnapping. 5.try to divide the money from your wallet and hide them in two different places. 6. If you enter a ´favela´ by mistake, turn on the inside lights of your car, lower the windows and identify yourself calmly. 
.....Perhaps,at this exactly moment raising kids in Brazil is not advisable. It is really a pitty as Brazil is such a beautiful country and there are still a lot of  nice and friendly Brazilians.

Ron,
Every statement you made here is true no matter where you live.

Rich, did you mean anywhere in the world?

Hi Ron
I was a teacher for a few years to the "upper Class" kids you speak of and yes I have to agree they are pretty rotten.....the way their parents chase around after them making them into small demi-gods is downright disgusting, not only that but the kids are also small minded and ignorant and rarely have bigger horizons than the local mall.

Well Steve,
Since very young their parents have been teaching them that they, meaning their family, are above the law, above the rules, because they see daddy doing things others cannot do, daddy allowing them to do things they aren't supposed to do, so they believe they are semi-gods and act accordingly.  The mall is where they meet and look at the things daddy will buy for them.  Although it happens in the US, it isn't the rule as in Brazil.  When my brother was 12 years old he and a friend from public school delivered papers on their bikes.  His friend's dad was a millionaire, yet the boy worked for his pocket money instead of allowance.  You will never, ever, see this in Brazil.

I'm in the same camp as CraigF on this one.  This is my second time living in Brazil, and I've known Brazilian families at every level of society.  One observation that made a profound impact on me from the beginning, and continues to do so:  I have never seen a Brazilian parent, rich or poor, beat a child as a normal disciplinary measure.  Nor have I ever seen a Brazilian child shut up because s/he should be "seen and not heard".  Rather, children of all ages were treated with a level of respect that seems odd to anyone raised in the traditional American way.  And generally, I've seen the children raised that way grow up to be, not spoiled, unpleasant people, but courteous, pleasant, sociable Brazilian adults. 
I took a lot of lessons from what I observed here in raising my first son, and am happy with the results.  I've been told to expect a second family before too long (LOL!), and plan to do the same thing!

You have got to be kidding!   I have seen kids spanked even in public, in grocery stores and so on.  The only people I saw spanking kids in the US were being spanked by Latino mothers.
I was spanked by mostly my mom when I was a kid,  As a result I have never spanked my kids except for an occasional slap on the butt of my oldest son, my troublesome boy, but never in public.   I remember that the worst par was the humiliation.

Thank you for posting this, it helps me a lot! I have not lived yet but I can see that I definitely feel like I am going home when I go to Brasil now versus the other way around, living here in the States.

I started off visiting for language and cultural immersion and now find myself coming to escape what's going on here, not just with society but health wise for myself and my son. When we go to Barra, Salvador, Bahia I would definitely say it is a great play to raise my son and so look forward to moving there. We are surrounded by a community of safety nets with many policeman and security guards that watch and guard the community. Most of the apartment buildings have 24 hour doorman and the beach is nearby. Everything is within walking difference and my son has gone out to play with the neighbors kids while I was sitting in the apartment complex with not a worry at all.

There is more of a neighborly and village compassion between people here that I get to experience in the US anymore. I have more worry now with my son outside here than I do in a Brásil because random acts of violence or suspicions have been happening here, especially in Texas and the weather is very strange and sketchy here right now.

My son suffers from terrible allergies and I have migraines and arthritis here due to the allergens and the cold weather here and we are always sick. When i go to Salvador we always feel better and are hardly sick if at all. There is less stress for me there in Brasil because daily activities are simpler to accomplish. If I want something I walk  to the store and if I buy grocery or want to travel I order an Uber which is very cost efficient for me versus having a car and all that comes with that. It is also convenient for those times when I don’t feel like driving.

I agree that I have noticed that the quality I want and have had is also the quality I pay for but the retirement benefits I have allow me that chance to be able to enjoy a higher quality life there. I have even heckled out schools and stayed for longer periods of time there and for the times I have been there. It was easier and better for us to live in Brasil than it was to live here. Also we both are afforded better culture opportunities in Brásil that only scratch the service or are found some of the time in the US.

Brasil has my vote!

Yes Ron, those things happen all over the world

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