Colombian children are adored by just about everyone here. People are far more open about showing their feelings than in the United States and western Europe. There is also a long history of people coming to adopt babies from backgrounds that couldn't cope with the circumstances or where parents may have been killed.
Colombians Adore Kids
Now that we have a 6 month old baby that was born in Medellin, it's incredible just how many ladies in particular want to come up and goo goo, play with or comment on our baby. It was interesting because Lina and I were staying at a hotel in Bogota some months ago and the crew from a German Lufthansa flight had spent the night. When we came down for breakfast, a number of Colombian women did their usual goo goo routine but not a single of the 15 or so German ladies so much as batted an eyelid. In fact, it looked as though they made a concerted effort to not appear to notice or care. This was a poignant moment of cultural comparison and I think sums up a lot about the differences. It seemed that for the German ladies, to show affection etc., was really something of a taboo whereas for the Colombians, it's the most natural and yes, expected perhaps, thing in the world.
Sycarios and Child Labor
When growing up, Lina witnessed shootings in the street and lived with the tension of the Sycarios (assassins) recruiting young children from her neighborhood. There are many Colombian children who are forced to beg on the streets by their parents instead of going to school. There are also problems here with forced child labor in general and the average age of a child leaving school is 12 years old.
Lower Income Families
Colombian children when born into lower income families are often looked after by the grandmother while the mother goes to work, which means that they live together in order to survive financially. It's a far too common theme here that young girls from the poor barrios “neighborhoods” become pregnant around 16, 15 or even 14 years of age and there goes the rest of their schooling and possibilities. They essentially become trapped to their circumstances before their lives begin and frequently, the fathers do not stick around.
High Income Families
I'm generalizing here but have observed that at times, on the other end of the spectrum, you have women married to wealthy men who do nothing. They hire nannies to watch their kids while they receive pedicures, go to the gym, have lunch and go shopping or on trips to Miami. They breath to be beautiful and the result is that their children become pampered spoiled brats with an attitude. When young, often these kids have a closer relationship to their nannies than parents.
Then there are of course all the happy stories of wholesome families where the family unit is the cornerstone of their lives. Family is core here and Colombian children tend to live at home until fairly mature both for financial reasons but also due to their ties. Just how healthy this dynamic is can be questioned of course, but that's the way it is and so often you see children begin work in the family business.