Family life in Germany varies from family to family. While some families spend a lot of time together doing activities, others do not. My host family did participate in activities and outings together and it took precedence over teenage activities on Sundays. Extended family is also important and, if able, grandparents and extended family have a visible role.
As previously mentioned, some families spend more time together than others, including at meals. My host family ate together very frequently, especially for dinner. An hour before dinner every family member, including the three teenagers, father and mother, were in the kitchen helping with dinner. I have heard from other German friends that this is quite popular amongst some families and family cooking serves as a fun activity.
Families spend time at home together doing a variety of activities. In my experience living with my German host family, I have seen a wide variety, from cooking, playing board/card games, watching movies/sports on TV, taking a walk, shopping, and traveling.
German parents demand a great deal of respect from their children who learn how to behave from an early age. Germans are strong believers in establishing rules and guidelines in which children are given freedom when they stay within the guidelines, but are punished if they misbehave. As the children get older, parents tend to become less strict as to increase their child’s independence.
Independence for children
The concept of independence is instilled in children at an early age. For example, parents trust their children early on and encourage them to take public transportation by themselves.
The majority of German spend their vacations in Germany, Austria (where German is also spoken), or other neighboring countries, and they travel primarily by car. Many families travel to visit extended family and relatives over the holidays and throughout the year.
Dogs are the most popular domestic animal in Germany and are welcome almost everywhere. Although my host family did not have a pet, dogs are seen all over Berlin and its suburbs.