Dutch children are found to be among the happiest in the world. The Dutch approach to parenting combines old-school family values with a very modern respect for children’s autonomy and opinions.In the meantime, American children score among the lowest in most dimensions measured — stemming primarily from inequality and an exceptionally high child poverty rate.
According to a UNICEF report, children in the Netherlands are among the happiest in the world. They analyzed data across 41 high-income countries, and the main questions included children’s mental wellbeing, physical health, and the development of academic and social skills.
Family time is important to Dutch parents. Children regularly eat dinner with their parents at the time of 6pm. Many fathers take advantage of a papadag(daddy day), a legally allowed (unpaid) day off work for dads to look after their children. Many dads are taking on part-time work and Dutch women leading the way with part-time work amongst OECD countries, Dutch parents are not weighed under by the demands of balancing work and family. Relaxed parents means relaxed kids.
Taking it easy
It must be cultural, but there’s very little helicopter parenting going on in Dutch families. Parents have a pretty healthy attitude towards their kids, seeing them as individuals rather than extensions of themselves and therefore do not agonize over their achievements. They are realistic about their children’s strengths and haven’t created a culture of success where school grades are taken as a measure of worth.
The Dutch approach is one of openness, practicality, and liberalism. Dutch parents also give their kids the freedom to explore and find their own boundaries. After school and on weekends the neighborhood kids can usually be found playing out on the street and with no homework usually given to children under ten, there’s lots of time to kick a football around.
If we would like to build strong independent and most of all happy children it’s best to pay attention to the structure of the Dutch family. A relationship based around time, freedom and relaxation seems to be the most beneficial for families.