I am fascinated with learning about different customs and traditions around the world, especially when it comes to parenting. Finding out how other people live their day to day lives is so interesting to me. When I was given the opportunity to review a book on Dutch parenting and why Dutch moms are among the happiest in the world, I jumped at the chance! We could all learn to be a little happier.
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Stuff Dutch Moms Like was written by Colleen Geske. The cover promises to tell readers why “Dutch moms have it all” and shows a happy mother riding a bike with 3 happy kids and dog! Who doesn’t want to be that type of happy super mom? The book outlines Dutch parenting from pregnancy through birth and parenting, and the differences between our cultures is really incredible.
To highlight the differences in cultural attitudes and expectations, the author peppers the chapters with quotes from moms of different backgrounds around the world. By doing this, you not only get to hear how moms in America and other countries view Dutch parenting, but how Dutch parents view our parenting. Parents on both sides of the coin are almost a little harsh in their honesty. However, it is really interesting to see how differently we all think about pregnancy, birth and child rearing.
The book starts by introducing the reader to pregnancy and birth in the Netherlands. The author uses statistics and charts, as well as quotes from various websites and pamphlets, to show how differently the Dutch handle giving birth. From prenatal care to delivery preparations, I was shocked at the vast differences, as were the Canadian author and her other friends from North America. The Dutch system promotes drug free births, preferably in the home, under the care of a midwife. I found it very interesting to hear the author’s experiences as she navigated the Dutch maternity system. Her thoughts on the appearance of her midwife’s office, as well as her reaction to the birthing supplies delivered to her home, resonated with me as a woman who is used to the North American style of health care.
Life After Baby
The book continues on to outline life with baby and kids after birth, including returning to work. The author discusses how the Dutch working system is family friendly, while also touching on the issues around their maternity leave. She includes quotes from parents of various backgrounds living and working in both the U.S. and the Netherlands to illustrate the differing views on maternity leave and part time work.
It is really interesting to hear the different expectations from each country. Some Dutch parents are unhappy about the length of maternity leave, while the American parents are impressed with the time! The same goes for the vacation time and holiday time offered in the Dutch system. The author also introduces the “daddy day”. This is the idea that fathers have a day off each week to spend time with their children. Some aspects of the Dutch working system make it easy to see why they are ranked one of the happiest countries in the world!
I found the chapters on parenting styles to be particularly interesting. The Dutch style of parenting has a strong basis in following routines and offering predictability for kids. This idea is backed up by plenty of research, which is why we spend so much of the first few years of a child’s life struggling to get them onto a schedule. The book offers insight into how Dutch parents apply this need for routine to their child rearing, as well as quotes from Dutch moms debating the pros and cons to this way of thinking.
The author also delves into the idea of the “free-range” parenting style favored by the Dutch. In the U.S., I have seen more and more articles extolling the virtues of this parenting style. This book explores why the Dutch value independence and freedom in their parenting. Again, the author intersperses her experiences with quotes from American mothers, British mothers and Dutch mothers, debating the merits and detriments of this style of parenting.
A Different Perspective on Parenting
The author’s intention for the book was to show how happy Dutch parents raise happy children, and she gives insightful tips on how to apply Dutch parenting principles to your own life. I found that the varying insights presented in this book made this book even more interesting. The debates about parenting styles and preferences gave it more value as well. Each side presents their own valid points and it really makes the reader consider what they believe.
The brightly colored photos and illustrations make this book a light and easy read. I think this book is great for parents of all backgrounds. It provides you with a different opinion and gives you a different take on parenting. In the end, we are all doing our best to raise happy children. If this book helps us live a little more like the happy families in the Netherlands, then it’s a winner!