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.

Pregnancy and Birth in the Netherlands

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!

Dutch Parenting

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!

71 comments on “Learning about Parenting from the Dutch!”

  1. Omgosh, I am so glad I discovered your blog! Truly, it’s so nice to see discussions with substance. This book, Stuff Dutch Moms Like, sound s absolutely wonderful, insightful, inspiring, and thought provoking – I have copy and pasted the link to send to a few friends who I know would be glad to discover your blog as well as this particular review!! … truly, thank-you, I very much look forward to following you!

  2. I also love reading about parenting perspectives from around the world. Have you read Bringing Up Bebe? It’s a similar idea except more memoir and based in France.

    • I have not, but I am heading over to Amazon to check it out right now! Thank you for the recommendation!

  3. This book looks amazing. I definitely would like to read different philosophies of parenting. I haven’t really heard how the Dutch parent.

  4. This book sounds really interesting. I always enjoy learning about different cultures! And who couldn’t use some advice on being happier?

  5. This book sounds interesting.Through your review,you actually aroused my curiosity for dutch parenting.It seems there are lot of differences.Giving birth at home and drug free births are entirely not in the country where I live…

  6. Very interesting read! My husband worked for a dairy farmer who came over from the Netherlands and when our son was born they had a tradition of putting a wooden stork in the front lawn with the name and day of birth and they did this with all the Netherland couples they knew. It was so nice to be included in that tradition and have our son’s name added to the stork. I’m not sure if this a typical dutch tradition or something they started among their group, but it was such a sweet gesture. I’d be interested in learning more about their child rearing views because they seem like a very happy family.

    • The author actually does mention stork decorations in this book! It sounds like such a fun tradition!

  7. I am so glad that you have shared this! It sounds like the perfect book for us to read at home. We have been looking for a perfect book like this.

  8. This sounds so interesting. I love learning about other culture’s parenting styles. There was a documentary that came out 7 ish years ago named, “Babies”, and it followed 4 different babies from different parts of the world from birth to their first birthdays. It was so fascinating to watch the different sets of parents live in such different ways, yet all end up with happy and healthy kids.

    • I remember hearing about a documentary like that. I agree it is so interesting to see how differently we can all think about parenting, and yet how similar we can be as well!

  9. So interesting. I did know about the extended maternity leave, but I have never heard of a Daddy Day. My kids would love that! Plus, to agree with the comment before me, Babies is an awesome documentary!

    • I would love that too! I think it would be so nice if every country put family time as such a high priority.

    • It’s really interesting to hear how their thinking and parenting styles are so different from our own!

  10. I’m interested in the whole Dutch parenting movement. Obviously there are pros and cons to any system and you can’t assign the stereotype to the whole country, but it’s interesting to see trends in different cultures and how their values are reflected in their parenting.

    • I agree! The author actually talks about a style of parenting that many Dutch parents feel is old fashioned and she includes quotes from both sides.

  11. I live in Qatar and as such have the opportunity to interact with moms from different countries and i find it fascinating to know how we are all same but different..that babies and mommies need the same things but the approaches differ..

    • That is awesome! I totally agree that it is so interesting to see how we are all so similar but so different.

    • I agree on both points. I think independence and boundaries are both important. It is all about balance.

    • I agree! I find it really interesting to hear how parents all over the world raise their kids differently.

  12. I love reading about parenting in other cultures. I agree with pretty much everything the Dutch do with parenting and pregnancy. If only the US would be more like the Dutch with maternity leave!

  13. That’s pretty interesting. I think it’s kind of funny though – the discord between “Free range” parenting and parenting on a schedule and with routines. I suppose it doesn’t have to have a discord! LOL

    • I think both are important for kids. Especially in the younger years, routines are so important. The more they are raised with routines and expectations, hopefully the more you can give them freedom and independence later with confidence that they will make the right choices.

  14. This looks like such a great book and new perspective. Right now I’m reading Bringing up Bebe which is really interesting as well.

  15. The Dutch are very big on routines. From what I understand (from a close Dutch friend of my mom’s) they are very family and health oriented, too. This book sounds interesting.

  16. It is indeed very interesting and knowledgeable to know about parenting in different cultures. Especially for me, I am very taken with Europe. The beautiful culture, and their way of life. One thing I love about them is, yes, the bike rides each day! This is a must read for me!

    • I love the idea too! It would be so nice to have family time recognized as a priority by the working world!

  17. I’ve been interested in the Dutch way of life and read a lot about them every chance I get. This is so interesting how they approach new life and beyond the infancy. Thanks for this!!!

    The How-to Guru

    • I agree it is so interesting! I will have to check out some other books about their way of life!

  18. I love this point of view in parenting. I grew up in Italy and and being in the US now and a new mama I find myself practicing more of the free range parenting style which is common in Italy and similar to the dutch way. The more we learn, the more our minds open and the more accepting we become of the different styles and philosophies in parenting. Thank you for sharing!

  19. I think you’re right that we are all trying to raise happy and healthy children. I think we can all learn from each other. There’s certainly no one size fits all approach. But each one of us can get a good tidbit from all the other mothers out there.

    • I agree! We should all be learning from one another! None of us are perfect and you never know what you can learn from others.

  20. Omg I have to read this book- I don’t know why but I’m obsessed with how other countries and cultures parent!! I loved the infamous bringing up Bebe book- what did you think of that? (If you’ve read it)

  21. Sounds like a great read! Our maternity leave here in the states needs to match the Dutch..or any other country for that matter :-p

    • I agree! It was really interested to hear the different perspectives on leave from other countries.

  22. This was very interesting! I love seeing other parenting styles, especially when they’re close to how I like to raise my kids! This way neat. I will be reading that book!

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