Review: The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less


Title: The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less
Authors: Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchinson
Publisher: The Experiment
Year: 2017

Backed by credible research, interviews, and personal observations, Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison set out to prove why a UNICEF report concluded in 2013 that Dutch children are the happiest in the world. Both Rina and Michele are expats who married Dutch men and had children in the Netherlands. They arrived in the Netherlands with different perspectives about how to work, raise children, and live life, but they couldn't resist adapting to the Dutch principles of "doe normaal" (act normal) and "gezellig" (coziness). These principles rule everything in how the Dutch carry their lives and raise their children. Both Rina and Michele decided to raise their kids the Dutch way and prove to the rest of the world with their book, The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less, why it's the best parenting method to raise happy children.
How the Dutch raise their children? The Dutch strive for the middle ground in life instead of perfection and success. They believe children should have a routine since they are born, sleep plenty, and play a lot in order to develop social skills. The Dutch also raise kids to be independent and totally oppose helicopter parenting. Their teenagers don’t rebel because parents keep an open dialogue with them since they are little. Dutch families value simplicity, frugality, and work-life balance. What is more, the Dutch government implements family-friendly policies at work and society.

Without a doubt, The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less will make American parents think about how we are raising our kids and living our lives. Unlike in the Netherlands, American families don’t have a work-life balance and the government doesn’t implement family-friendly policies at work and society. I wonder how that would work in such a big and capitalistic country like ours, where families value success above everything, as the authors point out.

What I liked about the book the most is the idea of kids spending their early years playing a lot instead of being forced to learn academics. I think schools in the United States are focusing extremely in academic performance since an early age to the detriment of social development. Keeping things simple was another idea that I found on point. The level of competition among American parents, particularly among mothers, is indeed exhausting.


Rating: 4 stars



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Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are all my own.

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