I guess my fascination with parenting styles in other countries started during my own pregnancy and was likely influenced by two things: my own personal decision to go against the "norm" here in the US and have a planned home birth AND my husband's fairly constant references to his Dutch relatives (on his mom's side of the family) and how different their attitudes about most things, including birth and child rearing, were from the mainstream here in the US. Once my daughter was born, though, I rarely found time to read more about anything as I found myself sucked into some of the high expectations and hamster wheel mentality that our country is so (unfortunately) famous for in other parts of the world!
In the last year or so I have been finding myself drawn to discovering more about how parents in other countries view themselves and their roles as parents as well as the statistics that I see quoted where children are happier, more independent, and less anxious. There seems to have been a run on books like The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids and The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less and the theme in these books is for parents to take a step back and focus on taking care of themselves first and providing opportunities for their children to learn how to be competent and independent. What a concept!
In another book Stuff Dutch Moms Like the author tells a funny story about a dinner party in Amsterdam and the conversation between American and Dutch moms. Here is a link to the story https://stuffdutchpeoplelike.com/2017/02/08/how-to-babyproof-your-house-the-dutch-way-vs-american-way/
What if we American parents could find a way to deal with the pressures and expectations of our society and work on being more present to our families and more supportive of each other? How many of you moms (and quite possibly you dads) feel like your "friends" are actually the first ones to judge your parenting? It can be brutal and oh so isolating. Did you know that, as a country, the US is known for valuing intellectual ability while parents in other countries value things like social and emotional abilities and an even temperament(Italy), highly sociable children (Spain), security and happiness (Sweden), and independence, long attention spans and predictable schedules (The Netherlands).
As I continue creating and growing my offerings through Auntie Anxiety, I have circled back around to this idea that parents and children in other countries are, in general, happier and less anxious. As my post from last week shared: Competence Crushes Anxiety. When we find ways to take care of ourselves and offer our children opportunities to gain competence rather than comfort, we foster a means for them to deal with their anxiety in healthier ways.
Last weekend I attended a conference for counselors that was titled "The Courage to Connect: Shaping Our Future in an Age of Uncertainty". Yeah, we are definitely becomming for aware of our anxiety in this country (and are bombarded every day with scary things to be anxious about!) AND we have to start looking at ways to get out of the content of our worries and moving towards ways to deal with our anxieties and teach our children how to be competent and confident adults.
We are most definitely not done with this topic AND here are some suggestions for ways to get started with competence building ideas for your home:
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor