There have been a spate of, “What I Learned about Parenting by Living in Country X” articles. Most of them are pretty interesting. The French, Japanese, Scandinavians — they all do it differently from us, and usually the biggest difference is less hovering/handwringing.
piece by Mihal Greener in Salon adds one angle I hadn’t read before. In addition to being less materialistic than the “average American” and giving kids more freedom and responsibility, she writes that Dutch parents don’t see their kids as a reflection of their parenting:
A lifeline for us expat moms were the coffee mornings where we would swap war stories in our shared mother tongue, regardless of our accent. Whether boasting or bemoaning, there was a common thread of viewing our child’s actions as a direct product of our parenting decisions. It seemed like an almost reflexive response to doubt our patenting strategy if our offspring weren’t quite living up to our maternal expectations..The Dutch moms didn’t appear to regularly indulge in this nagging self-doubt. They seemed, from the outside at least, to view their children as separate people, with their own personalities and strengths, and not a reflection of hours spent pouring over parenting books or coordinating after-school activities.The Dutch parents I met were proud of their children’s achievements at school. They were happy when their daughter scored a goal at her hockey match or kept a tune on the piano at the school assembly. They felt proud but they didn’t feel responsible, or confuse their child’s achievement with a report card on their parenting skills.