I’m sure you’re near your limit on how Americans are terrible at parenting. There are a gazillion books telling us how to do it better, including many from other cultures such as Asian “tiger mothers,” and how to bring up a French “bébé.”
I personally value an outside perspective on what often feels like a vicious cycle of tottering between “do-it-how-we’ve-always-done-it” and “do-it-the opposite-of-how- they-did-it.” Depends on where you’re sitting. But in either case we’re just swinging the pendulum without a ton of introspection or intention.
Checking out how other cultures do things can’t be a bad thing. We fish (people) don’t tend to notice the water (culture) we’re swimming in, after all.
So, The Danish Way of Parenting.
The Danes have been deemed “The Happiest People in the World,” so it can’t hurt to pay attention to how they view childhood, family life, and education. Because these outlooks matter. A lot. This book is really great and shares the way that Danish moms and dads are raising their children. The bulk of the book is divided into six sections whose titles spell out the word PARENT:
P is for Play
A is for Authenticity
R is for Reframing
E is for Empathy
N is for No Ultimatums
T is for Togetherness and Hygge
So much to love there, right? These themes all have a special place in my heart, and altogether they really do create a comprehensive parenting approach that is rooted in love, health, and respect. Who doesn’t want to be a playful, authentic, empathetic parent who avoids ultimatums and knows how to reframe difficult situations and create a cozy sense of togetherness? SIGN ME UP! (Or at least get yourself a copy here.)
Another gem in this book is the way in which it helps us ethnocentric Americans actually SEE the biases our culture holds. For example, the rugged individualism that send us the clear and constant message to be “selfish, aggressive, and competitive.”
Actually there’s a lot in this book that resonated—current thoughts and research around:
The epidemic of stress and how to help your family “chill out”
Growth vs. fixed mindset and tailoring your feedback and praise
Why to avoid labels; both positive and negative
The ineffectiveness of corporeal punishment
Communication, connection, and vulnerability
This books fits right in with a growing wave of resources for grown-ups who want to be conscious in their parenting life. My recent reviews of other new parenting books here, here, and here, will show the rising trend of a boundaried, emotionally intelligent, non-punitive approach that is based on modeling self-control, kindness and respect. Check it out!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book.
Sarah MacLaughlin is author of the award-winning book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children and has been featured in The Huffington Post. She brings over 20 years of experience working with children and families to her coaching practice. Sarah is also mom to an eight-year-old who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice. She works with families one on one, in groups, and through online offerings.