Rating: 4 stars
Year after year, Denmark has ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world? Why? Well, two moms, one American and one Danish, think they have it figured out. It comes, in part, from how the children are raised. Jessica is an American who married a Dane and moved to Denmark and began to notice differences in how American and Danish children are raised. She teamed up with Danish mom and psychologist Iben to explore this and they uncovered 6 ways in which parenting differs and how the Danish way helps guide children to happy futures.
Over 10 years ago I studied abroad in Denmark. I loved it from the moment I stepped off the plane. I loved the people and the culture and the country. Unfortunately, the dark winters are too dark for this Southern California mom, so I try to bring Denmark into my home as much as possible. I was delighted to find this book.
Throughout the book, they reference the acronym PARENT. Each letter stands for something the Danes do with their children on a daily basis.
Play, meaning plenty of free play time where the child leads the play
Authenticity, meaning the parents and children are honest in how they feel, good and bad, and how everyone feels is validated
Reframing, meaning looking at something from a different perspective
Empathy, meaning understanding others and recognizing their feelings
No ultimatums, meaning boundaries are set, but ultimatums are never given to avoid power struggles and promote democracy to foster trust and resilience
Togetherness, meaning the family being together in a cozy way (hygge), the family just being together in a positive way.
This is a great book that introduced 6 ways Danes raise their children. The authors discuss each one and how the American and Danish ways differ. Finally, at the end of each chapter, they provide numerous tips on how to bring them into our own homes and families. I wish it were a little more in-depth, but this is a great way to get started. I have already started some of this with my children and plan on sharing how this works for us. It also would have been nice to have some tips to incorporate the Danish way when kids are playing with kids being raised in the American way. I can’t imagine letting kids sort out their own problems on the playground is going to fly with the parents who always step in. As a parent I also worry about other parents judging me for not stepping in, for letting my child figure things out with the others. Overall, though, this is a good introduction with plenty of tips and food for thought.
The Bottom Line: The Danish way can be really different from the American way and not everything is for everyone, but I feel like it gives children more room to grow and explore the way they need to instead of the way society seems to dictate. If you’re a parent looking for alternate ways to parent, consider this book and the Danish way.
If you’re not ready to invest in the book, check this out: 7 Keys to Parenting the Danish Way