Xenophobe's® Guides: The Dutch family
The Dutch family is the kernel of 'gezelligheidand' and an academy for independent learning, where 'Mummy knows best' is sometimes open to negotiation.
Xenophobe's® Guides: A book series that highlights the unique character and behaviour of different nations with insight and humour.
A glance at the entries in the Births column of a national newspaper reveals the Dutch veneration for their children: 'Born to Hans and Jiske, a new world citizen, Onno, ........[birth date].'
The Dutch family is the kernel of gezelligheidand an academy for learning the skills of negotiation and tolerance. The Dutch treat children with respect, and expect them swiftly to pick up the trappings of respectability. From an early age children learn to ‘keep it gezellig’ and conduct themselves in a way that doesn’t ruffle the feathers of those that surround them. ‘Behave normally, that’s mad enough’ they are often told – and in the Netherlands this is usually true.
The young are credited with the intelligence to make decisions about their lives. When planning changes to a local playground, a Dutch borough council will send questionnaires to children rather than to parents. Even situations where ‘Mummy knows best’ are open to negotiation. Complicated deals are struck in supermarket aisles as dinner options are discussed, spinach and broccoli being traded off against strawberry icecream and extra biscuits.
The Dutch allow families to take on some adventurous shapes, and do so with warmth and verve. Granny and grandpa, sitting down to Christmas lunch with their eldest son, his boyfriend, their unmarried daughter and her children, make a cosier gathering than many a family unit complete with one parent of each sex and 2.5 noisome brats. The Netherlands was the first country in the world completely to legalise gay and lesbian marriage, and to allow the families thus formed to expand by adopting children
For more, read The Xenophobe's Guide to the Dutch.
Reproduced from Xenophobe's Guide to the Dutch by kind permission of Xenophobe's® Guides.
Photo credit: jurvetson
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