Recently I took on a short holidays with my older daughter to visit my family and friends. I haven’t been in my home country last two years and many people I care I haven’t seen just as long.
The question I often got almost on every corner from people knowing where I live was: “Are Danes really most happy people on the world and do they really raise their children on this and that particular way?” For many reasons known to me, I stopped following media in the country I originally come from, but cause I am a big consumer of social media the “news” about the Danish way didn’t pass by me. Even though I heard about it, I still got shocked how many times I got the same question.
I must admit that I didn’t have and I still don’t have the answer on them but I decided to dig into it and look on it with my point of view.
I have lived here last 10 years and I have been a mom almost 6 years now. The thing I learned most from it, that everything is relative and that things change depending on the point of view. I am sure I am not the same mom from then 6 years back as I am sure I wont be this one in a year or a 5.
The things I learned most about the children and having them in the beginning was from the mom near by, from the local nourse but I am not sure how much the “Danish” way of raising kids was my absolutely guide. I didn’t even realize that it was the thing.
So when I read about the about teaching children of being their own, selfconfident, empathic, free, respectful and playful, happy little people – is it different here than it is in every other corner of the world?
Yes, there are social and cultural rules here and some are more Danish than others but the question I want to ask is: are they really truly better then in some other places?
So when I read how kindergarden system is one of the best and everyone confidenalty leaves their children in the daycare every single day for so many hours (yes, also unemployed moms). Question to ask isn’t how better they are, but are they really better or is it the need and rules and lows that determine that so many families chooses one or another form for daycare from early days. The fact is that the maternity here last 46 weeks plus/minus and that the most parents need to be back at work when baby is around 10,5/11 month old. Some choose to take couple of months extra if the work and economy allows, some choose to go back to work much earlier than they should according to maternity, but the majority does that what is common.
Yes, daycares here are mostly wonderful places where there is plenty of very highly dedicated, educated and sweet workers but there is always a “but”. For some years now municipality decided to save money, so there is “less” stuff working as pedagogues and there is more bureaucratic bound with their function. They are yelling and shouting out loud how things needs to change but nothing happens. That also means that more children everyday don’t get the attention needed, caring arms when they are sad, warm words when everything feels big and scary.
As a parent you can be lucky, having a child that is robust and can take everything and you can believe and feel how wonderful her/his daycare is. In those situations this system is the best one (in (your) world).. And then you can have a sensitive, “needy” child that for both parents and her/him every day is surviving. It doesn’t help when the daycare is a huge institution where employees often change and where sometimes it is difficult to find a soul that knows more about your child or/and the dailylife it spends there.
I read about letting children sleep outside (also in the winter time), I read about the parenting where parents don’t choose many sparetimes activities, where they don’t choose games and toys for their children, where children are more let to play and not so much guided what to do, where they don’t give so many compliments, don’t forece them to think what parents think and where there is a big focus on learning them teamwork, solidarity and helping. I think it is a difficult to compare what one does and other don’t and how much of that is unique for Danes and Denmark. For me, from my point of view, everything seems greyish, like something that is hard to explain and say how it actually is/or isn’t.
Yes, many kids sleep outside in the daytime in their prams year around. Many parents are not afraid leaving kids alone (with the monitor) in the garden, in front of the coffee shop or a store, just as like many of us don’t mind locking their doors when going to the nearby shop or for a walk leaving home alone. Many of us do feel safe in this country and we do feel our children are safe but we do care, are anxious and nervous about how they will manage in daycare, school, on football, piano or in life in general. We also compare and think, read and question the way the system is functioning. We do ask loudly about the things we don’t agree on and we do try to make it best for us and our children.
But I think we do it from our own place inside of us and not from the boundaries we have just because we live in this place and not some other one.
I most certainly feel this. Don’t you?