I love the Danes. Back in 2007 to 2009, I was reviewing foreign films for the World Movies Channel in Sydney and my favorite films were from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I saw in these films, cultures that were both gentle and intentional and I dreamed of living my life that way. (Mads Mikkelsen played a small but important role in said dream). This won’t be the first time I’ve written about my Scandi crush (see here, here, here and here).
A few months ago, when I first started reading The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl, I was struggling with the reality that Finn needed us to change our parenting style. He had been stuck in some variation of the “terrible twos” for a year longer than anticipated. We were dealing with Robbie’s back injury and a new baby and we hadn’t noticed that he desperately needed guidance through the confusing years of toddlerhood. We had been treating Finn more like an adult than a toddler, since he was about two. We’ve always sent him to Montessori schools because we wanted him to be treated as an individual. We felt it was important that he be able to express himself any way he needed to, but in the process we forgot that toddlers also need clear boundaries to feel safe. We confused fostering a free spirit with letting him do what he liked. He was confused about what was expected of him and he was acting out to get our attention. As a parent, the hardest pill to swallow is the realization that you have been doing it wrong.
It occurred to me while reading an article in MOTHERMAG about a new book on Danish parenting that I should probably just work backwards. How did the happiest children in the world get so happy? I was excited to read about how the Danes raised their children. So I bought the book. If you saw our library, you probably wouldn’t think we needed another parenting book. Our collection fills an entire bookshelf. But each book was bought with the expectation that it would contain “the key” – the one method that I hadn’t heard of that would be so effective, and so easy to implement that all of our parenting concerns would disappear and we could get on with the s’mores around the campfire and cheering at baseball games. All the stuff we imagined parenting would be.
What I love about The Danish Way of Parenting is that it looks at the parenting philosophies of an entire culture. Instead of a laundry list of methods to tame your child’s tantrums, (clap-growl, anyone?) It gives you a real understanding of how parents’ expression of authenticity and empathy fosters trust and eliminates power struggles. I loved this book because it made sense. This book reinforced my predilection for Danish culture. The Danes are definitely my cup of tea. Everything about the Danish culture is conducive to raising children. I’m sure they know they’ve got it right, but maybe it takes a foreigner to recognize what makes their style work because they’ve got something to compare it to.
Some of what the book teaches:
Play is essential for development and well-being.
Authenticity fosters trust and an “inner compass.”
Reframing helps kids cope with setbacks and look on the bright side.
Empathy allows us to act with kindness towards others.
No ultimatums means no power struggles, lines in the sand, or resentment.
Togetherness is a way to celebrate family time, on special occasions and every day. The Danes call this hygge, and it’s a simple yet meaningful way to foster a close bond.
The Danish Way of Parenting is being re-released and to celebrate I will be interviewing author Jessica Joelle Alexander. Check in during the week to read the interview enter our giveaway to win a copy of the new book!
BOSTON MAMAS!! Join Jessica at an exclusive Q&A event at the Scandinavian Center in Boston on August 22nd at 7pm.