Let’s Go Dutch

Looking for the best place to raise your children? Moving overseas may be a bit out of the question, but in 2013, a UNICEF report rated kiddos in the Netherlands as the happiest in the world. Over the years, many surveys have been conducted to take an in-depth look at these findings, including some that directly compared the happiness levels of American and Dutch children. Time and time again, the Dutch have been perceived as 95% happier than their American counterparts.

But what is it exactly that makes the Dutch enjoy life more? One noted factor is that boys and girls in the Netherlands are often given more freedom than kids here in the States—to ride their bikes to school and to play outside without supervision. Additionally, the Dutch are proponents of a stress-free atmosphere in school. They don’t emphasize success among peers as much as other countries do, and students are not pushed as aggressively when they are not achieving what they “should” by a certain grade and age. More so, the adults are happy—studies show the Dutch not only strive for a healthy balance in their role as parents, but also in their own lives as partners in marriage and employees at work. And since they celebrate independence for themselves, they undoubtedly pass that positivity along to their children as well.

While moving out of the country is probably not a plan you had in mind for the new year, it seems we could all definitely take a hint from the Dutch. Maybe it’s as simple as this: Happy children equal a happy life!

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Gloria Steinem

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