Book Review: The Danish Way of Parenting

Getting time to yourself as a parent isn’t something you take for granted.  BUT, what to do with the pockets of alone time is the big question. Should I go for a run, take a nap, clean the house (not desired but necessary), have a glass of vino and catch up on Netflix, read a book, finish the project I started, or  DO NOTHING? Usually, reading goes by the wayside because it requires FOCUS and I’m pretty tapped out mentally by the time I can actually sit down without interruptions.

HOWEVER, I’ve realized lately how much time I waste watching useless TV, scrolling through FB feeds, or attempting to keep the house clean with my little monster mess makers that live with me. So, I’ve decided to make time to read, whether it’s to learn and grow, or simply enjoy a good story!

I just recently finished this gem and wanted to share my thoughts with you!

Denmark has been voted as having the happiest people in the world by the OECD since 1973.  If you’re like me, you’re probably wonderingHOW??  Well, it all boils down to their upbringing.

As the authors tell us (and I couldn’t agree more), “There is an incredible amount of self-awareness involved in being a good parent. It requires us to look at our “default settings”….what we do when we are tired, stressed, and stretched to our limits. They are the factory settings we return to when we are maxed out . Many of our default settings are inherited from our parents. To raise happy and resilient children, it takes patience, practice, resolve, and awareness.”

 The acronym PARENT was used by the authors to help us better understand the Danish culture and how they have maintained their title as “the happiest people” in the world!

Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No ultimatums, Togetherness/Hygge

Some noteworthy bits of information that stood out to me are worth reflecting upon…..

PLAY

  • Play is crucial for learning how to cope with stress.  Resilience isn’t cultivated by avoiding stress, but by learning how to tame and master it.
  • Kids don’t need an adult-led activity or specific toys.  We are forgetting the importance of letting them play freely, which teaches children to be less anxious and how to better regulate emotions.
  • Playing alone is extremely important for kids.

AUTHENTICITY

  • Authenticity begins with an understanding of our own emotions. This inner compass becomes the most powerful guiding force in one’s life, largely resistant to external pressures.
  • Authenticity is searching your heart and gut for what is right for you and your family and not being afraid to follow through with it. (AMEN!)
  • Being a model of emotional health is powerful parenting.  Emotional honesty, not perfection, is what children truly need from their parents.
  • Praise is closely connected to how kids view their intelligence. Aim to use process praise that encourages a growth mindset (effort put forth) over a fixed mindset (innate abilities).
  • We learn more about character from our sufferings than from our successes.

REFRAMING

  • Reframing is using language to create a perception shift.
  • Our language is a choice and it’s crucial because it forms the frame through which we see the world.
  • Danes are “realistic optimists” where they focus on the good in people instead of the bad. They filter out uncessary negative information and have a habit of interpreting ambiguous situtations in a more positive manner.
  • The heart of reframing is helping children conceptualize their emotions and guiding them into finding something constructive, instead of a disparaging or limited belief.

EMPATHY

  • Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the feelings of others – to feel not only FOR someone, but to feel WITH them.
  • Parents have a responsibility to nourish their children’s minds with more than just entertainment and the transfer of knowledge.  They should nourish their ability to empathize through the words we use and the stories we share.
  • There aren’t always good reasons for a child’s emotions or easy solutions, but by ackowledging them and trying not to judge, we are teaching respect.
  • Empathy is one of the single most important factors in making successful leaders.  People’s brains actually register more satisfaction from cooperating than from winning alone.

NO ULTIMATUMS

  • Using a more democratic parenting approach fosters trust, resilience, and happier kids.  A strong sense of core self comes from questioning and understanding what rules are and why they exist.
  • Think of how to avoid problems rather than how to punish for them.
  • It isn’t the child who is bad; it is the action that is bad.  It’s important to always make this distinction and be able to separate the behavior from who the person is.
  • Always think win-win, not “How can I win?”

TOGETHERNESS/HYGGE

  • A strong social network is one of the most important factors in our overall happiness.
  • The concept of togetherness is putting yourself aside for the benefit of the whole.
  • People with poor social connections have had, on average, 50% higher odds of dying earlier.
  • When you substitute “We” for “I”, even “Illness” becomes “Wellness”.

Okay, I get it.  Some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking this is nice and all, but get a grip.  Too fluffy and unrealistic. But, the thing is….this book makes you stop and think about the impact you have on others. It motivates me to question my core values, where they stem from, how engrained they’ve become in my life, and ways I can improve, so my children will benefit in the future!  This book challenged me to become more self aware and adjust my behaviors and “default settings”.  Overall, it’s my responsibility to raise hard working, empathetic, curious, and kind hearted citizens of this world, and I think the suggestions in this book are all things we are capable of doing!

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 stars 

 

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