What American Parents Can Learn From the French and Dutch

These two stories aren’t exactly related, but they fall under the same general umbrella, so here you go. I’ve been sitting on the first link for months now in an open tab, and the second link is a good way to actually find a use for it.

1. When it comes to sex education, America is woefully incompetent. Kids don’t learn anything from of reproductive/biological point of view, nor do they learn anything about how to engage in healthy sexual relationships with others. That’s not the case with the Dutch.

Teen birth rates are eight times higher in the U.S. than in Holland. Abortion rates are twice as high. The American AIDS rate is three times greater than that of the Dutch. What are they doing right that we’re not?

For starters, two-thirds of Dutch parents report allowing their teenage children to have sleepovers with their boyfriend or girlfriend, a situation even the most liberal American parents would rarely permit. Is there something Americans should learn from the Dutch about relaxed attitudes toward sex (and drugs — indeed, the Netherlands has more lenient drug laws than the U.S., but three times lower rates of marijuana use)?

2. And what can American parents learn from the French? The difference between education and discipline, at least according to Pamela Druckerman.

One of the keys to this education is the simple act of learning how to wait. It is why the French babies I meet mostly sleep through the night from two or three months old. Their parents don’t pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep. It is also why French toddlers will sit happily at a restaurant. Rather than snacking all day like American children, they mostly have to wait until mealtime to eat. (French kids consistently have three meals a day and one snack around 4 p.m.)

3. Yes, anyone running for the GOP nomination would probably be rolling their eyes and shouting “WE’RE AMERICANS! WE HAVE NOTHING TO LEARN FROM OTHER CULTURES!” or something like that.

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