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Quick Thoughts: about kids.


Quick Thoughts: about kids.

Scott Bahlmann

The happiest kids in the world were perhaps not always so happy. My grandparents were raised in pre-war Netherlands and some of the parenting stories my Grandfather shared are a surprising contrast to the experience of the newly Dutch citizens Acosta and Hutchison. When my great grandfather found his son trying a cigar in the shed, he made him smoke the entire thing, resulting in severe sickness and an effective deterrent from ever smoking again. A more harsh intervention came about during an argument between my grandfather and his brother. Rather than leaving it to the kids to work things out independently, their father handed them each a hatchet and told them to ‘go at it.’ These methods were effective for de escalating the situations, after an initial hyper escalation. It makes me wonder if the attitude of the Dutch shifted after the experience of the 2nd world war, or if my great grandfather had some different parenting strategies than the culture at large.  

A quick search didn’t reveal any research done to examine parenting styles in a culture after the end of a conflict, but there is so much information about cultural comparisons in general, and parent-child conflict, etc that it would take some effort to locate these articles if they exist. 

I’ve observed the patience of parents in a few contexts during some passive observation. While waiting for a public dance performance, a mother gave her children jackets to put on. The boy was around 6, and quickly zipped his up then ran off to continue playing. The girl was maybe 3, and spent perhaps 5 minutes negotiating the intricate task of fitting the base of the zipper together. A few times the mother would bend over and offer assistance, but it was clear her daughter wanted to do it herself. She managed to dock the zipper once, but it didn’t engage the teeth and her jacket was ultimately left open. 


Another contrast to the states was the presence of two young boys at the pub where we watched the World Cup. In Utah especially, this scene would horrify parents who are concerned about the exposure of youth to alcohol. In reality, it seemed to be a great bonding experience with the parents able to involve their children in this cultural milestone. The kids were completely disinterested in the beers their parents had, and when not engaged with the soccer match they entertained themselves with their jackets. Who knew such a simple garment would be so instrumental to the happiest kids in the world!