The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

Title: The Danish Way of Parenting

Author: Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Publication date: June 29, 1016

Genre: Nonfiction, Parenting

Summary: Year after year, Denmark has ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world? Why? Well, two moms, one American and one Danish, think they have it figured out. It comes, in part, from how the children are raised. Jessica is an American who married a Dane and moved to Denmark and began to notice differences in how American and Danish children are raised. She teamed up with Danish mom and psychologist Iben to explore this and they uncovered 6 ways in which parenting differs and how the Danish way helps guide children to happy futures.

Over 10 years ago I studied abroad in Denmark. I loved it from the moment I stepped off the plane. I loved the people and the culture and the country. Unfortunately, the dark winters are too dark for this Southern California mom, so I try to bring Denmark into my home as much as possible. I was delighted to find this book.

Throughout the book, they reference the acronym PARENT. Each letter stands for something the Danes do with their children on a daily basis.

Play, meaning plenty of free play time where the child leads the play

Authenticity, meaning the parents and children are honest in how they feel, good and bad, and how everyone feels is validated

Reframing, meaning looking at something from a different perspective

Empathy, meaning understanding others and recognizing their feelings

No ultimatums, meaning boundaries are set, but ultimatums are never given to avoid power struggles and promote democracy to foster trust and resilience

Togetherness, meaning the family being together in a cozy way (hygge), the family just being together in a positive way.

This is a great book that introduced 6 ways Danes raise their children. The authors discuss each one and how the American and Danish ways differ. Finally, at the end of each chapter, they provide numerous tips on how to bring them into our own homes and families. I wish it were a little more in-depth, but this is a great way to get started. I have already started some of this with my children and plan on sharing how this works for us. It also would have been nice to have some tips to incorporate the Danish way when kids are playing with kids being raised in the American way. I can’t imagine letting kids sort out their own problems on the playground is going to fly with the parents who always step in. As a parent I also worry about other parents judging me for not stepping in, for letting my child figure things out with the others. Overall, though, this is a good introduction with plenty of tips and food for thought.

The Bottom Line: The Danish way can be really different from the American way and not everything is for everyone, but I feel like it gives children more room to grow and explore the way they need to instead of the way society seems to dictate. If you’re a parent looking for alternate ways to parent, consider this book and the Danish way.

If you’re not ready to invest in the book, check this out: 7 Keys to Parenting the Danish Way

How many cups of tea will you need?

4 cups will be wonderful

5 thoughts on “The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl

  1. Oh I will totally read this. I can already tell that the Danish way is very similar to a Polish way and to the way I was raised. I definitely worry because I know this is how I will try to raise my daughter because I don’t completely agree with the american way of things. So I will have to incorporate the learning factor for my daughter to understand that she is being raised a little different than her friends. Luckily she is only 3months old so I have some time to figure things out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a very easy read, and informative. Even though I’m an American, I definitely do not agree with a lot of parenting practices. I can see a lot of clashing and explaining down the road, but it will be worth it to raise a happy child.


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