Podcast Episode 132: The Happiest Kids in the World

Thanks so much for coming by to check out Episode 132 of The New Family Podcast where we talk to an author about raising happy kids.

Where can you find the world’s happiest kids? The Netherlands, it turns out! My guest Rina Mae Acosta is a co-author, along with Michele Hutchison, of a fascinating new book called The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less. Their book explores why in 2013, a UNICEF report rated Dutch children the happiest in the world. While neither Rina Mae or Michele grew up in The Netherlands, both are raising their kids there and observing some significant differences in how parenting is approached compared to their home countries, the U.S. and the U.K.

Here are some resources related to my discussion with Rina Mae.

Rina Mae and Michele’s new book The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less


Rina Mae and Michele’s website ‘Finding Dutchland’

Prof. Sara Harkness and Prof. Charles Super research about Dutch parenting habits and babies sleeping

Dutch babies happier than overstimulated American babies together

Note from a school principle in Singapore that accurately reflects how many Dutch parents approach education

Related Episode: Raising Happy Kids

Rina Mae’s Parenting Advice
“Interestingly enough the best parenting advice I believe I received is one that a lot parents actually complain about. It’s one where older people would look dreamy eyed at my young children, cause I live in Doorn and it has the oldest population per capita in the Netherlands. In that dreamy look, they would say ‘It really goes by so fast.’ It’s my favorite advice and I appreciate being surrounded by so many of these people that’s telling me that this is going to go by so fast, it’s because it’s a reminder that it really does go by fast. And to just be able to be in the moment with them. It’s not perfect, we all have things to do—laundry, cooking, we can make a list of things we need to do. But to actually really enjoy this time, early motherhood, it goes by way too fast. I’m afraid that modern parenting with all our schedules and things that we need to achieve, we actually forget that. I love looking at it this way: I would rather take the scenic route with my babies, toddlers, preschooler and child than the freeway.”

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Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by