NETHERLANDS: 5 Children’s Requests I Usually Give In To

NETHERLANDS: 5 Children’s Requests I Usually Give In To

406623767_850e9146c3_zSometimes I think I’m too permissive. Sometimes I think I’m too strict. Most of the time, however, I think I’m just right. I try not to say “no” without having a good solid reason for it, although I am not afraid to use it when I feel something isn’t safe. Sometimes, when I’m cranky and tired, you will hear more “no” coming out of my mouth than I would like to admit. But there are many things that will most likely elicit a big, happy resounding “yes” from me.

1) Hugs and kisses

I must confess that I always fall for these. I love it when my big girl puts her arms around me, the way my little girl’s body feels soft and warm in my arms, the soft smell of my baby’s head when I hug him. Yes, yes, yes, to all of them. Bring on the hugs and the smooches! Sometimes I don’t want to be touched and that’s OK, but when I’m in the mood, kisses are the best!

2) Singing songs together

I love singing, and my children seem to enjoy it, too. When we’re outside, running errands or walking to the playground and they ask me to sing “Let It Go”, I do what I’m told even though I can’t reach these higher notes. Singing gives us a lot of pleasure and besides, with some more practice (and since children love repetition, I get a lot of that), I’ll be able to sing it Idina Menzel-style in no time. Just watch me!

3) Reading books

To call me a bookworm is an understatement. I have a very serious reading addiction, and if you ask me, it’s the best of all addictions to have. Our house is full of books. We have recently given away some toys, but the books are not going anywhere. And if my children ask me to read to them I’ll drop anything I’m doing in order to do just that. I am also teaching my 5-year old to read and write so that she can also read independently. But I want to give them my love of reading and hope they will find joy and solace in books.

4) Independent play

I must admit that I don’t entirely enjoy playing with my children. I am just not that good at playing. So I will do anything to get out of playing with my kids. But I do love reading my book, and catching glimpses of them playing together. Seriously, the less I intervene here, the better they play. And if, once in a while, I make a suggestion that we all play together and they say, “No, we want to play by ourselves”, who am I to argue? It’s back to my book, then. Thanks, kids!

5) Answering their questions

The number of questions a child asks is endless. “What is this?” “What is that?” “Why did that happen?” “How do you know that?” It may seem annoying to some, but I actually enjoy answering my children’s questions. Some of them are simple or funny: “Why can’t I have ten legs?”. Others are more educational: “Where did the dinosaurs live?”. Yet others are hard: “What happens to us when we die?”. But I believe it is extremely important to answer these questions in an honest, but age-appropriate manner because they serve many functions, such as learning and managing difficult situations. Not to mention the fact that it teaches them that asking questions is always a good thing! So, children, ask away. You won’t hear, “Because that’s how it is” from me! The only exception I make is when they actually know the answer to the question.

It’s OK if I don’t respond to every need and every request. The children need to learn that their parents are individual human beings whose primary purpose isn’t necessarily connected to them. And there is a lot I simply refuse to do (like help them put on their clothes when I know perfectly well that they can do that themselves).

But there are things that I will always do for my kids, or at least as often as possible. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do things I don’t like doing for the sake of the kids. I also think there are some things I absolutely despise doing but the kids need them so it has to be done. The important thing I guess, is to find the happy middle ground.

What are some of the things you never say “no” to?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Olga Mecking of The Netherlands. Photo credit: Jesslee Cuizon. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Olga Mecking

Olga is a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband. She is a multilingual expat mom to three trilingual children (even though, theoretically, only one is trilingual since she's old enough to speak). She loves being an expat, exploring new cultures, learning languages, cooking and raising her children. Occasionally, Olga gives trainings in intercultural communication and works as a translator. Otherwise, you can find her sharing her experiences on her blog, The European Mama. Also take a while to visit her Facebook page .

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unnamedMy parents were born and raised in Surinam. They moved to the Netherlands in the 70’s and raised their children there. Though not completely oblivious to Dutch culture, the way my parents raised me was greatly influenced by the motherland. That includes the way chores were done.

In Surinam, and I’m guessing in many non-Western (“Second World”) cultures, chores are simply a part of life. They are part of a daily routine in which all family members share the responsibility of running a household. As a kid, you go to school, do your chores and play in the time that is left. Dinners are prepared together, cleaning is a joint effort and in some cases, children even help parents with their jobs. Except for that last part, this is basically the way I was raised.

My Dutch husband has been raised completely differently. Chores were the responsibility of his parents. They took care of everything and as he got older, chores were gradually given to him as a way to teach him responsibility. I must add that not all Dutch kids are raised exactly the same and that there are many varieties, but the difference between Dutch and Surinam upbringing is apparent.

One of the thoughts behind Dutch upbringing: “Let children be children, let them play. Let them enjoy childhood without too many responsibilities. The time for responsibilities will come soon enough.”

Personally this thought appeals to me yet also conflicts me. I fear that my children will become entitled, spoiled and unable to deal with responsibilities if I simply let them play.

One of the thoughts behind Surinam upbringing: “Chores are normal and necessary and help kids to become responsible independent adults. Every member of the family has to do their share, family comes before individual needs.”

Having to raise children now myself, I need to find a balance between these very different approaches. And it is not easy to find a middle ground. My husband tends to have a “Here, let me do it for you” attitude. And I have a more “I am not your maid, I will teach you to do it yourself” attitude.

I have a sense of contentment and pride when I teach my kids to do their chores independently and without complaint. But I also understand how nice it is for a child to be shielded from too much responsibility and to simply be taken care of.  I want to let my kids enjoy their free time in between school, homework and sports, but I also want them to help around the house and feel like they share some of the responsibility of our household.

And so I go back and forth. Some of my Dutch friends drop their jaws or raise their eyebrows when they learn that my kids clean, vacuum, mop their rooms and scrub the toilets every weekend. And my mother will feed my guilt by asking me why I don’t let the kids help around the house more.

My background does have one distinctive benefit. When my children moan about having to do chores, I tell them about my childhood and they stop complaining immediately.

What are your thoughts about chores? Does the way you raise your kids look more like the Dutch way or the Surinam way?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mirjam of The Netherlands. Photo credit to the author.


Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera. Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

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NEW JERSEY, USA: Parenting: The Real, The Ancient and The Pixie Dust #DisneyKids

NEW JERSEY, USA: Parenting: The Real, The Ancient and The Pixie Dust #DisneyKids

Many of the global issues we cover on World Moms Blog are very serious, and I spend a lot of time on them because they are important to me and the #WorldMoms. But, when Disney recently provided the parents on it’s Disney Social Media Moms mailing list the opportunity to host a #DisneyKids preschool play date, I jumped at the chance for a little fantasy fun for my daughter and her friends.

I don’t talk much on the blog about how I parent. I find myself mostly writing about global issues that are important to me. So, I’m going to fill you guys in a bit about what my life as a parent is like. At my house when we talk a lot about women using their voice to make a difference, such as Malala and Ambassador Sarah Powers (both would also make amazing Disney princesses, wouldn’t they?).

Yet, as much as I wanted my 7 year old daughter to dress up as Malala for Halloween and to make a statement that girls everywhere deserve an education, she chose pop star Katy Perry, and I supported her decision. And went out to find brightly colored hair spray. I find it useful to keep in mind that I was not advocating for world poverty and girls education at age 7, so I shouldn’t put certain expectations on her. She has to find her own way and have her childhood, and it’s my job to help her be her.

At night our family is reading the Greek, Roman and Egyptian myths and then finding a time every now and then in the year to let the kids loose in a museum to find their bedtime heroes and heroines among the art and sculpture. But, we also take the kids to ride the Small World ride at Walt Disney World and have lunch in the Beast’s castle there. Excursions are not everyday occurrences, and we also watch TV. 😉 What I guess I’m trying to say is that I find parenting in my house is about balance.  We try to experience it all, the nonfiction, the ancient, the pop culture and the pixie dust!

And that pixie dust part is what led to my interest in hosting a #DisneyKids play date for my preschooler. My daughter’s play group had dissolved last year once all the kids were on different preschool schedules, so this was going to be a reunion playdate for the little girls…

Within weeks of being accepted to host the play date, a grand box of Sophia the First play date supplies arrived along with other goodies. We received themed plates, cups, napkins, a table cloth and decorations. Also included were games, snacks and some toys, too. My 3 year old daughter was so excited!!

Next, the planning began. We chose a Sunday evening play date — it turned out to be the perfect time for all of us to make it. I was planning to make some dinner, but I needed a few more special fantasy touches.  We made fruit fairy wands, and dressed the dining room chairs in lavender toile bows, both ideas found on Pinterest, too. Here is the fancy table setting:

Sophie the First Table

I also found Sophia the First themed goody bags, dress up rings and pendants at a nearby store. We also used some of the treats included in our box from Disney to make the goody bags for the party, Cliff Bars and Doc McStuffins fruit snacks.

Cupcakes Goody Bags

With 8 kids and 8 moms, there was a lot of catching up to do. The girls took to the playroom to play dress up in their Disney clothes, and we also had a little table that had the Kinetic sand and Doc McStuffin’s puzzle for the girls to try out.

Kinetic Sand

Another table had real life 3 year old princesses at it decorating Disney themed coloring pages. And, there was a request from the princess crowd to put Sophia the First on TV at the end while they were playing.

Disney Coloring

I served home made mac n cheese and chicken nuggets, as well as a goat’s cheese salad for the moms. Dessert was chocolate cupcakes with homemade icing, dyed with blueberry juice, to keep with the Sophia the First lavender theme. And, on departure, each princess chose a ring pop to go!

I’m not going to lie — one of the moms showed up with a bottle of champagne, which had the moms sipping like princesses out of tall glasses. That was fun, too.

I forgot how important it is to reconnect along the way with friends whom I have shared my motherhood journey. It seems natural to keep moving forward through time and missing out on friendships as our kids grow and have different interests. It was great to check in and see how everyone was doing and find out what the kids that we’ve known as babies were up to. Also, seeing the kids step out of their shells and run around together like old times was a really good feeling. I can never have enough of these moments. Thank you, Disney, for the pixie dust. 😉

By the way, have you ever seen the #WorldMoms slideshow of their global Disney vacations?


Disney provided a box described above of party supplies for this #DisneyKids playdate. I was not paid to write this post and the thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA. 

Photo credits to the author. 


Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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TEXAS, USA: The Court Jester

TEXAS, USA: The Court Jester

CourtJester1Summer break is upon us once again.  With summer, comes sleeping in, summer vacations, and eating sweet watermelon every day. However, there is something else that sneaks its evil little way into summer as well…. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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PHILIPPINES: School is What You Make It

PHILIPPINES: School is What You Make It

We started informally homeschooling our son, Vito, this September. It’s nothing structured, nor do I have lesson plans or anything written in a schedule. We basically play, explore, ask questions, converse, and repeat the process. Every time I observe my son learning something new these days (or gaining new insight from a previous experience), I am amazed and grateful that he is a curious, always-inquisitive little boy.

These past few months, my son has been enamored with animals. Today’s “lesson” involved making animal words using play dough. We made out words like “lion”, “cow”, “tiger” and more using red, green, purple and brown play dough. If I were to document today’s experience, I would say we focused on developing his fine motor skills, vocabulary and spelling, as well as a handful of other concepts, such as colors, matching, left-to-right order, etc. Pretty neat, huh?

(Tomorrow, it’s likely to run the same way, but perhaps I need to get out my encyclopedia so that I don’t run out of animal names to spell out. I don’t mind; I’m just glad as long as he’s engaged, excited and eager.)


Martine de Luna (Philippines)

Martine is a work-at-home Mom and passionate blogger. A former expat kid, she has a soft spot for international efforts, like WMB. While she's not blogging, she's busy making words awesome for her clients, who avail of her marketing writing, website writing, and blog consulting services. Martine now resides in busy, sunny Manila, the Philippines, with her husband, Ton, and toddler son, Vito Sebastian. You can find her blogging at

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