Liberal Upbringing = Happy Children?

21 Feb

In a UNICEF study on children well- being, The Netherlands comes out top with children being the most fortunate in Europe. In the BBC article on the report, they quoted, Rutt Veenhoven, professor of social conditions for human happiness at Erasmus University in Rotterdam,

“Small affluent countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark are very democratic and very free. There is also a very good education system. People can use that freedom and education to make the right choices,”

He was unsurprised at the findings, and went on “happy adults raise happy children”.

This is contrary to popular beliefs in most conservative societies that you “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

With Netherlands, being a country open about drinks, drugs and sex, children have not grown up to become socially irresponsible and anti-social adults which conservatives want us to believe.

While it would be premature to establish any direct correlation between the political openness of a country with happiness of children, the article is a remainder on how we should educate children in a broader sense of the word (besides allowing them access to formal education in schools or colleges).

It includes the way we go about doing that.

More communication, openness and not just a top down, authority (in this case, teachers, guardians, government and parents) VS children approach.

One challenging hypothesis can be induced, ”

if a liberal social upbringing and a liberal socio- political climate which emphasizes less on material well-being, that practises liberal democracy can bring about happy adults and hence happy children, then indirectly, the happiness of children in a country could become an important indicator of how open and how well a society is functioning.

Now, this is one additional motivation to why a liberal society with liberal democracy promotes a happy society.


Why are Dutch children so happy?, Kathryn Westcott,, 14 February, 2007


One Response to “Liberal Upbringing = Happy Children?”

  1. Law September 2, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    One of the things I find interesting is how the “good education” link is not further explored. Of course you can tend towards liberal if you do more than pay lip-service to education (this is not merely academic). Liberalism and ill-education is asking for chaos.

    If a child has been properly educated about the ills of alcohol then you can hope they make the right choices but if a child is raised to view alcohol consumption as some “right of passage” then being liberal about alcohol consumption is a recipe for disaster.

    A good education instills some basic principles in a person but it should also teach you to seek enlightenment beyond the classroom.

    Of course we are all free to make our mistakes but we don’t have to collectively aid our mistakes when we could be aiding our understanding and pursuit of real truths.

    Just a thought… 🙂

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