Having muddled through six years of parenthood without consulting any books on the subject, I was pretty excited about this, my first one. Perhaps it would finally provide some answers to the many questions that have been building up in my mind. Such as: it is possible to clean poo off the carpet at 6am without weeping? Where does one find a glamorous, highly paid, flexible, family-friendly job? How do I train my children to mix a perfect vodka and tonic, and bring it to me on the sofa before dinner? What are you supposed to do when they just sit down on the pavement half way to school and refuse to move?
I had high hopes for The Danish Way of Parenting, which promises to “help parents from all walks of life raise the happiest, most well-adjusted kids in the world”. The argument of the book is compelling. Denmark has been found to have the happiest people in the world almost every year since 1973, but there has never been a clear consensus about why. The authors, an American writer and her Danish psychotherapist husband, claim to have uncovered the secret: Danes are happy because of their upbringing. This exposition of the Danish parenting philosophy, originally self-published, sold more than 10,000 copies in a year. Although this edition has a British publisher, there’s a great deal about “what it means to be an American parent”.