When I saw Dutch kids for the first time, I thought that they were the same as Indonesian kids, just with different colour skin and eyes.
But actually they are not really the same, especially in the way they think and argue with their parents. Moreover, they are allowed to negotiate with adults. Everything became clearer when I visited my friend Agustina, who lived in Gouda. She has two daughters and one of them, Anouk, is only 8 years old. One thing I noticed about Anouk was her negotiating skills. She would always negotiate with her mother when she told her not to do something. Every 'Nee' her mother uttered had to be followed by a good explanation to stop Anouk from asking more questions. One thing that amazed me was the way Anouk could act as a mature adult who accepts the final decision after negotiation, even if the result was not what she wished. Once, when I had to stop playing with Anouk to make tea, I had to negotiate before stopping playing. She did not allow me to leave before we had negotiated about how much time I need to make that tea. I was really amazed that she still wanted to negotiate with me, although we speak different languages. I thought this only happened with Anouk, but Agustina said that it is normal for Dutch kids to speak their minds and to negotiate. As long they are right, parents should follow their kids' wishes, she said. Dutch kids are habituated to thinking logically and to actively and directly expressing their opinions. This is really different from our culture: we usually have to follow our elders' decisions to show our courtesy, especially during our early years.
Jeni Anggrek, Dairy Sciences and Technology student in the Product Design and Quality management (PDQ) department at Wageningen University.
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