Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison: She’s Going Dutch

May 30 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: The Mother Load

When you toss your cap in the air at high-school or college graduation, you say goodbye to people telling you what to do and offer a joyful sayonara to all those snooty cliques. Or so you think. For a lot of women, once they enter motherhood and the world of play dates, soccer games, parenting books and school fundraisers, there’s a new type of clique. It’s one in which moms are inundated with a constant barrage of “Do this” and “Don’t do that,” which almost certainly results in feelings that we’re not good enough mothers. Motherhood is the most difficult job on the planet, and we all have our good and bad days. The most important thing is that we love our children. Today, celebrate your mom wins and trust your instincts.


If you’re a mom who’s sick of all that nagging parental advice and just want to raise the most well-adjusted kids you can, maybe you should consider relocating. According to one Unicef study, the number one place in the world to raise happy kids is The Netherlands. The study compared the rates of relative poverty, educational and health standards, kids’ relationships with their friends and parents, among other factors, and found that, in Dutch society, kids rule, are highly productive and are used to a positive, caring environment, which leads to their overall well-being. So, where did the United States land on that list of 21 countries? Twentieth!

WOMEN TO WATCH: Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison, Authors and Co-founders of Finding Dutchland

So, just what is the secret that makes Dutch parents and kids so happy? Well, living in The Netherlands is probably a good start. But if you can’t swing a one-way plane ticket and totally redefine your life among beautiful tulips, windmills, gourmet chocolate and lots of social tolerance, today’s Women to Watch can help.

Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison are the authors of The Happiest Kids in the World: Bringing Up Children the Dutch Way, and the forces behind lifestyle and motherhood blog Finding Dutchland. While you may expect a country’s own citizens to espouse its benefits, Rina Mae and Michele are actually both ex-pats who moved to The Netherlands from America and London, respectively, after marrying Dutch husbands, and immediately recognized the country’s differences in parenting style.

Their book, which examines the unique environment that enables the Dutch to turn out such contented, well-adjusted kids, has received rave reviews, with critics applauding its nuanced yet concise approach.

What exactly are Dutch parents doing differently? Could it be that children regularly get chocolate sprinkles on their morning toast? Or maybe it’s because elementary-school-aged kids are free to play to their little hearts’ content after school because they have zero homework? These are ideas Rina Mae and Michele explore in their book as they examine why the Dutch parenting style works so darn well.

On their Finding Dutchland blog, Rina Mae and Michele delve deeper into aspects of Dutch life that any parent can adopt. One particularly enlightening post, titled “Five Dutch parenting habits that should catch on in the U.S.,” features some basic yet eye-opening suggestions, like live an active lifestyle, eat meals together as a family and set strict bedtimes so both parents and kids get plenty of rest. Here’s my favorite tip: Dutch dads do more household chores than moms, a beneficial characteristic that’s backed up by research, with the Association of Psychological Science stating daughters of dads who do household chores grow up with more ambition. OK, maybe it’s time to move to The Netherlands!

Even if you don’t have kids, Rina Mae and Michele’s Dutch mantra of slowing down and being more present is something all of us boss ladies could benefit from.


Today’s quote is from Rina Mae Acosta herself. She said:

“One important lesson is that other people aren’t always the reason for your problems. The cause might lie in yourself, so if you want things to change, you should start with yourself.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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