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BookWatch: Why Dutch kids are the happiest in the world (and their parents are so laid back)

Rina Mae Acosta is Asian-American, a mother to two young kids, and originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She grew up not far from Amy Chua, the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which explored strict kid-rearing inspired by Chinese parenting traditions — and prompted countless debates over the key to children’s happiness.

By contrast, Acosta chose to raise her children in a small village in the Netherlands with her Dutch husband, and her approach is far more laid-back. She lets her kids eat chocolate sprinkles every morning for breakfast. Her children, aged four years and 20 months, have open play dates and are free to roam around in the backyard, unstructured and unattended.

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