Mother’s Day in the Netherlands: 7 reasons why I want my first Mother’s Day to be here

No, I’m not a mom — yet. But just like many other women in their early 30s with no children, I hear the quiet tick-tock of that biological clock in the background of my life.

Before I know it, the alarm will sound when I turn 35, and from then on, I’ll be known as an elderly primigravida an old first-timer momin the medical circles. Why this odd ode to potential future moms?

It’s Mother’s Day in the Netherlands and while I’m not a mom yet, I have the reproductive potential to be one, so why not celebrate anyway? More specifically, why would I want to have a hypothetical child in the Netherlands as an expat? Here are a few reasons:

1. Happiness

As we already know, Dutch kids and Dutch moms are the happiest. That’s promising for both me and my kid(s) — and by proxy, my husband, who would be surrounded by me and a possible horde of little gremlins. Even though our kid would be a Canadian-American raised in the Netherlands, for the rest of this post, I’ll refer to them as a Dutch kid.

photo-of-two-happy-children
Dutch kids are among the happiest children in the world. Image: Anna Shvets/Pexels

2. Independence

My Dutch kid would be raised to be independent. Dutch children learn to speak up and speak frankly. They learn about reproductive health early (one must only watch the Lentekriebels episode from De Luizenmoeder to get a hilarious perspective of the debate about teaching kids sexual health), which really should not be as controversial an issue to cover as parts of my home country sometimes makes it out to be.

Also, they can bicycle around on their own when they’re old enough so that I wouldn’t have to play the American soccer mom role. (Although I do secretly look forward to cycling in a bakfiets with a kid, or maybe a few pet bunnies if no kids, in cargo). The list could go on.

3. Languages

My Dutch kid would learn a gazillion languages. Okay, well maybe not a gazillion. However, there are more than 7,000 living languages in the world, with 23 of them accounting for more than half of the world’s population — so even if they learnt just three of them (English, Dutch, and maybe French — my husband’s mother tongue), they’d be pretty good to go.

Besides, for Europeans, multilingualism is standard in many places, especially for younger generations — not (as some adults see it) just another set of job skills to develop.

While unlikely, said Dutch kid might also learn a bit of Mestreechs or some other Limburgs dialect. Did I mention that knowing more than one language can increase cognitive flexibility and reserve? It is even associated with differences in brain structure as an adult. Brainiac child with all-natural, organically-cultivated, and enhanced IQ and EQ? Why not?

4. Education

My Dutch kid would be able to get a college degree without accruing as high of student loan debt upon graduation as they would if I were to raise them in the US. With tuition on the order of a bit more than € 2,000 euros annually, versus tens of thousands of US dollars per year, my plan for saving tuition money to pay for their higher education is therefore greatly simplified — and doesn’t have to start pre-conception.

Naturally, the trade-off is that I’m paying higher income tax, but that’s another story. I could also do what some Dutch (and American) parents do and let my kids figure it out on their own: take on a student loan and get a job — like many young adult Dutchies do.

photo-of-students-sitting-in-fornt-of-a-dutch-university
Dutch children can obtain university education without accruing enormous debts. Image: Buro Millennial/Pexels

5. Health

My Dutch kid would probably be able to be treated with some of the earlier-generation antibiotics for treating infections. Why, you ask? Dutch doctors are notoriously stingy on prescribing antibiotics, prescribing the least antibiotics of all countries of the European Union. As a result, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of antimicrobial consumption in the world (second to Chile as of 2014) and, consequently, the lowest rates of antibiotic resistance.

Your kid got the sniffles? Bring on the paracetamol and reserve the big guns for the situations when they may actually need them. By the way, before their 18th birthday, there is no premium to pay for that sniffling kid to have standard health insurance and also dental care.

6. Tough-as-nails

As a follow-up to number five, my Dutch kid would grow up tough-as-nails. A Dutchie friend recently told me she got a nasty gash on her leg during a Spartan Race — the kind with obstacle courses and lots of mud — which required a visit to spoedeisende hulp (SEH, or the emergency room) for some stitches.

And it was no big deal at all, she got the stitches with zero anaesthetics. Okay, so don’t quote me on this — in America, I would get nailed for child neglect or abuse for letting my kid get stitches without any anaesthetic, plus I would be a hypocrite myself and ask for the lidocaine, please — but wow. I was definitely shocked and mildly impressed.

7. Health care in the Netherlands

Finally, let’s say in seeking older first-timer pregnancy status, I encounter fertility problems. Thankfully, I would not need to shell out thousands of dollars for fertility care and treatment (I quoted a US figure ranging from $1,182 to $61,377 previously). Fertility treatments are part of the Dutch standard health insurance package, with some eigen risico or co-payment needed, which is far less than in the US.

When the time comes for maternity care, midwifery services, and then popping that baby out of the womb and into the world (birth care), these are also part of the standard insurance package. Good for me and for my Dutch kid, especially if said kid is a daughter. (By the way, she would also get contraceptives covered by her Dutch health insurance until she has her own baby.)

READ MORE | 9 things to expect as an expat mother in the Netherlands

So, Happy Mother’s Day all the moms and moms-to-be — for when, in the future, you give birth to a Dutch-born kid who is happier, more independent, smarter, tougher, and more insured against a lot of health issues, than from our origin countries.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Would you want to be a mom in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Ballenbak/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2018, and was fully updated in May 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Tiffany Leung
Tiffany Leung
An American born and raised, Tiffany is fulfilling a lifelong dream as an expat in one of the happiest countries in the world. Learning Dutch hard and fast, she greatly admires Dutch culture and sensibility, but is also wondering whether she could ever one day also master the Mestreechs dialect.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Appreciate this informative comment from a Facebooker who read this post: (pasted here with permission)

    “Well if you don’t mind me elaborating #7, every kid is obligated their own health insurance as of age 18, so any free contraceptives are not free anymore then, for a regular contraceptive you’ll have to pay like 35 euros a month on top of your health insurance which go from at least (basic) 100 euros a month to as much as 150+ for additionals (depending on your own risk contribution) so a basic health insurance (100) + own risk (385÷12=33) + contraceptives (35) makes at least a bill of 168 a month for an 18y/o girl ….. I don’t think that’s cheap at all.

    I do however agree on our after care after giving birth, but theirs also an own contribution on midwives which depends on your income”

    Disappointing to hear birth control is so costly in the end!

    • But that 18 year old girl gets financial compensation from the governement, because she can indeed not carry that financial burden . She will be compensated for 99 euro’s. Medicines breder, that are not covered by the insurance must be paid by Herself up to a Max of 350 euros a year. But those birthcontrol pills are not that expensive as you say (35,-). Regular birthcontrol Costs about 50,- a year! This leaves her with about 40 euros a month for complete healthinsurance coverage

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