Family Life in Denmark

Two mothers, one a Londoner, the other from Copenhagen, swap lives for a week and take notes. Both consider the approaches to parenting in both societies and wonder which one does it best. For my money, I’d probably want to live in Copenhagen rather than London, assuming I was affluent enough to live comfortably in either place (as the women writing the article clearly are). This is mainly because I’ve got some Danish ancestry and I’d like to imagine that I’m descended from an open, progressive and attractive people. Really, though, it’s because I just prefer smaller cities to larger ones as matter of temperament. I also like that Denmark appears to give you the biggest bang for your tax buck in regards to subsidised daycare and parental leave.

One thing the Danish writer noticed in London, however, was the absence of children’s voices in the streets. In Copenhagen, kids play unsupervised in the largely car-free streets and toddlers are left sleeping in their strollers outside shops whereas here such activity would get you arrested for child endangerment. Now, to be fair, this is because Copenhagen has consistently adopted pro-public transit, pro-bike, pro-pedestrian, anti-car policies. How much of this is simply forward thinking on the part of municipal governments and how much is a reflection of the views of Danes is probably a matter for debate. Do such policies because Danes want them or do Danes want them because they exist? I have a feeling it’s the latter. But certainly children here would probably play in the streets more often if they weren’t in danger of being run over.

Copenhagen is a small-ish city where such progressive measures would be easier to implement than in London, or say, Montreal. That said, I’d love to see more cities try to be a little more like Copenhagen. Then I read about the work being done to put a rail link from Trudeau Airport to downtown and despair.

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