Isabelle de Jong is a coach who helps women decide whether they want to become mothers or not. The Netherlands is one of those countries where manufacturing jobs are largely gone, but people are still wealthy, so there’s ample opportunity to try and make a living through all sorts of coaching services. As long as everybody’s happy there’s nothing wrong with this, I guess, I just would like to point out some background information. I doubt there are many coaches in countries where actual products are still being made. It’s luxury, but hey, hurray for luxury.

In an interview with DennikN, my favorite Slovak newspaper, Evelien Isabella de Jong says that Dutch women started rising up against the typical model of women as housewives, whose main purpose in life is to have children, somewhere in the seventies. She herself had a child late in life through in vitro and lives in a commune in Amsterdam. The father of the child lives elsewhere, but are in a relationship.

This is indeed not a common situation in Slovakia. Almost all the Slovak women I have met definitely want to have children, and yes, most want to live with a man, preferably as a married couple, but it’s not true that they desperately want a man. Most find having a child more important than living together with a man. I don’t have any statistics on this, but it does seem there’s quite a bit of pressure on women to have children here in Slovakia. If you’re a Slovak woman hitting 30 and still childless, people will start bugging you about it.

Based on the interview you could get the impression that Dutch women are somehow more ‘advanced’ than Slovak women. Immediately after reading the interview I contacted my good friend Abram Muller, a Dutchman and THE authority on all things Slovak, to hear his opinion.

He says:

‘Dutch women are among the least emancipated in Europe. When they get married or go and live together they quit their job or get a part-time job. The Netherlands scores low when it comes to the number of women in top level positions in the corporate world, higher education or politics. When these women get a divorce they find themselves living alone and can’t make ends meet.’

Neither offers any statistics, so perhaps they are both painting a picture of Dutch women based on their personal experiences. If you live in a commune in the center of Amsterdam you will bump into lots of Dutch people with deviant life styles, for sure. I doubt that environment is representative of all Dutch women.

De Jong says Slovaks are more conservative than Dutch people, which is probably true, but the most extremely conservative people I have ever bumped into I met in the Netherlands, not in Slovakia. A minority of Dutch people can be very religiously fanatical, to a truly scary degree. I have never seen anything like it in Slovakia. Slovaks may be conservative, but they never try to shove their views or values down your throat.

I’m guilty of making quick generalisations myself, but I realize we have to be very careful with this, otherwise we create mere noise.

Personally I think most women do want to have children, Slovak, Dutch, Colombian or Vietnamese or Iranian.

I personally don’t feel women should be running to coaches to find out if they want children or not, but they can, if they want to and wish to pay for this. What’s certainly lacking in our educational system is an excellent and very serious and elaborate course on home economics with lots of real experience, not just textbook information. A intense course that teaches you what it might be like to have children. You can never know what it’s like until you have them, but still, most people have children, entirely unprepared. My wife works in a kindergarten and I hear daily examples of how little adults know about child psychology and raising a child, as a competent, confident individual who can deal with decisions and success as well as setbacks.

De Jong clearly thinks Slovak women should follow in the foot steps of Dutch women.

Purely based on my own experience I do believe this is a very bad idea.

For reasons that am not entirely sure about, Slovak women seem a lot happier, more stabile, and equipped with a bigger sense of purpose in life, than Dutch women or Flemish women.

With the loss of clear cut patterns in society, Dutch and Flemish women AND men seem – in my view – to be adrift, swamped by choices they fear to make, and to become addicts of a kind of industry, made up of coaches, therapists (yes, I am part of it), reiki practioners, chakra readers, mindfulness classes, cranio sacral healing, etc, the list has become bafflingly long. In the west it seems to me quite a few people seem to have the full time job of somehow trying to overcome deep inner insecurity, doubt, anxiety and purposelessness, the void of not feeling part of something bigger than one’s self.

I don’t know why -at this point- but I do have the strong impression that if my children can grow up here in Slovakia rather than in Belgium or The Netherlands at least until they are 12 or older.

Again, no statistics, just impressions. I have to add that I’m totally spoiled and have a fantastic Slovak wife who’s always happy, smiling, singing, loves children, LOVES traditions, and at the same time, doesn’t fear things and people that question those traditions, or she wouldn’t have married me and wouldn’t read DennikN, a very liberal newspapers, disliked by lots of Slovaks I meet.

Nothing is all black and all white, and I will be more careful myself about making generalisations based on my own impressions.