'Golden nation' relegates tradition of tolerance and respect

July 21, 2000

The Dutch are becoming less tolerant, according to a social psychologist at the Catholic University of Nijmegen.

Jan Janssens claims that parental pressure on children to express autonomous behaviour and social independence is diluting traditional values of respect for others.

Dr Janssens has studied the difference between the way indigenous Dutch parents educate their children and non-indigenous Turkish, Moroccan, Chinese and Surinamese families living in the Netherlands educate theirs. The non-indigenous parents' educational goals have more to do with conformity and achievement.

Dr Janssens said: "Turkish parents of a higher educational and intellectual level stress achievement as a child-rearing goal, as do the Chinese, but they do emphasise the importance of respect for older people, children and the community at large."

The study was based on work conducted over five years. More mothers than fathers participated in the survey of 1,267 families.

In the Turkish study, the number of mothers, who occupy a more important position in the home and have the social responsibility for culture and religion, answering the questionnaire was twice that of fathers.

For the Chinese and Surinamese samples, only mothers were interviewed. For the comparison study of Dutch and Turkish parents, 45 per cent of Dutch compared with 85 per cent of Turkish parents had a lower educational level of vocational training.

The big difference between the Dutch parents and the ethnic families was that the Dutch did not stress school success, good manners, a sense of responsibility and considering the needs of others as important goals.

Social development was high on the list of the ethnic people studied.

From several studies it has been found that parents who are more conformist are less supportive and more restrictive, which in turn leads to anti-social behaviour.

Dr Janssens is certain that too much autonomy and lack of social responsibility in Dutch families is resulting in egotistical attitudes and verbal aggression.

He is concerned about the rapid loss of traditional Dutch values. "We live in a social climate where individualism is fuelled by government and commerce, taxation and laws.

"We've started to lose one of the most valued elements that made the Dutch a 'golden nation' in the eyes of the world - our tolerance of all peoples regardless of sex, race or class. To lose such values we shall score our ethnic own goal and be defeated as we were in the Euro 2000 football competition."

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