The Eriksen Family
Almost 5 years ago this family of five left Denmark to live in the United States. Henriette's husband Claus works for a Milwaukee based company and together they decided to relocate with their son Mads (now 10) and the twins Sara and Christian (now 7). They settled down in Brookfield because that is where they found a school they loved. And because there are lots of children in the area for their kids to play with.
Soon they noticed however that the Danes have a different view on child's play. Back in Denmark children are playing outside most of the time. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. They are being encouraged to climb in trees, take bike rides on rough terrain and jump as high as they can on a trampoline. But in the US people immediately warned the Danish family when they set up their trampoline. They were told they'd better not put it out in the open, because even if a neighborhood child was trespassing and ended up hurting itself on their trampoline, the Danes could be sued. Something that is unthinkable in Denmark.
Higher and faster
There is not always comprehension either for the fact that Henriette and Claus support their children to climb trees. But the higher they climb, the more fun they seem to have. Same with the zip line that is build in their own yard, or the net swing. The faster they go, the more their kids like it. The Danes are not afraid to fall. The Eriksen's believe that when you inspire your children to do things that are challenging and maybe a little scary, they will become confident in doing so. And if the parents of Mads', Sara's and Christian's friends are okay with it, they are more then welcome to join their outdoor fun.
Adventurous or dangerous?
On the other hand most Americans take risks that Danes would never. When Americans ride their bicycles, they protect themselves from injuries by wearing a helmet. But when Americans are driving 80 miles per hour on the freeway with a motorcycle.....they don't! In Summer they often don't even wear any protective gear at all. You can see motorcyclist racing by, only wearing shorts, a sleeveless shirt and flip-flops. Don’t even think about what happens if they crash.
Healthy food for a healthy mind in a healthy body
Another huge risk that the Danes wish to avoid has to do with food. Henriette does not understand why her American friends see more danger in children jumping on trampolines then they do in the unhealthy food they serve their loved ones. There's way to much sodium, to much fat and to much sugar in most American food. As a result, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are among the leading causes of death. That is why they only eat organic, home cooked meals at the Eriksen's home. Denmark has the highest consumption of organic food per capita and the Danish family clearly took that view on sustainable nutrition with them. Henriette makes delicious dishes made from scratch with little salt and no preservatives. And the family seems to do very well on eating healthy and being outside a lot!
All in all the Eriksen’s seem to be finding and enjoying their way in their new country. Despite of the small differences in cultural backgrounds. It was inspiring to see how this family sticks to some customs while also adapting to the American life. Thank you for introducing me to your world Henriette, Claus, Mads, Sara and Christian!