With the children in the freezing cold on a bicycle or already for a ride of 5 km by car?

Father: “My wife and I look after our children aged 5 and 9 on different days. We bring them to dance class, school and swimming class. The person performing the task chooses the mode of transport. I do things as much as possible by bike, even in the freezing cold. We live in a city and most trips are no further than 5 kilometers. My wife prefers bus or car.

“In the winter months we have serious arguments about this. My wife has Polish nationality and in Poland children are wrapped up very warmly because of the idea: children should be protected from the cold. My wife gets very angry when I come home with the kids on my bike in colder weather. She then thinks that I do not pay close attention to the health of our children.

“We often have differences of opinion when it comes to the health of the children, whether or not to visit a doctor, to ask for medication; my wife is more concerned than me. How do you best deal with that as a couple?”

Name is known to the editor. This section is anonymous, because difficulties in upbringing are sensitive. Would you like to present a dilemma? Mail your question to [email protected]

Avoid over-concern

Marga Akkerman: “It is wise to distinguish between opinions and facts. If you ask the doctor what is healthy, the answer will be: cold does not make you sick. People used to think so, but that idea has been abandoned on scientific grounds. So there is no need to pack a child the Polish way, but there is nothing against it either. Your original idea: whoever does the transport does it at his own discretion, so it can also apply to the winter.

“There is a difference of opinion between you about what your youngest daughter needs. Those differences come from your own beliefs, and don’t seem to be based on what this girl can handle. Let’s look at the facts now. She can cycle 5.5 km with her father, and she does not protest when she goes by car with her mother. So it’s a great solution for her.

“Apparently mother is afraid of her daughter getting sick. It’s important to find out what that’s based on. If your daughter is raised with overprotectiveness, there is a risk that she will take over that worry, which can affect her self-confidence.”

Cold strengthens the immune system

Louis Bont: “Take your child outside as much as possible, that’s the message for this time of year. This applies from the first weeks of life. It is a common idea that children are ‘caught by the cold’. None of that is true. Whether it’s ten degrees outside or minus ten, viruses don’t float around outside. Viruses spread through cough or hand contact.

“People often think that the cold makes children more vulnerable, that their defenses are weakened because the cold would break down their protection. That is also not true. Cold, even extreme cold, may actually strengthen the immune system and therefore lead to a decrease in the risk of infection. The heating inside is more harmful: it disrupts the normal mechanism by which the throat and nose clear bacteria. So taking your child outside is a good way to keep them healthy.

“That’s not to say that a child shouldn’t be wrapped up nicely, but that’s to avoid an unpleasant experience.

“Don’t worry about this together. It’s not that important. Do not smoke in the house and wear a helmet on the bicycle to prevent brain damage; that is important.”