• Sweden edition
 
Swedish dads stay home as mothers work

Swedish dads stay home as mothers work

Published: 07 Jun 2013 12:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jun 2013 12:09 GMT+02:00

At the Humlegården park in central Stockholm, Anders Weide keeps an eye on his young daughter Alma sleeping in her pram as he waits for a friend who's gone to change his son's diaper.

In Sweden, the image surprises no one.

"It's very important to see fathers walking in town with prams, it sets an example," explains Malmö University sociologist Lars Plantin, who specializes in parenting issues.

Numerous sociological studies have shown that Swedish fathers are more involved in raising their children and domestic chores than fathers in other countries, Plantin noted.

They frequently drop off and pick up their children at school and accompany them to after-school activities. They take days off work to care for their sick kids, they put band-aids on scrapes and cook meals: Swedish fathers are now expected to share the tasks that once belonged solely to mothers.

In a sign of the times, a monthly magazine called "Pappa" has been published since 2011, targeting "the man who aims to invest time in his children, his relationships and his career."

Even at the highest levels of business and politics, fathers are involved in family life and the home.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has often spoken of his passion for hoovering and cleaning. While he and his ex-wife Filippa may now be divorced with three children, when they were married she was able to climb the ladder of her own political career while he ran the country's affairs.

Since 1976, couples who separate or divorce in Sweden are by default awarded joint custody, with many children spending one week with mum and one week with dad.

"The prevailing thinking is that the child does best when he or she has good relationships with both parents, which encourages the idea of joint custody," says Anna Singer, a professor of civil law at Uppsala University.

"The system encourages fathers to take their responsibilities, it has encouraged people," she adds.

Sweden's long tradition of gender equality naturally plays a role.

"Gender equality is a prerequisite for Sweden to progress. It's not a purely ideological issue, it's an economic one also," Plantin says.

Sweden "can't afford to have half its population excluded from the job market. It's not about leaving the men at home, but getting women to work more," he explains.

Official figures from Eurostat show that 77.2 percent of women in Sweden held down a job in 2011, the highest level in the European Union.

Children are guaranteed a spot in day care from the age of 12 months for a very modest sum, making it possible for women to return to work.

Yet Sweden still has a way to go in terms of equality in the workplace.

While 82 percent of children have two working parents, only 42 percent of women work full-time compared to 74 percent of men, according to Statistics Sweden.

And when it comes to what is considered the symbol of gender equality, Sweden's generous 16-month parental leave that can be taken by either mothers or fathers, women still take the majority of it, claiming 75 percent.

When it was introduced in 1974, mothers took 99.5 percent of it. When one month was reserved for fathers in 1995 under a "use it or lose it" system, fathers slowly began staying home with their children.

In 2002, a second month was reserved for fathers, and they have no excuse not to take it: parental leave can be used any time up until the child turns eight years old.

"We're heading in the right direction, but it's going too slowly," says Ulrika Haggström, analyst at the TCO white collar workers' union.

She thinks at least three months should be reserved for dads.

For Anders Weide in the park, spending time with his daughter was a "natural" choice. He has been home with her on paternity leave since January.

"I would have missed out on the relationship I have with Alma if I hadn't done it. We're closer as a family," he says. Employed in healthcare, he plans to go back to work in September.

While employers have to let both mothers and fathers take their parental leave, some workplaces are more understanding than others.

"My colleagues, especially the men, weren't very understanding," admits Set

Moklint, 31, who works as an emergency call centre operator.

But he welcomes the extra economic incentive provided by the Social Insurance Agency: parents who share their parental leave both get a bonus throughout their leave.

"It gives us 120 euros ($155) extra each per month. We would have done it even without the bonus, but it helps," he says.

Fathers' involvement in the home also plays a part in Sweden's high birth rate, according to Lotta Persson, an analyst at Statistics Sweden.

In 2011, with 1.9 children per woman, the Scandinavian country came in just behind Ireland and France in Eurostat's statistics.

AFP/The Local/og

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm
Minehunter HMS Koster takes part in the search in the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Search for foreign vessel continues off Stockholm

Sweden's armed forces were continuing to search for the cause of apparent "foreign underwater activity" in the Stockholm Archipelago on Monday. But the military denied news agency reports that they had imposed an exclusion zone. READ  

Ebola crisis
Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days
The Uppsala University Hospital. Photo: TT

Sweden hit by two Ebola false alarms in two days

UPDATED: A patient has been cleared of any Ebola suspicions at the Uppsala University Hospital. It marks the second suspected case in Sweden in two days. READ  

Perspective: ‘Russian sub’ alert
Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters
The HMS Stockholm patrols Jungfrufjärden in the Stockholm archipelago on Monday morning. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Why a foreign vessel lurks in Swedish waters

With Sweden engaged in its biggest domestic military operation since the Cold War, The Local spoke to Johan Wiktorin, a fellow at the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences, to get insight into what’s going on in the Stockholm archipelago. READ  

My Swedish Career
US woman starts up Swedish toy store online
Leigh Neil and a llama hand puppet. Photo: Private

US woman starts up Swedish toy store online

For this week's My Swedish Career we meet Leigh Neil, who one day came to realize that there was a gap in the Swedish market for children's toys and decided to do something about it. READ  

Stockholm 'Russian sub' alert
No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch
A CB90-class fast assault craft at Kullbäling, a small island in Stockholm's archipelago. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

No truth to Russia's submarine claim: Dutch

The Netherlands on Monday denied a Russian claim that a mystery vessel the Swedish military has been looking for could be Dutch. READ  

Lufthansa Strike
Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike
Grounded Lufthansa planes. Photo: TT

Over 20 Swedish flights hit by Lufthansa strike

A strike by pilots at German airline Lufthansa will affect over 20 flights in and out of Sweden over the next two days. READ  

National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Photo: Shutterstock

Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars

A dentist in western Sweden is offering free dental care to his town's Roma begging population. READ  

Business & Money
Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts
Photo: TT

Electrolux profit soars after cost-cutting efforts

Swedish electrical appliance maker Electrolux reported its third-quarter net profit soared 42 percent to 933 million kronor ($130 million) thanks to a cost-cutting programme started at the end of last year. READ  

National
School photographer fired for homophobic slur
Photo credit: Shutterstock

School photographer fired for homophobic slur

A photographer at a high school in southern Sweden was sacked after he called one of the students a "fag" during a shoot. READ  

Ebola crisis
Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

Patient in isolation after airport Ebola alert

A male passenger who landed at Stockholm's Arlanda airport has been transferred to an isolation unit amid fears he may be suffering from the Ebola virus. But a specialist was keen to play down concerns. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
National
Sweden deploys troops over underwater threat
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Blog updates

19 October

Getting it (Blogweiser) »

"Follow Joel Sherwood on FB Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses..." READ »

 

17 October

Editor’s Blog, Oct 17th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Here’s the whole week of news in just 60 seconds. The most-read story was about a..." READ »

 
 
 
National
A Touch of Scandinavia: Reindeer in the kitchen
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Lifestyle
Sweden's The Bridge to become 'more Danish'
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Politics
Ten new minister faces you should know
Tech
First womb transplant baby in world born in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 5th
National
What's on in Sweden
National
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
Society
Interview with Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Gallery
Stefan Löfven through the years
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

984
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN