• Sweden's news in English
 

'Swedes see children as equals not as monsters': French au pair

Published: 20 May 2014 06:33 GMT+02:00

“French people think Swedish children are little princes and princesses whose parents are afraid of being jailed if they discipline their children,” Cuerq tells The Local. “But this is mostly a myth that is used by parents who want to continue hitting their children.”

In reaction to this situation Cuerq has produced a French/Swedish film which is in part a tribute to Swedish society with regards to children and an information film aimed at persuading the French to remove physical punishment from their parental repertoire.

The film entitled, "If I'd known... I would have been born in Sweden," is self-financed and features on the website of French children's rights group The Observatory of Ordinary Disciplinary Violence (l'Observatoire de la Violence Educative Ordinaire - OVEO).

Cuerq tells The Local that there is strong opposition in France to a law similar to Sweden’s ground-breaking 1979 move to ban all forms of physical punishment in the home, but still her film has gained a significant response.

“Most of the reactions have been very positive. Although many are connected to this issue in some way. I don’t know if it has reached out to other groups, those who may be more inclined to disagree,” she says.

“Almost 17,000 have seen it,” she adds.

The film is divided into three parts with the first specifically addressing corporal punishment, the second about Sweden’s pre-school system and the third about attitudes to children in society in general.

This is where, Cuerq argues, the gulf in attitudes really manifests itself between her country of origin and her adopted home for the past four years.

“This is perhaps the country which works best in the whole world. There is greater freedom, more respect. I am still amazed by how much everyone respects each other here. How one listens and takes consideration for each other,” she says.

“In my country children should obey, they should not talk back to their parents at all. It is like a battle and there can be only one winner.”

After a few years' lull, Swedish parenting has been in renewed focus in recent months following a book by psychiatrist David Eberhard entitled “How Children Took Power” in which he advocates a return to authoritarian parenting.

Eberhard questions the Swedish parenting tradition of the past few decades, calling for a tougher approach and linking the "liberal parenting" development to increasing rates of truancy, anxiety and poor school results.

While she hasn’t yet read Eberhard’s book, Cuerq rejects this assertion arguing that you simply have to look at Swedish society to find evidence to the contrary.

“Some people say it has gone too far, but look at society. It works, here and now. We have a generation of children who were never hit as children and who have enjoyed rights. Has it not worked? Is there anarchy everywhere? Of course there isn’t.”

"I can't understand this thinking that kids should have a tough upbringing. It's going to be tough enough anyway."

Eberhard argues that parents should decide more of the time. Cuerq argues that parents should decide some of the time and in her experience as an au pair in three different Stockholm families, this is what happens.

“There are rules, but there is a lot of dialogue also. That is perhaps why overseas Swedish parents are seen as not ‘doing’ anything, because they talk instead with their children,” she says.

Eberhard’s book has received a fair amount of international media coverage which has at times linked his analysis to the decision to outlaw smacking, a point which Eberhard has rejected as erroneous in several interviews.

Cuerq argues that this connection is perhaps made by parents who “simply want to go on hitting their children” and notes similarities with what she calls the “myths” about Swedish parenting which prevail in France.

“I hope that they start to become interested in other countries. They don’t notice other countries in France. They don’t exist. They don’t know that corporal punishment is banned in more than 40 countries, for example - it is not just in Sweden.”

"In France children are seen as monsters, in Sweden as equals," she says.

 

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Arrest over Swedish journalist's Kabul murder
A Stockholm press conference last March on Nils Horner's murder. Photo: TT

Arrest over Swedish journalist's Kabul murder

A suspect has been arrested for the murder of popular Swedish-British national radio journalist Nils Horner last year in Kabul, but in Sweden many questions about the case remain unanswered. READ  

'Nazi' question lands broadcaster in hot water
Crown Princess Victoria in Poland on Tuesday. Photo: TT

'Nazi' question lands broadcaster in hot water

Sweden's public broadcaster SVT was facing a backlash on social media on Wednesday after a reporter asked Crown Princess Victoria about her family's history during her visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. READ  

Fashion giant H&M to grow as profits soar
H&M's profits are growing. Photo: TT

Fashion giant H&M to grow as profits soar

Swedish fashion giant H&M has announced that its profits for 2014 rose by almost a fifth and pledged to speed up its global expansion. READ  

Swedish drug users ‘need’ syringe exchanges
A needle exchange centre in Malmö. Photo: TT

Swedish drug users ‘need’ syringe exchanges

Needle and syringe exchange programmes should be introduced across the country, to reduce the growing risk of hepatitis C, Sweden’s Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) writes in a new report. READ  

The Local List
Ten ways talking in English baffles Swedes
A Viking - sometimes pronounced 'Wiking', in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

Ten ways talking in English baffles Swedes

While Swedes are among the world's best English speakers, there are a few common - and often charming - mistakes The Local's team has spotted while chatting to Swedes in their second language (because yes, of course, it is still better than our Swedish). READ  

'We must never forget the Holocaust'
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the Stockholm Synagogue commemorative ceremony on Tuesday. Photo: TT

'We must never forget the Holocaust'

Sweden marked the sombre 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp on Tuesday at several locations, with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven noting that hate is still a sore reality in Sweden. READ  

Stieg Larsson sequel set for 35 country release
Rooney Mara, star of the English-language film versions of the series. Photo: TT

Stieg Larsson sequel set for 35 country release

A sequel to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium crime trilogy will go on sale in at least 35 countries from August, the book's publishers have announced. READ  

Top ice stars skate into Stockholm's Globe
Spain's Javier Fernandez is hoping to defend his title. Photo: TT

Top ice stars skate into Stockholm's Globe

Some of the world’s top figure skaters are sliding into Sweden’s capital to take place in the European figure skating championships which get underway in Stockholm's Ericsson Globe on Wednesday. READ  

Sweden heading for coldest weekend of 2015
Snowy weather in Stockholm last week. Photo: TT

Sweden heading for coldest weekend of 2015

It's only Tuesday, but meteorologists are already warning that the weekend could the coldest this year, with temperatures dipping below -10C in the south of the country. READ  

Sweden's public radio blocked by 'Nazi' tape
The front door to the offices of P4 Dalarna on Tuesday morning. Photo: Johannes Rosendahl

Sweden's public radio blocked by 'Nazi' tape

Staff at P4 Dalarna radio, which is part of Sweden's national public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio, discovered tape put up by neo-Nazis blocking the entrance to their office's main entrance on Tuesday morning. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
Gallery
Property of the week: Skanör, Vellinge
National
Why Sweden's Left party wants a European 'Red Spring'
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
Blog updates

26 January

The mysterious -s, part 1 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! How is your Swedish coming along? A while ago I read on a forum on The..." READ »

 

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's hottest new fashion designers for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who travels on Stockholm's different subway lines?
Lifestyle
Why this Swedish baby is a US hit
Lifestyle
'Limousine' snowplough for sale
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Gallery
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm's 'no pants' subway day 2015
Gallery
People-watching: January 10th - 11th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Stockholm holds Charlie Hebdo rally
National
Have you seen Sweden's viral children's 'genital' song?
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Sponsored Article
How to jump-start your career in southern Sweden
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

1,113
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options