• Sweden's news in English
 

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

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 20 May 2014, 06:33

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
Smuggling Swede busted using fake leg casts
The man had made sure he could move his knees. Photo: Erhan Güner/TT

Smuggling Swede busted using fake leg casts

2 hours ago

A 49-year-old Swede sealed his own fate after trying to smuggle drugs in fake leg casts – and then getting caught when he tried to run while wearing them. A Dubai court has now sentenced him to ten years in jail.

Swedish woman hit by first Airbnb rent ‘ban’
The apartment is located in Stockholm's trendy Södermalm neighbourhood. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Swedish woman hit by first Airbnb rent ‘ban’

6 hours ago

A woman in Stockholm has been banned from renting out her apartment via the home-sharing website Airbnb after a rent tribunal likened the letting with running a "hotel business" on the premises.

Swedish man feared dead after joining Isis
An image of fighters published on a website for Islamic State militants in June. Photo: Uncredited/TT

Swedish man feared dead after joining Isis

3 hours ago

A man from central Sweden who is believed to have been fighting alongside Isis is reported to have been killed.

Stockholm schools to teach LGBT lessons
Sweden has earned top marks for its attitude towards the LGBT community. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

Stockholm schools to teach LGBT lessons

4 hours ago

Sweden's famously gender equal capital is now planning to spend millions of kronor on lessons to teach 'LGBT-awareness' to schoolchildren.

Migrant crisis
Swedes take 600 rescued migrants to dock in Italy
Some of the migrants reached by the Swedish coastguard on Wednesday. Photo: Swedish coastguard

Swedes take 600 rescued migrants to dock in Italy

9 hours ago

A Swedish coastguard ship carrying more than 600 migrants plucked from boats drifting off Libya's coast was to dock in Palermo late on Thursday, Swedish officials said. But 52 of those on board are understood to be dead.

Ikea stops selling alcohol at Swedish restaurants
The alcohol is gradually being phased out. Photo: Bjorn Lindgren/TT

Ikea stops selling alcohol at Swedish restaurants

9 hours ago

Global flat-pack furniture giant Ikea is in the midst of clearing out all the alcoholic beverages from shelves in the restaurants at its Swedish stores, after alcohol sales dwindled.

Sweden pushes for emergency UN Isis talks
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: Vilhelm/TT

Sweden pushes for emergency UN Isis talks

11 hours ago

Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström is calling for a United Nations emergency meeting to discuss the violence towards women and children by the terror group Isis which she says is "unmatched in modern times".

Nordic Noir
Desperate fans queue for Millennium sequel book
The book on sale in Stockholm. Photo: Henrik Montgoery/TT

Desperate fans queue for Millennium sequel book

12 hours ago

The eagerly-awaited sequel to best-selling Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium crime trilogy hit store shelves in 25 countries on Thursday, as the author admitted he wrote the book in a manic depressive state.

What's on in Sweden
Six reasons to stay outdoors this week
Seinabo Sey will perform at Popaganda festival in Stockholm. Photo: Terje Bendiksby/TT

Six reasons to stay outdoors this week

13 hours ago

We don't want to scare you, but the autumn is drawing in. So this week we've pulled together six fun events to help you make the most of the end of summer, alongside our regular interactive listings.

New pole vault record but no medal for Swede
Sweden's Angelica Bengtsson. Photo: TT/AP/Andy Wong

New pole vault record but no medal for Swede

1 day ago

Swedish athletics star Angelica Bengtsson set a new Swedish pole vault record of 4.70 metres at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, but failed to take home a bronze for the Nordic nation.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
Blog updates

21 August

Editor’s blog, August 21st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Sweden takes in more refugees per capita than any other EU nation, and this weeks..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
National
Are anti-immigration nationalists really now Sweden's biggest party?
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin in anti racism drive
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
National
IN PICTURES: Shoppers pay tribute to Ikea stabbing victims
Technology
Danish 'monster' pulled out of Swedish waters
National
Bizarre baby baptism for hockey fan
Gallery
Property of the week: Löderup, Ystad
National
Sunshine brightens up Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: August 7th-9th
National
Shocking video sheds light on Swedish 'anti-gay discrimination'
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Lifestyle
Five great music festivals in Sweden
National
Controversial anti-begging posters torn down in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: August 5th
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
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

3,197
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