Cameron eyes Swedish paternity leave

David Cameron concluded his visit to Sweden on Tuesday with a visit to a Stockholm parent's group.

Britain’s Conservative Party leader is keen to raise his profile as a family-friendly politician and was able to return home with some fresh ideas on the issue of parental leave.

From his vantage point among a group of children at a parent’s group in the Sofia district of Stockholm, Cameron was able to spot almost as many fathers as mothers.

He had come to meet the group with the intention of finding out more about the progress Sweden had made in terms of encouraging parents to share their allotted parental leave.

Cameron has three children of his own but was only able to take a couple of weeks off work to get to know the latest arrival.

“Everybody wants to spend more time with their children and Sweden allows great flexibility in this regard. It’s a different culture here,” said Cameron.

Mikael Zackrisson attended the parent’s group with his 13-month-old daughter, Sonja. It is five years since he had his first child and he has noticed a marked increase in the number of fathers coming to the group in the intervening period.

“It’s fantastic being home with your child. It feels like you can provide them with security. And you realise that there are other things in life than work,” he said.

Marie Schram is expecting her second child, meaning that she will be on long-term leave with Filippa, her daughter of 13 months.

“Her dad is a bit sad and wants to be home as well, but he will be able to make up for it with the second child,” she said.

The leader of the parent’s group, Marianne Regnell, suggests that the pressure on fathers to stay at home with their kids is a phenomenon specific to the major cities.

“They see and hear about others who are on leave and that makes it easier,” she said.

During his time with the group, Cameron received plenty of useful tips. But he also gained an insight into the one major drawback to parental leave: the lack of sleep.

“We should encourage children to sleep during the night,” he said with a laugh.