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Is Sweden a good place to bring up kids?

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Is Sweden a good place to bring up kids?
Photo: Henrik Trygg, imagebank.sweden.se
12:57 CET+01:00
Every week we ask a panel of readers to discuss an aspect of life in Sweden. This week: raising children.

Robert Flahiff

Robert Flahiff

Without question, this is the primary reason I am here. Sweden is an absolutely fantastic place to raise a child or ten, starting from conception right through to young adulthood. When you factor in pre-natal and childhood healthcare combined with family-friendly policies and support from Försäkringskassan [Social Insurance Agency], and then throw in good schooling, safe neighborhoods, and liberal benefits for working parents, a family cannot lose.

This is one area I can rightly lord over my friends back home in the States - they are continuously shocked and jealous of the system and the social support system around children here. Every survey places Sweden in the top three countries to raise children, and if it isn't the best, I have a tough time imagining how much better another country could be. I have many issues with many things Swedish, but this is one area that I will praise, and praise rightly.

Sanna Holmqvist

Sanna Holmqvist

Well - yes! Any Swede you ask will say that Sweden is fantastic to bring up kids in, probably the best place in the world. We are very convinced of this.

We will point out to you the good (and relatively cheap) childcare, the generous system for parental leave, free schools and education, healthy free school meals, free healthcare for children, free maternity healthcare, lots of good help for children with disabilities or learning difficulties, and, on the whole, the fact that the Swedish society is permeated by the view that children's interest should always be put first and be in focus.

Sweden is also a fairly safe country. You can let your children go out and play on their own and go for a walk to visit friends without being supervised by grownups.

But what I do find interesting is this assumption among Swedes that Sweden is best, beyond any discussion. But in reality, we actually seem to know very little about bringing up children in other countries - except for the negative stories we hear, that confirm our assumptions. I would be interested to hear what might be better in other countries, just to see what we perhaps could learn from them.

Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström

I am quite possibly one of the least likely candidates on the readers' panel to be able to answer this question. I have no children. I am 24 and don't plan on having children for a while. So having children in Sweden is not something that has ever crossed my mind.

That being said, there are the benefits that so many people are familiar with. The maternity and paternity leave, the daycare, childcare centers at stores like IKEA, the allowance handed out by the government for children. It sounds like there are definite benefits.

I spent a few years here as a child being raised and have wonderful memories of it. Playing marbles in the sandbox. Running through the little grove of trees near my house. Going to the park. Life was good.

So sure, Sweden is a good place to bring up kids.

Claudia Tenenblat

Claudia Tenenblat

My husband and I already had two children each when we met so we decided we wouldn't have children together. It was the right decision for us... still, I regret not having "Swedish children".

It seems that that Swedish society is committed to raising the next generation and this commitment is reflected in a series of policies that help parents, such as access to child care, long parental leave not only for mothers but also for fathers, free schools and health care among other things.

In addition to that, life is easy with small children here, at least much easier than in my country: sidewalks are wide and have ramps, buses lower their entrances to allow pushchairs in, it's generally safe to let children play outside.

Of course, during the winter months, the babies look like they are anesthetized by the cold, being pushed around town in their prams, but the bad weather is a small price to pay. Maybe I will help bring up my grandchildren in Sweden?

Nicolas Belloni

Nicolas Belloni

I haven't experienced it so much honestly, but it seems so. There is a lot of nature, a lot of space, even in cities, for instance there are cycle paths everywhere. Sweden has a good education system and it is a fairly safe country. I don't see any good arguments not to.

Carina Silfverduk

Carina Silfverduk

Sweden is an excellent place to bring up children. Besides the obvious free healthcare for all children, policies allowing for parental leave support a healthy family life.

My friends here in Sweden are shocked that most companies in the US only give six weeks off from work after having a child and that many working parents in the States use up their vacation time caring for sick children.

The parental leave to care for a newborn and to care for a sick child once a parent has returned to work supports a strong family. Work environments are usually understanding about the need to care for children.

One of the reasons I came to Sweden is because it is such a child friendly place. Both of my children have medical conditions that require regular doctor visits. I never have to worry about whether I can afford it or take the time off to take them to the appointments.

I've also found that the medical care that my children receive far exceeds the care that we experienced in the United States for their conditions. Recently, one of my daughters was in the hospital for a week and when she returned home, she required full time supervision for several weeks. My employer was more than understanding about my need to take leave, where I once lost my job in the US over the need to take time to care for a sick child.

In addition, I find that almost every place I go has something child oriented available to entertain children. I find that Swedes are more likely to allow a child to be a child. It's not uncommon to see youngsters having a grand time running through the mall a step ahead of their parents.

The strollers are built to last with large wheels promising easier access to just about everything and the possibility to go 'off road.' Parents put a special emphasis on being the best parents they can be.

Lastly, most people I meet want to have a family. It seems to be considered the goal in life. This is far different than the majority of American men (and some women) who are afraid of commitment and reluctant to have children. I've seen first hand that Americans are much more career oriented and much less child and family minded than the people in here in Sweden.

Nabeel Shehzad

Nabeel Shehzad

Absolutely, yes.

Free high quality education, good medical facilities, a low crime and and the most generous parental leave in the world makes Sweden a perfect place to bring up kids.

In response to high taxes, government gives good financial benefits which lessen the worries of parents bringing up kids.

The only worry to me is the extremely materialistic society around the kid, which leads to the bonds between kids and parents being very weak. But this can be solved if parents spend more time with the kids and develop a strong bond which will help them in future.

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