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American dad defends Swedish mother

David Landes · 18 Aug 2011, 16:21

Published: 18 Aug 2011 16:21 GMT+02:00

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“The people who reported the incident to the police were there when my wife came out of the restaurant,” the father, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Local.

“They were hysterical, screamed at her in front of our child, told her she was a bad mother and there should be laws against people like her having children.”

The incident took place last Friday outside the Bueno y Sano taco bar in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small college town in the eastern United States.

The infant's Swedish mother left her son in his stroller while she went into the eatery to order her food.

Witnesses who called police claimed the baby was left alone for 10 minutes, although the Swedish woman insists she was able to see the child through the restaurant window.

Police who arrived on the scene interviewed the Swedish mother about what had happened while at the same time being forced to calm down the people who reported the incident.

“Police officers had to chase the people away and order them to leave the scene. They were hysterical,” according to the Swedish woman's account of the incident, as retold by the father.

“No charges are filed. No one was arrested. She left the scene with our child moments after the incident and the police interviewing her.”

An official from social services did pay a visit to the couple's home following the incident, but no further action is expected to be taken.

“It's all over,” said the father.

Nevertheless, his Swedish wife remains shaken by the event.

“She was frightened. American police carry guns and it's scary to have police approach you in a foreign country,” he said.

The father explained that his wife had just returned to the United States after spending three months in Sweden and thus “may have been a little lax” in relation to American perceptions for when it's appropriate to leave a child unattended.

In addition, he described the place where the stroller was left as more of a courtyard than a street.

“It's very Swedish to let your baby continue sleeping in the yard after a walk if the baby is sleeping,” he said.

“Our child is super mellow, and loves to hang out in his stroller.”

The father added that he had no problem with his wife's actions.

“It doesn't bother me at all,” he said.

While he admitted he wouldn't have left the infant outside a restaurant in the United States, his decision not to do so would be less for the child's safety than for fear of upsetting passers-by.

“I know how insane Americans are about this issue,” he said.

“One bad incident happens somewhere, and 300 million people all hear about it on the news and get hysterical and paranoid.”

Story continues below…

The father believes the fact that the incident became blown out of proportion stems in part from differences in how Americans and Swedes use strollers.

“One of the reasons Stockholmers leave strollers around is because they don't drive, they walk, and therefore have these monstrous sized strollers. They buy strollers for strolling, and they do a lot of it,” he said.

“American strollers are designed to fold up small are fit into cars which is how 99 percent of Americans transport their children around.  Strollers are rarely used to transport children because Americans drive everywhere, so they use small strollers that pack into cars.”

As a result, he argues, Americans aren't used to seeing large strollers parked outside of restaurants and cafés, a common sight in Stockholm and other European cities.

“You can go watch from the inside of a store and see that the child is just fine for almost any amount of time in Sweden,” he said.

“Here in the states, you can't do that.  People will instantly crowd around the child and make a giant scene.”

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David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:36 August 18, 2011 by mame88
Hmmm...went to uni in Amherst - usually the Happy Valley stoner crowd is so fried from their morning wake and bake session that they barely know what year it is. Guess things have changed.
17:41 August 18, 2011 by Uggla
Well there are sickos and perverts in both America and Sweden. There is always risks when leaving your child alone window or no window.
18:28 August 18, 2011 by StockholmSam
I was so shocked the first time I saw a baby left alone outside (in the snow!) here in Sweden back in 2003. It took some time to get used to it and I still flinch a little bit when I see it. But it is a sad day when passersby go apeshit over such a thing. Too bad society has come to this, but Sweden really is much safer than the US...at least it seems to be if the newspapers are to be believed. Paranoia will destroy ya.
18:39 August 18, 2011 by Frobobbles
StockholmSam, you write that you found a baby left alone in the snow. I do not believe you.
19:02 August 18, 2011 by Boar
They let the child be outside in all kinds of weather conditions here in Sweden. So, that the child gets used to the extreme situations instead of being raised as a sensitive child.
19:02 August 18, 2011 by per1970

Ofcouse he doesnt ment in the snow, but in a stroller when it was snow, or winter, and I bet the kid was all tucked and warm.

And as I read about this on other sites awall, maybe we should more reflect on how the societys changed over the years, and the ppl.
19:03 August 18, 2011 by Boar
And more over they don't carry the child just like Americans carry all the time. That I do not know why.
19:13 August 18, 2011 by Watchtower777
Perhaps we should send all the USA pedophiles to Sweden since you are all so eager to leave your children unattended and easy prey!
19:39 August 18, 2011 by glamelixir
USA, Sweden or anywhere around the world. A child should never be left unattended.

This just reminded me of Soul asylum's song runaway train. Remember anyone?
19:49 August 18, 2011 by Rockieslovey
Americans are nuts. Unfortunately, I live among them. I have raised 4 happy, healthy, home schooled, relaxed boys. Our society is so quick to attack and judge others. It's like a 'pack' mentality in schools and in the work place. I feel sorry for this woman. And I envy the Swedish, laid back way of life. I also did not trust 'ANYONE' with my sons. I never had a babysitter other than grandma. I now have 4 well mannered, happy teens.
20:08 August 18, 2011 by muscle
As far as i have seen the swedish mothers loving their children, i can not imagine that they would leave their baby outside even for a while. We had a SFI teacher, a young adult swede. When we invited her to get together she brought her child with herself. All the time she was keeping an eye on him, what he is eating (yes we eat VERY SPICY FOOD). And while she was cooking, I tried to play with the kid and gave him a small ice cream scoop. and then i realized perhaps it was wrong to give him ice cream.

So when I asked her "j####a is it ok if i give the kid the ice cream"

And she replied.." you have already given it I see.. and it is perfectly fine"

BUT.. though i dont think she turned even a sec to see what I was doing, still she knew what the kid is doing at least!
20:50 August 18, 2011 by hipersons1
"American police carry guns and it's scary to have police approach you in a foreign country." I can think of no more compelling of a reason to take Cops off primetime TV in Sweden.
21:52 August 18, 2011 by Schwoebel
If it were the American dad in Sweden the wife would have turned on him in a heartbeat in order to conform more with "Her people" against that evil Amerikan.
23:49 August 18, 2011 by Just_Kidding
@ Schowebel: Exactly; LOL!
06:18 August 19, 2011 by Rishonim
I have seeing little kids left unattended in the back seat of a car at a shopping centre parking lot in Värmdö. I am of the believe that Swedish parent don't really have any love for the kids and that they have them simple because it is the popular thing do. A very close friend two year old little girl was sexually molested at her daycare in Djursholm and would you believe the brain dead dad decided not to file charges against the school and perpetrator because and I will quote him "we don't want to be seeing as the neighborhood troublemakers; furthermore, these sort of things happens all the time in schools across the country"
06:55 August 19, 2011 by bells on the knight
No point comparing the good, the bad and the ugly. US of A loses hands down when it comes to abuse, molestation, kidnapping, drug abuse, corruption, murders, porn production etc etc.

The right DNA is not necessarily given to all Gods children.
08:32 August 19, 2011 by cranky_yankee
Wow bells on the knight sounds like you are a US of A expert ! Seems like the horrible red, white and blue win the parenting award "hands down" though.

I am sure you have molestations, kidnappers, drug abusers and corruption in your country of "correct DNA "just nobody talks about it. That is probably why a baby can be left unattended. Those things that are frowned upon the most, Swedes simply look the other way. I know I have spent a fair amount of time in Sweden and in the presence of Swedes, NOT and intimate nor empathetic bunch!

I wouldn't leave my child unattended in any country and I most definitely wouldn't raise my child in Sweden.
08:38 August 19, 2011 by eppie
She should sue the hell out of those people that started screaming like maniacs in front of her child. I think she can manage to walk away with 100.000 dollars. Just give them a taste of their own medicine.
10:13 August 19, 2011 by Grindsprint
This is so weird! Why do people pretend that swedes do this regularly? I don´t know anyone who would leave their child outside, I have never seen a child left outside.

Btw, did you hear about the american woman who was on pcp and roasted her baby in the oven? That is the strangest american custom! Now THAT would take some getting used to...
10:42 August 19, 2011 by 0007
crazy americans
11:10 August 19, 2011 by gherhardt
It doesn't matter what country you visit (or emigrate to) you must respect that country and adjust to how they do things. Swedish mom was innocent of any wrong doing, but the scandalized Americans were not wrong either.

I feel bad for the mom and her experience with American police; I've been to an Asian country where police walk the streets with semi-automatic machine guns... it is very scary!
11:44 August 19, 2011 by Shibumi

Re-posting here the comment I posted in the original TL story. It does happen regularly where I live.

"I have lived in Stockholm for over 4 years and I have seen sleeping babies in prams outside of cafes in Vasastan (upscale part of Sthlm) in the middle of winter on at least a dozen occasions. The parents were watching the prams from the inside of the cafe behind the glass storefront. The babies were always sleeping very peacefully. My man and I were a bit shocked at first... not by the abduction risk, but by the cold. However, the babies were warmly clothed of course and the cold didn't seem to bother them one bit. The parent could have probably reached the pram within a handful of seconds if needed. Not 100% safe, but not the end of the world either. "
12:47 August 19, 2011 by gabeltoon
I grew up in SCOTLAND in the 50's and it was common place to see prams in gardens with baby sleeping.I grew up healthy and able to withstand the climate changes we have here in SCOTLAND.Now a days it is not so much seen because of all the dangers there are out there.High time society got back to LIVING a healthy life style free of dangers ect,. As for the AMERICANS try living without your car and see how much you will enjoy life,walk everywhere with your kids and interact with your nieghbors.
12:56 August 19, 2011 by Marc the Texan
This is one of the problems I have with American society today. Everyone is so over protective of their kids. Kids can't do anything thing these days unless it's over-supervised, over-organized and covered with foam padding.
13:00 August 19, 2011 by Rishonim
To gabeltoon. The US has a population of 300M and to think all those people drive cars is just plain idiotic and ignorant. You are talking as if Swedes actually interact with their neighbors when they go for a stroll. When you go to a country you respect their laws and customs otherwise stay home in your little moronic society. In Singapore you are not allowed to spit in the streets and I can imagine anyone of you geniuses would dare to break that law.
13:36 August 19, 2011 by gabeltoon
To RISHONIM. My friend you sound as though you have an axe to grind.I was meerly stating the way i was brought up in SCOTLAND.It never did me any harm.If we all got back to that way of living we would all get on better. I do hope you are having a nice day.:)
14:13 August 19, 2011 by Rick Methven

I'm with you, I was brought up in Wales in the 40's and it was normal to have babies out in the garden sleeping in the fresh air. As it is here in Sweden. Our next door neighbour leaves her 2 babies outside in their prams in the garden and right now there is a baby sleeping in a pram outside the dagis across the road. Not only is it much healthier, it is also quieter for the child. My granddaughter spends a lot of time in the garden with a baby alarm in the pram to alert her mother if she wakes and cries. Often what you hear is not crying but just happy noises as the child enjoys nature
14:37 August 19, 2011 by Nytorp
Amherst, Massachusetts is a multi college town with an incredibly leftist plurality. They are very happy to tell other people that their car is too loud, smoky, ugly--whatever. I am a Democrat but still refuse to talk about politics with anyone when I am there. I am not surprised someone there would use the excuse of a seemingly unattended baby (if you can see the stroller the situation is well in hand in that town) to vent their "superiority". Go Delta Chi.
14:38 August 19, 2011 by gabeltoon
@RICK METHVEN Seems the old ways were the norm.The type of pushchairs going around these days are more dangerous for the child than it is to leave them outside in fresh air.
15:35 August 19, 2011 by bow290
no matter where u live, when out in public wouldn't u want to be a near as possible to ur defenceless child!? Stockholm recently witnessed a suicide bomber attack. there was also a "runnaway" buss that crashed into people on the sidewalk. Norway is still in shock over what happened there.

something terrible can happen at any time.... and if something was to happen i would want to be as close to my child as possible!

its 2011, times are very different!
15:42 August 19, 2011 by bocale1
Good example of paranoia at highest degree...

Sweden is not Iraq or Afghanistan. I do not see any risk in leaving children out from bars and shops sleeping for a while if you can watch them and be with them in seconds.

In USA it might be so dangerous, I do not know (but I still have my doubts) but in Sweden is not in 99,9% of the places.

Instead of reading crime novels, watch American police movies in TV and read just violent crimes news, why not have a look at the statistics? Violent crimes and homicides are not growing in our European societies, just our anxiety.

Relax and enjoy the life.
18:52 August 19, 2011 by plswun
i remember the first time i saw a stroller outside of a cafe...well, i happen to see about 5 or 6 as i walked past about 5 or 6 cafes in denmark. that was a huge surprise to me as an american. its also weird to see kids that are 5 or 6 years old walking home from school alone. i would think that peoples first priority would be to protect their children. i came to the conclusion that protecting children here in skandinavia has a different definition than it does in america.

the us is a huge country. obviously, that increases the chances that something would happen to a young child left alone. still, one might think that you could assume for every 20 people you come across...at least 1 of them isnt "all there" mentally. with those numbers in mind would you leave a child in a populated area alone? i wouldnt.

i worked with kids in a summer camp in the paswt few weeks and we traveld byt bus or train everyday. can you belive that everyday i noticed adults pushing my kids out of the way on busses and not even stopping for an apology? just treating them line inanimate objects. and i also noticed that almost everytime it was a swedish person older than 50.

20:04 August 19, 2011 by babychuma
Most places in the USA you'd be plenty safe to leave a baby for a moment. The scary crime stats are from inner cities as are most news reporters. Here's a novel idea, how about people everywhere minding their own business and let parents decide whats safe for their kids.
23:06 August 19, 2011 by dizzymoe33
I am an American and even I think the people overreacted to this situation. I personally would not leave a child unattended but that is due to the type of society I have grown up in where there is so many bad people out there. I do feel sorry for how the woman was treated she shouldn't have been treated in this manner.
01:34 August 20, 2011 by AussieAndy
After reading the comments in the article "We never had a single conversation with a Swede" about how "warm, friendly & helpful" Americans are towards people from other countries. It is amazing how no-one explained to the mother what she did was wrong. Instead they called the police & hurled abuse at her "They were hysterical, screamed at her in front of our child, told her she was a bad mother and there should be laws against people like her having children."

Time for those rose tinted glasses to come off.
05:19 August 20, 2011 by bells on the knight
the US is so screwed up.

just look at the wicked child abuse that goes on. anyone heard of 'West Memphis Three' for instance where 3 boys were tied up with their shoe laces, sexually abused and partially castrated before being murdered?
10:08 August 20, 2011 by plswun
I asked my wife how she felt about this. She is 100% Swedish, born and raised is Stockholm. She told me she would never do such a thing. She claimed she has never even seen it before in Sweden and that the Swedes that are defending leaving children outside in strollers must be "from little towns". You can imagine that I'm always challenging the way thins are done or the way people act and think here in Stockholm. My wife is so quick to defend Swedish culture. But this time it didn't happen. ????
18:55 August 20, 2011 by Toffee_apple
You leave a DOG outside a restaurant or shop, not a CHILD.

Anything could more likely have happened in USA than Sweden. But in my 12 years in Sweden I have never seen or heard of children being left outside as mentioned in the above article or like other posters have described here.

I come from Australia and I'm pretty sure Australians would have reacted the same way as these "psycho" Americans have. If I would leave my child unattended in such a way I wouldn't blame people for reacting psycho and calling the police no matter which country I was in.

Today it's a different world. It's only commonsense to not leave a baby/child unattended. So stop hating Americans and start using your heads.
13:52 August 22, 2011 by Amber Dawn
I am American, but I have embraced most Swedish customs. I would NEVER leave a baby outside a cafe in a pram, courtyard or not. I have honestly never seen it done here.
10:17 September 22, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
But yet since 1979 Sweden has been dictating to the rest of the world on how to discipline your child. I'm glad this DID involve a Swedish mother. Show the rest of the world the hypocrisy of Swedes. You don't leave your baby unattended, even if you can see the baby in its pram from inside the restaurant; I don't care if it's in the U.S. OR SWEDEN. It only takes a split second to kidnap a baby. She should have been arrested and spent 3 days in jail like the Italian politician did for pulling his kid's hair. In fact, her case is far more serious: 30 days in jail would be even better.
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