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'Why I fled the Stockholm toddler ghetto for Berlin'

The Local
post 21.Jan.2013, 02:15 PM
Post #1
Location: Stockholm
Joined: 22.Dec.2004

Do we still have to define adulthood as wanting to have children, asks freelance writer Tomas Hemstad who fled Stockholm's middle class offspring boom for Berlin where childless adults are treated with respect.

"You shouldn't hang out with heterosexuals," my 40-year-old partner once told me. I was about 20 at the time and thought it was an odd comment. He then elaborated.

"They will abandon you once they have kids. Then you won't hear from them for ten years, until they get divorced and then all of a sudden they'll call you up because they want to go out dancing. And they'll act like they never disappeared in the first place."

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Migga
post 21.Jan.2013, 03:07 PM
Post #2
Joined: 26.Jul.2011

You`ll get your respect when you stop refering to parents with children as smug. Why behave in the same manner that you criticise others to do? You can go dancing in Sweden for as long as you want, the only one stopping you is you. Why care about others and the norms? Are you so focused on what others think? Instead of running away to your glorified mirage of Berlin you should have dealt with your insecurity and built up your self esteem. If you want respect here then how are you going to do that all the way from Berlin?
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Rishonim
post 21.Jan.2013, 03:31 PM
Post #3
Joined: 21.Aug.2010

@Tomas, spot on. I would also add the tendency of couples to feel threatened when one of their friend get divorced/separated. They somehow avoid that single friend. They no longer get invited over for dinner or family events. The reason being is that they are afraid the recently single friend will make a move on their partner.
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Nomark
post 21.Jan.2013, 04:07 PM
Post #4
Joined: 25.Sep.2006

I'm not sure why the author chooses to frame his argument in terms of parents/children. It sounds to me like the author has just discovered that Germany is very different to Sweden. Such differences are particularly manifest when one compares life in the major cities.
Regarding the comment " I'd like to see that adulthood isn't synonymous with parenthood." In view of the need to produce a younger generation to keep the society going it should be fairly synonymous.
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Siq
post 21.Jan.2013, 04:45 PM
Post #5
Joined: 27.Jul.2011

A really interesting article. I find the same problem, entering my 30s, that all my friends are having children now and the question me and my partner get asked is "when" are we going to have kids, assuming that as a normal couple this is all we could possibly want to do with our lives. In fact, we're undecided. We both like kids, but neither of us is sure we want the next 18+ years of our lives to revolve around them.
Maybe it's a bit much to call them smug but I have noticed more than a few of new parents seem to pity anyone who hasn't had kids. But to be fair I was equally unbearable when I first got into a serious relationship, pitying all my single friends, which was pretty patronizing now I look back on it. We all need to be a bit more open minded when people decide to do something different. Unfortunately, in Sweden, being different is much harder than in most European countries and not wanting a family in this country does make you different.
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*Guest*
post 21.Jan.2013, 05:29 PM
Post #6


I'm 29 and just had my first child. And I feel no more or less adult than I felt before parenthood. I think what makes you an adult is about a lot more than having children, which is possible regardless of maturity. And I think the problem is caused by both sides, I have certainly noticed a change in attitude from friends who don't have children regardless of my attitude towards them. I think it's only natural that most of us gravitate towards people who can relate to our life experiences and having children is, for those who choose to, one of those experiences. I do however think it's wrong that any of us should believe our choices makes us better, or more adult, or that they are something that constitutes the norm.
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Reason and Realism
post 21.Jan.2013, 06:14 PM
Post #7
Joined: 8.Oct.2012

China has imposed a one child law (at least in major cities), and this is commendable at least insofar as it will reduce the consumption of the planet's resources, but any reduction in the amount of children will strain economies that are based on capitalistic and government fiscal systems that are based on pyramid rather than pillar shaped age distributions.
If the West starts to generate fewer children as the result of a growing cultural phenomenon, and if the West can live with the financial consequences of a pillar shaped age distribution, then this is not all bad for the planet or for society, particularly if the birth rate reduction is by choice.
And making this change by choice is in fact better than what is occuring in China, where the forced one child policy is leading to an increasing shortage of girls as a result of adoption exports, and other less pleasant alternatives.
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Mina08
post 21.Jan.2013, 06:22 PM
Post #8
Joined: 27.Apr.2009

Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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Clando
post 21.Jan.2013, 06:38 PM
Post #9
Joined: 26.Apr.2012

Thinking of yourself as more adult (for whatever reason) is completely childish. Reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote.
"Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
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redfish
post 21.Jan.2013, 08:00 PM
Post #10
Joined: 16.Jul.2009

@Clando:
I wouldn't say for whatever reason. Lets say two men have responsibilities, one is shirking his responsibilities and being lazy and borrowing money from his parents, the other one is taking care of his responsibilities and making a life for himself. The latter is both more "adult" and more admirable.
C.S. Lewis was talking about something else entirely. He was talking about pretensions. For example, the pretension that folk tales stops being interesting when you're older, or cartoons stop being entertaining. In one of his books, he mocked the idea that wearing makeup and looking to attract boys is more mature than going on fantastic adventures.
I don't think you need to have children to be adult, or even have a partner to be adult. I have to say that I think *some* of the attitudes behind wanting kids to be childish in a bad way. For some people they just have other things in mind for their life that would take away time from raising children, which is fine. That's not childish at all, never mind in a bad way. For other people, however, they don't have other things in mind for their life, they just have a kind of self-centered attitude and couldn't think of themselves devoting time to raising children. That is childish in a bad way.
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EtoileBrilliant
post 21.Jan.2013, 08:10 PM
Post #11
Joined: 28.Feb.2007

You write so well, it's difficult to see how the disconnect occurred between "you" as as a product of two loving parents (assuming that you were the result of a heterosexual relationship) and your attitude to children.
Having children is the single most most unselfish act in the world. I'ts not that your friends turn their backs on you, for the most part, they have no other life than their children, not even for themselves. In other words, they give everything to their children.
As an aide. Germany has a naturally shrinking demographic (-0.5% pa). On the odd occasion the population grows, this is solely due to immigration. With a childless Head of State, it's not surprising birth rates are down.
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godnatt
post 21.Jan.2013, 10:27 PM
Post #12
Joined: 23.Jul.2011

Yes, god forbid you should ever grow up...
It may be a shocker but life doesn't end after children. Shockingly, many of us actually continue to have fun, get wasted sometimes and have social lives even after suffering the horrific burden of child rearing.
Your self absorption is really going to bite you in the butt later when you're the lonely creepy old guy lurking around the club and the rest of us are busy taking our adult kids to dinner to badger them to pop out grandkids.
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wabasha
post 22.Jan.2013, 08:51 AM
Post #13
Joined: 16.Feb.2008

population of berlin: 3.5 million
population of Stockholm: 2.1 million
it was a nice read but not shocking that the writer found more like minded people in berlin.
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Byggare Bob
post 22.Jan.2013, 11:43 AM
Post #14
Joined: 1.Apr.2007

Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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grymagnusson
post 22.Jan.2013, 12:02 PM
Post #15
Joined: 22.Nov.2010

More than 60% of households in Stockholm are single occupancy, so the 'toddler ghetto' analogy simply doesn't hold.
What your article seems to be expressing is more a general feeling that the city has changed away from you and has in some way been taken from you. And you have decided to single out parents and children to blame.
Fine. You left. And I must admit that Stockholm's gentrified conformity makes the cheap rents in bohemian Berlin tempting. Easy living for freelance culture people with external income sources. Nice.
Wait a year or two though and when your funky, rundown neighbourhood (read cheap) follows the same process of gentrification and wealthier hipster-wannabees move in and push up the rents. Maybe then you'll be able to understand the feeling which Berliners do now after the recent influx of Swedes and others who have moved to their city and claimed it as their own.
In the meantime, enjoy the ride and enjoy the feeling of smug satisfaction that viewing Sweden from the outside so often seems to evoke among its expats.
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