I Kind Of Want To Move To Sweden

Ok, not TOTALLY.  Because I’m not really a big fan of government permeating into personal family affairs.  Maybe I would be if ours could rub a few brain cells together to figure out brilliant things, like it is actually cheaper to get a parking ticket in Portland than to pay the outrageous day charge for the municipal garages.

But Sweden seems to have their hearts (and those crazy bureaucratic brains) in a veritably good place.  It looks like it isn’t just in the United States that women still struggle to gain equality and respect in the workplace.  It might just be a worldwide issue.

The reason I kind of want to move to Sweden is because in their quest to attain equality for family women they are also striving to attain equality for family men.  See, in Sweden the government has passed laws requiring “Parental Leave” not just “Maternity Leave.”  Basically, they have made a bold statement that flies in the face of society, tradition and some feel feminism.

Essentially they are stating that in order for there to be equality in the workplace, there must also be equality at home.

Father taking care of sick daughter

My friends had a baby about a year ago, and they were so belligerently happy I simultaneously wanted to smoosh their faces in glee and roll my eyes with token “single girl” derision.  Fortunately she is a teacher so their daughter came at the PERFECT time to give her a nice three-month maternity leave (pssst…Sweden…we barely even give mothers more than 4-6 weeks…)

Her husband however was not so lucky.  His given “paternity leave” was 2 weeks.  And the baby was seriously a screaming barely adjusting fresh-out-of-the-womb blob for the first 10 days.  So in reality he got like 4 days of totally “family” time with his wife and new daughter.

The day he went back to work his daughter apparently cried for approximately 7 of the 8 hours he was at the office.  And his wife only texted him once to say she was losing it.  I don’t know if it’s some sort of maternal hormone that gets mixed in with the ambiotic fluid that somehow makes Moms superwomen that can magically make it through situations like this with some semblance of their sanity.  About 30 minutes in I’m pretty sure I would have been curled up on the floor in a ball rocking and mumbling something incoherent about unicorns and bowling pins.

Yet as soon as my friend got home from work that first day (according to his wife…I wasn’t there…) he immediately grabbed his daughter, changed her diaper, grabbed a bottle and told his wife to go take a bubble bath.  Again, if this was me I would have again collapsed in a rocking sobbing floor-ball overwhelmed by the gesture.  And probably a little hormonal and very sleep deprived.  His response was simple – he had spent 8.5 hours away from his daughter and wanted to spend as much time with her outside work hours as he could.

And some of our other friends teased and joked that he had had his two weeks and he just had to get back to the grindstone.  Colleagues of his whispered that he obviously didn’t care enough about his job since he started going home on his lunch hour to spend time with his “new” family.  Guys looked a little down on him that he would busy himself with so much family and home life.

But I spent time with them during those first six weeks of “new family” life.  And I realized that in their marriage, they were equals.  Neither’s job was more important, neither’s parenting abilities were more important.  They complement each other, love each other and quite frankly worship an adorable little girl that is a blessing on their lives.

So yeah, if that’s the idea that Sweden is trying to promote with parenting leave, I’m on board with moving there.  Cause I think that’s the kind of relationship any rational single person longs for.

The one where you don’t NEED someone else to complete you but with that special someone else you are stronger in all aspects of your life.

You have attained love equality.

What are your thoughts on “parenting leave?”  Does it increase the value of gender equality or does it emasculate men?

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