Image: Mother and child in Sweden, ready for winter?
There are some surprises in store. What has amazed us, reading the collection of articles, is the wide variety of rules and regulations, benefits and opportunities, as well as the universal nature of care for children, expressed in the detail of the articles. The latter not a surprise.
The context for the articles, in our times of benefit cuts, constrained resources and political alienation, is that there exists a variety of models for parenting and parenting support. They depend on the socio-cultural norms of the country under examination. They depend on the economic ‘depth’ of the country too. They all depend on that universality of love that parents offer.
The article we liked the most, 14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden, features parents and child, originally from the USA and Brazil, declaring their experiences of life in Sweden.
Cultural norms in Sweden are different. For example, leaving your child, heavily swaddled, out of doors in the midst of a Nordic winter takes courage. However, parents are given 480 days of paid leave, post arrival of a child, with 90 of them dedicated to the father.
Childcare costs cannot exceed $150 a month, and we got very excited for parents reading about Vabbing – the principle of the state paying salaries when you have to stay off work to care for sick children.
We also liked the Law of Jante, another cultural principle really, that insists ‘…that one individual is not more special than any other, and you’re not to behave as if you are‘. A great pre-cursor for enhancing social equality? Although we recognise that in some acquisitive cultures this lack of focus on success and ‘high performance’ might jar with some parents.
As booksellers we were truly delighted to read that Pipi Longstocking and Alfie Atkins are as popular as ever with Swedish children. Who could guess?
Dipping into the article series on the ‘motherhood’ pages of A Cup of Jo is an uplifting experience, particularly in the midst of a grey English winter. It also shows that with all the pressures of parenthood you are not alone and that there is always a different, even better way, to do things too.
Motherhood Around The World – we recommend it.