When people visit Sweden they look around and notice something different: Lots of fathers with babies. In the U.S. it is pretty uncommon to see a too many father-child outings, especially at infant age. Not to say it doesn’t happen, or that every once in awhile you’ll see a dad pushing a stroller, but when compared to Sweden you are talking about a different ball park.
This is something I’ve read a lot about, people bring it up in blogs and on forums all the time, being shocked and asking questions like “Is divorce rate high in Sweden,” “Are there a lot of gay parents in Sweden,” and “is there a lot of unemployment in Sweden.” The answer is that Sweden gives the father the same opportunity for time off with the baby as the mother- which isn’t a measly 2 weeks off work with no pay: Paternal Leave is paid for 480 days, shared between mother and father. Parents get to keep their job while spending two years with their baby, while getting most of their salary. Out of that amount, 60 days are specifically allotted to each parent- the rest is divided between them in which ever way they want. The 480 days is an active option until the child is eight years old. Sweden is known for its gender equality and having a very supportive and flexible family care system and because of this benefit you will often see fathers with newborns, not only the mothers. Sweden.se
After being here for five months I still never really noticed the male to female ratio of people pushing strollers or prams- I’ve read about it and I’m sure I’ve witnessed it but it never really phased me.
While taking a walk around the river with the hubby we came face to face with a Daddy Pram Parade. I wish I would have thought of taking out the camera phone, words are not enough to describe it. The trail around the river is a dirt path that cuts through a wooded area, frequented by joggers, runners and dog walkers. In front of us we saw a man with a pram heading our way, when we stepped aside to let him pass it turns out it was a LINE of men with prams- perhaps eight of them. They were all dressed in some sort of running outfit and walking at a decent pace. All the babies were within the infant range.
I was so excited! It took a moment for me to stop smiling and tell my husband that only in Sweden would there be some sort of club for fathers with babies. He didn’t think about it that way until he recounted that there were so many of them, and its pretty unlikely that eight couples who knew each other before would have children simultaneously. (Cult births!?) Then I wondered where one would go to find other fathers who want to get in some exercise while watching the little one? In a small town like Halmstad, with all the kids the same age? Unlikely. They must have met in some sort of birthing class, like Lamaze!
It was an amazing cultural nod, I would never see something like that in New York.