Something Swedish

Daddy Pram Parade

9 Comments

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.

Until today.

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.

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9 thoughts on “Daddy Pram Parade

  1. Funny, I have seen fathers pushing prams so often here that it no longer registers. Don’t even think about it any more. I must be getting acclimated.

  2. Yes I know, it’s awesome. My husband is great with our little ones.

  3. I wish Australia had paid paternity leave. I think new mothers here get six weeks paid and then also some government benefits during that time as well, but fathers don’t get anything. It’s really a shame because I imagine most fathers are just as excited about their babies as the mothers and would like to stay home and spend some time with them. Also, if the mother has the higher earning power and needs to go back to work, there is no option for the father to take what would have been her leave. I like Sweden’s system much better.

  4. They must have met in föräldragruppen/pappagruppen! When you’re pregnant in Sweden it is common that the prgnant couple is offered group classes where you get information about the birth experience, breastfeeding, infant care and get a chance to get to know other parents who are going to have a child the same age as yoor child. After the child is born you are also offered to meet a group of parents with children the same age as yours – it is usually called mammagrupp or pappagrupp. Why it’s called that I don’t know, maybe it is because the mothers start the paternity leave?
    They could also have met at öppna förskolan. I don’t think it is possibel to translate that, but öppna förskolan is provided by the council or a church, it is open during weekdays and it is a place where stay at home parents get a chance to meet and their children get a chance to play with other children. at least one kindergarten teacher works there, there are educational toys and a lot of activites.

    • Interesting!! Thank you- I was so curious and didn’t know any groups like that existed outside of possibly birthing classes. What great groups to have available!

  5. Since I’m from Minnesota and currently live in Chile, I can only compare it to that. It seems that in Minnesota seeing the dad on a solo outing with a baby is probably more common than in New York. In Chile, for such a machista society, I’m always surprised to see dads carrying or pushing babies. I think it has to do with education. Health care is pretty great in Minnesota and many companies now offer the dads leave, too (not government mandated, but it’s a start). In Chile, my mother in law told me that twenty years ago they started a campaign to reach guys and tell them that not only is it ok to be seen with their babies, but it’s cool, which is why you see more of them now helping to give the mothers a break.

  6. That is so cool! I have absolutely no concept of this! I grew up in the rural South- you don’t see men with babies there. What a cool concept!

  7. Pingback: Playtime Needs No Translation: “Tid för Lek Behöver Ingen Översättning” « Something Swedish

  8. The reason for the 8 couples out strolling together is likely that they met each other in the Föräldra/Mammagruppen (parents- / mothers group) which is organized by the local health clinic for parents-to-be. A lot of the time, people get to know each other and keep hanging out during parental leave (since most of their old friends are likely working).

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