Yesterday, the Swedish state paid me to stay home with my sick daughter. I had to make a bunch of phone calls and fill out an internet form, but, in the end, I will get paid 80 percent of my normal salary, with no impact on sick time or vacation or anything.
This is why Sweden is such a paradise with small kids. Paid parental leave. Stay home with your sick kid. Guaranteed five weeks of vacation. It’s beautiful.
I realized yesterday, though, that I have no idea what people in the States do now. I guess just make it work, hoping that one parent has a flexible schedule or lots of sick days or vacation.
And while I now that the work/life balance is an issue at home, I don’t sense an impending revolution. People, more or less, just suck it up.
I know that a Swedish system would cause mass resentment. I just don’t see most suburban Americans paying high taxes so that Joe down the street can stay home with his kid who has the sniffles.
But they should. There is an America of community, of sticking together, that seems to have been lost in a tidal wave of weird, one-sided individualistic mythology. You think the Old West wasn’t about your neighbors? The colonies? The Depression? This all got lost along the line, and it doesn’t have to conflict with our freedom, our sense of the individual. There must be an interplay, giving the individual the base of a strong community to let him or her venture off.
You don’t go wandering in the forest alone. And you shouldn’t have to squeeze your life to give your child comfort when they are sick. Don’t do it the Swedish way, fine. But figure something out.