don’t you go whining in sweden

I generally have zero time to surf these days, back at work, with a very sick toddler and a very sick wife and fighting off two simultaneous colds myself.  But I glanced the other day at an interesting discussion at RebelDad on January 15, which took me to the Washington Post, which took me to a parenting blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The question is whether men whine less about childcare.  Or have less freedom to whine.  Or have fewer people they are allowed to whine to. Or actually whine a whole lot more.  Or … well, you get the picture.

Anyway, the question doesn’t resonate with me.  We have been in such extreme parenting situations – isolated small towns with no network, moving back and forth across the Atlantic, dealing with serious health issues and pregnancies, etc.  So we have had no real space for day to day whining.  We tend to get existential about our whining anyway.

This did start me thinking about Sweden though.  I never hear anyone complaining here, not men, not women, not at work, not at open preschool.

This is not because Swedes have it so easy.  It is probably because there is something shut down about the culture.  There is no space for public weakness.  Just tell it to your local bureaucrat and get the benefit.  It is very Lutheran and guilt-ridden and emotion-denying, I think.

Yet Swedes are much more attachment parents than Americans in general.

Just don’t complain kids.  Or parents.  Or anyone.  Be thankful.  You don’t know how good you have it.



One thought on “don’t you go whining in sweden

  1. Now I’m torn. At first I was excited because you had nailed it. I’ve looked at a lot of blogs and forums featuring expats in Sweden and I’ve never seen anyone “getting it” before.

    We’re a very secular country. The Social Democrats have worked very hard to achieve this. They may not actually be solely responsible for this, but they’ve done their part. But while they may have succeeded in taking God out of the picture (for the most part), they’ve failed at shrugging Luther off our collective shoulders. Actually, when I think about it, they probably never wanted to even.

    Having “Luther on you shoulder” is how we describe this in Sweden. The Luther that were introduced in Sweden wasn’t the Luther he was in real life though. He was Luther with the joy taken out of him. Stern and judging – always finding us wanting. And he sits on our shoulders. Always.

    It doesn’t mean that we never find joy in anything. Or that we never feel good about ourselves. But Luther’s always there – on our shoulders and on the shoulders of those around us. This is the most defining feature of Swedes. People say that the most defining thing about Swedes can be summed up in the word “Lagom”. Those people are partly wrong. . They don’t even know what that word actually means. It doesn’t mean “just right”. It doesn’t mean “in moderation”. It may be just right, it may be in moderation. But that doesn’t really describe the word or define it’s meaning.

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