latest Huffington Post entry … as the world was crying out for the Swedish parental leave take on the Tiger Woods scandal.
Tiger, let’s cut to the chase. You have two kids. You can’t have spent all that much time with them, and it is unclear how seriously you have taken fatherhood.
This is not good.
Now you have taken “indefinite” leave from golf. This is a start, though an undetermined one, for you could do a lot of different things on an “indefinite” leave, not all of them good.
For instance, I would stay out of Las Vegas. Yes, even the kiddie play areas. Really. No Vegas for you. And holing up in an antiseptic Orlando subdivision isn’t good either – a recipe for cooped up insanity, if you ask me.
No, I have the answer to your problem — no, not the PR problem, the real problem, the “I have two kids and have to build a relationship with them” problem.
Anyway, get ready. Here it is.
Move to Sweden. Take paternity leave.
Yes, I’m serious. Really, stop, I’m serious.
You have Swedish kids. And they will likely be living in Sweden sooner rather than later, at the rate you are blowing up your family life.
You could come with them. Yes, come to Sweden, land of socialism and neutrality and all that. For it is also the land of 480 paid days of parental leave — per kid. And you are entitled to a big chunk of those days, even if you end up divorced.
So come on up to the great dark north. I know you could get a residence permit fastracked — after all, your mother-in-law used to run the Swedish Migration Board!
Of course, you would get heavily taxed here in Sweden, and they cap the parental leave benefit. Financially, maybe it does not make sense. Your accountants would have a fit. And in theory you could just take time off in Orlando or Hawaii or someplace that is not brutally dark in the winter and call it “paternity leave.”
But don’t do that. Come to Sweden. You know why? The other guys. Yep, Sweden is awash in men pushing strollers. It’s not weird, and it is also not permanent. They all go back to work, manhood intact, bond with child strengthened. Just dads, doing right by their kids.
And guess what? I’m on parental leave this year too! Yep, eight or nine months of it. I was home with my older daughter for six months two years back, plus lots of other little stretches since. So I could show you the ropes — the good “open” preschools with the most fun singing time, the cool 4-H playground with animals and some big slides, the museums with the good kid rooms. We could be “latte dads” together.
Your wife would surely respect the decision. She gets portrayed as a passive blonde golf wife — well, beyond possibly chasing you down with a golf club. But that whole Swedish bimbo thing is all wrong. Swedish women are strong, dude. If Sweden is not the place where 60s-style feminism won, it is the place where it did not lose. And your wife is the daughter of a major politician and a journalist.
Talk about a cultural misunderstanding if you thought a Swede with that background would stand by while you screwed your way through the Vegas nightclub scene.
But you would still do well here in Sweden. For Swedes’ sense of privacy and reserve far outstrips their distaste of all things sleazy. Maybe you should live modestly, avoid that island house your wife just bought, just buy one-bedroom apartment in a family neighborhood, blending in, not standing out. Swedes like that.
But beyond all that, you need to go on “pappaledig” simply because you get to spend all day with your kids. No wiggle room. It is your job, not some weird “indefinite” leave. Your oldest would soon get a daycare spot, so you could choose whether to keep her home or not. You could make sure they learn English, and you could pick up some Swedish (you do not want them to grow up with essentially a secret language you do not understand).
You could play golf, of course, at least during the summer, but maybe you should just forget that for a while. Maybe you concentrate on your sandbox skills instead.
The sandbox can get very zen. You catch moments to think, with your kid “baking a cake” or digging a hole next to you. You can ponder how you let your private and public lives diverge so much, whether the millions you have in the bank were worth the personal damage. You can ponder your marriage, your role as a father, your relationship with your own father.
Then that ends, and you have to wipe a nose, change a diaper or push a swing.
It’s a good mix. Give it a try.