The Swede Life passed on this link to a column from late March in the Swedish tabloid Expressen. The author – Eva Sternberg – is a family counselor and based her column on a news article based on a new report as well as government statistics. It ostensibly said that there has been a rise in the number of dangerous accidents involving Swedish babies.
She actually got her facts wrong, and had to apologize to the study’s author, but let’s let Sternberg have her entertaining say, for her opinion has nothing to do with any facts (this is a modified Google Translate English version):
Why are accidents increasing for children under one year old?
Why only in Sweden? Everyone in childcare knows.
But only I dare say it.
These accidents – such as babies scalded by hot water spilled from pots set on the edge of the stove – happen because a majority of Sweden’s political parties have decided to interfere in the lives of families with young children, from birth. Mothers who surrender responsibility for their baby to dads even get a bonus from the state, if they do it early enough in the government’s eyes.
For years I have observed, that the Swedish notion that mothers can be exchanged for fathers during the first year is lethal.
The idea itself is too easy to pick apart – again, she got her facts wrong, the study does not examine gender anyway, most babies are home with their mother for more than 12 months, and so on.
But what I did find interesting were the 35 pages of comments. They show that Sweden has not embraced Daddyland as fully as you might think, especially if you read my blog. There are lots of comments – mostly from women, by the way – bemoaning the rise of paternity leave and insisting that fathers are not suited for the care of small children. Then there are comments from exasperated men, sighing that they cannot win either way – they are either not involved enough or considered incompetent if they stay home.
More than 75 Swedish bloggers have linked to the story, though I have not had time to get into that.
The paper also had a poll. Who is better at taking care of small children, moms, dads or are they equal?
Results so far – Equal 53%, Moms 40%, Dads 7%
Most of the comments, however, seemed to reflect an essence of the Swedish national character. They dismiss the stupid column, they are matter of fact in their defense of gender equality, and then they state their final opinion with great authority. This gets lost sometimes in this consensus-seeking, meeting-happy land. But maybe it is why the consensus method works, with this practical energy behind it.