surprised by the competence of dads in sweden

I am working on a magazine pitch based on my paternity leave.  Here is a section that did not make it, but that I think gets an important point across:

I expected great physical comedy in Daddyland – fathers covered with poop, babies covered with motor oil, that sort of thing.  But Swedish dads are not half as incompetent – or maybe it is self-deprecating – as American ones, who seem to revel in their clumsiness and bumbling stereotype.  Swedes have been subject to four decades of government propaganda that Dad is to be not only involved emotionally with his family, but also competent, both at child rearing and housekeeping.

And it worked, as Swedish men have developed what one researcher calls “child-centered masculinity.” This same shift is happening in the U.S. in a herky jerky small kind of way.  But like most things in the welfare state, the transition in Sweden is gentler (and more effective), if saddled with a slew of bureaucratic rules.


One thought on “surprised by the competence of dads in sweden

  1. Interesting. Makes sense, if IKEA designs for kids is anything to go by. (A passing Brit)

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