And yet another take on Swedish parental leave, with a focus on Dads on paternity leave. This one comes from the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada:
Leave time can be diced in just about any permutation imaginable – as days, half-days and even quarter-days. What can’t be finessed is the gender dictum: Fathers must use the two months or they’re lost.
As a result, “the working culture is changing,” says Fredrik Rydahl, an engineer at truck manufacturer Scania who took more than six months off with both of his daughters, now 4 and 7. “When we hire a young guy, we count it as a given that this guy is going to be home with small children at some point.”
According to his wife Maria, also an engineer, “You change so much when you’re home and you’re a parent. If only one of you does this journey, you risk going in different directions.”
It is a fine story that hits the right marks. I was particularly taken by this figure: only 18 percent of Swedes feel they have trouble balancing work and family.
That is a sign of a system that works on some level.
However, what most caught my attention was the contrast of Canada and the US. Here you have a straight down the middle story that could be in any American paper. And there are 368 comments and … most of them are nice.
Yep, most of them laud the Swedes. Very little bashing of socialism, of high taxes. Of course, Canada has a healthy safety net. It has parental leave, if not as generous as Sweden’s. And maybe the stereotype is true – Canadians are just nicer.
I was also struck by the story’s placement. It came as part 5 in a six-part series on the work/life balance. This is one of Canada’s premier papers. This kind of focus means something. I can’t remember any type of commitment on this from any big American outlet in recent memory, even with work/life balance the major focus of Michelle Obama in the White House.
Just imagine that, a debate about the place of work in American society. Oh, wait, work is American society. Sorry, I forgot.