The privilige of living in Sweden
One of my posts — 7 things I learnt from not going on parental leave — was found and published by Fatherly. Got some raving reviews of it on Facebook:
This is the silliest thing I’ve ever read “just go!” Yeah OK, who’s going to “just pay my bills!”
Other comments pointed out that I had not mentioned that going on parental leave is a. good for the baby and b. good for my wife as she would be exhausted otherwise. Both great points I agree with. I guess they were left out from the post because I mainly wrote about my experience and my “brain ghosts” about taking time of from a job. It was a post that took me 30 minutes to write and ended up on a site with 1.110.000 followers. A site that primarily — I would guess — have followers from the US.
So, back to that quote; “This is the silliest thing I’ve ever read “just go!” Yeah OK, who’s going to “just pay my bills!”.
Out of context my post would look crazy to someone in the US. When prepping the post for Fatherly, I should have added the note that I live in Sweden. Swedish fathers are very fortunate to have the right to take long parental leaves with 80% of their salary. Going on parental leave is common, and yes while I’m very privileged to not only live in Sweden but also be able to go on a long parental leave without putting too much strain on our finances, the issue of fathers not taking parental leave still remains. Why? Because we have the freedom to choose, the freedom to value a job higher than children and the freedom to make excuses. Hence, don’t make excuses, just go. You are not unique, collagues will cope and the job will still be there. Being home with your children is a rare opportunity. If you have some rights to paid parental leave, take it.
My hope is that more countries understand the benefit of longer parental leave, and that more citizens demand it as right. It’s not enough with a couple of weeks, neither for the mother nor the father.