Unicef's report(7 Posts)
I question the validity of the Unicef report as I have lived and worked In Sweden for almost 2 decades, had 2 children of my own and 3 step children to look after. Sweden is a definitely a materialistic society and parents with money certainly buy their children the latest designer clothes and gadgets if they can afford it.
What Sweden offers in comparison to the UK is better working conditions - much longer holidays (although the standard working week is 40 hrs), more family-friendly policies (where it is not frowned upon for a father to take his children to the office if there is no childcare provision), and a culture of respecting children, which is sorely missing in this country. Childcare is available to all, is inexpensive and fits around the working day (this is because in the 70s, Sweden had a shortage of workers and encouraged women back to work). This allows families to spend more time together. It isn't a perfect society by any means but it has got the basics right. David Cameron et al, take note!
Have you read the report?
Because to me, what you say seems to be exactly what is in the report. As far as I can see, it makes it absolutely clear that children from all three countries value material goods and that Swedish children are also very brand conscious and like gadgets. But that British mothers are under high pressure, what with long hours and less support from their partners.
I don't think Sweden has got it totally right. Their policies are based on 'pushing' women out to work (whether they really wanted to or not) and 'pulling' men into the home. But I believe there are studies to show many women still prefer to take more leave or want to stay home and many young babies are not in daycare due to the long leave. I think it is Finland where they have a payment you can recieve for staying home and many people have chosen to accept that rather than use nurseries. I personaly believe most mums of very young babies want to stay home and then get a good part time job (when kids were at school). The Hakim study (UK) supports this view too. Only 20% of her study mothers wanted to fully SAH or work full time permanently and from the birth. The Government should be listening to this and giving an allowance for parents to chose whether to use childcare or help them stay home.
I think you have a point there, jelly (from speaking to Swedish friends a lot of them would have liked more time at home).
The only thing that strikes me (from a Swedish pov) as strange is that you only mention mothers and women. What about fathers? I am sure dh would have loved a chance of spending more time as a SAHD.
I did focus on mothers as those were what those reports I mentioned are about in the main. I agree with you that fathers are very crucially important too and it's great if more were to stay home. However, in general it seems to be mothers who want to be home with very young children. It's contraversial to say that is because of biology or because it is socially constructed that they do so. But I do feel that having carried the baby and breastfeeding (if they do), mothers should be offered a generous early leave with a newborn. Of course if the mother wants to return to work it should be offered to the father or they can share as suits them. I still believe, though, that it's usually mothers who want to stay home in the early years and then get a good part time job. Of course there are also others who want to work full time and those who want to stay home their whole lives. Governments focusing on one group (full time workers) isn't going to work as there are far more in the other groups. Giving parents a choice to have one at home for longer (or use the money towards childcare for those both needing/wanting to work) would work and make it fair to men and women too.
I didn't actually get that the report was in the main about mothers- that is how it has been construed by the British papers, but not how I read the actual report. It seemed to say very clearly that a big difference between the UK and the two other countries investigated was that in the UK it is mainly about mothers- and that this is not necessarily a good thing.
Most of my Swedish male friends and relatives have shared childcare in the early years; in fact, my youngest brother did the bulk of it, apart from the breastfeeding, and still does.
But I do agree that there should be more generous parental leave in the UK. Hard to see what the Swedish government should do to let mothers feel more free to stay home though, since there is nothing apart from social pressure stopping them at the moment. Extended paid parental leave is an option- if the taxpayers will stand for it.
Yes, sorry, i meant the Hakim report and others i have read about child care in Sweden/Finland etc. were focussed on the issue from a mothers point of view. Not this particular one.
I do agree that it is not just about mothers and I too am strongly in favour of extended paid parental leave; but as you say whether taxpayers would support it is another matter.
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