In Sweden, while it is common for both parents to engage in full time work, maintaining balance between work and family life is an important national culture. Moreover, Swedish children are trained to do tasks regardless of age or gender, as a typical Swedish family divides house chores between members.
However, Swedish parents are obliged to set good examples in inculcating the values of sharing responsibilities and of showing love, patience and respect for every family member. Child-parent relationships in Sweden are greatly influenced by the government’s laws and regulations.
Swedes are not allowed to spank or threaten to inflict physical punishment on their children, as well as humiliate them even within the privacy of their home. The Swedish perspective on parenting is that every child has inalienable rights and therefore entitled to receive not only proper child care but also humane treatment.
Swedish laws prohibit corporal punishment and violating related laws is a crime. Sweden’s child care laws apply to everyone, including expats who live with their family in Sweden.
It is important for parents therefore to make family life as care-driven and as enjoyable as possible for every member. In many Swedish communities, families watch movies together during “Fredagsmys” (Cozy Fridays), while younger children get to have their treats during “Lördagsgodis” (Saturday Candy.)
Annual family vacations are traditional and usually spent in vacation homes or campsites located in natural environments near lakes, seasides, alps or forests. Popular vacation activities include skiing, ice skating, sailing or simply canping out to pick mushrooms or berries.
The Swedish Government is Supportive of the Country’s Family Culture
The Swedish government is quite supportive of working parents and their children. Support is given from the moment a child is conceived in a mother’s womb throughout his or her life as a minor under parental care.
Starting on the first month of a newborn’s life, a parent is entitled to receive a monthly child care allowance for as long as a child is under one’s parental care.
Swedish couples or even single parents do not have to worry about medical bills for prenatal care up to child delivery, and in providing health care for their growing children. Medical and health care expenses for children are provided free in Sweden.
As a matter of fact, Swedish hospitals render not only free prenatal and child delivery services but also postpartum care, particularly for first time mothers and their newborn.
After an infant is brought home, a hospital nurse will be assigned to check on the well being of both the mother and infant. Aside from pediatrician appointments, new parents are encouraged to attend support groups along with other first-time parents.
Support groups conduct classes to educate both mothers and fathers about the sleeping and eating habits of newborns and about other topics, including when to expect various growth developments. More often than not, parents are advised to place a Babyvakt (baby monitor) if their baby sleeps in another room.
To help parents carry out their parenting duties and responsibilities, they are entitled to paid parental leaves of up to 240 days each, which parents can avail of simultaneously or alternately.
Paid parental leaves can be spread throughout a child’s growing up years but must be consumed before a child turns eight years old. At that time, their child is already attending the first year of compulsory elementary education.
In Sweden, education is also provided free, even if parents choose to enroll their child in a private school instead of a state-run school. Preschool and kindergarten education is optional as the facilities, albeit partly funded by the government, require payment of minimal fees because Swedish preschools double as day care facilities. That way, parents can have peace of mind that their preschool child is being cared for, while they are at work.
Swedish parents can also request for shorter or flexible work schedules from their employer; especially if they feel they need to devote more time and attention to their children, especially if a child is suffering from an illness or health disorder.