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Sweden: Where dads act like moms
By giving men 18-month paternity leaves, says Nathan Hegedus in Slate, Sweden has redefined male culture
Long paternity leaves give Swedish fathers the chance to nurture their kids.
Long paternity leaves give Swedish fathers the chance to nurture their kids.
Corbis
I

've just spent 18 months at home taking care my kids, says Nathan Hegedus at Slate. "I am not unemployed." I have a "real job" — but I live in Sweden. Thanks to the Swedish welfare state, I get a year and half of paternity leave following the birth of a child. "And, yes, I get paid." On a national level, generous parental leave policies have made child-rearing skills part of the masculine ideal, just like physical strength and career success. During my time off, I've found myself bonding with my children in a way that was "revolutionary to me as a working dad." They see me more as a nurturer now, and they always will. An excerpt:

Here is the funny part: The dads act exactly like the moms. They talk about poop, whether their babies sleep, how tired they are, when their kid started crawling or walking or throwing a ball or whatever. ... No sports. No politics. No cars. And no questions about your job. Think about that. When in America — outside of maybe a sports bar during a really huge game — will any group of men gather and never ask the question, "So, what do you do?"

I had expected great physical comedy in Daddyland — fathers covered with diaper leakage, babies covered with motor oil, men forcing resentful toddlers into soccer matches. I realize now how insensitive to my Swedish brothers this was. Swedish dads of my generation and younger have been raised to feel competent at child-rearing. They simply expect to do it, just as their wives and partners expect it of them.

Read the full article at Slate.

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