Here we are again, Sweden. We can’t quit you. You treat Dads with respect and we dig it. Not only do you give fathers 480 days to be with their newborns, you had to go and rub our noses in it with some touching photographs in National Geographic.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2016, the United States is dead last in parental leave when compared to 41 other developed nations. I was offered Paid Family Leave by my work when my daughter was born and remember thinking, “Six weeks? This isn’t enough time to bond with my new baby”. I couldn’t even afford to take advantage of the full six weeks because the weekly benefit amount is approximately 55 percent of my earnings. I opted to take about five days of leave and threw in some extra vacation days to make it a good two weeks. It was even less with my second child. Again, not enough in my book.
I can’t say how it would have benefited me as a father to have a little over a year’s worth of paid leave to be with my son and daughter; it’s just unheard of in this country. I literally can’t even imagine what it must be like to have that privilege. I mean I probably would have taken more photographs, caught more milestones, taken them more places… alright, this is getting depressing.
Nobody can prepare you for parenthood. It’s a tough job if you’re doing it right. You’re going to make mistakes and what better way to make those mistakes than by being there to support your partner; especially during the first year of your child’s development. Most learning is done on the job and you want to do a good job, right? I believe practice makes perfect, and this is a perfect way to become more in-tune with your child.
We can learn a lot from countries like Sweden. We must value all parents and the roles they serve in child development. One father recently took it upon himself to spread the Swedish love in hopes of inspiring other nations through photography.
After Johan Bävman had his son Viggo, he set out to create portraits of 45 fathers on leave. He has a book out called Swedish Dads which features his beautiful series of photos. Personally, I wouldn’t want a latent reminder laying around my house of how awesome these dudes have it, but the photographs are very compelling and each one tells a small, adorable story. He is quite content to offer these Dads up as role models, “so men can see the benefits of being on leave.”
Way to make us jealous, Johan. Check out the photos over at johanbavman.se.