The modern Swedish dad

I try to be a modern Swedish dad. Meaning that I intend to take on half of the workload and responsibilities that come with having a family. I have been on paternity leave for two great sessions of eight months each (yes, fairly well covered financially by the government, and yes, we pay a lot in taxes) and I think I can safely say that I know the needs of my daughters and our family just as well as my wife does. We have both worked a little less than full time since we had the kids, which allows a little extra space to move around the week, without the little ones having to spend more than six hours per day in pre-school.


October, November and December of 2009 just weren’t… any of that. We agreed on it as I signed the book deal: This is one of those rare moments when going all-in really is the only option. (It rarely is.) At a later point, when Lisa wants to do the same, I will cover for her like she for all of the fall has covered for me. (I married the Energizer Rabbit. The strongest, toughest and all-in-all best person I think I have ever met. Her stamina leaves me in awe.)

But I still don’t feel good about not being there for my fifty percent this fall. I just don’t. The girls do notice. My big one is five later this year, she answered the phone one day, a friend of the family was on the line. He got the full scoop, and I overheard it:

”Dad is travelling a LOT and is working SO MUCH with his book, but then sometimes he’s at home with us and soon I think he will be done and then he’ll be home all the time…”

I get teary-eyed just writing that now. Sorry for being such a sap. It’s just that very soon, she will move out. It’s fifteen years but likely to feel like fifteen minutes. Which means that no matter how much I loved writing this book, I won’t be doing a shift like these past months anytime soon again. If ever. Sorry. No can do.

0 thoughts on “The modern Swedish dad

  1. Hej!
    Ja, det gör ont när man hör barnen säga såna saker. Du kommer att höra liknande saker många gånger i framtiden, ÄVEN om du varit mer hemma och mer närvarande. Såklart ska du fortsätta skriva och lägga några månader på projekt du vill göra. Barnens kommentarer kommer från deras perspektiv och ofta använder de vad vi vuxna säger och framför allt känner, eftersom de är mästare på att plocka upp vibbar. En dag står du där, när de är lite större, och säger “när jag blir stor ska jag skriva viktiga böcker som min pappa”. Ytterligare senare, kommer de att berätta hur de har lärt sig av dig och sin mamma, hur man hjälps åt och hur bra det blir när man fokuserar och kämpar. Dessa få veckor av deras liv, minner inte om det du tror nu, utan enbart av stolthet. Bara det faktum att du skriver detta, säger allt om vilken pappa du är och det är det som räknas. Kram & fortsätt skriva (då och då)! Monika
    PS jag vet dessa saker av egen erfarenhet & jag vet hur du känner :-))

  2. It’s great that you’re a sap, and your daughters are so lucky to have you! Just had a conversation today about how most everyone at the table thought that it was the natural way of things that of course it’s always the woman who gets up at night to take care of the baby… More modern Swedish dads would have been great to have around. Fortunately, I have a modern German husband which seems to be a species similar to the modern Swedish dad.

  3. Monigge: Jo, du har ju alldeles rätt… Det är bara att liksom förbereda sig, gradvis.

    Katrin: I am happy to hear that things are happening with that in Germany, the extended parental leave law was really something extra!

  4. Italy is to far to become a Dad sensitive and emotional parenting responsibility and full dedication to kids 🙁

    You are privilege!

  5. I was on the cutting edge of modern Dadisum in the US… beginning 17 years ago. ‘Just now’ it’s becoming more prevalent, if due to massive layoffs and dads unable to find stable work. Well guys, you’ll find it at home! …14, 16 hour days of seemingly thankless drudgery. And, when they hit 15 – so what? My two daughter’s only reality was that ‘I was there,’ they assume that’s what Dad’s do. Pity their eventual husbands?

    Full-time was occasionally too much, a societal system in which the load (and joys) could be shared would likely be ideal. And yup, one’s seventeen! What now, or soon, grandchildren? …first give me a breather, then bring em on – been there – done that!

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