Tag: Paternity inspiration

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I saw on a couple of daddy blogs that Lego has introduced a Lego set where the mother is working and the father is a stay-at-home-dad. Lego is getting a lot of positive respons for being so “progressive” – and I think it is awesome that they have done it.

But I am at the same time surprised how “a dad taking care of the kids” can be such a “groundbreaking” idea.

In a way it would have been cooler if the introduction of the “stay-at-home-dad-Lego-set” had not created any news at all. Like if an active parenting father was the most natural thing in the world. Because I think it is the most natural thing in the world to be an active father. And soon, hopefully, more people will think so too.

The fact that Lego is launching that stay-at-home-dad-set is perhaps a sign of how things are changing, like if the dad-lego-set is a small lego piece in a big puzzle to slowly change the perception of what it means to be a father.

It would not be the first time Lego has tried to push public opinion on gender-related issues.

In a letter to parents published in 1972 LEGO wrote:

“To Parents

The urge to create is equally strong in all children. Boys and girls.

It’s the imagination that counts. Not skill. You build whatever comes into your head, the way you want it. A bed or a truck. A dolls house or a spaceship.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.”

 

I would like to propose an alternative text:

“To Parents

The urge to connect with their parents is equally strong in all children. To connect with both Mum – and Dad.

It’s the love that counts. Not skill. You parent whatever way comes into your head, the way you want it. Put your child to bed. Pretend to be a truck. Play with a dolls house, teach them about spaceships.

A lot of dads like to play with doll houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of mums prefer to teach about spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important things is to put in the right amount of time with them, to lead, teach and inspire them to believe that they can create what ever appeals to them.”

Lego is a made-up word created by combining the two danish words for “play” and “learn”, and it is really an amazing tool to inspire creativity. I grew up on Lego and spent hundreds and hundreds of hours alone (or with my brothers) building with those small, plastic bricks. I am absolutely sure that Lego helped me develop my creative skills.

But I am equally convinced that playing alone with Lego was not the most important thing that triggered my creativity.

It was things like my dad tying a rope behind the car so that we could hold on to the rope while he would drive on snowy country roads as a make-shift and flat ski-lift. Or my mother teaching us to bake, or our parents letting us pretend to be fire-fighters who would use small water-spray-bottles to put out the egg-cartons that they had set alight in our fire-place.

Children develop their creativity by exploring, being curious and imagining – but this creative development can be multiplied by the right support from their parents. And the number one tool to develop a child in any possible manner is the tool called TIME.

Dads playing with their kids is not “cute”, “sweet” or “endearing” – it is “essential”.

Make sure you put in the time needed to do it.

 

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There are a few things that you will never know until you come to that phase in life.
Like how you will never fully appreciate what your parents did for you until you yourself have a child.

And I think another of these things is that you will never fully appreciate how you should have behaved towards your children until you become a grandparent.

I, of course, will not know this for sure until I myself have grandchildren, but it seems to hold true when I look at how amazing my own mother and my own mother in law, for example, are with their grandchildren.

On a website I visited recently they had asked 8-years old the question: “What is your grandparents’ role in your life?”

The answers were, as you could expect, adorable.

They said things like:

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.”

“They don’t say, “Hurry up”.”

“When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.”

Adorable – yet serious.

One said: “Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us.”

It’s like grandparents have understood that the one thing that kids should be given is time.

An advantage of having kids late in life is that you somehow get a little of that “grandparent wisdom” into you already as a parent.

(My mum just told me that when she was the age I am now (47) all of her three children had already moved out of the house (In comparison my oldest child is 5 and my youngest is just born… It was a realisation that made us both feel very, very old…)

When I see the patience, presence and commitment grandparent approach children with I get inspired.
Inspired to try to get some of that attitude towards my own parenting.

And I think this is extra true for fathers who tend to spend shorter time periods with their kids than mothers. (You can say “it’s easy for grand parents to do, they are usually retired.” But that is why it is so important for fathers to take paternity leave. To get more time with the children.)

The word “Grand” literally means: “magnificent in appearance” or “denoting the largest or most important item of its kind.’
The synonyms are: “magnificent, impressive, awe-inspiring, splendid and superb.”

That is what we should aim for as parents: To be magnificent, impressive, awe-inspiring, splendid and superb.

We should be grand.
Grand parents.

We should slow down and spend more time with our kids.
They deserve it.
After all, our children are grand children.

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I once heard a story that went like this:

Foreign woman: “You are from Sweden? I love Sweden! Especially all those gay Swedish nannies!”

Swedish woman: “??? … Oh, you mean the dads…!”

Turns out that the non-Swedish woman had mistaken all the Swedish paternity dads taking care of their kids as being hired nannies. And she could not imagine a straight man working with kids, she had assumed that all the “nannies” where gay…

 

Fathers spending a lot of time off with their children might be exotic outside Sweden still, and in many ways Sweden (and other Nordic countries) are leading the way for society where children grow up with a more equal amount of male and female role models.

In Sweden parents get 480 days paid paternity leave.

90 of those days are exclusively for the father (so if the father doesn’t use them the mother can not use them)

About 12% of Swedish couples have a setup where the mother and father split the days 50/50.

Gender equality is important in Sweden, and according to Wikipedia and the official website Sweden.se Sweden is in the forefront on this issues.

In 2006, the World Economic Forum introduced its annual Global Gender Gap Report, which measures equality in the areas of economics, politics, education and health. Since the report’s inception, Sweden has never finished lower than fourth in the Gender Gap rankings.

That does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that Sweden is a truly gender equal society. Far from it. Or that Swedish dads do as much of the work at home as the mothers do. They do not.

Mothers just work more than dads if you add up paid work and domestic work. But at least in Sweden the difference is much smaller than in other countries where the mothers work.

What it does mean is that Sweden there is a strong movement of dads stepping up and saying “I want to take a bigger responsibility in brining up my children too.”

 

Today the notion of a father staying home to take care of the kids may seem odd, strange, exotic – or even unmanly – in many parts of the world.

But times change.

Women get more and more role models showing how they can step up and be equal to men in the workforce (Latest example: the national airline of Ethiopia announcing a flight with an all-female crew.)

And the more examples fathers get of other men choosing to stay home and raise their kids the bigger the chance that they too will see the opportunities and advantages that it could bring to have the father stay home.

I guess the conclusion is: The more we raise the awareness of fathers raising their kids the higher the chance that the percentage of fathers taking paternity leave will raise. 

And that is why I am writing this blog.

 

The pictures in this post is from the book “Swedish Dads” by Johan Bävman who followed a number of Swedish dads on paternity leave. Another amazing project to raise awareness of  paternity leave. Read more about the book and get your own copy here.

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Spotify, the very trendy music streaming service, just announced that they will introduce offer six months of parental leave – with 100% pay – to all full-time employees globally, effective immediately.

 

At the press conference where they announced it Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, said: “I think we can be a role model.”

Hell, yes that you can.

Other trendy companies are on the same bandwagon.

Facebook has announced that they will offer “US employees up to 4 months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.” (That in a country that has zero (0!)

Netflix a few weeks ago came out and said that have introduced a  trailblazing unlimited paid leave policy for new moms and dads, inviting them to take off “as much time as they want”.”

The post on their own website read:

At Netflix, we work hard to foster a “freedom and responsibility” culture that gives our employees context about our business and the freedom to make their own decisions along with the accompanying responsibility. With this in mind, today we’re introducing an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.

We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.

Netflix’s continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field. Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home. This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.

(It is such an awesome post I am quoting it in its entirety…)

Summary: It is almost as if – suddenly – all the trendiest of trendy companies have realised that the trendiest thing that they can do is to boost up the ability for parents to spend time with their kids.

If your company is not doing the same, then inform them about this post.

Tell them what other companies are doing.

And get them to change too.

And if they do not, go work for someone else who understands where the trend is heading.

It’s time to get with the times. And these times are calling for dads to go on paternity leave.

 

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