My feature about a family-travel trip to West Sweden is in the new issue of Family Traveller magazine — just out [see image at foot of post].
It proved to be the girls’ favourite trip so far but, for me, it also proved to be a thought- provoking one.
We spent some time in Gothenburg with Henric and his son, Marcel [pictured above].
We were talking about the enlightened attitude Sweden takes to parental leave and the rights of fathers to bond with their children.
This was a sidebar to the main feature but worth highlighting, I feel, here on my personal blog.
First Abba, then IKEA. Now there’s a new buzzword in Sweden: latte papas — fathers on leave with pre-school children.
The term refers to the way that Sweden is taking an increasingly enlightened attitude to the role of dads in bringing up children.
It lead the world in 1974 with plans to introduce equal paternity leave, giving both parents the chance of time at home with their children.
Sweden extended its ‘daddy quota’ on January 1, 2016, so that all new fathers are now automatically allocated 90 days’ paid leave on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.
Fathers can also take up to 280 days at 80 per cent of their regular salary with up to 12 years to use up the allowance.
The abundance of fathers with buggies on the streets of cities like Gothenburg has given rise to latte-papa cafes, galleries and play centres, particularly in the hip Linne and Haga districts.
Henric Stahl is taking nine months leave on a part-time basis from his job at a Swedish TV channel to spend time with his first son, 19-month-old Marcel.
“It may seem like I’m doing my partner, Jemina, a social worker, a favour by taking leave but, really, it’s my right to be with him,” explains Henric over lunch in downtown Gothenburg.
“Sweden’s strong feminist movement from the Seventies has been very positive in driving men’s rights, too.”
Henric and Marcel meet up with other dads twice a week at a play centre run by a local church.
“By taking leave,” he adds, “I empathise better in my relationship, I have a stronger relationship with my son than I ever had with his father.
“And I’m even more productive at work for having this time and space.”
“The one thing I’m not sure about,” he smiles, “is the term ‘latte papa’.
“Far from drinking coffee all day, we’re very much a bunch of working, stay-at-home dads.”
The UK came 12th out of 22 countries in the Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness in Families Index (FIFI) 2016, which brings together a basket of measures to compare countries’ progress towards the goal of gender equality.
The top five countries in the 2016 index were all Scandinavian with Sweden taking the top spot.
Parental leave cost the Swedish state £2.2bn in 2015, largely funded by high payroll taxes levied on Swedish companies, according to BBC News.