I’ve just started my parent leave and even though I totally love to spend all my time with my baby it feels a little bit lonely. In Sweden we may think that we are the most equal country in the world, but we are not. I’m the only stay at home dad in our acquaintanceship, but that said most dads stay at home with their kids – for a month or two. During hunting season. Or football season. Or summer. You get the picture. The problem is bilateral though, you cannot blame the guys for not wanting to be at home with their kids without blaming the mums for not letting/forcing the guys to stay at home. We have such a privilege to be able to be at home, paid, for a full year with our babies. I think it’s such a shame that couples can’t share that time between themselves. The government does their best to encourage people to do a 50/50 split. Half of the days is automatically assigned to each parent, and if you do stay at home the same amount of time you get an equality bonus! There’s not much more they can do. The effects of having one parent staying at home is devastating both for the individual and for society.The state pays you 75% of your normal salary when you’re on parent leave, so a couple will loose less money by having the least paid parent home. But taking one year (or more depending on how many kids you get) of work will affect your career, both in your salary trend and in what kinds of career opportunities you get. I know it will affect my career, I’m already the least paid in my department and I’ve been of work for quite some time now, I’ve hardly worked all year due to my back problems! In a few weeks we’re getting a new boss and he won’t see me work at all until the beginning of the next year. Of cause this will affect my salary trend negatively! And why should they trust me with new remits when I haven’t been around for so long? To be honest, I’m quite nervous about how my parent leave will affect my career in the long run but I try to calm myself down saying 1. It’s worth every penny to be able to be at home with my precious baby, 2. Having less authority at work means less troubled thoughts and more time to focus on the kid. I will do what I’m told and leave when I’m done, the end. 3. The extra money won’t make me or my family more happy. We already have a great life and we won’t be happier if we could afford to go on grand holidays abroad. It would be nice, but it won’t make us happier!
One thing that would make me happier though is having more dads to socialize with when I’m on parent leave. Once a month were going to a parent group at the local health center, well it’s usually me and the mums. My wife and their hubbies tend to work when we have our meetings. We all have babies the same age and discuss current matters. The mums in the parent group get together occasionally, goes for walks and have coffee, you know, like latte mums. In the bigger cities you have latte dads, but I’m living in a small town where surprisingly many families are frighteningly traditional in their gender roles, so I’m not sure if any of the dads will take any parent leave. You could argue that there’s nothing wrong with socializing with the mums, and I agree. I’m not so sure their husbands will agree though. Traditional as they are, having a strange man (in dual sense) hanging out with their wife all day with no one to supervise is not something they will encourage. Maybe I’m the one setting up the barriers, but I feel that the mums don’t speak as easily with me as they do with the other mums either and I don’t get invited for walks or coffee unless my wife or their husband is coming too. I haven’t disclosed my trans* status to the parent group yet, and quite frankly I don’t feel like doing it either. I guess that’s part of the problem.
We’ll see though, maybe I’ll get some company when the hunting season starts. In the meantime it’s me and the girls 😉