Sunday, December 03, 2006

Ylva Elvin-Nowak: Världens bästa pappa?

The title of this book is in translation The World's Greatest Dad? I found it interesting enough to want to write about it in English, so all my readers can understand... (wink wink!) The author is a psychologist who for her doctoral thesis wrote about how Swedish mothers perceive their lives and roles (based on interviews), and this book is a sort of follow-up. She has interviewed 20 men about how they perceive fatherhood, how they have adjusted to it, what it means to them in everyday life etc.

One of the fundamental differences, she writes, is that women feel so much more guilty than men. To summarize, she argues that mothers today compare themselves to their mothers, who more often didn't work, and thus always come up short since they have more demands on their time. Whereas men also compare themselves to their fathers (who were rather more completely absent), and feel pretty damn good. She spotlights quite well how there is a different scale to measure good motherhood vs good fatherhood. A good mother always has to be a step ahead, a good father doesn't, he just has to deal with problems when they arise. Very interestingly, many fathers don't seem to get that everyday, hands-on responsability for their children until after a divorce, when they become sole caregiver half the time (in Sweden, I must add, it's quite common for children to live every other week with each parents after a separation).

Also, the book is illustrated with Berglin cartoons - always a bonus!

My favourite bit from the book has to be when one father says something to the effect of "it's always nice to see your kids grow up" and promises to take that month (!) of parental leave in the summer sometime. As the author says, a mother who said something similar would be seen as deranged. N.b. that in Sweden we have almost a year and a half of paid parental leave altogether...

I wanted to link here to the blog of a forum friend, who wrote about Spanish fathers a while back, but I can't find it at the moment. If/when I do, I'll come back and edit.

Edited - found link!

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