In light of the parlous state of social and political affairs in today’s Sweden, our Swedish correspondent LN has undertaken a survey of family life in his country, concentrating on the childrearing practices that have evolved over the last two or three generations.
In compiling his analysis, LN has condensed and summarized material from the linked articles in addition to providing direct translations.
How to capture one’s full humanity
Why do Swedes behave like Swedes?
An important seminar was held this summer on Skansen in Stockholm on the theme: Future psychic health — for today’s children and youth. Among those participating were internationally well-known experts in the compass of the topic.
The fact that quite new thinking is needed to make it easier for young people to grow was established. So many of today’s societal problems can be traced to ignorance of human emotional needs and a neglect of the tremendous momentum that exists in young people, if only they are allowed to blossom outside and beyond the controlling and limiting templates.
Children and adolescents need their parents and the adult generation more than they need their friends and buddies of the same age. Emotional muteness and mental health problems may be rooted in their poor relations with their parents. Too much child care can induce aggressive and destructive behavior in later schooling.
Swedish experts — and thereby the Swedish research in this area — are deplorably locked into the Swedish self-opinionated political system and find it difficult to receive input from other sources. Pretty presumptuous, one must say.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a clinical psychologist from Canada with a reputation for penetrating to the heart of complex parenting issues, and the author of the internationally recognized book Hold On to Your Kids — why parents need to matter more than peers. Dr. Neufeld’s message was that the younger generation’s lack of adult contacts in the Western world is one of the most disturbing and misunderstood trends of our time — peers replacing parents in the lives of our children. Dr. Neufeld has dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation [jämnårigorientering], which refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behaviour.
But peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for conformism, aggression, schoolyard bullying, and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity. It is an escalating trend that has never been adequately described or contested until Hold On to Your Kids. Once understood, it becomes self-evident — as perhaps do the solutions.
Professor Jay Belsky is an internationally recognized expert in the field of child development and family studies. His areas of special expertise include the effects of day care, parent-child relations during the infancy and early childhood years, the transition to parenthood, the etiology of child maltreatment, and the evolutionary basis of parent and child functioning.
Dr. Belsky’s research is marked by a focus upon fathers as well as mothers, marriages as well as parent-child relations, and naturalistic home observations of family interaction patterns.
Dr. Belsky has carried out several longitudinal studies focused upon the early years of the family life cycle, concentrating first on the first year of life and especially the interrelation of marriage, parenting and infant development, as well as the effects of day care and origins of attachment security, before moving on to carry out work on the so-called “terrible twos”, the second and third years of life.
Many hours in pre-school, regardless of quality, results in increased behavioral problems. Nor can pre-school compensate for the weak mothering of young children. A one-or two-year-old child with a less responsive mother develops better in the mother’s care than in many hours (10 hours/week) at pre-school. Children with a less responsive parent (mother) seem to need more time with the mother, said Belsky. Nor is there any evidence that preschool would improve the child’s social development. Answering a direct question, Belsky said that it is most important for a child’s development that it’s mother may choose the form of care that she instinctively feels the child needs — home, relative, neighbor, child-minder or nursery institution. The Mother’s choice here is therefore central, according to Belsky.
Articles by Jay Belsky (pdf files):
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- Effects Of Child Care On Child Development: Give Parents Real Choice
- Are There Long-Term Effects of Early Child Care?
- Child-Care Effect Sizes for the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development
- Does Amount of Time Spent in Child Care Predict Socioemotional Adjustment During the Transition to Kindergarten?
In Sweden, pre-school activity and care of schoolchildren embraces children from 1-12 years. Pre-schools, kindergartens, formerly called daghem [“day-home”] are now called DAGIS. The German word kindergarten [children’s garden] is also available in English, and comes from the activities launched in 1837 by the German Friedrich Fröbel. Children’s Garden activities came to America in 1838 and to Sweden in1896.
Kindergarten’s main task was to teach the child to interact in groups and to become able to act independently. Child-care [barnomsorg] in Sweden is a collective term for the care and upbringing of children. In a more specific sense it refers to the temporary care of a child by other than the child’s guardian.
Until 1996, child-care was submitted to social politics and the Ministry of Social Affairs was responsible for it, but then it was moved to the Ministry of Education.
|1935:||Alva Myrdal’s book “City Kids” was published.|
|1943:||As the result of a Government Report, state subsidies to kindergartens were decided.|
|1972:||The Kindergarten [barnstugeutredningen] investigation was completed.|
Is Sweden still living in the past? Specifically, at the time when the Social Democrat Alva Myrdal and her husband Gunnar Myrdal, Joachim Israel and his former wife Miriam Israel, Olof Palme, and others — all impressed by the Frankfurt School and neo-Marxist sociology — decided how the future welfare state should be shaped. Female fosterers, pedagogues, in large nursery homes should in place of parents educate young children to become new, ideal citizens.
Children were to be reared by society to become good socialists in Alva Myrdal’s spirit.
In large parts of the world it is natural — or at least it was — that young mothers work less than men or not at all. Career women and mothers with small children gave notice and abandoned their top skilled jobs to become “stay at home” mothers. In countries where motherliness and motherhood is a large and accepted part of life, women could leave work to become full-time mothers without losing prestige or merit.
But not in Sweden. Taxes are now so high that today it is generally required that both parents work and pay taxes to the yawning chasm that the state has become. It is just as in the EU — you pay 50 billions to the European Union and get 20 billions back plus all the excellent but in most cases unnecessary services that the EU offers.
During the past decade alarming reports have been pouring in about women’s illnesses.
The doubling of absenteeism due to sickness in Sweden depends largely on the fact that the world’s most equal, healthiest, and most long-lived women are on the sick-list.
The sick women show diffuse symptoms of diffuse diseases such as burnout, fatigue, and anxiety. The number of early retirements has increased and is approaching ten percent of the working population. Approximately two thirds of all early retirees are women. At the beginning of the 21st century, Sweden has once again got a lot at-home mothers, home-mothers of the state. And this is quite all right because these at-home moms of the new era are supported by the state and not by their husbands, if they have any.
In 2008, the author and social commentator Dilsa Demirbag-Sten wrote in Dagens Nyheter: “The children are in the kindergarten and the adults are making careers. Many children are now in the kindergarten longer than their parents are at work — are full-time working parents the best thing for the children?”
Karin Yngman is an author and a pre-school teacher of long experience who has a lot to say on these matters. Recently the following article by her was published on the open blog Emils Tankar:
Feminism makes traditional fathers of the mothers
by Karin Yngman
The State as deputy parent is worthless. The Swedish pre-school may be the world’s best or the world’s worst; it is not the State’s mission to have full control over our childrearing.
The entire public sector is in reality a political construction that is outside the market based on supply and demand, which would emerge if politics did not exist. The doctors would collect their fees from those who needed a doctor, the teachers would receive compensation from those who wanted to buy teaching. Anyone who was unable to look after their children would buy the service of someone who was able to offer that service.
Now we have decided that politics is a means to offset excessive gaps opening up between people when rules adjusted to the true conditions on the market are allowed to reign. As the State has the right to levy taxes, we can through politics equalize the ugliest — and for a civilized society the most unworthy — abuses which would otherwise occur. So far, so good.
But where does the tax money go? A not insignificant part is used to relieve parents from the right and duty to be parents. The state has gradually laid hands upon the children as state property (to become productive cogs in growth), and this has been possible partly through the compulsory schooling, partly by the bit-by-bit disconnection of parents from the expenses that health care, education, and social training incur. They may be involved and have to pay through their income taxes, but have no direct influence over how money is spent. Parents must approve the state and its methods of raising the children in place of their own care and efforts.
In return, the parents do not have to see the actual cost in hard cash of their children. Thus a hostage situation has been created. The state is not interested in taking in quotations from the children’s own parents. The parents are not desired as performers. Of all the full investments to carry and bear children, a few hours of cuddling time (alternatively, scolding time) remain outside of office hours. The real fostering and education is taken care of by someone else designated by the state.
Play with the idea that we have come a step further in the hostage drama. Rather than giving parents and children one year’s respite paid by the parental insurance, the child is immediately grabbed from the maternity ward. Purely economic, this surely would be a gold mine. The Parental Insurance is ‘swinishly expensive’, and the ‘labour demand’* ought to call for a more rational way to deal with the child problem…
Why do our stomachs turn upside down when thinking of day care centers for newborns [spädisskola] but not when thinking about the pre-school for one- and two-year-olds, who are as much in need of close contact with Mom or Dad? Is this because of the brainwashing: “We have the best pre-schools in the whooole wooorld!”?
Is it because we have been deprived of every shred of pride in being first of all a mother? In Sweden, mothers are rather more like good fathers who spend some time with the children after the day’s work is completed. As if that were enough!
A whole country full of traditional fathers…
And this they call feminism.
Rather it is the most vulgar form you can imagine of a man’s society.
Where are the ideologists? Shame on all of you who call yourselves (social) liberals! You should dig up your ideological compasses and try to get back on track again. Refresh your knowledge of the important ties and pedagogy, so that you end up in the present. Draw political conclusions from knowledge and ideological honesty and recognize the parental right!
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* “labour demand” or “labour line” = arbetslinje: the established principle in Swedish politics, expressing the idea that those fit for work have actively to seek paid employment — or, if in need of possible social service benefits, have to attend any approved training or activation course to get the welfare. Note: the “labor demand” does not apply to so-called refugees or other migrants.
In the daily paper Barometern in Kalmar, Karin Yngman has an important reminder 7/23:
Home-schooling for philosophical or religious reasons may be banned in Sweden. This completely amazing part of the proposed new Education Act seems to slip through without comments from the media. A teaching method that is experiencing rapid growth in other parts of the world and displays fabulously good results in countries where it is developed (mainly in the Anglo-Saxon world) will practically be prohibited in future Sweden.
Home-schooling was forbidden in Nürnberg, September 1935, by the Nazis — the ban is still valid — and now seventy-five years later Sweden will follow in the German footsteps.
We Swedes are verily living in the wisest and best of all possible worlds.