our everyday life

Swedish Parenting Traditions

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

According to UNICEF, the Scandinavian nation of Sweden is one of the best countries in the world to raise a child. The country actively works to protect the rights of children, while lending considerable support to parents.

Parental Leave

Sweden offers more time off for new parents than any other country, according to a 2011 report on NPR. They are allowed to take 480 days per child, and most parents receive 80 percent pay during this time. This leave does not have to occur during the first year; a parent can take the time off any time during the child's first eight years. Additionally, 60 of these days are allocated to the father, but the parents can choose to split up the parental leave in any way they choose. If it makes more sense, the father can take the bulk of the leave, though currently, fathers take about 20 percent of the leave, according to Sweden.se, the country's official website.

Day Care

The vast majority of parents work outside the home -- 80 percent of mothers and 90 percent of fathers, according to Sweden.se. This is probably because of parental leave options and the availability of affordable child care. Starting from age 6 to the university level, children receive free education. In the early years, cities set a maximum rate that child care centers can charge to help make it affordable for all.


In 1979, the Swedish government banned corporal punishment, according to Sweden.se. Instead, Swedish parents focus on using words rather than spanking in order to discipline their children. They also feel strongly about developing a strong parent-child bond, which is illustrated by the generous amount of paid parental leave that parents receive.

Teens and Sex

In Sweden, the age of sexual consent is 15, and parents generally are more liberal than Americans when it comes to the sexual lives of their teenagers, according to Sweden.se. Many parents will allow their child's boyfriend or girlfriend to spend the night. This normalizes and recognizes the budding teenage sexuality, teaches the teens to develop strong relationships before having sex -- since the parents are likely to have to meet the partner -- and gives them a safe place to learn about sex.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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