A few years ago (and it frightens me that I still remember what I wrote nearly three years ago and can dig it up and link to it but whatever), I wrote about childcare in Sweden. Not because I actually have children, but because it’s a pretty popular topic. People the world over comment on the parental leave, the daycare, the child allowance all provided by those high taxes that Swedes pay.
In that post, I mentioned in passing about a Danish woman who ran into some legal trouble in the US for leaving her child in a stroller while she went into some sort of business establishment. Eventually, the whole thing settled down and she managed to even get some money out of the whole thing. Well played Danish woman, well played. Now a Swedish woman is in the exact same situation in Massachusetts. She left her kid outside in the stroller and spent gasp, 10 minutes in a restaurant. By the time she came out, she was facing charges of neglect. Bummer.
This is the ultimate kulturkrock. A culture crash of the kind that leads to serious problems and demonstrates a lack of understanding on so many levels. From both parties. I think this is a ridiculous overreaction by the Americans. I also think it is a little ridiculous that the Swedish mother in question wasn’t savvy enough to realize that this sort of thing doesn’t necessarily fly in the US. Silly, but you might want to pay some attention to what is socially acceptable in different cultures. I don’t eat bacon while wearing shorts and a tank top when I visit mosques in Istanbul.
All that being said, I sometimes forget just how Swedish I have become. Aside from the lack of cultural awareness, I see nothing wrong with this. Leave the kid to sleep outside. Don’t drag a huge stroller inside a crowded, or even empty, café or restaurant. Hell, some places in Stockholm have signs posted forbidding strollers from entering the building. It’s smart really. And I know, what if the child is kidnapped? It’s the big bad United States of America where nothing is safe…
There’s no need to be paranoid. That’s all it is, unwarranted paranoia. The statistics of kidnappings from the US Justice Department bear this out. Very seldom is a child just grabbed by a random stranger. Very, very seldom. Too often I hear the, well Sweden is just so safe so that this is completely acceptable. I believe it has less to do with actual safety and more to do with perceived safety. Yes, there are some places in the US you don’t want to be late at night. Of course, the serial rapist who was victimizing Flemingsberg while I lived there would suggests that there are some places in Sweden as well. Overall though, it seems my views on childcare for the hypothetical child that I don’t have, have suddenly been very much influenced by my Swedishness.
Welcome to the US. And kulturkrock.
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