The way countries around the world manage the parental leave after the birth of a baby is very different and it’s interesting to see different perspectives and the impact they have on the society. While in America the working mothers don’t get too much time with their babies after they give birth, there are other places where maternity leave is encouraged and supported by the government. And there is something even better than this: in some countries, fathers are encouraged to become stay-at-home dads and to get involved in raising the kids and they are allowed to have a paid paternity leave. One of these countries is Sweden. Swedish parents are allowed to have 480 days with they babies after they are born and they can split this time between both parents. The government even gives a special bonus for the families that decide to split this time and allow dads to spend time at home with their kids.
Children get more attached to their fathers and dads have the chance to enjoy the time with their little ones and this has a wonderful impact on the families that decide to split those 480 days of parental leave. To encourage more dads to take this opportunity, one Swedish photographer named Johan Bävman decided to turn Swedish dads on parental leave into role models for dads around the world. So he started a photographic campaign to show the real life of stay-at-home dads and the photos he took really made an impact and quickly became worldwide famous.
The photographer captured intimate scenes of the everyday life of stay-at-home dads, like bathing, feeding, sleeping, shopping, or cleaning. He used only minimal equipment and no external lighting, wishing to make the photos authentic and to reflect the reality exactly as it is. Johan Bävman got this idea when he was himself on paternity leave and felt that he wants to give courage to other men to stay at home with their kids. He also spoke about the fact that fathers can build a strong bond with their kids too, they only need to allow them to spend time with the children and be part of their daily activities.
Here is how he explains his view about the father-child bond: “It feels a bit too easy to say that a bond is purely maternal. A bond is something you gain by taking your time, something that you grow by being with someone. You have to put in the time to gain trust and confidence. You start something in the beginning of a child’s life which is really important in the future, in the relationship. What I got is priceless, the ties, the understanding of his needs, the understanding of my partner”. This is very true, isn’t it? I think this is a precious lesson every dad should learn about his relationship with his children.
You can find the full story behind Bävman’s project in the below video, I really liked every minute of it!
Johan Bävman: “The prime thing is getting the connection to your children. You understand them. And you also get a better understanding of your partner. You see a lot of couples separate when the family becomes more than two, and one of the reasons is that they don’t understand each other. Having a child is hard — you don’t get enough sleep, you can get exhausted and angry and frustrated. Being able to be home helps you understand your partner and have a better relationship. And you know more of your child when the child is growing up, and as they get older they can come to you if they are seeking advice, or if they have some questions about men or being a male, they can come to you as a father. And that’s something which is important.” (you can read a full interview with him here)
Johan Bävman also gathered some heartfelt confessions from stay-at-home dads and I think that every father should read these thoughts to better understand the great benefits of staying close to the children.
Jonas Feldt: “It was a wake-up call to read about a survey by the youth magazine Kamratposten expressing that most children turn to their mum when they are upset, seeking comfort or just need someone to talk to. Second to the mother came a relative, then a sibling, then someone at school, and only a long way down came dad. I want my kids to feel just as safe with me as with their mum, and that bond is something I’ll build during my parental leave. I don’t just want to be the fun parent.”
Ola Larsson: “It is important that everyone is free to choose to take time off for parental leave or not. It is the culture that needs to change on a grand scale and more male role models must be promoted. I had to dry many tears after I left my son in daycare for the first time. It is a true gift to be allowed to create such strong emotional ties. You almost have to experience parental leave to understand what you lose before you decide to work instead.”
Juan Cardenal: “My older relatives expressed doubts as to whether I would be able to handle the children myself. With my extensive parental leave, I believe it was easier to connect and bond with my children than fathers that don’t stay home. I am eternally grateful for having been able to be on leave for such a long time. Parental leave changed my way of looking at life. It created a break in the rapid pace and allowed me to reflect.”
Loui Kuhlau: “There was never any discussion about who should stay at home with Elling. That we would split parental leave more or less equally has always been obvious to us. Had I not had the opportunity to be at home with our son for almost a year, I would probably not have known who he is as a person and what his needs are. This said, there hasn’t been much time to just sit and enjoy being in his company. Most of the time has been spent making everything work. It really is a full-time job.”
More than all these beautiful words, Bävman’s photographs really speak for themselves and they are a wonderful proof that stay-at-home dads are amazing and the kids truly need them in their life. You can find the whole collection on his blog, but I also discovered some of the photos on Pinterest and you can enjoy them in the below board.
If you liked the idea of this project and you also think that stay-at-home dads are really great for kids, share these photos with your husband! You never know what effect they can have on him. Maybe he will enjoy the idea too and will surprise you at least with more time spent at home with the kids. 🙂