Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Thursday, May 5, 2011

IMFC "Busting the myths of Swedish Family Policy"

 Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

The second keynote speaker was Jonas Himmelstrand from Sweden, who spoke on the Swedish family model.

Swedish family policies were implemented in 1975. At that time 10% of children were in daycare, today it is over 90%.

Selective statistics can be chosen to paint a beautiful picture of the affects of this policy, but if you look at the reality of life in Sweden, the picture is more alarming. As a management consultant he began to see problems, but didn’t know why. He was on the political left, but then he grew up, had a family, and started a business. His conclusions are also not religiously motivated, Sweden is a very secular country.

In 2000 he went into a school to give some lectures, and was quite surprised by the comments he heard from the Head Master and teachers about the terrible decline in the mental health of children. Sick leave absences are also very high in Sweden, it raises the question, why are so many sick in such a wealthy country? Women would tell them how painful it was to leave their children in daycare. So he started to study and write about these issues.

Positives in Sweden

Low infant mortality
Very high life expectancy
Relatively high birth rate
Low child poverty
Universal daycare
High levels of education spending
High level of income and gender equality
16 month parental leave

There are no babies in daycare in Sweden due to parental leave. However by 18 mo 92% of children are in daycare. This daycare is heavily subsidized, you will never pay more than $300 a month regardless of number of children or income, most pay more like $150. This costs the government about $20,000 a child per year. There are no national benefits for those who would stay home and look after their children however, and what is available is only available some places and is hard to use.

Because putting children in daycare and being a dual-earner family is seen as a very good thing, the government actively tries to make it almost impossible to be a one-earner family with high taxation. Staying at home is discouraged, and marginalized.

Home education is in effect illegal (He is a homeschooler however), only about 100 children in Sweden are homeschooled. Dominic Johannesson is an example, he was seized from his parents because of homeschooling, and the court said that since he missed daycare and the first year of school he has been harmed. As of July 1st, homeschooling will be illegal, although it is almost illegal now.

What were the envisioned family outcomes?
More equality
Better child social and academic development
Better school preparation
More adult life satisfaction
They had a “work policy” everyone should work full time to give them freedom.

Actual Outcomes
Strong decrease in the psychological health of youth (compared to comparable European countries). 30% of 15 year old girls have mental health issues. High levels of unemployment are found in the young as young men exhibit mental health issues by under-performing. It is ironic that mothers are being forced to work while the youth, who really need jobs, suffer unemployment.
Sweden went from top in the world in school performance 30 years ago to average today.
Classroom order is amongst the worst in Europe.
High rates of sick leave and early retirement among women. They are forced to work while children are young, and get burned out early from working two jobs.
Day care staff top sick leave stats.
Deteriorating parental abilities, even in the middle-class. Parents believe that the daycare workers are the experts and they lose their confidence in their ability to parent. They become activity coordinators not parents.
The quality of daycare is deteriorating. Cannot be said to be high quality anymore. 1/5 of daycares have more than 21 kids. For children under 3 group size is 10-17, 3-5 yrs it can be as large as 30. Child:Staff ratios are 5:1, 7:1, even 10:1. There is no regulation of group sizes or child:staff ratios.
Fertility rates are high compared to the rest of Europe, but low compared to other Nordic countries (which have home care allowances).
A very gender segregated labor force, women work in daycares, schools, and healthcare. Men are in the business world.

What explains these outcomes?

A lack of adult attachment when a child is young leave them with a low threshold for stress throughout their lives.
Large peer groups where children are “raising each other” encourage late maturation. Too much peer orientation leads to disinterest in learning, bullying, gangs, promiscuity.
There is a lot of stress on parents which leads to worse outcomes for them.

Political/Social Outcomes
There is little debate on these issues as there is so much guilt about leaving children etc.
Daycare is seen as a good part of normal life, every child has a right to daycare.
Housewives are bullied.
The very word “family" is politically incorrect.
Civil society is dying as the government takes over.
Child rearing becomes a matter of politics rather than an individual decision.

What do Swedes want?

60-80% want the ability to stay home with small children, up to the age of three or so at least.

Sweden’s family policies have negative effects and are not emotionally sustainable. We need to protect the parent’s right to choose. The institution of family needs support.

Q1: What is the state of homeschooling in Europe in general, and is it getting better or worse?

A1: Europe is not united on the issue. In Sweden it is very bad.

Q2: Why is the quality of daycare deteriorating.

A2: It is getting too expensive to maintain, and there are no regulations.

Q3: Canada’s figures on mental health are very poor, yet we do not have universal daycare. What other factors may come into play?

A3: In Sweden they don’t have many of the indicators such as child poverty that may explain many of North America’s problems.

Q4: What impacts on these statistics does widespread Muslim immigration cause? Is there a difference in outcomes?

A4: There is some trauma to be certain, from arriving in the country, or from the country they came from. But this goes way beyond immigration.

Q5: Noted that said undiagnosable mental illness on rise, what about diagnosable ones?

A5: They have also risen.

Q6: What is the next closest control country for use in comparing Swedish stats.

A6: Probably Denmark or Norway. But it is a very complex issue, and it is hard to find control groups for this sort of study.

Q7: If people want change, in a democratic country, why can’t they bring political change?

A7: One party does advocate for these issues, and gets about 5% of the vote. People believe that women will become “trapped” if they try to stay at home, so the government must prevent this. Politicians will say they are concerned about these issues but do nothing.

Q8: How do you homeschool if it is illegal?

A8: You get ready to flee the country immediately, and at any time, What they do is apply for permission to homeschool at the beginning of each school year. When this is turned down they continue to appeal it to higher and higher courts. By the time they have exhausted their appeals the school year is over. Then they repeat it the next year. They are hoping that the case may go higher yet, and that the European Convention on Human Rights will support their right to homeschool.

Q9: Could this issue be addressed through the harm to businesses of increased sick leave, early retirement?

A9: Connection isn’t made by businesses, and the government is just responding to the issue by trying to push even sick people back to work.

Q10: To what extent is this problem caused by feminists trying to impose their views on other women?

A10: 100% Feminism is very protected and celebrated in Sweden.

Q11: They seem to advertise that they have equality but don’t respect women’s choices.

A11: Women are respected, when they act like men. It is a problem.

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