The move underscores how far behind the rest of the world U.S. policies for new parents lag.
Samantha Cowan is TakePart's associate culture and lifestyle editor.
Sweden has the United States beat on affordable furniture, tasty meatballs, free university, and now, plans for an even more generous paid family leave program.
The Swedish government submitted a proposal this week to add an extra month of paid leave specifically for fathers. While the plan needs approval from parliament, officials are confident the legislation will pass, CNN reports.
Sweden currently grants 16 months of paid leave to be split between both parents, with 60 days dedicated to the father. Beginning in 2016, dads would get an extra month to take off. Each parent will stay home during the first three months after birth and then split up the remaining 10 months however they choose. During this leave, parents receive 80 percent of their salary.
Sweden’s program is one of the most generous, but other countries, including France, Finland, and Germany, also offer paid family leave for more than a year.
Out of 185 countries, only the U.S. and Papua New Guinea have no mandated paid parental leave. The U.S. allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave during which parents cannot be fired for staying home to care for a newborn. Three states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island—have paid parental leave programs.
Parental leave has become a campaign issue, with Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley calling for federal reform to protect new parents.
More than 80 percent of American mothers return to work within a month of giving birth. When a mother returns to work before the first 12 weeks are up, the child is less likely to be breast-fed and receive immunizations on time and more likely to have behavioral problems, according to several studies.
While championing Sweden’s progress, several Americans have asked U.S. officials to follow the European country’s lead.
Mother of my birth, for how long were we together
in your love and my adoration of your self?
For the shadow of a moment, as I breathed your pain
and you breathed my suffering. As we knew
of shadows in lit rooms that would swallow the light.
Your face beneath the oxygen tent was alive
but your eyes closed, your breathing hoarse.
Your sleeping was with death. I was alone
with you as when I was young
but now only alone, not with you,
to become alone forever, as I was learning
watching you become alone.
Earth now is your mother, as you were mine, my earth,
my sustenance and my strength,
and now without you I turn to your mother
and seek from her that I may meet you again
in rock and stone. Whisper to the stone,
I love you. Whisper to the rock, I found you.
Whisper to the earth, Mother, I have found her,
and I am safe and always have been.
“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others.” The Dalai Lama
Sonnet number one
“Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.”
Five things you can do to be happier right now
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
Earning more money; bagging the fabulous job you have always wanted or travelling the world might seem like the key to happiness.
But according to happiness expert Prof Paul Dolan, making simple changes are the key to bringing joy and purpose into your life.
Dolan, a professor at the London School of Economics and government advisor on how to make the population more contented, claims that many of the things people believe will make them happy are fleeting and can actually alter their lives in a negative way.
So although that coveted promotion may seem like the key happiness, it is likely to bring longer hours, more stress and a bigger commute. Likewise travelling the world will separate people from loved ones. And after a salary of £50,000, studies have shown nobody gets any happier with extra cash.
However he has identified five ways to be immediately happier. They are:
1. Listening to a favourite piece of music
2. Spending five more minutes with someone you like
3. Going outdoors
4. Helping someone else
5. Having a new experience
Speaking at The Hay Festival, Prof Dolan said: “It’s important to change what you do, not how you think.
“You should listen to music that you like listening to. That has a substantial effect on your mood. Your brain literally lights up. There is no other stimulation like music to arouse the brain.
“You spend five minutes more with someone you like and go outdoors. And helping someone is important. Helping other people is a very selfish thing to do. It’s a great source of happiness for you. Just randomly help someone and see the difference.
“And having a new experience is really important. The great thing about new experiences is they actually slow time down. It’s why life feels so slow for children because they are experiencing new things all the time. So if you want to slow down time then have as many new experiences as you can.”
Prof Dolan also advocates the importance of ‘priming’ and suggests changing passwords to affirmations to help keep goals in the memory. So if someone wanted to stop spending money they could change their banking password to ‘stopspendingcash’.
Making public promises is also a good way at achieving goals, Prof Dolan recommends. So announcing a plan to lose weight, give up smoking or stop drinking so much on Twitter makes people more likely to keep it up.
He believes it is important to ‘design’ an environment which makes happiness goals more achievable, even it means cutting yourself off from friends who promote bad habits.
“Most things we do are made through habit and auto-pilot because the brain is forming habit-loops all the time to make us more efficient. It’s why you can’t remember if you have locked the house or switched the gas off.
“So it’s important to design an environment that makes happiness possible. Willpower won’t work. You need to make it easier to yourself. You need to think what makes you happy and work out how to change your environment to allow you do to that more easily.
“So if going to the pub with friends makes you happy then make it once a week on a Tuesday or once a month, because it’s far harder to opt out of something than to opt in.”
“Most things we think will make us happy won’t. We’re really always happier if we are focussing on the person we are with and the thing we are doing right now. So make that something you enjoy.”
Paul Dolan’s Happiness By Design is out now.
“A writer in someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is.” Orhan Pamuk
“I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. make the most of every sense; glory in the beauty which the world in all the facets of pleasure reveals to you through the several means of contact which Nature provides. But of all the senses, I am sure that sight is the most delightful.” Helen Keller
“Repeatedly, I dare say, when pretty girls went by, I had promised myself that I would see them again. As a rule, people do not appear a second time; moreover our memory, which speedily forgets their existence, would find it difficult to recall their appearance; our eyes would not recognise them, perhaps , and in the meantime we have seen new girls go by, whom we shall not see again either.” Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
Swan Song: A song of great sweetness said to be sung by a dying swan, a farewell appearance or final act or pronouncement. Swans don't sing. They whistle or trumpet, or in the case of the swan most common in ponds, the mute swan, they only hiss and snort. But according to ancient legend, the swan does sing one beautiful song in its life—just before it dies. References in English to the dying swan's lovely singing go back as far as Chaucer, but the term swan song itself didn't appear in the language until the 1830s, when Thomas Carlyle used it in Sartor Resartus. Carlyle probably based his "swan song" on the German version of the term, which is Schwanengesang or Schwanenlied.
“Do not fear the thorns in your path, for they draw only corrupt blood.” Kahlil Gibran