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Americans definitely get the short end of the stick when it comes to maternity and paternity leave, making it that much more stressful to juggle being parents and professionals simultaneously. A recent Slate article stated that Swedish dads are also finding it increasingly difficult to find work-life balance, despite the country's lenient and considerable paternity (and vacation) leave policy. Yes, men still make more money than women in Sweden -- as they do in pretty much every country in the world -- but there is also a greater societal expectancy in in Sweden for fathers to contribute more equally in the home nowadays. (We can hear the Swedish mothers clanking their wine glasses and rejoicing as their husbands throw on aprons and do house chores.)
According to the article, "Men and women in Sweden get a combined 480 days of parental leave at 80 percent of their salaries but with a cap," with two months allocated to each parent individually and the rest of the leave left to be allocated as the parents see fit. In case you didn't catch that, that's four-hundred-and-eighty days, or in other words, nearly a year and a half of parental leave for the Swedes, compared to the measly two-weeks unpaid vacation that Americans are allotted, if that. The point is, if the Swedish fathers are finding it difficult to balance life even with their hefty vacation offerings, then how in the heck are American dads supposed to find solace?
A great start is through teamwork in and out of the workplace. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's powerhouse female COO, is one of the more renowned and appreciated advocates nowadays for gender equality in the workplace as well as the home. Sandberg states that, "If we had half our companies and half our countries run by women, and half our homes run by men, things would be better. We know our companies would be more productive. If you use the full talents of the population, you're more productive. We know our homes would be happier." She is absolutely right, we can't fight fire with fire on this one, but rather it needs to be resolved through a joint effort from both genders.
Work-life balance may not exist in today's world, but it doesn't mean it can't ever be possible or attainable for both genders. Through equal contributions in and out of the workplace, women and men can begin working together, rather than competing against one another and digging an even deeper grave.
If you're a working father, then you might want to check out HowStuffWorks.com’s post on the top five countries for new fathers.
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