These Incredible Photos Show How Fatherhood Works in Sweden Compared to America

December 30th 2016

Laura Donovan

A photographer's photo series on Swedish dads who utilize paternity leave serves as a powerful reminder of how valuable paternity leave can be to fathers and their families.


A photo posted by ARCUB (@arcub.bucuresti) on

Titled "Swedish Dads," Johan Bävman's photos show Swedish dads on parental leave, which entitles workers to 480 days of paid time off and reserves 90 of those days for dads. In 2014, 25 percent of dads used the full amount of parental leave, according to Sweden's official website.

"I started this project when I was home with my own son," Bävman told BuzzFeed News in March 2015. "I had a hard time finding anything that was written for me as a father. So I got the idea that I wanted to document fathers during their parent leave, to hear why they wanted to be home with their children and what they hoped to learn from it.”

One dad Bävman photographed, for example, said that taking time off to look after his kids enabled him to feel more confident as a dad and get closer to his kids.

Bävman's photo series recently landed its own art exhibit in Beijing:

Johan Bävman

ATTN: has reached out to Bävman for further comment and will update this piece if we hear back.

Bävman's photo series highlights how paternity leave, and parental leave in general, could be improved in the U.S.

ATTN: recently produced a video on this subject, noting that America's standards on parental leave are underwhelming in comparison. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the U.S. guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job security to people who have worked at companies with more than 50 employees for at least a year. Compared to other developed countries, this is not a good deal. A Pew Research Center report from September 2016 states that the U.S. is the only country on a list of 41 developed nations without guaranteed paid time off for parental leave.


In the U.S., dads who want to take time off to be with their kids may also face a stigma, according to Scott Coltrane, a sociologist at the University of Oregon. Coltrane told The Wall Street Journal in June 2013:

"There's still a stigma associated with men who put parenting on an equal footing with their jobs. Most employers still assume that work comes first for men, while women do all the child care."

A June 2016 survey conducted by Deloitte found that more than half of men surveyed fear that taking parental leave would send a message that they don't care about their job.

"Parental leave is about much more than recovering from a medical event," Deepa Purushothaman, the principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP and national managing principal of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative, said in a release at the time. "It’s about bonding with a new child—and that goes for fathers as well as mothers. Many employees, male and female, are coming to expect the flexibility to support caregiving and family needs, and employers can help by ensuring their people are not stuck deciding between their job and family.”