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Six Swedish fathers share the joys of paternity leave

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Yashar Adellian and his partner are both teachers, and decided to split their parental leave as equitably as they can to enjoy 13-month-old Milas. The mother now works two days a week while Mr. Adellian works three. ‘It’s good for her to have some room,’ he says. ‘The important thing is the trust that Milas feels in me. He’s not always going to mommy now when there’s a crisis.’

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Christian Celsing, 39, plans to spend six months with 10-month-old Eric, and his wife has just gone back to work. Employed as a purchasing agent, he has no qualms about the fact that, despite Sweden’s approach to fatherhood, his decision could come at a cost. At some companies, ‘you probably do lose a couple of steps on the career ladder.’

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Olav Fromm is a marketing manager on leave with the youngest of his four children. He has taken about 40 per cent of the time available to him and his wife, and says there is ‘negotiation each time’ to decide his share. ‘I did sort of push for 50 per cent, but when it comes to it, even though women tend to want a 50-50 split, I believe women have a hard time leaving kids when they’re small.’

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Thomas Helgeson, an economist with a government statistics agency, is splitting parental leave with his partner, a social worker with the elderly. They are each taking nine months off to spend with son Ellis, and since starting his leave in April, Mr. Helgeson has become a confident father. ‘Now I know how he works, and what’s special for me is that he is not working the same way as he did in April.’

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Jakob Wihlert is doing more than just help his partner shoulder the workload on the home front – he’s putting money in her pocket. A recent study by the Swedish Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation found that for each month a father stays home, a working mother’s future wages increase by 6.7 per cent.

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Magnus Zimmerman was determined to spend six months at home with son Line, 1. He works for a telecommunications supplier and says that leaving the office behind has been no problem. ‘I don’t ask for news from there, and the difference for me is just that I don’t go to work.’

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