Should You Parent in Sweden?
What do you value as a parent? Learn how where you live informs how you parent.
Think hard. What 11 values do you want to instill in your children? Independence? Religious faith? Imagination? Responsibility? And how would you rank those values? Is saving money more important than self-expression?
According to the 2010-2014 World Values Survey, how you answer the questions above reveals not only who you are but where you might live. The survey asks participants in all countries to select 11 qualities most important for children to learn, whether the respondents have children or not. The researchers behind the study then aggregate the data to get a better idea of the moral make up of the country. PBS NewsHour reports, “For example, tolerance was the most-mentioned quality by people in Sweden—82.5 percent named it as one of the qualities they thought was important to teach children at home. About 72 percent of Americans mentioned tolerance, while just over 19 percent chose the same in Nigeria.”
The PBS article includes an interactive graph, where you can arrange the values and find the country closest to your set of beliefs. I put imagination as the first quality, and obedience and faith as the last two, and my result was Sweden, which makes sense because I live in Iowa—a hotbed of Swedish immigrants and their passively progressive politics and moral codes.
I was surprised that among the 11 values listed, education wasn’t one. I consider education and its pursuit an important value for my family, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I was filling out the survey.
I sometimes think of my family as a little radical country—my experiment in utopia—where my husband and I have the chance to create a society based on everything that we believe is important to us and watch the results. Of course, it’s too early to say if our experiment will fail or not. Our children are still little. They can’t go to jail, just yet. But like countries, our mini society is influenced by so much more than just my beliefs and values. So many elements are beyond our control. The idea that what we instill in our children is made up of not only our morals, but also the physical place we live, is a fascinating one. One that suggests that what we do as parents may not be as important as we sometimes feel because of the overwhelming influence of community and culture. This is both a blessing and a little terrifying.
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