Thursday, 13 November 2008

Fathers and Equality in Sweden

"It is much easier to become a father than to be one."
-- Kent Nerburn (Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man)

While on the subject of fatherhood I can say that over the years I have met many, many who have been stranded in Sweden, in order to be with their children, despite a longing to go home and a struggle to make a place for themselves here. I’ve also met both men and women who have separated their children in order to return home, those who have separated from their children in order to leave Sweden and many, many more who fear the outcome of separation, and the choices and difficulties this would bring.

Separation and custody issues are difficult enough. Add to that the challenge of being a foreigner and not having the same support network around you that you might have had at home. Then there is the fact that being foreign never seems to be in your favour when it comes to court cases, custody battles and the like. Being a foreign father seems to make things all the more worse. Many, many of those I have met over the years will vouch for this, unfortunately.

While there is no support group for foreign parents fighting custody battles, I have heard many utter a desire for one. Perhaps one day there will be one.

There is however a Swedish group fighting for the rights of children to have both their parents and providing a network for those in need - headed by second generation migrant Michael Alonzo.

I first read about Michael in this SvD article, he is also the author of Ge inte up (don't give up). His book started as a letter to his son, in case he never saw him again. Michael describes how his son's mother kidnapped him and went underground and what happened afterwards. He wanted to let him know how much he fought for them to be reunited, how much he loved him. Thankfully there is a happy ending, his perserverance paid off.

According to statistics there are a growing number of Swedish children living with their single fathers. There are more and more men fighting to be with their children. Not just in Sweden.

1 comment:

  1. I've always found it very strange that women in most cases have a sort of interpretative prerogative when it comes to deciding who's the best or most suitable parent. Custody battles are often distorted and sadly many good, loving fathers end up getting the worst of it. Just because they're men.

    I have Alonzo's book in my to-read-pile, I'll read it one day when I'm in the right mood.