They live in the city suburbs, enjoy skilling together and holidaying in Thailand. There’s mamma Inga, pappa Ingemar, eldest son Ingvar and baby girl Ingrid. The Svenssons – your average Swedish family? Maybe not.
Sweden’s nuclear families house an average of 1.85 children. But according to a recent study, a new trend in having a third child has emerged over the last decade. Today around 18 percent of parents in Sweden have three children or more.
The typical Svenssons do exist in society today, even those with a hat-trick of kids in tow, but it’s the make up of Swedish parents that is changing face.
This week Stockholm Pride – the rainbow-colored annual LGBT festival – is in town and “openness” is the themed banner for 2011.
“For Stockholm Pride, openness is more about what you do than who you are,” says Pär Wiktorsson, chair of the event and organization. “Its the ability to see beyond what society perceives as ‘normal’, and understand that there is more than one kind of love, more than one way to live and raise a family.”
This year, American Thomas Beatie – a transgender male who gave birth to three children – was in Stockholm to make the opening speech at the event. Since the capital celebrated its first Pride festival in 1998, barriers for gay families have been broken down, namely the right to marry, adopt and – for lesbian couples – the right to insemination.
There is still some way to go. Pressure continues from Sweden’s gay activists to make further reforms, ensuring LGBT parents have the same legal rights as their peers and their children grow up with the same security, possibilities and respect.
With these changes, a small but increasing number of children are living in “different” family constellations in Sweden today. In 2009, RFSL – The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights began a three-year project – Children in Rainbow Families – to bring awareness to the matter.
Where did they start? Well, they didn’t try to convert the non-tolerant community, or preach to those already persuaded. Instead they targeted pre-schools, providing material for teachers to learn more about these modern-day families to share with Sweden’s youngest citizens.
It is this kind of thinking that surely opens the door for the next generation Svenssons – mothers Sara and Sandra or fathers Mikael and Markus to live in harmony next door or across the road from Ingemars’ clan.