Haro’s Platform on Family Politics

Haro aims to put the child in focus. This means that Swedish family policies must respect the individual needs and demands of each family. Parenthood must be defined by freedom of choice and equality. These objectives should be gained in accordance with the UN-convention on the Child’s Rights.

The Child in Focus
To put the child in focus means:

• To give sufficient time for each child. Children need adults at hand, to see to each child’s individual needs, and to encourage and support the child’s initiatives. A close relative can not always be substituted – young children’s emotional needs must never be overlooked or compromised.

• That parents to a great extent put the needs of the child ahead of their own.

• That society regards the cost of children’s upbringing as a crucial investment.

• To trust the child’s own intuition for development and allow for freedom when at play.

Parenthood implies both rights and obligations. Instinctively we wish to care for, foster and put our mark on our children. We voluntarily make sacrifices for their sake. In society there must be room for these instinctive actions. Swedish family policies have dislocated the natural human balance. This has involved a steering towards a one-way lifestyle model for parents, employment and daycare. This is unfortunate since it does not correspond to all parents’ visions of what parenthood should mean. All obstacles must be cleared for parents – single as well those co-habitating, to use their natural rights to live with, care for and bring up their own children. Only the parents themselves can decide how much time should be dedicated to maintain and strengthen the bonds between them and their children. Parents must be given financial means and support to bring up their children according to their own beliefs. Without this support it is difficult to be strong as a parent – strong in front of your children, society and yourself. Parents are an ignored resource and reservoir of expertise in society. They should be treated with greater respect. They should be encouraged and strengthened in their roll as parents. (Compare article no. 5 of the UN-convention on the Child’s Rights.) Complete parenthood also demands that it be carried out in a more children-friendly, balanced society. This is a model where family, work, leisure, habitat and personal development are integrated without obstacles.

Freedom of Choice
Haro feels that it is important to promote the family as a natural, cultural, social and financial entity. Each form of governmental subsidy for childcare must be constructed so that each family’s individual rights toward authorities, experts and organisations are strengthened. Some kind of family taxation or a tax reflecting parents’ support obligations would pay respect to the family’s beneficial input in society. This would further strengthen each family’s possibility to choose their own way of life. Freedom of choice means that a vast variety of childcare alternatives is allowed and encouraged. However, no commercial or public childcare form should be more favoured than care offered by the parents in their own home. All economic and political pressure to enforce uniformity of different families’ way of life must stop. Parents must be allowed to freely choose the kind of care which they find suitable for their children. This must be done on equal economic, social and cultural grounds. (Compare article no. 31 of the UN-convention on the Child’s Rights.) True freedom of choice is especially important for women’s possibilities in society. Women must be given full confidence to choose their own way of life, particularly during the years with small children.

The aspect of equality should be seen out of two perspectives:

1. Gender equality:
The parent who is the main caregiver of the children may not be less favoured than the co-parent in any way. This is true whether they are living together or separated. In the name of equality it should go without saying that parents share all forms of savings, insurances, retirement funds etc. that they have instigated together. Equality between the sexes should mean that all have equal opportunity to take part in familial, professional and societal arrangements. These goals should not and need not equality collide with the right to personally care for ones own children. Everything need not happen simultaneously. Every important task in a person’s life must be allowed sufficient space without interfering with other necessary engagements. To give one’s children care during a comparatively short period of life must be considered a legitimate choice. This choice must be on the same level as pursuits during other phases of life such as childhood, education, military service, career, old age or illness. Men should of course be encouraged to make considerably greater input in family life. With our present system though neither men nor women may, without great sacrifice, be other than leisure parents after the child’s first year. Children should never be regarded as the cause of loss of income or obstacles to professional working lives.

2. Equality between women:
The interests of a woman working full-time should not be the sole focus and norm of society. When decisions are made regarding women (and children), the interests, needs and input of the parent at home must be regarded. Society does not give the parent at home (most often a woman) the respect and support which she needs to maintain her professional life with regard to pension schemes, sick pay and merits. To take care of your children full time is a task which demands many of the same qualifications which are valued in professional life. Among these are organisational skills, planning, conflict solving, patience and endurance. It should therefore be regarded as a merit to have dedicated an extended period of one’s life – full time – to this task. If the full-time parent then chooses to return to the workforce this should ease the return to working life. It is Haro’s opinon that a person who cares for his/her own child carries out an important task and therefore should be entitled normal social security. In an equal society differences are respected and it is realised that know-how and skills may take different expressions.