I've always looked upon the countries in Northen Europe as shining examples of what a civilized society should strive towards. They have low crime rates, very little discrimination, gender equality, and lack a dominating presence of religion. I'd even like to visit one of those countries eventually, as soon as I can find something with which to brush up on any of their languages (I guess mainstream video games in their native languages are lacking there...). I believed that everything there was great until I found this article:
The long and short of it is that Sweden is a bratocracy. They let their kids do and get away with a lot of crap, including stuff you couldn't get away with doing as an adult anyways. As a childfree person who doesn't like unruly children, I find that appalling. I'm not entirely sure if I'd like to go on a tour to Sweden and have dinner at a restaurant be ruined by some brats because their parents didn't want to do anything about them.
According to that article, it seems that this attitude persists because they want to encourage democracy and equality among everyone. But is it really?
Here are a few examples to demonstrate my point:
"They shout if there are adults speaking at the dinner table, they
interrupt you all the time and they demand the same space as adults."
Okay fine, give them their space for equality's sake, but if that's
the case, what if an adult were to interrupt you all the time? You
would consider the adult annoying and immature. You might tell them to shut up. You might even sit elsewhere so that you can have your conversation in peace. And if this is what you would do if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then you should do the same thing if they were children.
"One preschool teacher from Stockholm wrote that the four and
five-year-olds she teaches regularly say 'You think I care!' when
asked to do something."
If this were an adult, you fail them when they don't listen in class
and they do badly as a result of that. If this were an adult, and he or she was disrupting class, you either tell them to grow up, sit down and shut up or remove the student from the classroom. If that doesn't work, you can take it up with the principal/dean. And if this is what you would do if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then you should do the same thing if they were children.
"Just the other day a four-year-old spat at me when I asked him to
stop climbing on some shelves."
If this happened in public and it were an adult, we call the staff or the security and they deal with it. If this happened at home, you charge the adult money for fixing your shelves if they are damaged, or make him or her put things on the shelves back where they belong. If they don't have any money, you make them fix it or work them off until they can pay you back. If they refuse to comply, you evict them from your property. And if this is what you would do if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then you should do the same thing if they were children.
"Its main message is that punishing children does not make them behave
in the long run and setting boundaries is not always the right
If you really believed in equality, you would not say this. Because
adults have boundaries too. They get punished for committing crimes. If adults misbehave in public, you stop being friends with them or have a lower opinion of them. If adults act like assholes in public, you tell them to stop. You stop hanging out with them or leave. If you live with intolerable roommates (presumably adults), you move out and find a different flat to live in or kick them out. And if this is what you would do if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then you should do the same thing if they were children. In fact, if you really believe in equality, then children should be punished for crimes on the same basis as adults. There would be no separate considerations for juvenile crimes.
(not a specific quote, but the article mentions children throwing tantrums in general, having choice over food, TV shows, etc.)
If adults threw tantrums, made poor food choices or watch bad TV shows, they would lose friends, become unhealthy or sick, and might possibly become addicted to certain TV shows or TV in general. They would suffer the consequences. And if this is what would happen if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then the same thing would happen if they were children.
If you got on a bus, and an adult asked you to give up your seat, you would not do it unless he or she was disabled. And if this is what you would do if they were adults, and you really believed in equality, then you should do the same thing if they were children, and only give up your seat for a child if that child was disabled.
(If you must know, I personally would also only give up my seat for disabled people regardless of age, and not because they were children. But that's a discussion for a different article if anyone is interested.)
Does this already sound ridiculous enough? Is this really the equality that Sweden envisioned? Because if you think about it, if children really did have equality like adults did, then there would be no minimum age for going to work, buying cigarettes, drinking, driving or censorship of media with pornographic content or excessive violence. But the fact is, they are there for a good reason, and it's not because there's a reason to treat children like adults.
The problem with treating children and adults with equality is that it makes a strong, baseless assumption. Namely, that children are anything like adults. The fact is, children are fundamentally different from adults. There are similarities of course, but the differences mostly have to do with things that children can't know. They don't know anything about social ettiquette or conventions, so you can't expect them to understand or react accordingly like most adults would. Children aren't born with these social expectations. Nobody is. We hope their parents will raise them to understand it, but to say that they are equal with adults is to expect them to master these social expectations--something that takes years and even decades. I just cannot see adults and children being equal because they clearly are not. And if that means we have to treat children differently from adults to make up for their inability to understand these social expectations, then so be it; it's not like I ever had that problem to begin with. And Sweden, if you're going to continue to treat children like they're entitled to everything, feel free to do so, but please don't say you're doing it for democracy or equality, because quite clearly, you are not.
PS: If anyone lives in Sweden, I'd love it if you could confirm what that article says. And whether or not my idea of what I'd do if they were adults applies, or if the culture is radically different.