Wishing all fathers in the U.S. a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

'Alla tiders pappa!' It is a long time still before Fars Dag Father’s Day in Sweden, which this year is celebrated on Nov. 13 but it's never too early to examine the image of the official Swedish pappa. 35 years ago, he was an absent father, just like his own father had been.
One of the internationally most famous Swedes, Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson had small children at home in 1959, but rarely mentioned fatherhood in interviews.
A decade later, in 1969, the image has changed. Now, our pappa is depicted as someone who is somewhat of a blockhead, sometimes a well-meaning blockhead, in the worst cases an egocentric one. Some of the most known fathers from this decade is Melker in the TV-series “Vi på Saltkråkan” and Keve Hjelm’s father figure in Bo Widerberg’s film “Kvarteret Korpen”, an alcoholic, self-pitying liar.

In 1979 it’s time to say hello to “velourpappan”, Velveteen Daddy. Swedish fathers were, in 1974, the first to gain right to paid paternity leave. But it was an uphill battle, and in order to make it more attractive and interesting, Försäkringskassan (Social Insurance) began an ad campaign starring heavy weight Lennart “Hoa-Hoa” Dahlgren who posed with an infant in his arms. The point was not lost: Even big strong men can stay at home and take care of little babies. Another velourpappa who made his entrance in the 1970’s was Alfons Åberg’s father (Alfon’s American name is Alfie Atkins), a daddy who spends most of his time relaxing in an armchair. It is also in the 1970’s that Babybjörn introduces the favorite item for all velveteen daddies: the modern, designed baby carrier. Another decade another image, but the 1980’s gave us a wider variety of father figures. First there’s the hurried yuppie dad, the one who wants to have a career but also wants to help take care of his child. He writes down the times for baby swim classes in his filofax, and bikes all over town with his tot on the luggage carrier. There’s also the rock n’ roll dad who puts earmuffs on his children and brings them to music festivals everywhere. The backpacking vagabond dad takes his children with him to the beaches of South East Asia.

Max von Sydow gives us a father who is repressed and afraid of conflicts in Bille August’s “Pelle the Conqueror”, while August himself is the Big Daddy of Denmark. Klas Eklund is revealed as a career father in his son’s book “Det är 1988 och har precis börjat snöa”. We forward yet another decade, to 1999. What makes a good father? There are piles and piles of demands, and just as many pieces of advice. The most famous TV-father of the late 1990’s is of course Tony Soprano from “The Sopranos”, a mafia boss and father of two who tries to master his panic attacks with therapy. And then we have Kevin Spacey’s father figure in “American Beauty”, a father going through a middle age crisis, falling in love with his daughter’s friend. Now what about today? In 2009 Ragnar Bengtsson made headlines in Swedish media as he tried to nurse his child. On the book front, the interest in dissecting the father figure is bigger than ever. There have been more novels about fathers in 2009 than any other recent year. Nils Claesson talks about his father Stig “Slas” Claesson in a book called “Blåbärsmaskinen” and although “Slas” was a beloved author, everything he did as a father wasn’t as admirable. Erik Wijk talks about his father Olof in “Allt vi här drömma om” and Hanna Hellquist about hers, Lars-Erik, in “Karlstad Zoologiska”. All the men do have one thing in common: Even though they were seen by the public as great, they had complicated relationships with their children.

We wish all fathers, alla pappor, a Happy U.S.Father’s Day and less complicated relations with their children.

Swedish fathers played a decisive role in the changed views in other parts of the world: Exporting the Swedish dad