Horror på Norsk – Challenge of Being Parent in Norway

In the
world’s richest country, parents struggle with their own specific  problems. As we have a baby, our first days
are marked by a rain of gifts from the people we even forgot that we had known.
How can the baby wear them even before the clothes are too small?

The
country-wide problem gains a new dimension of complexity, when Norwegians are
parents. A dad’s blog describes this familiar frustration as follows:

– “To
browse the internet looking for a car seat for children can be a
nightmare.”

Olaug Nilsen
interviews mothers in her book Kjøkkenbenkrealisme (Kitchen Counter Reality).
One of the interviewed mothers, Marte tells her husband is a housewife. It’s no
joke, says she: “We must sacrifice something financially, we rarely go to
cinema and have only one car,” adds Marte.

Another
mother in the book, An-Magritt is a wife of a good earning husband, but can
empathize with poorer parents: “I know people who have it so bad that they
cannot go on spontaneous holidays,” says she.

Deprived from the luxury of spontaneous
holidays

No it’s not
easy to be parent in a developed country, especially in Norway. Previously the
daycare  centers used to demand so high
price that a normal family barely afforded spontaneous weekends in New York. So
we, as parents, were forced to save and plan. Thankfully that high price
problem has been solved recently and we do not have to think about it, but
we’ve got new problems: More diaper brands have their own bonus club. How can
we keep track of all the offers from these brands? A mommy blogger writes:

“It’s
a jungle of diapers to choose among, and it is very difficult to decide to go
for a particular diaper.”

Parent In Ukraine do not have such problems

In Ukraine
it is easier. There is no parent who can afford to buy diapers for several
years. Thus, children learn early to go to bathroom. Olaug Nilsen learns about
this from Ukrainian Natasha.

Olaug also
presents in her book another interviewee named Line. She became mother, when
she was still a student, and was happy with the support she received from the Norwegian
state. Both Line and her husband worked part-time in a while to spend more time
with the kid. Nilsen asks her whether she thought of pension credits they lose
because they worked half time. Line answers: “Frankly, we live in the
world’s richest country, we travel, we consume whatever we wish.”

We can be equally happy with less material
consumption

A Norwegian
politician said in his election campaign that we can live well with less
material consumption. He was quite alone in his non-obsequious statements, and
was ridiculed. An op-ed writer castigated him for claiming that we were equally
happy in the 1980s. He was not sure whether he should call the politician’s
statement as an environmentalist fantasy or horror.

Researcher
Audun Farbrot, on the other hand, pointed out that Norwegians considered
themselves as satisfied in 1985 as we do today, even though the purchasing
power was much less that time. After a certain level of prosperity, money stops
to improve our life quality. Just environmental problems increase.

In
Norwegian public debate, real problems can drown in the noise of luxury
problems. We, who work at the street magazine (=Oslo), never forget the real
problems. Our salespeople (mainly drug addicts) remind a childhood with major
defects. They missed something different than two cars, spontaneous vacations
and a particular diaper.

About the author

Kari Bu is culture editor, journalist and
web-editor of the Norway’s first street Magazine, =Oslo. She also publishes
entries in Norwegian on her own blog, http://karibua.wordpress.com.

This article was translated from Norwegian and the
author cannot be held responsible for any misinterpretation in the translation.

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