expats · finland · health · life · parenting · self-care

On being a working parent in Italy & why I’m grateful to live in Finland

While visiting Italy, I had the chance to talk with several parents living there… and hear their horror stories. For starter, one mother shared how her workplace started mobbing her until they forced her to leave, right after she got pregnant. After years working there, they wanted to get rid of her just because she had had a child. In their eyes she would lose commitment to the job and flexibility in working hours. She was forced to accept a job in another company and cut in half her salary. On top of this, she shared the childcare fees she has to pay and it turned out she works just for the privilege of doing so.

This story is not uncommon. I have heard of Italian friends going to job interviews without their engagement ring on, because engagement means marriage, marriage means kids, kids means they’d rather hire someone else. When you have a kid, you become a problem for your employer.

I was talking to some fathers as well. One was the owner of a family-run factory, another was working in an IT company, another had an office job in a manufacturing business. When talking working hours, they shared they rarely work a 9 to 5. Their usual working hours are around 10 a day, with long periods of 12 hours a day. Plus Saturday afternoons, of course. In some companies, the extra hours are not even paid.

In practice, this means they barely see their kids. Their wives are often forced home as housewives. The grandparents have no choice but work as full-time babysitters during their retirement years.

Does this look like a healthy society to you? Didn’t think so.

These stories are exactly why my husband and I moved to Finland. We did not want to start a family in Italy. On the other hand, Finnish society celebrates parents. They literally pay people to have kids. Public cheap childcare is a right. Parents are encouraged (yet not forced) to go back to work and contribute to society. On the workplace, there’s a common understanding that family comes first and yeah, sure people have a life outside the office. I witnessed (male) managers ditching a company-wide presentation because daycare had called and their kid was projectile-vomiting on the walls. Having a work-life balance is encouraged. Many companies even plan regular events for employees and their families, kids included! That’s how a healthy and happy society looks like.

Dear fellow Italian people, what you go through is not right. Having children is not only your right, but a precious contribution to society. Having a life outside work is advisable, not acceptable. You cannot rely a society on grandparents’ care. Wake up and shout out ENOUGH!

If you enjoyed this post, you may like also:
Let’s give fathers a real chance
The Mummy Juggle – my guest post for Ettie and Me
All public spaces should celebrate parents
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Surrey Mama

5 thoughts on “On being a working parent in Italy & why I’m grateful to live in Finland

  1. That sounds absolutely incredible! It is just as terrible in the states. Maternity leave is 12 weeks if you’re lucky, childcare burns up your funds, employers are not understanding when it comes to having to leave to take care of your child. Finland sounds incredible and I’m glad you’re happy with the move! Maybe one of these days, people will start to reflect the brilliant movement Finland has made!


  2. So true, although it isn’t that different than in the UK. And we don’t have the nonni who often want to help. Like many of the things wrong in Italy it’s so ingrained I’m not sure how you solve it. I have had friends told in interviews that they are clearly just going to have a baby soon as they are married so why should they hire them! Spoken out loud in an interview! Although in the UK you would be fired for saying this, behind the scenes it’s still thought of. I know I was overlooked at work after I got married and found out later it was because everyone expected me to start a family straight away… Finland seems to have got it right where so many are getting it wrong. #ThursdayTeam


    1. They have some but a) employers manage to bypass them, b) it’s not easy to enforce them. For instance the lady who got pregnant, she could not be fired while pregnant or on parental leave, but they made sure she knew when she’d be back they’d give her hell. And we don’t have anti-mobbing laws. What is normal on an Italian workplace would be ground for immediate firing in Finland, cause you cannot treat people like that


  3. Wow what an eye opener! I have heard some amazing things about Finland in the past with their work life balance and the pro family environment. However, I had no idea how discriminatory Italy were towards mother’s who want to work. I can’t help but feel we are not too dissimilar to them here in the Uk but I like to think most employers are making positive changes over here. Thank you for joining #ThursdayTeam


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