Monday, May 6, 2013

Everyone says ‘I love you’ no one says ‘Jag älskar dig’


Pretty much every time I speak with my parents the phone conversation ends with us all saying ‘I love you.’ Except for these days when they usually end with one child in tears and me running off saying ‘got my hands full talk later’ or something like that before Little Swede has a chance to click on ‘the red telephone.’

But even with all that, there is a lot of ‘I love you.’

I don’t think I have ever heard the Swede’s parents say ‘Jag älskar dig’ to him. Not once. Not that I have ever doubted they love their kid. They certainly show it in many other ways. But through all the weddings and funerals and family ups and downs I have not heard an audible ‘I love you’.

This surprises me in many ways. I know Swedes are not as gregarious with their feelings as we Americans. I get that. But as a parent, I cannot for the life of me imagine not telling my child I love them several times a day. And just in case I forget, I always tell them one more time before they go to bed.

Little Swede is learning about this at the moment. He openly declares his love for me, The Swede, the newest Swede (still working on a blog name for the little guy) and everyone else in the family. But he also declares his love for the guy who delivers the advertising foldouts on the weekend (‘He looks so happy! I love him and his stripey jacket – were the exact words), a new brand of diapers, and Dora & Diego. (See? He is American, too!)

I am very happy to hear The Swede has gotten into the habit of saying ‘Jag älskar dig’ during bedtime routine, and Little Swede and his sidekick will grow up hearing they are well loved in two languages.

I know that actions speak louder than words, and far outweigh them. But I also am a firm believer that these little words say so much – especially to little ears. I cannot stop telling my boys how much I both love them and älska dem. 

13 comments:

  1. Intressant och väldigt på pricken! Amerikansk och svensk kultur och språk är väldigt olika vad gäller uttryck av känslor. I tell my daughter every day that I love her (in Swedish). Several times a dauy. So much she sometimes tells m"I knooow Mom....please stop saying that all the time..." ;-)
    I think it's very important both to tell but also to show your love to your kids and others in your family. However, I feel that the American way of very often use "big" words as love, fantastic, marvelous.... also results in a bit of "inflation" in these words. Like they not mean the same. People here "love so much and many things" and for me the word "älska" is something I feel very good using a lot with my child and husband but I use a lot less in other situations, which is very different from how I feel Americans use their word "love".This also means that for ME, the word "älskar" has a much bite "value" than the word "love" just because I think it's so special and not for all situations and people... :-)

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    1. Ha, haven't gotten to the 'I know....' here yet, but I imagine it will be here soon! Always interesting to see how much more you connect to words for feelings in your own language, even if you are fluent in more than one!

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  2. I agree with the comment above. I think us brits are a sort of halfway house in many ways. I said it often to my children when they were little, but now maybe it is said every few months, often when someone is a bit down. I don't think my mother has said it for about 20 years, nor have my husband's parents used it to him - but we know they do.

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    1. Yes, I imagine this will change when they get older -- but still something I will say-- I hope!

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  3. Love is a nice word, one of my favourite things about talking to friends from other countries. We should just steal it; "Jag lovvar dig", problem solved!

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    1. Haha, I probably have a few times, the amount of Swenglish in this house is crazy!

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  4. Hej!
    I'm an Aussie married to a Swede and I think it may just be your Swede's family that may not be demonstrative. My hubby and his family are always pussing and kramming left right and centre. LOL

    In regards to your little man, what about Lilla Swede as a nickname?

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    1. Hmm, My Swede's family is definitely demonstrative -- lots of hugging, tears and affection -- which is why I can say there is not a doubt in my mind they love him. They just don't ever say 'Jag älskar dig' which surprises me sometimes.

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    2. Ohh, and I like lilla Swede, but might be too easily confused with his big brother Little Swede... and hmm maybe pojken?

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  5. Fredrik AnderssonMay 9, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    I think a pretty common opinion among Swedes is that älskar is such an important word that it should be saved for special occasions.

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    1. Which I totally understood, until I had kids :) (yes I totally played the 'I am a parent so things are totes different card !)

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  6. To me, "Jag älskar dig" sounds weird to say to my parents or siblings (and would likewise sound weird to get in return from them). That to me is more of a romantically inclined declaration, rather than one of love towards family members. To me "Jag gillar dig" (or simply "gillar dig") as well as "Jag tycker om dig" (or just "tycker om dig") is much more sincere and heartfelt to say to my dearest loved ones. To me, those words mean much more than their English equivalents and are always exchanged between my parents and I whenever we talk on the phone.

    I can't speak for all Swedes of course. ;)

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