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Finnish president opens annual charity drive and tells parents to relax

Sauli Niinistö, patron of the yearly church-run campaign, said the 2020 drive will collect funds to support parenthood.

Suomen tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö avaamassa televisiopuheellaan vuoden 2020 Yhteisvastuukeräystä, Yleisradion C-studio, Helsinki, 30.1.2020.
President Sauli Niinistö's television address launching the 2020 Common Responsibility charity drive. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle

With Finland’s birthrate falling and millennials’ apprehension to raising children, Sauli Niinistö, patron of the Common Responsibility or Yhteisvastuu charity campaign, said parents should cut themselves some slack in his television address launching the event.

In his remarks on Sunday, Niinistö pointed out that the responsibilities and obligations of parenting children are often perceived as burdensome, causing many young people to fear parenthood.

"In a country deemed to be the happiest in the world, uncertainty about the future shouldn’t cause young people to give up on starting a family," the president said.

He went on to say that parenting comes with a lot of different pressures and responsibilities. While combining work and family life is challenging for a lot of families, it’s not impossible, according to Niinistö.

"It will do every one of us parents good to consider this year’s campaign message from time to time: 'You’re doing enough'", the 71-year-old president and dad of a two-year-old, said.

Finland's Lutheran Church has said many parents feel they don't get adequate support.

"Many parents feel that the social support they receive is not sufficient. Also, they find that they are often left on their own to cope with the challenges of parenting," the church explained.

Niinistö said children long for nothing more than spending downtime with their parents.

"When kids and youths are asked about what they want, their message is clear: More time together as a family. Normal, peaceful everyday life, not high-stakes parenting," the president explained.

The development group Finn Church Aid traditionally uses 60 percent of the proceeds in its international aid projects, while 40 percent of the funds raised are spent helping needy people in Finland.

On the domestic front this year funds will be channelled through the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and Save the Children Finland.

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