There are a whole lot of grown up people who are all fired up about 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg. People who want to detract from her message of actually making the planet a sustainable place for future generations and cast aspersions on her to change the conversation. One of the most common attacks climate change deniers lob against the teen activist is that she's being manipulated by liberals and her parents for political reasons. So alright, let's go on down this rabbit hole and find out who Greta Thunberg's parents actually are. You might find yourself disappointed if you are hoping to see maniacal puppet masters instead of just regular parents who support their brilliant kid.
Thunberg's parents, Svante Thunberg and Malena Ernman, do not seem like parents who are manipulating their child in an effort to get attention. Far from it, actually. When Thunberg decided to start her three-week school strike for climate change outside Sweden's parliament in 2018, her parents didn't join her. They chose instead to support her from the sidelines, as her father Svante Thunberg told The Guardian at the time, since they weren't actually too happy about their daughter skipping school.
"She is supposed to be in school, we cannot support her action. But we respect that she wants to make a stand," her father told The Guardian in September 2018. "She can either sit at home and be really unhappy, or protest and be happy."
Greta Thunberg's passionate activism to end climate change did not come from her parents, it seems. Her mom Malena Ernman is a well-respected international opera singer before Greta convinced her to give up the traveling aspect of her career because of the environmental impact, according to Classical MPR. Now her mother works from Sweden, according to the CBC, and when she and her family need to travel they tend to drive or sail, which is how 16-year-old Thunberg recently arrived in New York to speak at the United Nations assembly last month.
It took her two weeks to get across the ocean but she arrived to give one of the most blistering speeches against climate inaction you will ever hear. And her father Svante sailed alongside her, according to TIME, because that would be a pretty intimidating trip for her to travel without a parent.
Svante Thunberg, who is an author, actor, and producer, previously admitted to The Guardian that it was his daughter who taught him to truly care about climate change, not the other way around. "Greta forced us to change our lives. I didn’t have a clue about the climate," he told the publication. "We started looking into it, reading all the books — she has read them too."
In 2018, Greta's parents co-authored a book called Scenes From The Heart, describing what it was like when their daughter stopped eating and speaking in the fifth grade, becoming deeply depressed over the climate crisis. Both of her parents have been open about struggling with the changes they've made to support their daughter's activism, and neither seem terribly interested in seeking out some sort of spotlight.
Instead, Svante Thunberg and Malena Ernman appear to be parents trying to navigate how to raise an exceptional child in a difficult position. Trying to hold their family together while giving that child room. To speak her truth, to defy authority... and to change the world.