We Don’t Need Involved Dads Anymore
I had a pretty great dad. No complaints there at all. In fact, my mother pursued her M.A. and M. Ed. while we were studying in school. Later she was the principal of a school. My dad was always very supportive of her. He would often cook and help in daily chores.
In fact, a lot of what my mother could achieve, I would give a lot of credit of that to my father…. Honestly, this was a big deal in those days. Parenting roles were widely divided and demarcated. The woman stays at home and looks after kids. The man works and puts the bread on the table… We have all come a long way from there and today almost all households are moving towards becoming a double income family. Household responsibilities are shared more evenly and parenting is not only the mother’s job any longer.
When I discovered I was going to have a baby, I went through the regular motions of euphoria and elation to fear. While I was happy to have a baby, it was unchartered waters that we were wading into. A hundred thousand thoughts plagued my mind. Imagining and a million “what if” worse case scenarios almost became routine…a pastime. Thankfully, it was my husband who appeased all my worries and promised that parenting would not be the bed of thorns that I was envisioning, especially when we were going to raise our child up together.
He remained true to his word.
After my daughter was born I took a two and a half-year sabbatical to raise her. Even though I wouldn’t trade a moment of that time, I have to say that it would have been hard, had my husband not been there for us. Having worked all my life, not working at all would have affected my sanity (which would definitely impact the sanity of my household) and so, I started taking on some freelance projects. My husband chipped in as required to even bathe, feed her or put her to bed…. It so happened that their bond became so strong that when my daughter fell, she would cry out ‘daddy’ instead of ‘mummy’. We both enjoyed bringing her up – particularly when she was very young. As my daughter grew and started going to preschool, I took up a full-time job at L&T. My job involved travelling across the country and at times, also overseas. Given that my husband was so involved with my child making the transition from a full-time mother to a full-time job became easy and gave me the mind space to work well and contribute my 100% to my job. When required, my husband willingly and happily did the chores revolving around her. He dropped our daughter to the school bus, made sure she was carrying the right snacks in her tiffin, went to parent teachers meetings when I was not around, helped her with school work and her extracurricular activities…he could even whip up a fancy dress costume (I hate to admit that sometimes he did a much better job than me)!
The great thing about having an involved spouse was that it not only helped me balance my work and home but also gave our daughter a very important life lesson. She believes that all men contribute equally to the upbringing of a child. For her, her dad doing the dishes or helping out with homework or laundry is no big deal. She knows that a job is not gender defined. This attitude has helped her become more responsible and independent as an individual and has definitely helped her become a more understanding and helpful individual who is not bound down because of her gender.
Today, owing to the nature of my work, I happen to interact with a lot of young fathers. Unlike the dads of yesteryears, this new breed is contributing towards the upbringing of the baby. I see so many of them dropping off and picking up their children from our child care facility, asking us intuitive questions about the schedule, development and growth of the child, taking turns with the mothers or grandparents to stay on at the facility when the child has just joined and is settling in and shouldering the responsibilities of fatherhood happily, wholeheartedly and proudly. They willingly participate in school related activities, enjoy spending time with their children, tell them stories and be happy to contribute in whichever way they can to ensure that their child or children get to enjoy the time with both the parents…I have seen so many men even adjust their shifts in a manner so that the child gets more time with one of the parents.
Becoming a physically and emotionally part of the fabric of your child’s life takes effort…and I feel great when I see the evolved men of today making that effort. We often say that children grow up too fast (when the process is on, it honestly seems endless at times). We all have a very small window of time to enjoy this time and establish a relationship that is based on trust with them. By doing this, not only are you cementing your relationship with your child, you are also earning major brownie points from your spouse because of understanding her, respecting her and becoming an equal contributor in her life. At the same time, I also feel that we now need to do away with this term ‘involved dad’. The new age dad is no longer a species from another planet. He knows that it is assumed now that his responsibilities towards his child are changing and driving carpools, painting your daughter’s nails, helping out with homework and sometimes even cooking dinner comes along with the job description. I strongly feel that its time that we just call this new breed of fathers just ‘dad’. After all, we don’t feel the need to qualify the mother as an ‘involved mom’, do we? So this father’s day here’s celebrating the great dads who make motherhood easier and share the load when it comes to child upbringing. Let the rest of the lot be called “uninvolved dad’s” instead.