Gurgaon Dads Fathoming The Formula Of Fatherhood
Over the years the role and perception of a father has undergone series of transformations. From Bauji to papa, daddy to dad or pops, there is been an incredible change in the relationship as well. From a nurturer of the family to a friend. We take a peek into modern age fatherhood and delve into what it is being a father in today’s time
As important a mother is in a child’s life, the father plays an equally important part in the equation of parenthood. In most instances, children grow up idolizing their father as the supreme hero of their life; while in some cases, the bond between the child and father fails to develop into a cherished relationship.
Father figure or a friend?
There is no rule that fits all when it comes to‘perfect parenting.’ Someone’s right may be someone’s wrong. While the core aim is to do the best for your child, every man may have his own unique approach towards fatherhood. So while the Bollywood blockbuster DDLJ shows you a firm and formal ‘Bauji’ in Amrish Puri, the audience saw the chilled out friendly ‘Pops’ in Anupam Kher.
Today as the world is evolving and women are becoming equally ambitious and competent in professional spheres as their male counterpart, men are showing greater signs of domesticity than their early generations. While earlier it was believed that it was the fathers’ sole responsibility to provide income for the family and it is the mother who has to manage the household, this clear distinction has blurred and one can see a huge paradigm shift. Men are now breaking out of the traditional roles of being a strict father and embracing the responsibility of becoming the emotional rock, confidante and friend of their children.
Studies show that children who receive more love from their fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.
“Fatherhood is the most humbling experience for a man as it teaches compassion, love, patience and humility. Today the new generation thinks far to much before starting a family; I highly recommend this beautiful experience as it is truly unmatchable.”
“For fathers having teenage children it’s important to balance the role of disciplinarian as well as a friend. Parents who are on the same page while dealing with behavioral problems at home, often are able to raise kids who understand boundaries.”Chhaya Sinha Goel
Vishesh Prakash, media professional, says, “There is a shift in this prototype role of a ‘father’ over the years especially with women moving out of the house and enjoying well deserved financial independence. The traditional Indian patriarch has mellowed down. In many cases mothers are travelling, working late hours hence the dads have started overlapping her role. Gurgaon has a whole lot of ‘friendly doting dads.’
“Fathers are very much involved in a child’s life and they should be so to nurture the bond which can otherwise go sour,” says Pawan Soni, the founder of Indian Food Freak in Gurgaon who is a father to two lovely girls and remembers his own father as a strict parent.
“Earlier there used to be joint families, but now in nuclear family setup, the role of a father has widened; the concept of paternity leave holds more ground in the current scheme of social dynamics.,” adds Pawan.
“In today’s times the children are very smart and the parents must be on the same page when it comes laying the basic ground rules for children.
The parenting guidelines of certain Do’s and Don’ts must be equally accepted and validated by both the parents. If there is a slip there, then certainly parents are in for some tougher times, says Puneet Rathi, a mentor and life coach.’’
“Nowadays kids are more like friends and they take the liberty to do what they want. I remember when I was young I could not have asked my father to change the channel when he was watching his daily dose of news!” grins Pawan.
On prodding as to what tips he would give to young fathers, he advises, “Spend time with your children when they are growing up, this time won’t come back. Make memories as its always emotional when you revisit them. I try to balance between being easy and strict. Being a father allows you to give and receive love which is pure and unconditional. One hug from the child and all my stress melts away.”
While generation gap is very conveniently blamed for any differences of opinion clashes between parents and children, but in the last one decade the father-child relationship has further under gone radical changes. Young dads are showing their determination to outdo their own fathers, by playing their part with energy and enthusiasm.
“Here is a very fine line that many fathers of their young children crossover-do not over do for children, let them brave it and make them capable to handle the ‘real’ world. Do not compensate your absence from the child’s PTM or annual function by buying him or her expensive gifts or taking them out on luxurious holidays,’’ says Sheetal Sharma, an academician and author of books on children.
Sheetal continues with stronger words, “As a dad of your child you are expected to be seen at your child’s school, meet the class facilitator, be there when your child receives awards. A father’s role for his son is slightly more serious I feel because the son idolizes his father. Comfort and a friendly ear to talk about his inhibitions and changes. Gone are days when elder cousins were around to guide. The son is looking up to you secretly.’’
“You cannot be watching TV while eating your dinner or smoking and expect your son not to do either of these things. Get ready that your child will snap back at you,’’ says Puneet. Build a relationship of trust and bond with your children, model what you expect from them.
My father my hero
If mentally as a dad, you are still caught in the chain of patriarchy mindset then stay sure that your son will grow up to become a headstrong patriarch. It’s the way you treat and train your sons at home will change the society. As a father if you do household chores, help your wife, take some basic responsibilities by default your son will pick it up. He is watching you how you treat his mother,” adds Sheetal.
Inspite of the modern age evolvement of parental roles, Clinical Psychologist Vipula Gupta shares that still in most cases the mom is much more involved in child rearing, while the role of the father is peripheral. This creates a lot of frustration in the wife especially if she is working. Boys who are now fathers, have enjoyed much pampering as sons in their childhood due to which they would not even raise a finger at home for any chores. But today wives expect husbands to also cooperate as she juggles to balance home and work responsibilities.
Fatherhood, a full time job
The preparation and counselling for to be dads is a popular concept nowadays. Both parents must attend the prenatal classes and the responsibility begins right there from the beginning.
“In earlier times as children we didn’t get to spend much time with our father as they were mostly involved in work outside home. The norms back then were not right and the father was put on a pedestal which often made it difficult to approach him or communicate with him. But now the scenario is quite different. As a parent, you have to be the best version of yourself for them as every word and action that I say or do is what they will learn,” says Jattinn Kochhar, the fashion veteran.
Children are independent and do not like nosy parents. The ‘old time’ stare associated with a dad has melted and is replaced by ‘reasoning.’ Right from the course they want to study, to the relationships they choose to make or the careers they wish to pursue, the boundaries are set where the interference is not always solicited. At an early age the children need their space and privacy.
So here comes the question, if a father becomes a friend then who and how one takes the tougher role of fatherhood.
The journey of parenthood can be mentally exhausting. One must draw a line somewhere and let your children know the consequence of crossing that line. “One cannot get carried away by what the children say, after all they are children and as a dad you are definitely more experienced. For sons sometimes mothers are more generous. Often seen in households is that there are different set of rules for raising a daughter and with sons the rules are bent. ‘What is good for a goose is good for the gander.’ Be non-partial, fair and a role model dad to these new age children,’’ says Puneet.
“Realistically parents don’t have much say today. We are only a source to guide and advise them and the rest is their choice. Being over-protective doesn’t help and we can only support their choices that will make them happy as my concern is my child and no one else. Society should also support new norms. Today stay at home or work from dad concept is growing. I know couples who are doing that as it depends on ambition levels in individuals,” adds Kochhar.
Channeling the Challenges
“Children today are not accepting the dominance of the patriarchy system that we have been used to. Children now tend to question and even argue as to what the parents say and seek the logic behind it all. Some parents have been able to adapt themselves, but others who cannot adjust with the changing trends or adapt to the new parenting culture are facing major problems and so are the children,” says Vipula Gupta.
Fathers are constantly wondering if they are doing a good job or not as a parent. “Am I being too strict or harsh or liberal are questions they are constantly battling with. Striking a balance is becoming increasingly challenging today. In case you become too soft the child takes liberty, in case you become too firm, the child may withdraw and stop communicating with you which can lead to other bigger issues,’’ says Vandana Datta, Psychotherapist in Gurgaon.
There is also a never ending debate whether parents should enforce their right of being parents or behave as friends with their children.
“We as parents also give mixed signals to the children. Sometimes we say we are friends and sometimes we assert we are parents. As a father, I must fulfill my core responsibilities of a parent and set certain boundaries that can be done only as a parent and not friend,” adds Kochhar.
“For me, it is not challenging at all to know where to draw the line because once you are more of friends then you do not need the line. Moreso I have even noticed that the child becomes more confident and contributes better in the family once he becomes friendly and relaxed with you,’’ says Manish Advani.
A two-way communication
Chhaya Sinha Goel, a Clinical Psychologist at Minds Matter with ten years of experience in counselling says, “In the modern day society, the role of a man has changed manifolds including the pivotal role of being a father. Children in today’s world need both parents to be involved in all aspects of life. We now see that dads have become more hands on but probably what is missing is being emotionally more available. This can be done by involving oneself in smaller activities that a child does from the beginning. Taking interest and having a regular communication will build a platform towards a trustworthy relationship.”A child learns from the examples his father will set in real life.
Fatherhood is no easy task and each day may throw a new curve ball! The day you become a dad, your life changes forever and one should be prepared for the journey ahead with positivity and deep-rooted commitment towards the new beginning.
Laxmana who runs a beauty clinic in Gurgaon says, “my husband works in Dubai, he is still is bread winner of the family. I stay here with my two children and I am able to pursue my passion because he is working hard supporting us and even sacrificing his life staying away from the family.’’
Let’s celebrate this beautiful relationship of a father and child and applaud all the hard work, effort and love that goes in making a father the true hero in his child’s life.
Manish Advani, a telecom professional and father of a 14-year old teenage son, says, “One of the most important values that my father imbibed in us in our childhood was ‘Be present for your family always’ and this one core value I would like to take forward with my progeny.”
It is essential for the child to understand the meaning of family and the support system it can be at all times. “I wish that every child today stands up for their near and dear ones. From the teenage years of the children, ‘parents need to be their friends’ but have boundaries too. It’s okay to have a drink with your dad till the time the age limit permits the same, and it is in control. I am friends with my son, and it has given me access to his life and emotions when he is growing up and needs me as a dad and a friend too,’’ adds Manish.
Fathers are central to the emotional the well-being of their children and play the role of disciplinarians too.
Studies show that if the child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and an involved parent, he can contribute significantly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.
While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to the critical role of being a dad in a child’s life.
This Article was first published in the print version of SUBURB July 2019 issue.