Many new-age moms would want to thank their men for being the hands-on father to their children. The men of today love to take the role of dad quite seriously, almost everyday and not just on select occasions. The new-age dad is young at heart and in tune with his child’s needs. He dons this role with a lot of preparedness right from the time his wife is pregnant.
From accompanying the would-be-mother to her regular antenatal visits to witnessing the birthing of his child, the modern dad is getting rooted with deep attachment towards family. Routine activities like dropping or picking the child from school, taking the child to hobby classes, participating in household decisions, monitoring the child’s academic progress are all part of the new-age dad. A little observation in public spaces like in malls, theaters, parks, and one can see that it is no more only momma’s domain with kids. Dads are happily seen roaming around with their kids. Thankfully, the modern dad is nothing like his old-school ‘Sunday Uncle’ counterpart.
Dads who, until two decades ago, were shy to even discuss children among peers are a thing of the past. Today being known as the family man who is concerned and shows this concern in public domain only adds to his appeal. Even a few celebrity dads do not avoid arc lights when seen in company with family, particularly with kids. Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Mahesh Bhupathi, David Beckham, Tom Cruise are comfortable to be seen as doting dads, on social media platforms.
Says Vikas S, an entrepreneur and dad to four-year-old, “Society norms and expectations have changed and so has parenting. It’s true that on some occasions I have felt like my absence at work will affect by business. Like during the waiting periods at my son’s doctor’s clinic. But I do know that my presence during those immunization visits had made him feel less anxious – he knows daddy’s around.”
Ashwin N K, an IT professional and father to a pre-schooler says, “Women too are happy if their men are around during the initial years of the kid’s childhood. Be it for doctor visits, helping them survey schools for the child, getting the child ready for school, holding an infant when the mother finishes her dinner peacefully at a restaurant.
These are also occasions that help dads develop a bond with the child. Also, fathers of the previous generation never really spent much time with their children, partly due to economic reasons. Thankfully, today the modern urban dad’s situation is much better, and hence the affordability of time for children has shot up.”
Of course, when the women of today are seeking partners who are more emotionally supportive and not just financial providers, it becomes imperative that men develop the familial warmth in them. With women switching over easily between professional and personal roles as a modern wife and mother since the last decade, men do not want to be left behind. Employers too understand that fathers need to be with family, often, if not always. Understanding employers even have HR policies that offer the option of working from home if required. They know that increase in family time means a lot to the employee.
Says Rajiv Gunja, a system administrator for a contracting company, and father to eight-year-old son and one-year old toddler, “In my opinion, not one parent can be held as primarily responsible source for up-bringing of children. Marriage is a union of two people and is a compromise. If one cannot do something, the other should pick it up. I know a lot of Indian husbands who have taken up cooking and other household chores, because their wives are working too and come home later than they do. Although, I am seeing more of it in younger generations than in mine. But I too took up this change. Since my wife travels a longer distance for work than I do and comes home later, I usually cook in the weekdays and let her cook in the weekends. I even chose a job closer to home, so one of us can be flexible.”
A father in the movie ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ says, “We are exhausted but are happy.” For a child grows more wholesomely when (s)he can get inputs and shelter from both parents. Perhaps this should draw some support from at least a few, if not all, old-school fathers who are yet to learn to be “dads”.
This article was published in the Living supplement of Deccan Herald on August 24th 2013.