"Re inventing the Father "
From tyrannical to sympathetic. From dictatorial to flexible. From hardheaded to soft. Has male parenting come of age? Many would argue and say it depends…. Others would affirm that the ‘new’ father is here to stay. Some, that it’s only a passing phase. Whatever the opinions, there’s no denying the fact that the ‘mans’ role in parenting has altered. Where previously fathers were only seen and not heard, today more and more are ‘felt’, ‘present’ and ‘there’. Skeptics may assert the change as superficial but inevitable. Because with more and more women seeking employment out of the home was there really a choice? The important question though is, has the mind-set of the Indian ‘dad’ altered? And if it has, has it been thought through, with reason and logic? Where having borne the ‘brunt’ of overbearing fathers the ‘new’ one’s have decided to ‘spare’ their kids! Where having quietly ‘suffered’ the harnessing of their individuality and the restraining of their personality, these ‘modern’ dads believe that their kids have a right to their own identity and are not just sons or daughters of them. Where hardly allowed to express their views, these new-age dads believe that the voice of their children should be heard. Or deep down are they still believers in their word as the gospel? That they can do no wrong. That their ideas be well thought-of due to seniority. And are adopting the role of hands-on, ‘cool’ fathers only because they have to, out of fear of ‘suffering a loss of love’, with no real shift in attitude at all! For if the latter be true (no shift in viewpoint) you’ll see parenting being conducted with dislike and apathy. Where dad doesn’t believe that he can contribute to the growth and well being of his child. And views the demands on his time as suffocating and frustrating. For can fatherhood be enjoyable and pleasant when viewed as a nuisance? An exasperated dad can do no justice qualitatively even though quantitatively many hours can be recorded in his logbook!
Fulfilling fathering can happen only when the man believes in ‘equality’. Equality in his contribution to the development of values, character and moral fiber of his child. Once he regards his involvement as being more than just a mere provider, and accepts himself as a ‘model’ for his ward, the hands-on approach acquires more significance. Because the implications now are much more than just ‘supply’. Most men unfortunately seeing themselves as little more than suppliers (and women do little to rectify that view!) feel lost, alienated and distant in the raising of their kids. Plus the belief that ‘it’s a woman’s job’ aids to the feeling of being looked upon as odd and out of character if he were to show enthusiasm in activities where mothers throng. So the disposition “I’m doing it because I have to” often becomes the ‘acceptable’ outward demeanor, because isn’t it unmanly to show that you care!
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