Reena, a mother of two toddler--four-and-a-half and two years old--woke up early and took a shower. As she was getting dressed in her formals, the younger child started crying and demanded milk. Her spouse got up and returned in less than a minute with a milk bottle in his hand, calmed the kid down and put him to sleep.
Reena was ready by then; she kissed her babies and darling husband, and off she was on a two-day official trip to Mumbai. When her colleague asked her in the cab as to how she manages, she said, “Oh, don’t worry, my better half is a better mom as well! The kids will be fine.”
Welcome to the world of happy parenting, where the kids are not only showered with the mother’s love, but fathers also participate willingly in their growth and development. In fact, the shift has been so much that mothers could go out happily--be it a girls’ night out or an official outstation trip--thanks to dear fathers.
What if your husband is not just your better half but a better mom as well?
The Good Old Days
Do you remember how your relationship with your father was? I remember my father didn’t even remember which class I was studying in, at least until middle school. However, that changed later.
A friend of mine confessed that during a parent-teacher meeting, his father forgot his actual name and asked his teacher for the progress report of “Tinku”.
I was watching Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate. It was a rural village, and the guy was talking about how fathers are not allowed to hold their kid, and it’s only the job of a mother to carry children.
This reminded me of a friend's father, a serving army officer, who was more of a friend to her. They would discuss everything from studies, sports to boyfriends.
But in my experience, most families were a bit conservative and had similar stories to tell: The father comes into the picture at a later stage, when studies and career start mattering. The early stages of childhood were solely handled by mothers.
So has the situation changed?
Do you see a difference in how the father-child relation has evolved. How was it with your father and how is it with your kid and your husband?”
A happily single IT professional from Delhi shares her thoughts: “The general trend in our generation seems to show more involvement by men in child care, especially where both partners are educated and working. Simple acts such as changing the diaper or making a meal is no longer ‘taboo’ for men, and is viewed as part of their responsibility. Another factor influencing the behavior is men’s upbringing. Men who grew up seeing their father do household chores are more likely to accept the fact. Men who have traveled and stayed alone away from home also learn household work out of necessity.”
However, specific incidents may tell a different story. Still, a large part of the society thinks that child care is a woman's job.
Most workplaces are not favorable for women to manage both the responsibilities simultaneously. And the inherent nature of a woman would make her feel guilty of neglecting her child, and she would happily sacrifice her career.
So, we do see a shift happening, but what do the mothers expect?
What mothers expect
As a mother, what do you expect from your husband? Do you expect him to engage your children while you’re cooking? Or, do you want him and the kids to bond so that you could have some me-time often?
Snehil Trivedi, a working mother of two, says, “I would like my husband (and he is doing it) to participate in day-to-day activities such as helping the kids get ready for school, picking them up or dropping them to hobby classes, and most importantly, acknowledging that academics and discipline are not the sole responsibility of the mother; so he needs to chip in as and when required.”
Priyanka Singh, who recently got married, shares her thoughts: “I would like him to take care of our baby in my absence, support me in every possible way in pursuing my career goals while being a mother, and overall, be responsible and understand that the child needs both of us equally.”
What does a child expect from her father?
As a child, for me, the father was around only when I needed some toys or money! So, has the perception changed?
Kavya, who turns six next month, said, “I want my father to play with me and also give me a car ride. He is with me just for two days, so I like to spend as much time as I could with him. It is fun when papa is around!”
Trivedi said, “Kids want their fathers to trust and understand them as, mostly, mothers are the vampires saying ‘NO’ to everything. They want their father to be the ‘good cop’. And, of course, a father is a genie to the kids--he fulfills all their demands and ignores their naughtiness.”
Is your child close to you or your husband?
If fathers are trying their best to be the best papa in the world, could we say kids are now more attached to their fathers?
An IT Professional working in Boston area said, “Yes, he is; he’s an equal partner when it comes to handling the child. He feeds the kid, gives him a shower, takes him to play, etc., and he does it without me requesting for it. He does it for the sheer joy of being with his son and helping him grow and become a better person.”
Another IT professional, who chose to stay anonymous, said, “If not better, I can say at least as good as me. He looks at the child's needs from different perspectives, and can engage the child in different activities.”
Trivedi, on a lighter note, shared her thoughts: “My son is closer to me currently, but the equation may change in the future. The daughter is closest to our maid and doesn't have much use for either of us. On a more sincere note, being young, they are currently closer to me, but things are liable to change once they grow up.”
Another working professional from Singapore, as a daughter, said, “For a daughter, both the mother and the father are equally important. Sometimes, we depend on one more than the other for advice, because they are subject matter experts in that particular area; but we depend on and are close to both of them equally.”
But, are mothers better dads too?
We usually seek support from men for the upbringing of the child, but as mothers, are women financially stable enough to feed their kids?
If they left their jobs, are they keeping themselves up-to-date so that, in case there’s an emergency they can get a job within a month?
An IT professional from Delhi said, “The same question should be posed as to whether the women are playing their part as a better dad. Say, in financing for their kids’ higher education, or even a mundane task like changing a bulb: Is it just the father's department? Because only when it happens both ways, and for a sizeable population across all sections of the society, can you say that the change is good.”
In the end, it’s not about who is better, but how good are we at balancing the cart. If one wheel is off, it’s still a huge loss for the kid! So, are you balancing your cart or are you stuck in the race of who is better?
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