‘Equal Parent’ – I first noticed this word in the book ‘Raising Boys’ by Steve Biddulph. An ‘Equal Parent’, as the term suggests, is a parent who shares the parenting roles and responsibilities equally, believing them as his own and not as doing favours or helping out his other half.
Read on and may be you would find resonance of your own thoughts.
The other day, I told my friend (also a stay-at-home mom to a 19 month old toddler) that I went for a movie and shopping over the weekend, and reached back home only after 7-8 hours.
She was bewildered that my son stayed with his dad for so long without crying for mom.
I told her, ‘And why should he be crying? He was with his dad after all.’
In her household, she is the one who is on 24 hours beck-and-call of the sonny boy. She feeds him all his meals, massages, gives him bath, takes him for stroll and puts him to sleep. All that over and above cooking all meals herself (that includes giving dabba to hubby dear).
Another friend is a working mom to a 20 month old little girl. She depends heavily on her in-laws for taking care of her baby when she goes off to work. She confided in me that her husband would play with the little one but only when he felt like it, otherwise he would not help out in any baby-related work. Had it not been for her in-laws, she would not have been able to continue with her job.
What is it with dads really? And of course, I am not talking about ALL dads but SOME dads who choose NOT to be an EQUAL PARENT. And of course, my judgement is not on the basis of these 2 cases but I have come across several of them. I see women getting miserable trying to manage everything on their own, with little help from their husbands.
I would not dwell too much on what used to happen earlier because we are all aware of that. But right now it is the need of the hour to share equal responsibilities of raising children between husband and wife or partners. Both bring different things to the table.
The main issue which I find in several households is that fathers assume that mothers know how to do everything for the baby perfectly, and they would not be able to do those things well themselves. But the truth is except carrying the baby and nursing, there is no other thing in which a mother has an edge over fathers. But the dads first need to believe that they can do it.
Several men from traditional families also believe that what women do at home – like keeping house and raising children – are easy. Of course, not true again! I have been a professional and a stay-at-home mom at different times, and I can say without batting my eyelid that raising a child is much more difficult. All your days are not hectic at work but with a young child you always have to be on your toes, whether you are feeling up to it or not. You get tea breaks and lunch breaks at work. But mothers don’t have that luxury at home until the time the little one naps. How to sneak into bathroom also requires strategic thinking. You have your food at leisure, while the mother bangs her head to many failed projects of making the young one eat a proper meal.
Over and above everything else, being a part of your child’s every day routine is rewarding and a matter of pride. And it is also an opportunity to live the lesson of equality rather than just preach.
I understand that I have raised this topic at a place read mostly by people who are already an equal parent (otherwise they would not have been here). So, it is my request to everyone to raise this issue with friends and family where we see an imbalance in parenting. We have to raise well-balanced children who should see that equality begins at home.
Note: This post is dedicated to my husband who has been an equal parent from Day 1. From cooking for a nauseated wife during pregnancy to taking over baby care in the early days immediately after delivery, from teaching me a thing or two on how to put our baby to sleep to doing everything with deft to this day for our ‘star’, he has risen up to every occasion.
Reema Sahay is a stay-at-home mom who spends her days running around her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life.