How can you forget? We discussed this before planning the pregnancy. You agreed you would take out time, and decent time at that, once baby came. I stuck to my promise and took a break from work; but your travel plans have increased multifold.” So went a new mother with tears in her eyes.
I never promised. I said I will try my level best; and you are at home so why am I needed? There are two full-time maids”, said the father. “But you are not even trying”, was the mother’s response.
With an increasing awareness of parenting issues and sharing tips and tricks, it is sad that there still seems to be an increasing tendency towards viewing parenthood in maternal terms only.
Who is to blame?
It starts with all children getting more attached to mothers, for milk, love and care, with their fathers busy at work with less time in hand. On top of it, every mother feels that hubby won’t be able to cope with the amount of tender, loving care baby needs (having forgotten how he showered it on her once) and her attempts to handle more and more of chores pertaining to the baby herself & Viola!
Father actually believes that this is the right mix – quality time (in minutes) and just to be around to provide the (needed) moral support and a few gems of his wisdom about bringing up a child.
Also, the fact that most parenting classes are aimed at mothers overlooking fathers, contributes to the notion – parenthood and motherhood are synonyms.
As a result, most fathers of today keep postponing the time to be spend with their little ones under the pretext that they would spend ‘Quality time’ – go on a holiday, go for a picnic and have REAL fun. What they don’t realise is that child needs it THEN and not whenever! Even in Double-Income families, mothers spend more time with the child. Not many fathers, of course, realise/accept this.
For the child the quantum of time matters more than the ambiance they spend it in.
Why should fathers, mother children?
- Father is a vital factor in the family, so ideally should be a vital factor in baby’s development as well. Fathers should find time to get involved in bringing up children and not merely to provide the funds and an occasional hug or pat!
- Research has shown that young children who spend decent time with their fathers are better learners, have higher self-esteem than others who only get the so-called Quality Time from their dads.
- A study published in Britain shows that ‘a father’s presence and involvement benefits the child’. It goes on to add, ‘Kids definitely benefit from having father around and more so if he is caring and supportive’.
- Father joining in childcare has its own advantages. Firstly, it lightens the pressure on the mother; in a nuclear family it may also provide badly needed companionship. Secondly, child gets love from both and grows up without any kind of gender bias.
- It provides balance as men and women complement each other; example: men teach children to be fearless, while women teach them about the dangers and to be concerned. Man might encourage a child to go to the top of the tree, while the women would warn them to be careful not to fall off. If done well, this would not be confusing but a good lesson.
- It adds up to the security and development of the child. With fathers becoming involved with their kids; children are likely to seek more comfort from them. It is noted that fathers are young children’s preferred playmates, not just for boys but for girls as well.
After listing several benefits, let me add a word of caution:
Authoritarian Father: Father should not try to assert himself ruthlessly over wife and the child; it is likely to prove counterproductive. It may make the child either inhibited or rebellious.
Weak Father: A father, who is far too shy and submissive causes anxiety, insecurity and several adjustment and behavioural problems in the child.
Balanced father child relationship – call of the day!
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.