Being a father of a toddler is tough. There are days when you want to split your hair apart or run away to a land distant enough your little one cannot find you. There are sips of extreme anger which you have to rightfully gulp down your throat. There are moments of helplessness and self-doubt… will I be able to sail through this parenting thing.
“What? Did you really think only mothers have parenting issues?”
I don’t blame you. And pardon me for generalizing this. From what I have gathered from online forums, parenting books, the office and neighbourhood gossip sessions, it appears that fathers are not even touched by these problems. There are parenting Facebook groups with 7 digit membership counts, where you get access only if you are a mother. There are a zillion parenting books written in all languages possibl, but all of them seem to be talking to a mother. #Momlife has 10 times more followers than #Dadlife on Instagram.
Why is this so?
In the last 2 years of being a father, I have been thinking about this a lot. In the last 6 months, since I started to write very regularly about my fatherhood journey, I have had a chance to discuss this at length with many fathers. In this post , I would like to summarize what I think are the main reasons for this:
1. Fathers being less vocal – Being an involved father is not fashionable. At least among other men. It’s very normal for women to talk about random kids’ stuff (including diapers and poop) but not for us men. It’s a taboo, at least in India. Men will be somehow considered more feminine and less career focussed, if they show signs of being an involved father. They can silently be one, but cannot demonstrate this in public.
2. Mothers expecting us to be another mother - The problem with mothers are that they expect the fathers to do parenting exactly like them. Well, they are different. Women are great multitaskers. We men are not. We are great at doing one thing at a time. When we play with our children, we get dirty, and get them dirty, without thinking of ‘how much’ to get dirty. We are all in, or not in at all. And maybe that is one reason why fathers, whose parenting actions are scrutinized at every step by their spouses, take a step back and let their wives do the hard work, their way.
‘It’s amazing how parenting draws parallels from corporate world in this aspect. If a mother wants to get maximum parenting support from her spouse, all she has to do is empower him more and micromanage him less.
3. Societal expectations – I talked about it in my last blog in detail, how the society expects us to be babysitters of our kids and not parents. While parenting is too personal a thing to be impacted by what society thinks, we are still social beings. Most of us try our best to fit into these expectations. It helps that fitting these expectations also means less physical and mental work for us.
4. Biology – Well, this one is beyond our control. Nature has awarded us the second best place in the lives of our children. And rightfully so. We can’t imagine the amount of physical, emotional and hormonal hardships a woman has to undergo in the process of becoming a mother first and then being a mother throughout her life. Can’t complain much here. But I think it’s all the more reason for the dads to put that extra effort, as we do not have nature on our side, as far as bonding with our children is concerned.
I am sure there will be many more reasons and I would love to hear your views on this subject.
Aashish is an architect+mba by education, a real estate corporate by profession and a poet and storyteller at heart. He was lucky to find the love of his life 14 years ago. They have been together since then and been married for 6 years. Their daughter entered their lives 2 years ago and changed it completely. Aashish believes in equal parenting and no gender roles for both parents and kids. He also feels that there is an acute shortage of material, stories and communities of new fathers. Fathers are seen as supporting characters in parenting and he wants to help change that image. He can be found on Instagram @pappablogs