Recently, I happened to see an Assamese film. I am not a frequent movie goer but this one was running to packed houses and as it was an Assamese movie I was curious to know what made the film so popular. What touched me in the film, was the way the father daughter relationship was portrayed, so sensitive and heart-warming.This inspired me to write this piece on fatherhood in the modern context.
There was a time when the role of a father and mother were distinctly demarcated, with the father the bread earner and the mother the one who looks after the home and children. We have come a long way since and mothers today play a multiple role. She not only contributes to the family income but also takes the major share of the responsibility of bringing up the children. Naturally then the role of the father has also expanded.
Today’s fathers lend a big helping hand in bringing up kids, from changing nappies, to helping with homework, they are almost mom, dad and nanny, all in one.They go that extra mile for their kids and that makes all the difference. They are physically there, playing a game, helpfully there to share the load with mom and they provide the warmth and support in a tough time. For instance when a child is ill or feeling low. All this actually adds to their masculinity and makes them Super Heroes
Research shows that today’s dads provide more care and love to their kids than ever before. There are however some corners of Indian society, where fathers are less involved with their children. There is a false notion that helping around in the home affects their masculinity. This is in fact negative masculinity and does not fit in with the modern lifestyle and thinking.
There is no question of masculinity here. Fathers are equally responsible as mothers for providing emotional, social and even spiritual protection. There is a need for kind and loving discipline and children respond more easily to fathers. Whenever there is a need for reassurance also, for instance getting low grades at school, or losing a football match, fathers need to be there for encouragement and reassurance.
Research also shows that father’s involvement in a child’s life promotes growth and strength . Affection and support from fathers affect a child’s cognitive and social development. It creates confidence at a very young age. In the teenage years both and girls need a supportive father. Its true that for some father’s, getting used to the situation when a newborn arrives is difficult. There is a sudden change in the family structure along with his wife’s time management and routine. I recall a relative of mine, years ago, who was so disturbed with the baby’s crying at night that he remarked that he would rather sleep in the garage than in the bedroom. A few years later his wife passed away and he re-married. He sent his little boy away to a boarding school in order to make more comfortable space for his newly wedded wife. Its not that he didn’t love his son, he just didn’t have his priorities right
In today’s fast paced materialistic world, children too ,learn to appreciate material goods and values often take a backseat . It is imperative that spiritual development comprises a part of their upbringing. Fathers along with mothers need to provide that spiritual guidance.
Take for instance, the festival of Diwali, a festival where we light earthen lamps to invoke Divine blessings.Its wonderful to see Dads bursting crackers with their sons.Its ethereal to see fathers helping their girls to light the lamps.
Take another example of a Dad taking his girl out on a shopping spree, big girls buying dresses and little girls buying toys.
A father’strong influence has a huge impact on a young girl’s life and helps her to develop into a strong confident woman with a lot of self-esteem. Women especially daughters in their growing years need every ounce of masculine courage and wit.Girls take their Moms for granted but they listen to their father’s words, they long for their Dad’s attention, they need his approval and encouragement. A father’s support will influence her entire life because a father is above any other man in her life, be it brother,boyfriend or husband.
A girl’s attachment with her father in her growing years affects her future attachments.
A girl needs her father to be actively interested in her life. She needs to see her Dad show love and respect to her mother. Every girl needs a role model and she sees it in her father.Her father sets the standards for all other men in her life and a positive role model will help her choose a good husband in future.
Today’s fathers also seem to be have a more important role in their daughter’s academic and professional choices than fathers in previous generations.
Fathers also need to take keen interest in their sons to promote growth , strength and self confidence, which ultimately will make them better men. It is fathers who must show their sons to honour and respect women, to take responsibility, to work hard and most importantly to be a gentleman.
Parenting today is more challenging than it was ever before and the role of a father has increased manifold.
Sigmund Freud once said ‘’ I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need of a father’s protection.’’