From dads to superdads

From dads to superdads…

Text By Dr.Shruti Bajaj, The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program student

Back in the Neolithic era, when the man was a farmer toiling with his plough, the woman stayed back at home, cooked the meals and looked after the kids.

As we evolved; our society, our family structure and our modes of procuring food evolved too. With an increasing number of families having two working parents and a steady tilt towards nuclear homes, there has been a reflective change in our outlook towards parenting. Dads are now taking on more essential duties, beyond just ‘their recreation time with the kids’.The quality of the bond and the quantity of the time that dads spend with their kids is different now than what it maybe two generations back.

According to a report published in ‘Changing rhythms of American family life’ by Bianchi, Suzanne M, Robinson JP et al (a Rose series in Sociology, New York: Russel Sage foundation publications), if we were to go just by figures, the contribution of men in childcare has tripled in terms of the time spent, between 1965 and 2003.

Mrs Manju Agarwal is an entrepreneur who runs her coaching centre and personal tuitions for 8th to 12th graders in Mumbai. She notes, “The dads these days are catching up! I see these neo-dads who come along with their wives and children, to discuss the details of the teaching curriculum with me, to know the progress their child is making and sometimes, to drop the child for the class! Some of them arrange for a meeting with me after their office hours, only so that they can personally be present to discuss their child’s academic strengths and weaknesses”. Fathers are more willing now to chip in the various small-big errands involved in bringing up their progenies. From changing a diaper to making Maggie noodles to taking the child for their vaccine shots; some of our papas are sharing their duties very well. Dr Indu Khosla, a senior paediatrician, notes that while dads are more involved in bringing up their kids now, than what it was ten years ago; this trend is more in the educated class and where both the parents are working. Mr Gupta, a senior citizen who comes for his daily walk to the garden where I take my kid to play in the evenings, seems to agree to the winds of change too. “Ye aaj kal ke naye naye papa log, garden mein aate hai. Kabhi toh khud push ups maarte hai, toh kabhi bacho ke saath jhoole par dikhte hai. Humaare time par kahaa hume naukari se hi fursat miltii thee!”

Dads are catching up!

However, there will be many of us mothers, who will complain that though the dads may be contributing to childcare, it is still not equal to the amount of time and effort devoted by the mothers. “Anything is more, when you are expected to do nothing,” whines one of my friends, who feels that men often feel heroic or worthy of an award when they do ‘out-of-syllabus’ duties like attending a parent-teacher meeting at school. While a part of the lack of male contribution in childcare could be attributed to the patriarchal mindset we nurture; maybe a part of it could be due to the long working hours and the more substantial financial responsibilities that the men shoulder. However, can that aspect of the social functioning be ignored? Is money not essential to run the show? We understand the dads sometimes need their beer mugs and a comfortable couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Maybe there is a thin line between enjoying a well-deserved leisure period and simply being lazy.

To encourage and allow more paternal participation in child rearing, we need more ‘family friendly’ laws and policies and a more gender-neutral support system. India may soon take a leaf from countries like Norway, Iceland and Sweden, by pushing the “Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017’ in the next session of the Parliament, which will allow the fathers to avail of three months’ paid leave after childbirth.

How is much help by the dads enough? I hear the dads complaining, “Are we not the most caring species anyway? Our kids stay with us for 18 years (at least!)”. Speaking of the contest, did you know that the male penguins are one of the most devoted dads in nature. The pudgy male penguin sits patiently for weeks and incubates the eggs laid by the female counterpart, while the latter goes out fish hunting for the babies-to-come. What may seem to be a Yash Chopra touch to the already doting hero is that he fasts during this period, until the egg hatches.

While it may take many more years of evolution for the humans to do something like that, it is worth patting the backs of the fathers who are leading the way and setting the trend! While Darwin may not vouch for it, I feel the metamorphosis of dads to super-dads in underway…

Dr Shruti Bajaj

Text By Dr.Shruti Bajaj, The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program student

About our student:

Dr Shruti Bajaj is a Consultant Clinical Geneticist at Jaslok Hospital, Cloudnine Hospital and Suchak Hospital in Mumbai. She’s one of our esteemed students at The Lifestyle Portal Online Writing Program. 

Paediatrician and a Qualified Clinical Geneticist (a very rare breed of Clinicians/super-specialists who help patients out with clinical evaluation of suspected genetic disorders and deal in genetic counselling, especially in terms of improving the existing quality of life of an affected individual and preventing a recurrence of the disease when applicable).

Dr Bajaj has spent 17 years at the very prestigious Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai; acquiring from here not just her insane passion for the field of Clinical Genetics, but also her basic (MBBS) and advanced (MD Pediatrics) degrees, followed by a University accredited Fellowship in Clinical Genetics. This period included a 4.5 years’ rich clinical experience as a Faculty & Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics & Genetic Clinic at the same Institute. 

Research references: 




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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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