Father’s Day by Yashvi Sehgal Dhingra

Changing role of fathers in today’s time- provider to nurturer

It was my daughter’s first day at a playgroup, and there was a lot of excitement in the house! One parent was supposed to accompany them in the class, so I also got ready to leave with my daughter for school. My husband said, you stay home, and I will go with her to school today. I was zapped! He has always been there for her, but this was new! My father never even came to my parent-teacher meeting! And here is my husband, all excited to go with our daughter to her school. He took a day off from the office just because he didn’t want to miss this memorable moment with her. 

That day I realized how the lines of a defined father’s role are becoming blurred. From a strict traditional dad concerned primarily with providing financial support and being the disciplinarian to caring and expressive fathers is a major shift noted. From being the provider, now they have become the nurturer. The new-age fathers are very much in the game when it comes to caring for their children. 

Not so long ago, the father’s job was to bring home a paycheque, fix things around the house and discipline the kids. There was a clear distinction in the role of the father and mothers. Now it is different. The parenting roles are not as clear as they were once. With gender equality becoming less of a concept and more of a reality, couples are increasingly swapping roles. We have surely seen progress from awkward father moments to babysitting the child to doing it comfortably and willingly almost every day. 

Fathers these days are progressively evolving to become equal partners when it comes to raising and looking after the children who grow up independent and young adults. Spending time with the kids helps the fathers realize the importance of enjoying and focusing on little things that can bring a smile. It is the time that most dads of today didn’t get to enjoy themselves with their dads. 

Today’s fathers are not the dad they had. The fathers of today are more involved in the life of the kids and love spending time with their kids. Often frowned upon by their own dads as they find it unconventional! You can now see fathers pushing strollers in the mall, playing with the kids down in the garden, attending doctors appointments, or fathers helping the kids complete their projects or homework or making their favorite snack (my daughter finds the omelette made by me disgusting and tells me bluntly, “Please don’t make it, I only like it when papa makes it.”) or even reading them bedtime stories. These days dads are equally involved in the emotional development of the kids. 

Now, the phrase our moms used, “just you wait until your father gets home,” to instill fear in kids, is not heard often! Rather, you might listen to kids say to mom, “I will tell papa you scolded me.” It is because fathers are more engaged in the life of their kids and, at times, their best buddies. The bond between kids and dads is quite different from what we had! Another day, my daughter wanted to attend her offline school, and me being an over-cautious mom, didn’t want to send her. I told her, let’s discuss it with your dad! She called him and told him to come home early as she wanted to discuss something! Imagine a five-year-old doing that! He came back from the office, and she asked him, at first he said no! For us, if our dad said no, it was a no. But my daughter started the conversation, and it went like this:

Daughter: What if I tell you not to go to the office? Will you be happy?

Dad: No, not at all!

Daughter: Same! When you tell me don’t go to school, it makes me sad! So, say Yes!

I was happy that she was putting up her thoughts and amazed that kids today are so comfortable talking to their dads, which most of us missed when we were growing up! This is because the dads these days aren’t the dads we are used to seeing. They are more approachable, show love and care and spend time with the kids.

Research shows that fathers promote independent and exploratory behavior in the kids and engage them in stimulating and physical play much better than moms. It is not all, fathers speak in ways that challenge the kids as opposed to moms who tend to simplify their ways while communicating with the kids. Hmm! I never thought about it, but I guess it is true!

Dads differ from moms when it comes to the style of parenting. Moms tend to do a lot of hand-holding while dads focus on getting the solutions. Dad’s involvement in the child’s life has been associated with many positive characteristics like self-esteem, empathy, confidence, social competence, self-control, and most importantly, a reduction in gender-stereotyped beliefs. Fathers these days are adorning many hats of teacher, mentor, role model and counsellor. 

Though many men are adapting to this change, some still feel hesitant because they fear being stereotyped as stay-at-home dads and fear being lonely. Most mothers forget to involve them in their meet and greet sessions or group activities. So, next time you see a stay-at-home dad, engage in a conversation and make them feel comfortable. Everyone is working towards the same goal, to do what is best for their children and family.