June 1, 2016

Equal parenting equals a change in attitudes

In response to a post on The Ladies Finger

As a mother to two children who are well on their way to the eye-rolling tweens, a change in attitudes is what I wish for the most since my time to wish for a partner who would share with more parenting (at least the physical, rigorous demands) is out the window. Life experiences have made me understand how social conditioning leads many mums to believe that we are the primary caregivers for various reasons, physiological and cultural. We praise a father's active involvement when we needn't, we applaud a successful diaper change when we shouldn't, we speak of them proudly to our friends hoping to show up those whose partners aren't 'as involved'. And we are afraid to let go because what then, is our value?

Indian dads need to parent. That does not mean only being present on sports days and annual days or making clich├ęd statements at work, “I'll call you back, have to get the kids in bed”, and dropping an iPad onto the child's bed. Or taking selfies! I can list out a 100 things that a dad should do but the most important one can't be put on a list because it's innate. It's a feeling, a want, to be a parent. And a willingness to learn what that means as it's NOT a constant. Mums don't have parenting classes before the kids come along!

As India contemplates a six-month maternity leave instead of three, maybe we, as a society, should also contemplate how to change our own attitudes towards parenting. Both men and women.