We need to change the stereotypical attitude toward parenting that rests firmly on traditional belief that fathers are the breadwinners and mothers are the homemakers
Father’s Day is celebrated across the world to honor the spirit of all fathers and fatherly figures. There are some differences in the ways people and societies rejoice the occasion. Like mothers, fathers take on various roles and become protectors to combat problems of their children. This particular day reminds us all fathers, grandfathers, uncles and big brothers to celebrate the paternal bonding and to commemorate their efforts and contributions in the society.
On Friday, August 30, fathers in Nepal woke up to excellent gifts, breakfast in bed and novelty treats. Temples, hotels, supermarkets and restaurants got flooded with families treating their fathers and thanking them. While the entire social media was being overflowed with the pictures and messages related to the father’s day, my attention was caught by this particular post that read: Buwako mukh herne matrai hoina, buwalai mukh dekhauna layak banne the sense of which is ‘be a pride of your dad.’ That inspired me to shed lights on my personal experience around father-children relationship and share my views through this article.
I was fortunate to have been born to a father who has inspired me deeply and encouraged me to become the person I am today. Most of my habits—reading, making new friends and my profound interest in spirituality—came from my father. The older I get, I feel more open to discuss complex topics concerning my life, society and humanity with him. There were times (during my teenage) where I felt that my father didn’t understand enough the dynamism and lacked capacity to offer proper guidance and support, but he has nevertheless given the most valuable advice and care to me and my siblings without it being asked. I have immense respect to him for all his support that I received in countless ways.
As a father of four years old, myself, I now know being a father is no small task, but it is where I find my center and the greatest source of inner strength. My focus on the way I look at things has changed after becoming a father. I give utmost priority to my daughter and be with her whenever I can and I absolutely love doing that. Most of my friends share the wonderful bonding they have with their kids and how this has improved their professional growth and improved relationship with their spouse. It is also the responsibility of us as fathers to create a culture to spend quality time with the children and be engaged parents in their holistic development so they become responsible and wise adults.
Tips to follow
The main purpose of writing this opinion piece is that we may need to move beyond treating our fathers with the cards, gifts and offer them the best luxury treats on the father’s day only. Simple as it may sound, we should rather focus on what makes our fathers most proud. Let’s reflect if we are living our lives greatly and if we are engaging our parents to be part of that. Here is something to think about.
First, spend quality time with fathers. We often do so with our mothers when time permits but actually fathers need as much love and support. Fathers may not be open to express how much they have enjoyed our company, but looking into their eyes, you will mostly find them wanting to spend quality time with you. This is the most underrated gift that has huge psychological and even other benefits. Also, we need to change the stereotypical attitude toward parenting that rests firmly on traditional belief that fathers are the breadwinners and mothers are the homemakers. This belief forms the basis of our parental leave. This belief and practice needs to change. Some Western countries such as Denmark, Norway and Sweden have already advanced and reconsidered the ways they allow fathers to take paternity leave and take care of their babies. In Nepal, where the culture of new dads taking time off has gradually started, this welcome change will surely reduce forced role for mothers and significantly improve the bonding with the children.
Second, never fail to show that you care. There are so many different ways to show that you care for your father. It doesn’t always have to be buying expensive gifts or treating lavishly on a father’s day, but simply understand what their interest is and know that little things—giving them calls, getting in touch regularly, keeping them updated on your happy and sad moments etc—matter. We are not so open to reciprocate our feelings to our dads (except in modern families) but we know what works the best for our own father.
Third, appreciate fathers’ contribution in your life and follow what they’ve taught you. I know from practical experience that the biggest compliment that one can offer is to let your father know that you’ve always appreciated his contribution to make you who you are today and you’ve always been wanting to take the legacy forward with your kids. This works the best.
Fourth, be responsible in what you do and make your own decisions. Fathers are historically more responsible to protect, nurture and take children forward. Every father has a dream to see their children being very responsible, independent and capable of making decisions. Finally, be a good human being. Regardless of how rich or poor, smart or intelligent, or wherever we live, we can always impress our fathers by living our life as good human beings.
Let’s become the person whom our fathers take pride to call their child.
The author, an Australian Development Scholarship awardee, currently works in an international humanitarian organization in Bangladesh