Is mummy a pet or daddy, a darling?
Who is the perfect parent mom or dad?
ROLE REVERSAL Dads too make good moms these days
A sacrosanct Sunday morning. A little wriggling heap, all intertwined ankles and elbows, emitting shrill shrieks at frequent intervals... nothing alarming, just a regular battle for remote `control'! Mum rushes to `combat-zone', unscrambles the limbs with surgical precision, and with a sharp word or two, restores harmony before one can say a longish `boo'. Daddy-dearest, meanwhile, is engaged in activities that will bring stock markets worldwide on their knees crossword, Sudoku or net browsing. Doesn't it seem futile then, to debate about a fact conveniently acknowledged by the men themselves? Women are better parents and there is precious little to challenge that. Or is there?
`I haven't seen a single father take a yearlong sabbatical to look after the kid! Anyway, mums are way better as carers, acknowledges A. K. Sriram, advocate. Says Advocate Nandini Sriram, his life and work partner: "`Fathers, if left to look after kids, would simply do anything to get on with their work without hindrance; but women, even those with full-time jobs, ably balance work and child with ιlan." All mums are multi-tasking wizards; they soothe the bawling infant, tame the tempestuous tyke, while conjuring up a meal fit for a not-so-fussy king, all at the end of a long day at work! Granted, biologically, there are certain demands that can be met by moms only; but the scatological by-products of satiated infants can hardly be fobbed off as an all-woman's thing! Yet, most dads usually remember, at that critical moment, a very important conference call with Kofi Annan, to fine-tune the nuclear disarmament treaty!
"Fathers generally tend to get their priorities wrong they're pre-occupied with money, and realise a little too late that they've not been around to see the child grow up," says K. Srinivasan, Chartered Accountant. "Mothers are `emotional anchors' for kids and inherently make better parents," he adds. Nandini vouches for the fact that even kids are astute enough to note that dads do things for them out of a sense of duty. Mums put a flourishing career on the back burner as soon as the pitter-patter of little feet rudely interrupts the tranquillity, while dads hanker after promotions and fat salaries. Even in the allegedly egalitarian West, `paternity leave' is but a big joke, and there exists a hidebound view that parenting is exclusively a feminine preserve. Funny, but nobody seems to talk about `stay-at-home dads' or harp about `fathers-guilt'!
The fair winds of change are blowing in some interesting parenting trends. It's scarcely incredible anymore to find dads outside school gates and doctors' waiting rooms; why, they even skilfully feed, burp and change the drooling, squirming infant! And no, this is not just a saccharine sweet commercial on telly. Far from the dads of yesteryear, who couldn't bother to remember which class the kid was studying in, today's rare breed takes an active interest even in the science project!
Speaking up in favour of dads, Sriram says, "There are fathers who are involved and interested in watching the kids grow up, and enjoy spending time with them. In fact, I know a couple of them, who were forced by circumstances to look after their kids and they've done a wonderful job!" Saee Joshi, Business Consultant, pithily sums it up: "I think I know enough men who are phenomenal parents, and not only in context of `daddy' stuff, but actually make pretty good moms!"
"As far as love and affection go, both parents dole it out in equal quantities, though mums are verbally more expressive," says Sriram. Saee, however, feels that parenting is not a hard-coded thing. "I truly think it depends on the parent's personality and the child's too! What constitutes excellent parenting for one child would be pretty disastrous for another."
Everybody unequivocally agrees that both parents should necessarily share the responsibilities for bringing up kids. Yet, harassed mums often cry foul at having to bear more than their fair share of the load. The trouble partly stems from the orchestrated gender typecasting, which insists women cheerfully sacrifice all that they hold sacred, the moment a screaming, kicking infant makes its dramatic entry. Finally, one had little choice but to ask an expert a seven-year-old chatterbox to referee. While she shrewdly maintained that she liked both mom and dad very much, she accepted, "`mum looks after me, plays with me, reads stories and cooks yummy things." What does daddy do? "Oh he hugs me, buys me stuff and never scolds me. He says I'm his princess!" So, who is the perfect parent? Beats me!
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