Men will be men...or will they?
If May is the month for mothers, then June is the month for fathers! ‘Father’s Day’ is celebrated on the third Sunday of June to recognise the immense contribution made by fathers to our lives! And so, from the mushy, tearful, heartfelt wishes of Mother’s day last month, we now move on to more wishes...only not so mushy and not so tearful, maybe, but every bit as much heartfelt.
Of course, just like our mothers in India, our fathers too do not think much of this tradition. In fact, many aren’t even aware that there is a special day to celebrate fatherhood; nor are they aware as to when this special day is! They fail to see why there should be one particular day in one particular month when they should be 'recognised' as such. After all, haven’t they been fathers all their lives? So what is so special about this third Sunday in June?
Well, don’t be surprised if your dad too thinks this way. This is mainly because fathers in our country are not used to being 'celebrated' for their status as fathers. For them they are merely following their dharma or, in much easier language, it is what they are supposed to do in their lives. So they see nothing great about their so called ‘contribution’ as such. In fact, they are pretty uncomfortable when we even wish them 'Happy Birthday!' and have no idea what they are to do with the Birthday cards and the gifts they receive from their children and grandchildren. (Especially if those gifts do not include books, music CDs, or spectacles or maybe a walking stick or a recliner!)
We live in a world today, where celebrating and gifting has taken on a new meaning. But people from the earlier generations will tell you, that it doesn’t matter to them whether you remember their birthdays or not, but it will definitely matter to them if you shirk away from your responsibilities. Our dads, would rather we respect our elders, take care of our responsibilities and generally do what we are supposed to do in life (read, what our fathers expect us to do in life :)). Dotting all the 'i's and crossing all the 't's is basically, very important to them.
Well, there are reasons for this. Age old reasons. Men have been generally considered and raised to be not too sentimental. They are supposed to be the tough, solid answer to their soft, ever smiling and patient better halves. (with a few exceptions, of course.) Raised since childhood to believe that men are the pillars and the providers for a family, they take up the role of the breadwinner, the provider, the 'head' of the family. They have a job to perform that expects them to be 'macho' and 'manly' about whatever they do.
Sentimentalism, a soft heart, tears, outbursts are considered to be uncharacteristic traits for men. They are expected to take everything 'like a man.' No matter how difficult the situation, it is always the 'men of the house' that are expected to 'fix' things. In fact, in most cultures around the world too, it is the men that bear the responsibility of keeping the family safe and well provided for.
When men become fathers, they are expected to and they usually tend to get more serious and more responsible. It has always been an equation in many cultures that mothers take care of the home front while fathers take care of everything outside the home.
For ages therefore, generations of kids have grown up with fathers who believed they could not be bothered with the constant, trivial demands of their children. They barely spoke about their work at home and preferred not to burden the women folk at home with their business decisions or problems. In fact, up until, maybe a generation back at least, the term "hands-on Dad" was unheard of!
But things are changing now for the better. Maybe because most fathers today have themselves been raised by their fathers who were more traditional and not so ‘hands-on’ in their approach towards their family; men today, are not only more courteous and charming around women, but they are also proud to be "in the know" when it comes to their wives' and kids' lives. Gone are the days when men kept their affairs to themselves, refusing to share the details of their work and anything outside of home, with the women and children. Today, men are open to have dinner conversations with their family that involves a discussion of how everyone in the family has spent their day.
With this marked change in the nature and personality of men, there also has come a remarkable change in their persona as fathers. While earlier, there were just a few exceptional men who were doting fathers, today you can rarely find a man who is not actively involved in his children's lives. Far from being detached and aloof, today's fathers are keenly involved with and are very much attached to their children.
With more and more mothers stepping out of their homes to achieve economic stability for the family, the number of fathers sharing household responsibilities is on a rise. Proud fathers who are, and want to be, an important part of their kids' lives leave no stone unturned in getting to know their children better.
Dads today are aware and accepting of their emotions, sentiments, likes and dislikes; and are also ready and happy to share their feelings and aspirations with their families. And beware, let’s not mistake this for their weakness, but know it for what it is - their strength! It takes a lot to be able to express oneself, and today, many fathers are displaying this strength! This, in turn, has also helped in bringing their families closer than ever before. Their children are their new buddies, and spouses, their partners in the real sense of the term.
Well, be it the strong silent fathers of the yesteryear generations or the 'hands-on Dad' of today, one thing cannot be negated - the contribution of fathers to a family is as important and as invaluable as that of the mother. A Dad may be aloof, he may be detached, or he may be actively involved in the day to day activities of the household, the fact is, that a father gives much more to the family than his name. Just like the mother, he gives the moral and emotional support to his family. Just like the mother, he helps the family thrive and succeed. Just like the mother he too, is the energy that keeps the family going.
Kudos, to the Dads of today, who are 'equal responsibility parents.' They are living proof that the old adage "men will be men" is not entirely true....not in this sense at least!