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I know the line I have chosen as the topic sounds regressive and one feels like how stupid is this? Even I felt so when I heard it for the first time. These days when you read and think and listen so much about parenting as a partnership, where the father also plays or should play an equally important role as a mother in a child's upbringing, sharing chores and responsibilities these lines make no sense.
I myself am an ardent believer of the partnership parenting philosophy and have seen in my case and many other cases this being true also, but when I saw the opposite happening in front of my eyes, when time and again I heard these lines from the women folk I understood a reality that probably this phenomenon is not even present in thinking for many people, in many places in our country, forget practising it. Probably people who believe and practice it are the only ones discussing it, whereas there are people and places for whom this concept is very alien. Males think of this task as solely a woman's responsibility and even females are conditioned that way.
I will share a story and other things I saw which will prove this.
This is about 2 years back when we had been transferred to a part of our country, which was not a village or small town. It was and is a well know modern city, high on fashion trends and known for its beauty. In our neighborhood was a family with a husband, wife and a 6 month old child. Once acquainted I came to know that this girl was literally struggling to bring up her child day in and day out. She had not only given him birth but was responsible for every small and big thing associated with the child.The support from the husband's side was almost nil. I myself in those 6 months had always seen the girl doing every small and big thing related to the child. This man was mostly out of home for work and in the evenings also was with his friends. Came late at night, was busy with his phone and apart from once or twice When he was carrying the child in his arms I had never seen him doing things like changing nappies, preparing his feed, Rocking him to sleep, taking him out for a walk etc. Instead of depending on her husband the girl was dependent many a times on neighbours who took care of the child for short intervals when it was almost necessary for her to go to the loo or take bath or attend to some other urgent thing. Many a times when fed up she would go to her mother's place for Some days.
I was surprised to see that the husband would happily go and leave her there as if he himself wanted so. Once back again I saw her with the same struggle.
The family was not very well off and apart from a maid for household chores this girl was not having any other help. She cooked and took care of the home and almost 100% of the child's chores were her responsibility.
I myself saw her doing everything right from feeding....to changing nappies....rocking him to sleep....taking him out in the park...etc etc. Even when the husband was present he seldom did anything to help her.
Once acquainted even I offered her help and took care of her child when it was really necessary. The condition was such that one morning we heard the child crying badly. It seemed he had fallen from the bed. We heard loud noises also from the husband. He was shouting at his wife.
I couldn't resisit and rang her bell to enquire about the child. She told me that she had asked her husband to look after the baby for few minutes as she had to go to the washroom. He was busy with his phone and the child fell down. He was slightly hurt and had held his breath. As a mother she got angry and had just asked him that why can't he even take care of him for few minutes and the child had fallen from bed and could have been injured, to which the man had shouted "mujhse nahi hota, bachey paalna aurato ka kaam hai". Islie hi mein ghar nahi aata".
This was shocking for me. Well that time it was better to leave them alone.
I was shocked. I had never seen people behaving like this. How can someone be so careless and responsibility shunning for his own child. Was he there only in his making? What about the upbringing? Can't he even look after him for few minutes, such careless approach? Was he not worried or felt bad about the child falling or getting hurt? He was at fault and still shouted when his wife confronted him?
I was really baffled with these questions throughout the day....
When, in the evening I again went to enquire about the child, I couldn't contain myself and asked her,"why is your husband like this, you both are his parents and the child belongs to him also, why can't he take at least some responsibility and help you sometimes and the incident of that morning was still in my mind?
I was really surprised and sad at what I heard. She said, "Didi, ye to normal hai, yaha aisa hi hai, bachey to aurate hi paalti hai, Mardo ki shaan kum nahi ho jaegi, agar wo ye sab chote kaam karenge. Wo to bas kamakar late hai, itna bahut hai, baki to hum kar lenge".
It was really sad to listen to this. The fault was not only with this man or this family and it was not a one off case the problem was with the mentality which was deeply ingrained in generations after generations in that place and that too in minds of both males and females that bringing up a child was a menial task and its responsibility was to be handled by woman, a man was not made to do this, it will be a shame on his manliness if he gets involved in stuff like this.
Men were to earn, and live thier lives as per thier wishes and women were to do everything associated with the home and kids.
It was not only this incident. Living for 6 months in this city, we had just once seen a father carrying his child in his arms and rest of the times whenever we visited any mall, or market or restaurant it was always the women, carrying a young one in her arms, trying to manage an elder sibling also and sometimes even holding other shopping stuff and the child's bag.
The men were with thier wives and children but only in thier best attires, with a proud gait, showing off thier false manliness and not even having the courtesy of holding the shopping stuff or managing the elder kid or kids. We always saw the woman in that city and around managing everything related to children and home.
So it is really sad but still in our country in villages, small towms and even in some modern cities sections of people believe that "bachey paalna to auraat ka kaam hai", and follow it. Even the woman folk takes it as normal and never think of changing it.
Thus when I see and read and listen people talking about the shareting concept in parenting I feel that it is good that many people today recognize the importance of the role a father can play in a child's upbringing and even practice it. But for those who don't it is more a problem of mindset. The only solution according to me is through our government and social organizations playing an important role in this. When they have run successful programs on family planing, pregnancy healthcare and child healthcare, they can do the same for the concept of partnership in parenting. Even brands associated with child care can help promote this concept, through advertisements in media, Awareness on this can be spread and may be it will take some time and lot of effort but will bring a change and affect many lives and generations to come.