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Parenting is a highly valued term these days. I am pretty sure our own parents would not even know this word. Parenting is also a sensitive issue in today’s times. Parenting, these days, is not only cautious but also directed. Parents are much more conscious of their duties and are more and more inclined to know about things such as…….what effect will it have on my child if I do not understand his emotions; how will my child respond if I scold her and so on!!
Each one of us wishes to provide an ‘all-rounded’ parenting to our children these days. We want to make no mistakes as parents. With the advent of the new age technology, there is so much information available to us. But think about it. Does this amount of information make us comfortable? Anyways, this is for a separate blog altogether.
The point here is about the concept called ‘parenting’. As parents, we wish to provide every one of our children a wholesome childhood (whatever that means), a childhood that would not need any healing later on (supposedly), and a personality that is balanced and has strong self-esteem. Phew!!!
Ok, point taken.
Now, as parents, are we balanced? Do we have a strong self-esteem? Are both of us balanced individuals first, let alone balanced parents?
We need to ask ourselves such questions first, before we embark on this ‘tedious’ journey of parenting, don’t we?
One set of parents usually means a mother and a father. These are two individual beings that have come from a different set of parents themselves. Each one of them has had a different kind of ‘parenting’. Each of their own parents has had their own kind of ‘parenting’. And so on. It is certainly a long chain of ‘parenting’.
Each parent in a set of parents is unique and has an individual style of parenting. Moreover, each parent acquires a different role as per the norms of the society. A mother and a father usually role-play as is expected of them traditionally. In the context of the Indian society, a mother is expected to nurture and care for the children and a father is expected to earn for the family and make sure that their expenses are met. In such a context, the roles that a mother and a father play in a child’s upbringing or the so called ‘parenting’ become categorically defined and limited.
I am sure many of us would agree that there have been times when the fathers have not been able to recall the section in which their child studies at school or in worse cases, even the class in which their child studies. Forget knowing their children’s food habits, likes and dislikes, vaccinations, mood swings, and daily routines and so on. This is mostly because of the work schedules of the men in the families in a general context. Some part of this also infiltrates from the chauvinistic upbringing that the men in our society are usually granted.
On the other hand, the mothers are usually unaware of the financial aspects of the families which are largely handled by their husbands. The total earnings, the insurances, the spending, the expenses, the liabilities and the likes are usually kept an account for by the fathers.
From my personal experiences, I can safely generalize that the children know which parent to approach for their specific needs. No child would ever, in the general circumstances, approach their father for their food-related needs, except when they wish to go out for a pizza (where money is to be spent). They know too well whom to approach when they want to buy a new, expensive toy. When they are hurt or upset, mother is the word for them!
As far as discipline is concerned, the children are often scared of their father more than their mother. The mother is usually present with the children for major part of the day and often admonishes the children for their mischiefs with the ‘daddy scares’. The father comes home in the evening, listens to the trials the children have put their mother through and scolds them (mostly to satisfy the wife). Is this a wise parenting style?
The school work and studies are mostly the mothers’ department where the mothers are expected to put in efforts to make their children complete their homework (and often classwork). That’s what the Watsapp groups are for. The tests and examinations are totally supervised by the mothers, irrespective of whether they are working moms or stay-at-home moms. Where is the mutual ’parenting’ here?
The house and the cooking is completely managed and supervised by the mothers, again irrespective of whether they are working moms or stay-at-home moms. Hardly any role can be expected from the fathers here, eh! Surely, it is never the ‘Ki and Ka’ movie kind of situation in a ‘’normal’’ Indian home.
Mother and father are two different people who seem to fulfill different aspects of parenting which hardly overlap. Parenting is an umbrella term for ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering’. Won’t we all be more benefitted if we talked about ‘mothering’ and ‘fathering’ rather than ‘parenting’ in general?
Parenting always seems more skewed towards ‘mothering’. Most of the tasks are fulfilled by the mothers as a co-parent. Then, why not call it simply ‘mothering’? Let it approach all the aspects of parenting that can be looked after by a mother in a better way than fathers.
Similarly, let us call the aspects of parenting more suitable for a father as ‘fathering’.
A child’s life revolves around healthy, nutritious food for sound growth; appropriate learning strategies that can help them learn effectively; and a good, disciplined behavior which can help them turn out to be balanced individuals and citizens. This can all be categorized as ‘mothering’, can’t it?
To meet all of the above, monetary needs are fulfilled by the fathers, which can be categorized as ‘fathering’.
Let me say this very loud and clear. MOTHERING AND FATHERING ARE NOT GENDER-BASED PARENTING ROLES. These are only ROLE-BASED PARENTING where the co-parent who fulfills certain roles in the life of a child is called a mother and the co-parent who fulfills certain other kind roles is called a father.
I truly believe that there are very few areas where a mother and a father play a cohesive and an integrated role in a child’s life. Let those areas be the ‘parenting’ realms. Can you think of any?
(image courtsey www.dreamstime.com)