Wake up Dads!

brought to you by Pritu Jha

Whenever I take little Agastya out for outdoor activities, a question resonates in my head: where are the fathers? I look for them in the parks, play areas, libraries, baby groups and museums but men are most of the time conspicuous by their absence when it comes to childcare. Despite the propaganda about equal parenting, I feel the real picture is lopsided. Why talk of others, my personal parenting journey so far leaves me feeling lonely and exhausted at times. My husband is a loving father but we both know that the baby chores are not distributed equally between us!


The age-old views about gender-specific duties play a major role. It is conveniently believed that baby chores are primarily a mother's responsibility. Men can very easily whisk off their responsibilities in the pretext that nature has endowed women with the duty of child bearing and breast-feeding and that when it comes to babies, women have instincts obscure to men. A recent survey conducted by Nielsen in association with Pampers to understand parenting behavior and the father's involvement in Baby Care, suggests that 88% dads believe that baby chores primarily need only the mom's involvement. True that nature chose women to carry babies and give birth and women are happily doing it for centuries but where does nature project that men have no role in raising babies? Babies belong to both parents and after they are born the chores must be divided between mother and father. Interestingly 97% doctors in the above mentioned survey opined that both parents must be involved for baby's development. A lot of research is being carried on the impact of father's involvement on the overall development of children and the good news is that father's involvement has positive outcomes.In words of the noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”[1]


Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQs, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities.[2] It is also found that even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. So if fathers are bottle feeding their infants or helping mothers breast-feed, brushing a toddler's teeth or helping them wash their hands, giving babies a bath or telling them stories, they are at the same time building a bond with their child as well as taking the stress off their wives.


The survey suggests that around 83% dads wish to be more involved in baby care but they don't know how.This is a very positive result.Child rearing is not as easy as anticipated before childbirth. Both parents undergo a lot of changes, especially the mothers and men find it difficult to ascertain their roles in such overwhelming circumstances. It is very important for every couple to communicate clearly and assign certain tasks to the father. For example, he can take the baby for a walk so that the mother catches up on some sleep. He can learn to bathe the baby or change the diaper. It is also possible for the father to bottle feed the baby at least once during the night or early in the morning with formula/expressed breast milk. Most importantly, he should find out ways to spend more quality time with family by adopting some sans smartphone/TV time.This will ensure that fathers are far more than just ‘second adults' in the home.[3]

In our case, when Agastya was less than a year old, by the time my husband came back from work, it was our little boy's bedtime. So my husband used to freshen up the baby for sleep. This included changing baby's clothes as well as the diaper. To ease things for dear husband, we had stocked pant style Pampers diapers that could be simply pulled up like briefs. After changing the diaper, my husband would sing lullabies and rock the baby to sleep. In those early months of motherhood, this support from my husband used to alleviate my stress levels. This has also helped build a strong bond between the father and son.


Parents should come to a mutual decision that if father goes out to work, technically for the number of hours he is in office, the wife is working at home. So the moment he enters the house, baby chores should be split between the two.Husbands should understand that if they take up certain jobs regarding children, it will help the mothers a lot; affect the children positively and make parenthood become more enjoyable.

[1]Popenoe, D. (1996). Life without father: Compelling new evidence that fatherhood and marriage are indispensable for the good of children and society (p. 163). New York, NY: The Free Press; Stanton

[2] Pruett, K. (2000). Father-need. New York, NY: Broadway Books; Sternberg.

[3] As stated by Dr Popenoe, the noted sociologist.

Pic courtesy Pinterest.com


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