LifeRelationshipsMeet The New-Age Dads: They Cook, They Braid, They Put Their Kids...

Meet The New-Age Dads: They Cook, They Braid, They Put Their Kids To Bed

A new generation brings with it unique experiences, challenges and adventures. They offer fresh perspectives as well as carry the values passed down by their parents. This is especially true when it comes to parenting. The slow, but steady elimination of gender roles is bringing a new era for dads. Gone are the days when dads would only be considered breadwinners who would occasionally “babysit” their own kids. Most new-age fathers are hands-on parents. Today, dads do everything, from heating up bottles to changing diapers and taking the night shift to getting the kids ready for the day. 

Virat Kohli took paternity leave to be a dad to little Vamika and a supportive spouse to Anushka Sharma. Saif Ali Khan has taken paternity leave each time he’s become a father. The actor stated, “Who wants to work when you have a newborn at home? If you don’t see your children growing up, you’re making a mistake. And I can take time off from work—it’s a privileged position”. This only cements the idea that fathers are essential to healthy child development. 

And to celebrate Father’s Day this weekend, TC46 interviewed three new-age dads who share their experiences of fatherhood and the beautiful journey they have embarked on with their kids.

Rohan Sonalkar: From Metallica To Nursery Rhymes

Native Tongue’s co-founder Rohan Sonalkar talks about his atypical journey to fatherhood.

1. What is the best thing about being a father?

The best thing about being a father is that you get to be a child again. You get to run around the house, make paper boats, watch cartoons together, play the ‘who burps the loudest’ game, eat noodles with your hands and do other such important activities. There is never a quiet moment around and sometimes that could be the worst thing too. Especially with a daughter like mine who is extra charged up all the time, so much so that I get suspicious when there’s silence in the house.

2. How has your journey of fatherhood been?

My journey of fatherhood started like a launch of a rocket. My wife and I had decided to adopt a girl child when we got married and we made it happen. This also means that we didn’t have those 9 months to mentally prep ourselves. One fine day we got a call from the agency and after a month we had this wriggling bundle in our arms that was trying to speak money language. The living room started smelling of J&J powder, Nan Pro formula and other baby stuff. Metallica was replaced with Twinkle-Twinkle on the stereo. And today after 8 years, I still have less control over the system. Having said that, I haven’t stopped trying to introduce heavy metal music to my daughter.

3. What are some unique changes/choices you made to be a father and to support your spouse/partner?

Prior to all of this, I had to increase my level of patience by a few thousand points. How much the mother contributes to the upbringing of a child cannot be measured at all. However, in my limited capacity, I started understanding feeding patterns, set timers when needed, learnt how to make Nan Pro and be extra careful while driving the car. These choices aren’t unique but necessary.

3. What is one piece of advice you would share for all fathers out there?

I am in no position to advise, but the key during the initial years is to understand what the spouse is going through. Because while parenthood is equally new to both the members, the mother ends up taking the driver’s seat. Also, multi-tasking is a big no when it comes to the child. You cannot play and look at the emails on your phone at the same time. Even if it is for 15 minutes, we can drop all gadgets and dedicate ourselves to hide and seek.

Ravi Pathak: Father Of Twins, Always On The Move

A retired banker, Ravi shares the experience of raising twins in the 90s, juggling work and household responsibilities and the way retirement has given him new opportunities to become an even better husband and father.

1. What is the best thing about being a father?

Fatherhood gives meaning to one’s life. In a sense, you feel complete and responsible at the same time. And having twins, a boy and a girl, made it even better as I get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Their unique personalities, talents, quirks have been mesmerizing since day one and their unconditional love makes everything worth it.

2. How has your journey of fatherhood been?

It has been full of ups and downs. Complete with moments of pride and anxiety. And a sense of guilt for not paying attention to the needs and demands of growing children at their tender age. Thanks to the transferable job, I was forced to stay away from the family for many years. And yet I had had the joy of spending quality time with them in a variety of ways. Taking care of them when their mom would be out of town for work while they were little and now, being able to see them as adults making their own decisions is fulfilling. I remember one habit we picked up as a family which was to devote 15 minutes of playtime before bed. As I would spend the majority of my weekdays at the office, those few minutes of just being a kid with my kids would bring a smile to my face.

3. What are some unique changes/choices you made to be a father and to support your spouse/partner?

No great changes/choices made. Just tried to support the spouse when the situation demanded. Since I am now retired, I try and take over responsibilities that I couldn’t while I was away. Today, I have the opportunity to take care of the house while my wife goes to work and that brings me peace.

4. What is one piece of advice you would share for all fathers out there?

Enjoy the journey of growing up along with your children. Remember there are no set rules and standards. Each child is unique in his or her own way.

Ashok Bhagat: A Full-Time Father

Ashok is the father of a 12-year-old boy, he has a Newspaper Distribution business in Mumbai. But as he works 4-5 hours in the morning he’s at home the rest of the day taking care of his house and his child Darsh. His wife, Pooja Bhagat has a Master’s in Psychology and she’s a teacher in a school meant for special children. She works a 9-5 job and Ashok is completely supportive of this. 

1. What is the best thing about being a father?

When my son smiles I feel satisfied. I love that he has grown into an amazing young boy and that I get to witness his amazingness every day.

2. How has your journey of fatherhood been?

It was difficult in the beginning, as I was firm on my decision to support my wife and build her career. Even though she made food for us before she was off to work, all the other household chores were my responsibility. But with time I learnt how to handle things by myself and it’s all great now!

3. What are some unique changes/choices you made to be a father and to support your spouse?

Nobody in my family has a working wife, it’s just me. So obviously people had questions and opinions about this. But whenever someone asked or raised an objection to my wife going to work, I always put her in a positive light.

If they asked me something like, “How do you allow your wife to go to work?” I would answer with, “There’s nothing to allow in this, she’s quite educated and she is going to do wonders in her career. She needs the support and I am willing to offer it.”. The household adjustments were minimal but the most unique choice I made here was to not be influenced by people and their opinions on how my family should work.

4. What is one piece of advice you would share for all fathers out there?

Support your children in their life choices. Don’t let them be scared of you, that’s not what fatherhood is.

These and many such dads are the reason why there is no longer an invisible line between fathers and children. Today, parents are moving beyond an archetypal family construct to adopt an unconventional perspective on what modern family life looks like. While they are highly involved in their children’s lives, they leave room for children to deal with their problems independently. But most importantly, they have developed loving bonds that last a lifetime.

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