A bond that matters

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‘How much ever you try to be tough and rude with me, I know what person you are inside, and that is why I will be there for you no matter what’ said Anay, in his father’s accent, explaining why he loves his dad.

This quote from him helped me believe what I had read on importance of fathers in children’s life by Dr. David Popenoe, a researcher and expert on fatherhood that – fathers are far more than second adults in the home, involved fathers are able to bring about positive benefits to their children that no other person can likely bring.

‘My daddy treated me like a tomboy, in fact he treated me like a son which made me more confident as a person’ said a friend. The conversation with her and a few more friends of the same age group (18-22) made me believe that more than anything; an involved father is a source of confidence in a child.

However, what one learns from his/her father is subjective. And as I talked to lot more people about their fathers I realized many also found fathers in people they don’t have a blood relation with, is this possible?

Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the US Department of Health clears this doubt as she explains that nothing effects fatherhood if a person is loving and caring enough. It is about the connection that one builds of care and love. This is also the reason why people find fathers in teachers, bosses and other men who they might not have a biological link with.

‘When I see the relationship my husband shares with our children I feel proud of the fact that they have someone to look up to. My experience as a daughter was bitter, somewhere I always knew the importance of fatherhood in that sense and I am glad he (her husband) shares a stronger one.’ said a lady, I met in the local train. She explained further on how fathers’ role in a family is stereotyped to be the earning one when his emotional presence for the children is more important.

It is difficult to be close to your fathers, especially in Indian context, this was one of my hypothesis when I began talking to people and realized it to be true. The whole stereotyped idea of father being the earning one and not necessarily be involved with children has been a root cause for the failure of bonds with children. There were many who have had beautiful bonds with their fathers right from the start and have credited all their success to that one relationship, but the ratio of these bonds were less to the rest.

Fatherhood in India has many more layers to be uncovered which many psychologists are working on. However, with my little effort to understand the issue, I have realized that ‘Childhood is a complete institution’ (Psychologist, Mc Quairre) is indeed true. And its high time we take parenting seriously.