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Isn’t marriage a partnership? Should it really matter who plays which role? What if we can have a stay at home dad and mom bringing in the money?
Does the title of this post sound alien?
But aren’t men suppose to be the karta dharta of the family, the one who brings home the daily bread, the one on whose shoulders the burden of children’s education, home loan, EMI, household expenses and so much more rests? And isn’t it the woman’s role to take care of the family, cook, clean, raise the kids?
Times have changed no doubt and we see more women emerge out of their houses, shatter the glass ceiling, earn as much and sometimes even more than men, juggling a career and family. However people still consider the woman as playing second fiddle or just lending a helping hand to her husband.
Now consider this hypothetical (yet very possible) situation. A man is not doing that well in his career and his wife is very successful in her professional life, and they are mature enough to not let that become an ego problem. Picture a situation where they have a kid and no family support. They are not very comfortable leaving the kid in daycare or with a nanny without any supervision. They feel the need for at least one parent being there for their child in those growing years.
In such a case, what if they switch (society-ordained) roles? The father agrees to take up the responsibility of raising the kid and the woman can work guilt and tension free? Wouldn’t that be the most ideal solution?
We all know raising a child is not easy. And managing the house is no easy task either. And this is not to say that Daddy would not do anything else. In fact it’s a great opportunity to learn a new skill, take up a hobby, write or engage oneself in any other activity which interests him. Daddy gets the golden opportunity of spending quality time with his child which is practically difficult for an otherwise working Dad. Mommy can go tension free to office knowing baby will be well looked after, and baby is happy as well (anyone would prefer Daddy to Nanny right!).
Maybe its not fair to say that the man is not doing well in his career for I believe that is not the sole purpose for him to decide to be a Stay at Home Dad. What if he wants to take a break from the drudgery of corporate life and pursue some other goals? Or take time and think about some other options? Or still better if he wants to play an active role in raising his child and happily pass on the responsibility of getting the pay check home to his wife?
A utopian world. But does that exist? Can it exist? People are so conditioned to see men work that Daddy would be looked down upon saying he is not man enough (?!) to work and earn for his family. Mommy will be chastised for being selfish and putting her career first. And the poor child will have to hear people’s sniggering comments which will compel him to think that his parents are not normal.
I have a colleague who is a lawyer and she’s doing really well in terms of her job. She earns comfortably well to take care of a family single-handedly. Her husband was doing some business but it did not do well and he had to shut it down. Since then he has been a stay at home dad to their 8 year old son. She cooks in the morning and he is the one who drops the little boy to school, runs errands, picks him up, fixes a meal, takes care of his studies.
I think he’s doing an awesome job! If not for him, my friend who spends long hours at work and commuting would not be at peace. She makes it a point to imbibe in her son that “Daddy is doing a great job being with you.”
Obviously this is not something that the boy sees with everyone else around. There have been times when he has innocently questioned, “Why can’t Mummy be at home with me and Daddy go to work?” She may not be able to explain everything to him at this point but she doesn’t want him to ever disrespect his Dad for being a stay at home Dad. For this is mean feat, considering the way our society conditions us. I don’t think there is any shame in it.
It’s time we challenge the traditional age old stereotypes. Think beyond and do what best works for us.
I also saw a stay at home Dad once in Aamir Khan’s famous chat show SatyaMev Jayate, who has been in this role for the past 20 years or so. He lost his job and his wife was having a stable job. They had a young daughter and he decided to take the bold step of raising her while his wife continued working. People used to make fun of him, asking him to wear bangles and sit at home. This did not deter him. His daughter who was a teenager was also present in the show and she was proud of her Dad, who gave her a fabulous childhood.
And let’s not forget the author Chetan Bhagat who quit his high profile investment banking job to take the plunge into writing. Of course he is very successful now and has built a career as a columnist and writer but he continues to be a stay at home Dad and his wife Anusha is the one who goes to work. Isn’t this a great example?
Yes all stay at home dads may not become Chetan Bhagat’s but finding your own space and doing what makes you happy is what matters, isn’t it?
As parents, just as we should not judge other moms and dads it’s equally important that we teach our kids to think freely. Our daughters cannot build their careers unless they have supportive spouses and we must inculcate the values in them that you can be whatever you desire to be. Yes you can be the breadwinner, my dear. Who ever said that’s got to be a man?
And to our sons – we must sensitize them and teach them that being a man is not only measured by how much money you make, but how you stand by your family, how you support your spouse and do the right thing fearlessly.
Let’s break these age old shackles and hopefully we see a day when Mommy comes home tired but happy to be greeted with a cup of tea, hugs and kisses from Daddy and baby.
Published earlier here.
Image source: stay at home dad by Shutterstock.
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