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Mom and Me : Sharing the joy of parenting together

, April 7, 2015, 0 Comments

joy of parenting MarketExpress-inChild bearing and child rearing are issues often discussed only in the context of women employees and their work-life balance challenges. Both the law of land as well as well wishing employers try to help the woman in the initial months which can be extremely exhausting and exhilarating by providing a maternity leave and other benefits. But in this entire humdrum we seem to be forgetting the co-traveler in this beautiful journey called parenthood….The father.

Traditionally a father is only supposed to be a passive witness of all that happens between the mother and the child. However many fathers today prefer to be active participants in this journey by availing the paternity leave. In private organizations, paternity leave is a sole discretion of the management. Thus there is Cisco Systems (India) which grants its employees 12 weeks leave, Infosys which is looking at increasing their leave from 5 days of to 10 days and HUL which offers two weeks of Paternity leave.

A paternity leave is a great opportunity for the father to bond with his child both physically and emotionally.

Joy of Parenting together: Break away from Stereotypes

Traditionally fathers have been prescribed the role of a primary bread winner and provider. But the new family dynamics has led to the dilution of gender roles. Kaaran, a Business Partner, Strategy with one of the leading Financial Assets management firm decided to take a 2 weeks paternity leave, which was provided by the organization but was hardly availed by others.

“Men still look at taking the paternity leave as a mark of non commitment to the work role, and a road block in career growth. This mind set need to change.” This is an important insight that Kaaran shares. In fact research from Sweden and other parts of the world proves that a father on a paternity leave can have a huge positive impact on the nerves of the mother and therefore the child

Own the changed family status

Spending time with the new born also helps the dad to be actively involved in the day to day handling of the child. Most often the arrival of a child can cause strain in the couple relationship preceded by unrealistic expectations and ideas. Adrian, an executive with a Premium Market research firm, shares his experience during the birth of his now 2 year old son, “the days just after the birth of my son were extremely stressful. The moment I entered home, my wife would take all her frustrations out on me.

I was expected to cater to needs both expressed and unexpressed and would be accused for everything going wrong from the colic that the baby suffered with to a non-working AC. Life was very miserable. Work was getting affected. I decided to talk to my manager who advised that I should take a week off just to spend with my newly extended family.

The time did wonders for me and my wife to connect with each other, share our feelings and just be there together. Slowly I started realizing that life as a mom and dad would be different than as a Mr. and Ms. The paternity leave was actually a blessing that cemented our ties with each other and my son who was the most wonderful gift I ever got.”

Nurture the career aspirations of the spouse

Today for career oriented women, the opportunity cost related to child bearing overweigh the joy and fulfillment that one gets through child bearing. Part of this is because the mother feels stuck, lonely and a sole tax payer in this journey. These fears are at its peak in the initial days, and these coupled with biological vulnerabilities can create a lot of stress for the new mother. Being besides her can give immense moral and physical comfort to her leading to a more stable and composed emotional environment most necessary for the well being of the new born.

Develop an enriching outlook towards life and work.

Experiences in child rearing and caring help us with beautiful insights in giving, forgiving, negotiating, being empathic, patient and tolerant. Premal, a Head of Enterprise in a ITES company reflects on his early days with his child, “The most challenging customer that I ever had was my daughter the moment she was born. The first few weeks with my daughter were the most humbling moments of my life. Here you have a child completely submitting itself to your care.

She has no options, no divided loyalties. All she wanted was to be satisfied by small but meaningful acts of resourcefulness on your part. The reward in return was a beautiful, sleepy smile and an expression of contentment that no customer satisfaction survey can ever capture. It taught me a lot about being grounded, simple and yet be connected. I would always cherish the first two weeks that I got with my princesses.
To sum up, the role of the father in those initial days of child birth cannot be undermined. We have come a long way from questioning whether Fathers need a paternity leave at all to shifting to a modern concept such as shared parental leave wherein both parents are eligible to share a leave simultaneously or otherwise to care for the new born.

The bottom line is that, having a child is a mutual decision of the husband and the wife and the husband has a right to optimum involvement in this expedition. A paternity leave can be a great way of being with the child as a Mom and Me….