Breaking the Desi Dad Stereotype
By Sanober Bukhari
A typical Desi dad is usually seen as a disciplinarian, a no-nonsense practical man often spouting advice on the real world, giving lectures on consequences just before taking out his leather belt. Ouch. Oh yes, the South Asian father was meant to be feared. The sound of his booming voice as he returned home from the office would quickly scatter all the children to their rooms. He was the breadwinner which meant child-rearing and housework was not part of his domain. With the rare exception, most South Asian families have experienced some version of this in their fathers and grandfathers.
Fast forward to today’s generation you will find a complete shift in the role of the South Asian dad. When I think of my husband, my friends’ husbands, my cousins husbands, not one of them fits the stereotype. Each of them are equally hardworking, some come home on time and some consistently work late, but the commonality amongst them is they all want to be involved in their children’s lives.
With the rare exception, today’s desi dads do not have a problem with household chores or partaking in the daily ‘dirty’ of child-rearing (i.e. diapers, feeding, clean ups).
So what has changed from our father’s time to our husband’s time?
Culturally speaking there has been an increase in the number of educated women entering the workforce. Dual-incomes are at the highest they have ever been. The modern day desi man does not expect his partner to bear the sole burden of doing all the cooking and cleaning. The modern day desi woman will not tolerate it. Whether she is a stay-at-home, work-at-home, or full time working mother she understands the value she brings to the relationship and makes it very clear to her partner.
To be realistic, there won’t always be an equitable division of household chores or even parenting. But the modern day desi dad has learned to pick up the slack where needed and doesn’t shy away from it.
When it comes to parenting, these dads have realized they want to have an individual relationship with their children. They don’t want to be a stranger to their kids. Studies have shown that fatherly love is as influential as motherly love. It helps children develop their social, emotional and cognitive functioning.
This is not to say there is a right or wrong in the parenting styles of either generation, but a commentary on the parenting evolution that has taken place. Traditionalist, defined parent roles was what was required given the history of the subcontinent and nearby regions which went through multiple wars, independence and migration. Discipline was integral in surviving so much change. The father-figure was the one to instill that.
The era we live in today is vastly different. We are part of the technological generation. (Is that why so many desi dads are in IT?) The world is much smaller, it’s faster its flexible. As a result roles have started to overlap and nature dictates that our parenting evolves in order to prepare our children for a different tomorrow.
On behalf of modern day desi moms, I would like to acknowledge that we appreciate you modern day desi dads. Thank you for making our mother’s day even more special.
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