Recently, I watched the Bollywood musical – ‘Jagga Jasoos’. Notwithstanding mixed reviews on the performances by actors, plot, dialogues, length of the movie and the number of songs, my takeaway was the father-son relationship and the lessons it has for us –
1. Every child is gifted, they just unwrap their gifts at different times. Jagga’s father instilled in him the confidence to pursue his passion of becoming a detective.
2. One need not stay quiet just because of a stammer. Jagga’s father suggested singing as an alternative way to communicating.
3. Parenting is not limited to physical presence. Jagga’s father could not stay with him, yet taught him many life skills and imparted his wisdom through a video tape recording every year on Jagga’s birthday.
Katrina Kaif’s dialogue roughly translated conveys the powerful message “Living apart, Jagga’s father taught him many things that a father living under the same roof can’t.”
This movie set me thinking on the importance of a father’s role in a child’s life. While growing up, my father played a less active role than my mother. However, he used to make it a point to take us for eating out every weekend (it was not as common then as it is nowadays) and spend time on family vacations multiple times a year. In today’s world where both parents share equal responsibilities and there is greater overlapping between traditional gender roles it’s important to acknowledge the roles played by both parents. It takes two to bring up a child in a wholesome manner. While the role of a mother can never be replaced, a father plays an equally relevant part, and this begins from the day the child is born and continues through.
My husband has been involved fully with our baby, stayed up with me at nights, bottle-fed the baby when needed, probably changed more diapers than I did. Initially when I was scared to bathe our little infant, he stepped in and did so without a blink. Even today, despite a demanding job, he takes out time to engage with our five year old son. They spend time together playing Lego, reading books or simply making up (silly) games of their own. He does this happily and not as a favour to me. My son in turn is very happy with his daddy time. I see the closeness my son shares with his father. It makes me realize that like all relationships, a parent-child relationship requires hard work, emotional commitment, time and energy. We don’t become parents only by having a child; we become parents when we make a difference to our children’s lives by being there for them, engaging with them and playing a part in their lives.
When I struggled to teach my son good habits by repeating them softly, then sternly but to no avail, I entrusted the task to my husband. He made a catchy jingle to prompt my son to wash his hands. My son who has a flair for music quickly caught on and did as instructed, while singing –
“After u Pee and poop, you have to flush,
For sparkling teeth, use the tooth brush,
Then rinse, use soap and scrub,
Rub – a – dub – dub!!!”
Kids learn what we teach but more of what we don’t teach. My son often follows his father around and imitates him. This includes things like washing his face and feet when he returns from outdoors or frequently wiping his hands clean or brushing after meals. Making games out of some of these things have helped habituate him in a fun, interesting and engaging way. Ironically, on days when my husband forgets any practice, he is cheerfully reminded of the omission by our son. It also provides an opportunity for the child to question and understand the reasons why his dad insists on some things. Our child therefore, is growing up to be trusting, confident and healthy.
Children are very gifted. They are like sponges and absorb everything they see, hear or listen. If we are able to lead by example, they will pick up instantly and run with it. Practice will only make it more perfect.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids) sponsored by Dettol.