I Never Said, I’m Your Friend: Anaggh Desai On Bringing Up A Daughter

Anaggh Desai

I am what you call the ‘sandwich generation’. By the time we got through to our parents, our daughter grew up to advise us. During our time we knew that nobody is ever READY to have a baby or to be a father. There were no classes to take, no diploma that told us that we were qualified. She’ll come when she’s ready and you will adapt. And love the shit out of her. Was I scared? Damn right. Am I still scared? Damn right.

Read other FathersDay Stories

My wife had given up work while our daughter was growing and did most of the parenting. But my daughter and I would have our time over the weekends. That was when I would fulfill some of her demands in contravention to her mother’s instructions. We also had to understand that there can be just a few ground rules and rest is all fluid.

My ground rules were:

  1. No TV or radio on huge volume for 30 minutes after I enter the house (that was my time to de-stress).
  2. She never lies to me nor me to her. – This became fluid as she grew, she did and does lie at times to me ☺
  3. Irrespective of any amount of work I would accept her calls. My assistants were told that Mrs Desai could be explained I was busy BUT never ever Ms Desai.
  4. Till she was 18 if I committed that I would be there for her, it could be taken to the bank.

I never said, I am your friend.

We have broken rules with her, never got her carded and so on, but in all this never ever have I told her that I was her friend. She had, has and will have plenty of those but would never ever have a father.

Last generation which means me and my parents, there was a gap. While we were modern in thought, there were still the religious tones, hearsay of relatives and regimental approaches of parenting. The current generation seems to be the other extreme – friends, freedom and then unable to map expectations – that is not to say it may be wrong, however reading a book about helicopter mom and so on doesn’t really work. There are too many aspects to bringing up a child and flexibility is one that is of paramount importance. The flexibility should not be to an extent where it breaks. But I see a lot of parents who are quite balanced in their approach. So one can always say, in hindsight it is 20/20.

There are too many aspects to bringing up a child and flexibility is one that is of paramount importance.

There is an evident gap in my way of thinking and hers for sure. Yes, in some ways it is extreme. For e.g. she is extremely conservative in some ways compared to me. In other ways not much, she thinks and agrees to my way, but the credit for that might have to be given to her mom. If there was one that I would have done differently – Stopped giving family too much importance overall and give more importance to wife and daughter.

Fatherhood changed me as a person and taught me a lot of things. We wanted a girl and had arrived at a decision of having a single child too. Parenting has taught me patience, not to repeat the same mistakes that I hated. Act as a wall between high expectations and allow her to work through her problems herself but be available when needed. It is quite surprising that old friends used me as a sounding board and today their kids use me as a sounding board, so guess I have kept evolving as a person to parent.

I rarely have advice for her. She is an adult and knows that I am always available.

Some things that I learnt and have stood me in good stead are

  • Don’t treat parenting as a job.
  • Don’t treat parenting as a role.
  • You may be able to give 30 minutes to your child, but ensure that those 30 min belong to her.
  • Share anecdotes, stories instead of advice.
  • Ask them, don’t tell.

As a free wheeling ‘Mindcaster’ & Observational Marketeer, Anaggh Desai embraced the social media wave, and is quite active. He writes on Retail, Experiences, Customer Loyalty, Startups, besides reviewing products, services, restaurants on his blog as well as other platforms. The views expressed are author’s own.