#Opinion

Mira Rajput Is Right, When It Comes To Parenting, Dads Just Can’t Fill In For Mums

shahid kapoor on mira rajput Mira Rajput on dads, Shahid Kapoor Mira Rajput
Mira Rajput on dads and parenting: There are many reasons why women end up shouldering the bulk of parenting duties singlehandedly in our society. Apart from gender stereotypes that labels fathers as providers and mothers and nurturers, there is another important factor that often goes undiscussed- lack of trust among  mothers, when it comes to a father’s parenting capabilities. Most mothers see their partners as babysitters at best, who can fill in for them whenever they have an errand to run, or just need a breather. Are men incapable of doing more as caregivers to young ones? Should their parenting duties be limited to substitution, in absence of a mom, or grandmother or even a nanny?

In a recent Instagram live, actor Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira Rajput said, “Don’t treat dad as a babysitter, treat him like a parent.” The 26-year-old, who is mom to two young kids- Misha and Zain, further added, “…dad is not going to be there when mom needs time off. Dad is going to do what dad does, he is not going to fill in for mom because he has his own role.” You can read more about her statement here.

For once, I do agree with Mira Rajput. Parenting for fathers shouldn’t mean filling in for their better halves. It shouldn’t also imply doing things mom’s way. Every person is different and so is their perception regarding, life, children, work, love, care and everything in between. The same holds for parenting. Every person has their style of parenting. However, especially in India, mothers do have a hard time giving up their control on parenting and let their partners have their way.

Blame it on our conditioning which has created a general mistrust towards men’s parenting capabilities. Caring for a young kid on a regular basis, and not under a mom’s supervision, is not a trait that a majority of people associate with fathers in our society. They can look after the kid between 11 to 1, when mummy has her meeting, or at night, when she needs to rest her back. Or when the nanny goes on leave unannounced and mom has her hands too full to feed the baby, change their diaper or simply play with them.

Remove a mother from the picture of childcare altogether (including her instruction manual) and insert the father instead, and suddenly alarm bells begin to ring. Are you sure he can care for the child every day for eight straight hours while your work? Do you approve of how much screentime he allows the kids? What will he feed them? What if he falls asleep? What if the baby gets cranky?

Being a woman fortunately married to a man who is a hands-on dad, here is my answer to all these questions from experience- he will handle it. He will go the extra mile and also perform all the chores that you do while caring for a child, like folding dried laundry, cooking a meal for the kid, helping them clean up their room, make sure they do their homework and sleep on time. All you have to do is to show faith in their capabilities when they offer to do a task that they must perform on an equal footing anyways. If you feel he is not ready, encourage him, but don’t just bog him down with your set of instructions and a list of “don’ts” that is harder to keep up with than the status of India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Just as women need men as allies to smash patriarchy, men need women to help them challenge gender norms. If we want men to be better, more involved fathers, then we need to trust them and let go of the pressure that we subject ourselves to as caregivers.

The views expressed are the author’s own.