Saturday April 21, 2018
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It’s hard for these dads to talk about love … but they do

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My proud father beaming as he holds little Wilbur.

It’s Father’s Day! While the holiday isn’t formally celebrated in the rural area of southern India where I live, I still have to tell my dad how much I appreciate him, love him and how thankful I am for all he has done — although I’m a little apprehensive about how he will respond to my mushy affections.

It’s not uncommon for fathers to struggle with expressing their love for their children, but also with loving their children equally. Some rejoice at the birth of a son and grieve when a daughter is born.

I decided to go out and ask a trio of dads in my village to share their thoughts about fatherhood with me.

Mayilsami, 67, is a father of one daughter.

                                                                   Mayilsami, 67, is a father of one daughter.

Mayilsami

Some people in India may grieve when a daughter is born, but not Mayilsami. The 67-year-old retired factory worker says he tries to raise his daughter in the “jolliest” way possible.

“Whatever she asked, I would give her,” he says, “so maybe that was the way I expressed my affection.”

But he acknowledges that, like other fathers, he’s often so busy earning a living that “we lose touch with our children.”

His advice to younger fathers: “Work less and invest more in your family. Try to speak more to your children.”

Rajagopal, 76, is a father of one daughter.

                                                                  Rajagopal, 76, is a father of one daughter.

Rajagopal

Rajagopal, 76, raised his daughter as a single dad after his wife’s death at a young age.

“I had to make sure I let her know that she was loved,” he says. “Expressing love is usually easier for the mother.”

When it comes to boys versus girls, Rajagopal says that it’s part of the “culture” to favor sons.

“If I had a son I would give my house and land to him, not my daughter,” he says.

Regardless of the child’s gender, he says, discipline is key.

“If you do this when they are young,” he says, “then you won’t need to discipline them when they grow older and get into family feuds.”

Ganesan, 62, is a father of four daughters.

                                                              Ganesan, 62, is a father of four daughters.

Ganesan

The 62-year-old former mill worker has four daughters, all of whom are married.

“I did my best to help my daughters in their schoolwork and to get them married,” he says.

But he does wish he had had a son.

“You have to see it from the perspective that boys will be the ones to lift you up when you need help,” he says. “With the girl, you have to pay dowry to get her married and then she belongs to her husband and in-laws. This is embedded within our culture.”

It wasn’t easy being a dad, he says.

“I struggled a bit to share my feelings, and things got even worse after my daughters got married,” he admits. “I could not even talk to them, and they treated me terribly — maybe that is because of the lack of communication and affection I showed them as a father.”

Now, Ganesan spends a lot of time with his grandchildren. The most important thing a father can do, he says, is “show our children that we are capable of love, just like their mothers.”

Credits: Wilbur Sargunaraj for National Public Radio (www.npr.org)

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Having kids or not, life satisfaction remain same

Parents with or without children are just two sides of the same coin: non-parents are not 'failed' parents and parents are not 'failed' non-parents, says a study

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Having or not having kids doesn't affect life satisfaction. VOA

Parents with or without children are just two sides of the same coin: non-parents are not ‘failed’ parents and parents are not ‘failed’ non-parents, says a study.

According to researchers, factors such as higher educational attainment, higher income, better health and religiosity enhance life satisfaction and they found that parents and non-parents have similar levels of life satisfaction.

“It is simply a mistake to presume that people with children have better lives,” said Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.

Having kids doesn’t increase life satisfaction. Twitter

“Some people like oranges, and some like apples, and we do not think that orange eaters should have better or worse lives than apple eaters,” he added.

However, adults with children at home experience more emotional highs and lows than those without children at home, said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers examined data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index – a survey of 1.8 million Americans who evaluated their lives and reported daily emotional experiences between 2008 and 2012. The researchers focused on the 34-46 age group.

They found that all emotions – happiness, smile, enjoyment, worry, stress and anger – were markedly higher among those who have children at home. “Life evaluation is not the same as experienced emotions, such as happiness, enjoyment, sadness, worry or stress,” said Deaton.

Also Read: New Toys Help Cultivate Emotional Intelligence in Children

“The results show that, no matter what else is taken into account, parents experience more of all of these than non-parents. There are good days and bad, ups and downs,” he added.

For countries like India, where there is strong social pressure to become parents, Deaton and Stone say their argument does not apply. In such countries, people may have children even when it does not increase their own life evaluation, though it may increase that of their parents or communities, said the study. “The evidence for those countries does indeed show that parents have lower life evaluations, on average,” the study said. IANS

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