Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dad, 2007

A good friend of mine, an advertising guru, wrote in his blog about how parenting stereotypes are changing and how kids are increasingly perceiving themselves to be the equals of their parents. At least, that is how I understood it. This, of course, is totally untrue in my case - my children would be mortified to be described as my intellectual equals. I currently occupy the position of earthworm in the evolutionary scale. It is true that I have a certain rude ability to solve algebraic equations but hey, just because a tadpole can swim better than you, it does not mean he is Ian Thorpe.

His point was that relationships at home have changed. Dads are no longer the authoritarian figures they were. That is so true. I remember my childhood. Important decisions were not 'discussed' as they are today. "Discussed " here means "the parents were formally informed by the kids of what they were going to do". Important decisions, such as what career to pursue or what clothes to wear, would be taken by dad or, on occasion, Mom, without any suffrage to the affected parties. Didn't like it? Free country, you could always leave the house.

Thus, most of my generation have a tremendously formal relationship with the male parent. True, the economic strings have long been disconnected but nobody told Dad that. We still behave as if half expecting to be thrown out of the house for our indiscretions. The whisky is hidden away. The language goes up a few notches in formality. The 'bahu' chooses the sari or the salwar suit instead of the capri and short top, when dad drops in for a short stay.

In sharp contradistinction (I love using big words - that one has 17 letters - because of the impression of erudition it carries, as opposed to actually being erudite) the relationship that dads of my generation have with their children border on the patronizing. The children patronizing the adult, that is. The male parent is usually a spent force when it comes to disciplinary matters.I know I'm making sweeping generalizations here. Some of you reading this will say, sotto voce, "Speak for yourself, wimp. My wife and kids tremble when I roar!" If that is so, please autograph my T shirt and send me your correspondence course on Parenting by Terror.

As I was saying, it is the kids who adopt the didactic tone instead of the other way around, instructing with painful patience the minutiae of CS (which is "Counter Strike", the game, and not "Company Secretary", the career option) to the doofus who, had he not been the fortuitous contributor of the necessary chromosomes, would have been unworthy of attention.
"Dad, how did you get to be in your position in life - you are such a clot" might be a typical sentence in most Mumbai households today. May be some advertising could be based on this insight.


GVK said...

A link to the blog of your good friend might help some intellectually-challenged dads to know what the score is.

Suman Srivastava said...

Hey Narendra. Your blog, as usual, is so much funnier than mine. And yet you make nice points. There are some points that I would like to debate, but perhaps the best time would be while doing some elbow exercise? What say you?


Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

That's so true. Being 'daddy's girl', my dad's a sort of a freindly guy, really sweet I cannot imagine him being authorotative. But I have seen the older dads--you know, in their seventies, and still standing strong, bossing around children. 'Spank them, they'll learn!" days are over. I think you should try to experiment (I know I'm giving bad advise), suddenly try imposing strict rules and 'discipline' your children, let me see how little guatum reacts! And yes, if the experiment backfires, and you find yourself on a cold night on the mumbai streets, you shouldn;t be cursing me. after all, it is just a thought. Do you have a daughter, too? I think daughters have a sweet way with our dads, we can be angels, and manage to get that extra pocket money, better than boys.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Ps: Are you really 42? Or have you used someone else's photo, because that man in the photograph looks 29 or thirty-two atleast.

narendra shenoy said...

Lakshmi, you're flattering me. I think I'm going to mention you in my will!
Alas and alack, I don't have a daughter. How I have wished fervently for one! Daughters are generally so adoring of their fathers. If they share the opinion of their brothers that Dad is a sociological disaster, they keep it to themselves.
The one advantage of having boys is you can kick them on the pretext of playing football with them. Not for long, in my case, though. Their feet are getting harder than my shins.

GVK, I've added that link to my friend Suman Srivastava's blog. Suman heads a leading ad agency in Mumbai and is tremendously witty.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Yeah well, I was demonstrating the 'daughter sweetness' to make you more jeaolous! (Just kidding)

harimohan said...

dear narendra ,
hope you dont mind me calling you with such familiarity
tks for giving me an enjoyable read ,my kind of humour writing ,which i aspire for and hardly achieve ,
the two posts i read today would make me a sure visitor

Shyama said...

PArentin' is in nowadays - WHY? My 12 year old could give a ... if I am around or not - apart from finding her clothes and ensuring her breakfast...sigh what happened to parental love

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