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The changing roles of a father

A generation ago, they were thought of as the ‘tough ones’ in the family - they set the rules and enforced them. But today, the clear line that distinguished the father as a breadwinner and the mother as the nurturer seems to have disappeared. Young fathers are just as involved in domestic chores and helping the children with their homework. But in the switch from being the enforcer to friend, are children lacking the strict discipline that instills a sense of responsibility?

Image Credit: Niño Jose Heredia/©Gulf News
Gulf News

12:39 Gulf News: Has the role of the ‘enforcers’ become redundant in a family?

12:40 Pooja Vishwanathan: Fathers, today, are not just the breadwinners in a family. In comparison to the olden days, most dads today are more involved with their families and approachable.

12:40 Ahmad Ayyad: It is not related to changing personalities or fathers being more affectionate nowadays. It’s more to do with society – the father and the mother have less support, especially when they’re expatriates living far away from home.

12:40 Sandhya Shetty: My father used to attend parent-teacher meetings, help us with homework, be there for us when we needed him; he helped me with my elocutions and debates. All that I am is because of him. Now, the role of enforcers is being shared by both spouses, but I don’t agree that fathers aren’t disciplinarians anymore. The role is now shared by both, unlike in the past where fathers played a dominating role.

12:41 Anureet Kaur: They are, but only to a certain extend. It is important that fathers enforce some rules at home, otherwise teenagers could take unfair advantage of the leniency. Curfews still exist for me but along side curfews they make sure that I get my privacy when I am back in summer. My father used to always tell me that a friend in need is a friend indeed. I took that quote so seriously that I always confide in my dad now.

12:42 Ishfaq Mir: Earlier, the father used to form some regulations that the entire family had to follow, without any questions. But now, it is a discussion first and then they abide by what the entire family feels is right. Each member of the family is given a chance to raise one’s opinion and then the decisions are taken.

12:43 Salim Mohammad: No, fathers are still disciplinarians. All that has changed is that in the past, people realised that being strict doesn’t always help. Nowadays, fathers can be as childish as their children, at times, and during the other times act like the head of the family.


12:43 Shahul Kabeer: Dividing the responsibility among the parents … gives amazing results. The child will be responsible at an early age. A child requires a balanced foundation from an early age.

12:43 Ramachandran Nair: Children have the liberty to talk about anything with their fathers today. This was not a reality in the past. At the same time, I do agree that fathers were the tough ones in the family earlier, enforcing strict discipline at home and outside, and the fear factor prompted children to maintain a good distance from them.

12:44 Shweta Madhu: Years back, the father was the hardworking man, setting out at dawn and returning at dusk. He would enforce all the rules and nobody would cross the line. Today, a father actively takes part in child care and is treated as a loyal friend. The role of a father as a nurturer is becoming prominent.

12:44 Gulf News: Are children now viewing their fathers more as a friend than as an imposing figure?

12:44 Shajitha Shifa: Yes, my dad is like a friend to me. I share almost everything with my dad but the relationship between my dad and his dad doesn’t seem to be like that. Hence dads are no longer an imposing figure.

12:44 Annu Pramod: I think the entire fabric of families has changed. Fathers are not just breadwinners, mums are not just homemakers. Roles are being shared, children can see both parents equally and not in compartmentalised roles. However, the father is and should be still the stricter one to ensure children stay within boundaries.

12:46 Shahul Kabeer: Children view fathers today more as a friend due to their active involvement in the child’s life. A friendly approach alone can lead to better parenting.

12:48 Lodhi Azmat Allah: The father and child relationship should be friendly. In this world no one except our parents would suggest the right path and give the right opinion. We all should share everything with them, whether it is good or not.

12:48 Kritika Narayan: Parents have a wider perspective now, and that is great. When there is a case of misunderstanding the children get the benefit of the doubt as well as a chance to explain and justify themselves.

12:49 Ahmad Ayyad: The presence of a father as someone to ‘fear’ is also important, and it does get you out of a lot of trouble you would have gotten to if you were ‘fearless’. The fact that you have a father to challenge you teaches you to challenge others when you are an adult. The father prepares you for the worst-case scenario. As a father, I don’t want to be too soft on my children because that’s not how it is out there in real life. Good Cop - Bad Cop – give your child both. That’s two parents sharing the responsibility.

12:51 Sunil Roy: A friend can also be an enforcer. An enforcer need not be seen as a tyrant. The difference today is the friendship element creeps in much earlier than it used to. Earlier, it happened after the children got jobs, today it happens while they are still in school – a reflection of the changing times.

12:52 Salim Mohammad: I’ve heard many stories of child molestation in schools. If a father is too strict, a child would never tell what they have may faced. If they maintain a freindly relationship this would help them communicate and solve the problem.

12:53 Gulf News: It has become easier for fathers to bring up their children the way they want to with the move from joint families to nuclear ones.

12:54 Shajitha Shifa: Yes, in nuclear families children get to seek advice only from their parents. If the father is friendly, he can surely mould his children in the way he wants. In extended families, children are exposed to many family members and the strength of the child–father relationship will be weaker.

12:56 Annu Pramod: Earlier, fathers and mothers had a support system to fall back on when they had a doubt. Nowadays that support is missing. Parents have to depend on themselves and the values they were taught and transfer them on. It is an advantage as well as disadvantage.

12:56 Pooja Vishwanathan: To a certain extent, nuclear families make raising children slightly easier as parents have more opportunities to communicate effectively with their children without external interference.

12:56 Anureet Kaur: I prefer nuclear families any day, probably because I was brought in this kind of family. It has definitely made it easier as nuclear families are more closely knitted especially when you live in a city like Dubai where everything is constantly changing, you also need to evolve yourself. While the cons are that you certainly don’t get to see your relatives and cousins much but there are is a sense of independence for parents as to how they want their children to be brought up. There is more creative freedom and happiness.

12:56 Ahmad Ayyad: The more a children spend time alone, the more likely they are to have social problems growing up. A child doesn’t get beaten up in school if he’s been wrestling his cousins all summer.

12:58 Kritika Narayan: Nuclear families give the parents as well as children a chance to express themselves clearly and in a way they like. There is confidentiality and privacy.

12:59 Ahmad Ayyad: The benefit of having grandparents around usually outweighs the cons of their interference, and as a parent you just need to control the interaction and draw the lines.

13:02 Sunil Roy: Fathers today have to adapt according to the situation. The first step has been in the role husbands play at home, the second step is the role men play as fathers. It is always a challenge and as a father I always doubt if I am as good a father as my father is. A question that only time can answer.

13:03 Ishfaq Mir: One needs to have faith in oneself. A father is someone who has to be tough as well as soft. It is the skill of balancing between the two. He should understand his child, be friendly and supportive.


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