For fathers managing child single-handedly during the paternal break can be difficult. However there are a few important considerations which fathers should factor as they plan to get started.
1. At a high-level develop a plan for the period identifying plans and the milestones for progress towards getting your child more self-sufficient, typical day of a Latte Dad, resources needed to manage the day and to execute the plan. Few examples from my experience
- In our case, we aimed to get our child on day-long day care by the end of the 2.5 months with milestones for half-day and 2 hour-long day care identified
- Weekdays were primarily devoted to managing child but the weekends were kept relatively free to ensure I pursued other interests and chores
- Resources e.g., support from a maid at home to manage the child are critical for you to manage the period well
2. Given the high attention needed by the kids, days can look non-eventful and energy-consuming. Pursuing interests outside parenting can help you remain motivated, however be cautious of not defining hard targets for self. In my case, visits to coffee-shops, reading business magazines, and coding were regular part of the day. Additionally reading up on work topics and informal conversations with colleagues helps you remain connected to the workplace and makes transition back to work easier.
3. In absence of one stream of income (assuming you are on absence without pay), planning for your financials becomes critical. Given there is no change in the lifestyle, the expenses are likely to remain the same and hence you should plan your financials to manage the expenses during this period. Deferring discretionary high-value spending during and before the break can be one good way to manage financials for this phase
In case you have specific questions or feedback on these considerations, please feel free to add comments or write to me using the ‘Contact Me‘ page.
Like many families in the city [Gurgaon], me and my wife migrated to Gurgaon for work and have a dual-career family. Post the 6 month long maternity leave, when my wife was joining back the office we had a few options around managing the child:
- Solicit help from parents to help raise the kids while we were at work
- Send the child to day-long day care while we were at work
- Quit jobs [one of us] to raise the child
- Take a break from work to help raise the child for a few months
After some thinking, we opted for choice 4 because many of the other options seemed unviable and / or did not align with our thinking around parenting and career-aspirations. Choice 4 seemed the most attractive and viable because of the following reasons:
- I had not spent enough time with the child so far
- I had a strong desire to be a primary care-giver for my child for sometime
- I wanted to ensure my wife had a good career [breaks may not go well for career]
- I wanted a few months break from my work
So a 2.5 month long-journey started with me taking a break from office and becoming a full-time dad [Latte Dad]. But when compared to the developed countries, the Indian workplace and society has not evolved to accept and enable long enough parental breaks by fathers.
- Both my and wife’s workplace do not offer equivalent paternity leaves, and continue to design policies considering mother as the primary care giver
- Long paternity breaks come at a cost to the employee e.g., loss of pay, lower performance ratings
- Society still considers mothers as primary care-giver with an unstated expectation of sacrifices from the mother for the child at any cost
However I believe these are changing and Indian society will have more Latte Dads in the future. The blogs in this series are intended to help a few parents especially ‘Latte Dads in making’ understand this journey a bit better. I have seen support from my wife, families, office teams and seniors, and this is one of the way to pay the due forward.
Buck Stops Here
This post is in response to a post by Fire Crystal about a girl’s right to career. This blog derives heavily from my personal experience, blogs & books I have read and songs to which I have lent my ears to.
Often many parents ignore the fact that “Ramming one’s point down the throat of another will NOT work no matter how correct the point might be.” The case of Ananya is a typical case of disagreement between a parent and a child where the parent is intolerant to the alternate choice of his child and is trying to enforce his view point onto the child without any (near-to-zilch) logical debate around the issue. More often than not, child in these cases tends to accept these enforced decisions with a caveat of passing the buck to their parents in case of the choice not materializing successfully. But siree, ain’t we fostering an environment wherein a child can easily prefer to be irresponsible?
Parents need to realize that “Individuals need to be themselves responsible for what happens to them. Merely passing the buck is irresponsibility.” Hence, let the child make choices and decisions which impact his/her life the most. Shit might happen but let the buck stop with your child.
Ananya’s dad needs to realize the above said statements. Based on the narration in the post, I deduce that no one has given much effort to convince Ananya’s dad on the matter. Ananya needs to take proactive efforts (probably making him talk to her teachers, the course administrators about the usefulness of the course etc). Moreover, Ananya should reflect the confidence that taking an alternate course will only enhance her chances of leading a better life. If her Dad is able to see such confidence in her, I think he would agree (but this might take time).
In case her Dad disagrees, let Ananya pursue the other course and let her try making a good living out of the other course. In either case, I would urge her to talk and to discuss her desires with her Dad more. Simply do not hold back your thoughts and desire and do not place your happiness in others’ hands. A few lines for Ananya to remember
Remember, There are no free lunches in life.No matter how much support you have from people around you, at the end of the day, you are going to be on your own. YOU are the one who has to live your life, and you are your own staunchest, most unswervingly loyal ally. No one is as concerned about your happiness as you.
P.S: I borrow a few lines from Savage Garden’s song Affirmation – “I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do…… ” – There is no manual to parenting and parents always make decisions keeping the best interest of their child in mind. Their choices are half chances as everybody else’s and hence shit happens.
P.P.S: Some references made in the post belong to the following blogs and you might find these blogs/posts interesting:
Letter To A Classmate Who “Just Wants To Settle Down”
Interview of Indyeah by Blogadda