Parenting is largely perceived to be a woman’s job. And while our fathers did ask us about our results in school and might have just come for a PTA meeting or two, there has always been a huge emotional divide between fathers and children because of communication gap and less involvement. However, in today’s urban milieu, there is a growing majority of couples who put in equal efforts in raising their children.
“At some point of time, each of the partners has to become a full-service parent. I cannot be just the dad, I have to be both dad and mom and it’s the same for Lopa,” Sandeep Bapna, Country Director of Khan Academy
At a recent event, two couples talked about parenting and how the responsibilities are equally divided between the two of them. Citibank’s South Asia MD & Chief People Officer, Anuranjita Kumar, came with her husband Sandeep Kataria who is the Chief Commercial Officer of Vodafone while Lopa Shah, the Investment Officer of IFC, came with her husband Sandeep Bapna, Country Director (India) of Khan Academy, to speak about shared parenting.
Bapna made a very significant point when he said that he realized that at some point of time, each of the partners has to become a full-service parent. “I cannot be just the dad, I have to be both dad and mom and it’s the same for Lopa.”
“One conversation can go like ‘hey, honey why don’t you put the kids to sleep while I make the trip bookings’ except the fact that I am bad at complex trip planning and am actually slightly better at putting the kids to sleep,” he said.
Lopa discussed about the past and talked about her parents and their time. She mentioned that both her mother and mother-in-law are doctors. “In their generation, they not only had very demanding jobs but before and after work, they had to play all the traditional roles of housewives. They had no house help.”
She made a comparison between the current generation and the previous one and brought out the conclusion that things have started to change and that there is a shift at least in the urban paradigm. People have started to understand that it’s not a one person’s job to take care of everything.
Lopa, who was in the US for a long time, told the audience about the scenario there. “What I see happening in the US is even more drastic than what I have seen here. Not only are gender roles getting blurred in terms of men and women being equal partners in all of it, but I am also seeing a reversal trend where there is a place in society for stay-at-home dads,” said Lopa.
Anuranjita, who is counted as one of India’s few successful women in leadership in the banking sector, spoke about the most challenging part of parenting. Both she and her husband have C-suite jobs and so it is not always possible that both of them are working out of one city. In their case, it was actually two continents.
“Our last move from London to India was particularly difficult. Sandeep wanted to move back to India and I continued working with Citi in London. And I was actually very happy with what I was doing. But we were at a conflict of what we should be doing on this career crossroad. It was tough because the kids were very young. And both I and Sandeep wanted slightly different things from our lives at that point of time.”
“We had numerous discussions about it and he asked me if I really wanted to continue my work in London and I said yes and asked him the same question about shifting to India and he said yes too, and that’s when we decided that we will make it work.”
She recalled that she was very nervous about moving the children because she had stayed apart from her husband but never without her children. Her mother and mother-in-law became her support system in those challenging times.
“I always say that Sandeep has probably been a better dad than I have been a mother because the children have a way of getting on with him than with me,” said Anuranjita
Sandeep’s advice about full-service parenting has been one of the best that needs to be propagated. It should not be called a “woman’s job” to change baby diapers or send off the children to school. And it is scientifically reported that men involved in parenting have a better and a more relaxed relationship with their children.