How involved are the men in parenting?
Men and parenting? Don’t snigger. Gone are the days when mothers were primarily responsible for bringing up baby. We find that many new-age men in the city, especially IT professionals, most of them in their 20s and 30s, are engaging with parenting and parenthood with the same efficiency, enthusiasm and care that make them successful in the workplace.
Take, for instance, Chinchumon Narayanan, a senior software engineer at RMESI and father of two-year-old Nakshatra. “I’m a very involved parent, as much as my wife, Resmi, who works in HR at BGI Technologies in Technopark, is. I try to spend at least four hours a day with my daughter and that happens largely because I am usually home by about 7 p.m. I help her ride her tricycle, find simple games that she can play on my tablet. She likes walking and I often indulge her taking her with me for my morning/evening walk, we learn lots of nursery rhymes together, and so on. It’s a big relief that my parents are on hand to look after her during the working day, but I reserve my weekends completely for Nakshatra,” says Chinchumon. “Because I work for a company that’s into creating educational solutions, I’m abreast with the latest in technology for children and try them out with my daughter.”
In the Joseph (name changed) household, meanwhile, Mathew is a consultant for a city-based IT firm and his wife, Maria, is a project manager with an MNC in Technopark, who often flies abroad for work and has a hectic weekday schedule when she is at home. That leaves 36-year-old Mathew as the main care-giver for their eight-year-old son, John. Says Mathew: “Simply because I’ve more time with him than my wife, I take care of John’s studies, games, character grooming, finding responses to his queries and so on, while my wife takes care of cooking for him, packing him healthy tiffins and so on. He expects someone to be there for him and I step up at the time. It involves a fair bit of juggling work and home life. And yes, it is at the sacrifice of my own personal time, especially when it comes to socialising with my friends or at work. But, I’ve got no complaints. At the end of the day, it’s all for our son, after all.”
Philip John, who works for an animation company, is still thrilled to bits that his one-and-a-half-year-old son, Cedric’s first word was ‘papa’. He says candidly: “Save for a handful of sleepless nights walking Cedric as he hollered away, I was not very involved in his upbringing other than buying stuff for him and ferrying him around. It’s only over the last six months that I have started bonding with my son. Because I work fixed hours nine to six, I get time to do stuff with him and nowadays I am constantly looking for ways to engage him. I’m enjoying fatherhood,” says Philip.
Of course, it helps that many IT companies go out of their way to accommodate their employee’s needs when it comes to parenting, starting with paid ‘paternity’ leaves. IBS, Allianz, and Envestnet, for example, give new fathers two to three days extra leave. Ernst and Young, meanwhile, gives its employees five days paternity leave and RMESI, even a whopping 10!
Many companies, these days, are encourage employees to avail themselves of the work from home option. We hear that QBurst Technologies, on a case to case basis, even allows employees to work from home when their wives, also techies, who work for other IT companies, are posted for short stints on site in places like the United States and United Kingdom. Techies say that many companies also run regular counselling and parenting programmes for their employees as part of their wellness initiatives.
Some firms like Ernst and Young also include medical coverage for the children in the package and while some such as Allianz even have agreements with several playschools and crèches outside Technopark that are of much help to young parents.
All the fathers are in agreement that bringing up kids these days is very different from what they can recall of their own childhoods. Says Mathew: “Children these days are, let’s say, more mature than what I remember of myself and my peers. My son, for example, is remarkably well adjusted to the fact that both my wife and myself cannot be with him to fuss over every little scrape. But, then we ensure that our quality time together is well-spent or rather he demands it.”