Heart and Soul: Celebrating modern fatherhood – A tribute to the new breed of dads

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As far as I can remember, my father and grandfather never lifted a finger to do housework when they were young. They were, so to speak, the lords and masters of their household, and their word was law. They were also the main breadwinners who brought home the bacon.

It was their spouses who did the cooking, laundry and everything else in the house.

Interestingly, when the men did attempt to help, it often turned out messy, or the women in the house would suspect something was amiss with their marriage.

Their meals were always ready on the table for them. When they wanted a second helping, their wives would scuttle to dish out extra rice, and when the meal was over, they waited for the fruits to be served. A modest burp from them indicated that the meal was sumptuous.

In my time, things were pretty much the same. The husband seldom lent a hand because both spouses were working and could afford a helper. Also, our parents came to live with us, which helped a lot. So, most husbands hardly did any household chores or only did minimal tasks.

Today, our children, married and with double incomes, present a different scenario. I am amazed to see how young married couples share their housework. After picking the children up from daycare centres or nursery, in many households, especially when there is no paid help, whoever comes home from work first does the cooking. After dinner, the other half does the washing up. Fair and square – what a neat arrangement!

This is a tribute to the young men, aka daddies, who can whip up a meal and see to the needs of the children while their partners are busy. Sharing chores is caring. Gone are the days when the man of the house would scream for help when the kids made a mess, and the wife would rush to clean it up. Today, that same young father dons an apron, uses a broom, vacuum, or mop, and, hey presto, the mess is cleared.

My thoughts go to my nephew-in-law abroad, who, in his 40s, took care of his three children, aged nine to 12, when his wife, my niece, came home to help take care of her cancer-stricken father.

This young daddy cooked extra meals for the week on Saturday and froze them, so every day there was a main dish. He did the vegetables and rice when he came home from work. He also managed the laundry, housecleaning and a host of other chores.

In the process, he trained his daughter to cook rice. All the children were roped in: One set the table, another helped to clear it. There was a duty roster for the week for folding clothes after laundry. When my niece came home, she was amazed that her husband had done a wonderful job in housekeeping.

Yet another daddy that deserves praise is the househusband. My neighbour’s son-in-law migrated to Australia but was unable to find a lucrative job due to the onset of Covid, which made new jobs scarce. So, they changed roles. His wife, who already had a steady job, went to work, while he managed the house.

At first, my neighbour was upset that her son, a graduate holding a big post in a company, was now a househusband. However, when she visited them, she was amazed that her son, who had never lifted a finger earlier, was fantastic with the housework. He prepared the daily meals, did the grocery shopping, transported the children to school, and more. He even had three friends in the same situation, and once the housework was done, they treated themselves to a round of golf or chilled out at a pub. Their working wives had no complaints!

The saying that “a son is a son till he finds a wife, a daughter is a daughter all your life” does not hold water nowadays. An octogenarian I know has two married sons, both working abroad, and she debunks this adage. Both her sons call her daily just to say hi and see how she is doing. The one across the Causeway visits her monthly and gently cajoles her to visit his house. After much persuasion, she takes a break at his place, but she misses her daily activities with her friends back home, including golfing, doing qigong, and breakfast sessions.

Her other son, in the United States, also calls her daily and arranges for her favourite local goodies to be sent to her house. She is never in want of food. They are keeping the promise they made to their late father, that they would take care of their mother.

Such is the scenario today, where bringing up children is no longer solely a woman’s domain. The new generation of fathers believes in sharing responsibilities equally, and it is the norm of the day. Happy Fathers Day to all fathers!

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