Within the discussion of parenting of children with disabilities and parenting in general, fathers are often portrayed as less involved, disengaged and peripheral. Stories about fathers being more focused on their work or earning money to secure the family’s and child’s future are more prevalent. In the Indian culture where parenting roles are strongly influenced by gender, child rearing is often seen as the mother’s role.
In my experience of working with families, I have come across fathers who were exceptions to these stories that concluded them as peripherally disengaged figures. In our conversations, they narrated stories of …….
‘how they had learned to change a diaper?”
‘the day I started feeding my son”
‘How I understood how to get my daughter’s attention…”
‘Our time in the playground is all about fun…..’
‘The acceptance of his diagnosis was the first step towards a beautiful journey ahead….’
Listening to these stories I started wondering about their journey as fathers. I have been curious about their experiences, about the influence of cultural discourses around fathering, stories that shape their identity as fathers and their knowledge about fathering. The curiosity made me have conversations with professionals about their experiences of working with fathers and the stories they have been witness to.
This brings me to all of you … and to starting a conversation about your experiences with fathers……
Some questions to help us build the conversation:
- Do you remember of any particular father who stands out to you in your work or interactions with families?
- What are some of things you saw him doing- that stood out for you and why?
- What are some of the challenges they have expressed while parenting their children?
- Are there any cultural discourses or ideas that you are aware of which are present around fathering?
- What are some of The challenges we as professionals face while working with fathers?
waiting to hear from you all…..
—– Raviraj Shetty.
Occupational Therapist-Counselor, Mental Health Team, Ummeed Child Development Center