This Father’s Day, we thought we’d do something a little different. While we’re normally all about new fatherhood on Cloudnine, this time, we thought we’d shine a light on some familiar faces within the Cloudnine family who effortlessly juggle two hats – one as serious, quick-witted professionals from 9 to 5, and another as champion bedtime negotiators, nighttime protectors, gadget gatekeepers, homework helpers and anytime-ATMs, all around the clock. Here’s presenting six eclectic Cloudniners whose role as Daddy isn’t highlighted nearly enough.
Daddy to Karan, Aged 23 & Adithi, Aged 17
Also, Founder Chairman & Senior Neonatologist on Cloudnine
I started separating my life into compartments early on because it would be impossible to lead a normal life if my antennae were always up. Of course, it’s a different situation entirely if it’s a medical emergency. A few years ago, my father was misdiagnosed with a particular condition.
I wasn’t entirely convinced with the diagnosis and involved a few of my colleagues to delve into the case. As I had expected, the diagnosis was wrong. So circling back, I only get involved if the situation is critical. Otherwise, I’m a neonatologist while at the hospital, and a husband and father at home.
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Kids need equal involvement from both parents as they grow but for many parents, their kids’ childhoods coincide with the years reserved for building their own careers.I made a conscious effort not to fall into that category. Eighteen years ago in Melbourne, a retired paediatrician I was acquainted with, was ailing and approaching his end, when he was asked what his biggest regrets were. He said, “I wish I had been a better father and a better grandfather”. I don’t have regrets like those.
As millennial kids, Karan and Adithi are far removed from the ways of earlier generations. That means that getting them to listen to means that I have to provide solid reasoning. Of course, if it’s a non-negotiable matter, I don’t give them a choice, but other times, it’s a two-way street.
My daughter Adithi has most certainly taken after me with her stubbornness and my son Karan, like me, sleeps well, shuns stress and worries little. So, Adithi has my temper gene and Karan, my slumber gene.
Ever since we started Cloudnine in 2007, we’ve tailored our prenatal workshops to include both expectant moms and dads. While there has been an incline in the number of dads .
that participate in these, it has been gradual. I haven’t done a formal study, but based on observation, only 20-30% of dads play an active role in caring for their babies.That’s sad because it means so many fathers are losing out. Prenatal workshops can go a long way in creating an emotional attachment between dad and baby. Nowadays, fatherhood comes only once, or twice if you’re lucky. It’s important to get involved early.
Daddy to Rishi, Aged 7...
Also, Co-founder & Managing Director on Cloudnine
Fatherhood has given me a very different perspective to life; my sense of responsibility has amplified and I feel a genuine pull towards wanting to always do more for my son Rishi. I see myself growing alongside him and sometimes, I find myself questioning whether, as a father, I should always plan my decisions in advance or learn as I go along.
I have tried being the bad pop, but it doesn't come naturally to me and more often than not, the result is miserable and comical. Much of the time that I spend with Rishi involves bonding over tasks and games and puzzles. Hence, the need to discipline doesn’t arise.
Thankfully, we haven’t reached a stage where either my wife Monica or I have had to resort to serious disciplining. I suppose in a way, we are still learning the ropes.
We try to limit technology, but it’s something that’s tough for us to implement and for him to follow. He has a strict curfew when it comes to the television, the computer and video games during the week. We monitor the kind of content he watches and encourages him to watch educational shows rather than the usual hogwash.
The weekend is usually a mad rush where he tends to overcompensate for the strict regime during the week. Rishi observes my technology consumption and sometimes when you don’t follow the rules you make, enforcement takes a back seat. It’s a reminder that all of us need perhaps.
I have made a conscious commitment to be present for Rishi’s academic and after-school activities. I believe a child’s milestones, no matter how small, find their way into their long-term memory cavity. Also, celebrating such moments helps us make memories as a family. As a new-age penguin dad, some of these efforts are organic and not something I have to think about.
My advice to fathers out there would be to savour the simple moments. Kids are the most precious things in life, and far more important than materialistic moments. Don’t overthink it – it’s perfectly okay to not know how to handle certain situations.
This is a completely different time and age to the one we grew up in and for that, we must adapt to the changing times and evolve our parenting style. If we are willing to learn on the go, we are likely to be better fathers.
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Daddy to Abhinav, Aged 21 & Aakash, Aged 17...
Also, Director of Medical Services & Paediatric Critical Care Specialist on Cloudnine
As parents, it’s our job to keep the lines of communication open from when our kids are little. You can’t hit that switch when they’re already teens. Also, inculcate the right ideas, values and habits when they’re young. You have to tell them, “I’m doing this for your own good and I know you’re going to hate me for it, but it’s my job because I care about you”. In my case, my wife and I discussed everything, from the little decisions to the big ones, and this gave rise to an effective communication framework for the boys too.
My wife and I alternate roles when it comes to discipline, but I’d say I’m the more laid-back one. I’m sure my boys would agree. I think I’ve evolved over time though, and I’ve slowly moved to be more of a friend than a father. I have no hang-ups about the way the boys talk to me. I still play cricket with them. Just last weekend, we spent a great day playing together.
I’m completely caught up with the times, except in the style department. I certainly couldn’t sport the kind of hairdos and clothes that the boys do. That aside, I get along with my sons’ friends very well. In fact, I received the biggest compliment from my older son recently, when he was planning a trip to Amsterdam with some friends. I teased him that I’d come along and he told me that of all his friends’ parents, I’d be the most popular choice.
The boys come to me for money, mostly. Also, football, breakups with girlfriends, anything really. We’re very close and nothing’s off the table.
Any good paediatrician will tell you that fatherhood is the final exam you must pass to do justice to your job. Only when you become a parent yourself do you understand the grief and pain a parent goes through with a sick child. It’s then that sympathy becomes empathy.
Daddy to Nidhi, Aged 13 & Namya, Aged 10......
Also, Regional Director – South on Cloudnine
My wife spends more time with the girls, so that gives her an obvious advantage. But in terms of relationship, I’d say they’re closer to me. For one, they get their way. And two, because they get their way, they also open up to me a lot more. So, the parenting pants go to me, although I’m sure my wife would disagree.
My clumsiness definitely is a trait that I’ve passed on. Walking into walls and furniture, dropping plates, food and utensils clearly run in the family.
With Nidhi, my elder daughter, I remember being overprepared. We had an overstocked hospital bag and the moment my wife realised she was in labour, we made a dash for the car like nothing else mattered.
At the hospital, I stood guard outside the operation theatre, giddy with nervousness. The second time around, we knew the drill. When the contractions arrived, we sauntered over to the car and cruised leisurely to the hospital. That set a precedent for fatherhood. It’s always easier when you’ve been through it once before.
Nidhi and Namya love this one particular restaurant in Mysore, so some Sundays, we drive all the way to Mysore just for lunch. Another quirk that I have is indulging my daughters with books. When they ask for one, I get them ten, not a habit that my wife particularly approves of.
Be involved. I was never taught to hold my daughter before she was born. I learned as I went along; it was a process of discovery, but also one of anxiety. I wasn’t completely prepared, and rather than fully immersing myself in early parenthood, I was consumed with fears of the unknown. There are dozens of avenues today, like prenatal and postnatal classes and couple workshops, that can hone you for what’s to come and help you bond as a couple. Make the most of them.
Daddy to Prisha, Aged 6
Also, Regional Director – North on Cloudnine
With fatherhood, I’ve become more tolerant, more patient and I’ve lost my restlessness and volatile temperament. I used to be the quintessential Type A personality; always onto something new, restless, edgy and impatient. Now, my tolerance threshold has increased by several notches. I’ve grown up in life.
I’m not known as the disciplinarian, although I’ve tried to be. I’ve been categorically told by my six-year-old daughter Prisha that disciplining is not my strong suit.
I’m Prisha’s gate pass when she has been denied something by her mom. I’m the one she comes to when she wants to break the rules.
Excessive exposure to technology can have a deep physiological impact on kids, and technological addiction is a real problem today. We try to ensure that Prisha has limited TV and gadget time and we’ve found that diversion works better than denial. So instead of flat-out denying her technology, I pick up a game or I take her for a walk in the park.
It’s important to know that there’s no holy grail when it comes to fatherhood – there’s no right or wrong. You may be overwhelmed at first, but you’ll grow into your newfound role. As they say, you become a father the day your child is born, but you become a dad with time.
Daddy to Ayushi, Aged 7 & Naisha, Aged 18 Months......
Also, VP – Finance on Cloudnine
It’s been a challenge raising girls so far apart in age. With our first daughter Ayushi, parenthood was a bit of an experiment and we worried about the smallest things. We’re far calmer this time around. Also, being part of Cloudnine has unwittingly prepared me for second-time fatherhood, because I’ve gained a greater insight into newborn care.
I’m fortunate to have a wife who devotes all her time to our daughters. Cloudnine offers flexible working hours so I aim to reach the office by 11 and be back home by 8. This way, I get to spend two hours with the girls in the morning, and two hours at night. There are days and weeks when the balance goes out of whack, but I have my wife to thank for holding down the fort at home.
I consider fatherhood a gift from God – one that comes with a great deal of responsibility. Raising the girls to be good human beings and give back to society are priorities for me and my wife and we consider it an honour to be able to influence the way they turn out.
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Naisha was born six years after Ayushi, so overnight, our lives went from being planned and organised to completely devoid of routine. Of course, we love every minute, but it’s been hard getting used to the ways of a newborn after a six-year hiatus. Naisha is an amazing bundle of energy, always on the go, and it’s incredibly fun to keep up with her antics.
I would urge fathers to make the most of the first three years. After that, over time, you’ll be forced to deal with more serious decisions like which school to pick, how to implement a homework routine and so on. Cherish the time that you have with your kids while they’re still little. If you miss the early stages, you’ve lost an opportunity you’ll never have back.