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January 01, 2020 Wednesday 02:45:06 PM IST

The Joy of Shared Parenting!

Cover Story

The dynamics involved in raising children is constantly evolving. From generation to generation, the ideas and values that drive parenting keep varying. Millennials today, have reached their parenting phase and are bringing something new to the table, in terms of their parenting style. They pursue active careers while taking care of their children, simultaneously, and so, the pressure to maintain the equilibrium between home and work is more prevalent than ever before.

Unlike the men from the previous generations, millennial men are diving head first into the world of fatherhood, without worrying about the limitations that are dictated to them by societal norms. They are ready to and in fact want to be equally accountable for their children, as much as the mothers. At the same time, millennial mothers are also not shying away from pursuing their interests or having full-time careers, because they can rely on their partners to take care of things at home, when they can’t.

Rahul Raghavan and Rena Satisan are millennial parents, raising their 7-year old daughter, Isha Zara together. They both pursue individual careers and make sure that at least one parent is always present with their daughter. Rena was back to work after Isha completed 6 months of age. " I never took a break, I am very particular about that, and I always had support from Rahul and my family. The company I worked for then, already had 6 months maternity leave for new mothers, so I was away from work from December to June." shares Rena. She was in fact given more responsibilities at work after she joined back and when her husband stepped up and supported her, she did not let motherhood slow down her career. Rahul has been a 'stay at home dad' ever since his daughter was born. He has made sure that he had the option of working from home so that he could actively take care of Isha, while Rena could go out and work.

Having flexible work timings is essential to millennial parenting. most corporate companies are realising this and letting their employees concentrate on work from the convenience of their homes. Rena currently works with Xerox, where she has the option of logging off for 2 hours every day to take care of other duties. She usually starts her day with getting Isha ready for school, preparing her breakfast and lunch. Isha studies in first standard of Sanskara school, Kakkanad. Rahul works on a night shift for EdTheory which is a US based company, and takes over his duties at home after Isha comes back from school. When one of them has to travel, the other goes on to full time parenting mode. "When I need to travel, Rahul wakes up early and does my chores as well as his. So, he is the one who gets Isha ready for school when I am not there." mentions Rena. Until sha started to go by school bus and return, it was Rena who dropped her off to school in the morning and Rahul who picked her up in the afternoon. A nuclear family functions in a healthy way, when each person contributes equally. Rahul and Rena take care of their mothers who live in their native, Kannur, when the need arises.

Rahul believes that even though fathers did not have a big role in the emotional development of a child before, he was absolutely sure that he wanted a more meaningful equation with his daughter. " I wanted to have a role in my daughter's upbringing, the general perception of a father among people around us is that, he is does not have any emotional attachments" claims Rahul. Convincing people that he took his role seriously was a challenge. Rena and Rahul were supported by Rena's mother right after Isha was born. Having an orthodox mother-in-law meant, Rahul had to literally fight for his right to raise his daughter, freely. "Eventually people understood that they would not be successful in trying to back me down" admits Rahul gleefully.  

Children of millennial parents are growing up to be more open minded, accepting, tolerant and worldly. This is because the focus of millennial parents has shifted from getting degrees to helping their child find their truest potentials. "I don't need her to get degrees to be successful. There is no timeline set for her, to finish her education, get married or get a job. It's all up to her. There will be challenges, but they can be easily buffered." he further shares. Millennial parents are aiming to give their kids a more wholesome upbringing. Investing time and not money is one of the most important aspects they believe in. They don't want their kids to merely excel in their academics, but rather develop their individual personalities.

Supriya Deepak

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