Last Sunday, on my early morning run I was listening to a podcast on relationships. The same day one of my friends shared a blog about memories of his Dad. In that blog I saw all black and white photos. Suddenly I remembered my dad and how he had bought a camera from his gulf-returned friend. He loved to capture every significant moment in my life before he passed away when I was 10 years old. The day he got his Bajaj scootter was also captured in his favourite camera. The black and white photo to eastman color photos has stood the test of time. My teenaged daughter also believes in capturing every mood on her iPhone camera from sunrise to sunset.
He also believed in creating defining moments. One day he brought a cycle and asked me to take a ride in the streets around our home. At the end of the ride he told me that this cycle is for you. This was his way of gifting me a cycle!
My father was very good in throwing surprises. Can you imagine when I was studying in 6th standard I got a birthday card posted to my school. This birthday card also stood the test of time.
33 years later, I was curious to know how Dad and Son relationships work in this Instagram friendly world. So, I decided to check with two proud fathers about their relationships with their sons.
Let me begin with John. John lost his mother at the age of 9 and his father raised him. When I asked him about his relationship with his father and his son, he shared:
“ I used to learn from my dad but now it’s the other way around. We (John and his son Sam) play, we fight but the max time is when we hug, and he says, ” I love you dad, u r the best dad in the entire Universe, ” almost every time he hugs me with a kiss. I used to have lot of respect for my dad for who he was and sometimes fear when I used to disobey him, but my son is never afraid of me and sees me as his best friend and shares all his secret mischiefs with me. My dad used to console me and advise me to the best of his knowledge spiritually, but my son consoles me and advises me with lot of wisdom”
Murali is again a very proud father. He grew up in a village called Gorur near Hasan where his father worked as a PWD engineer. He had an idyllic childhood where he played a lot, there was no pressure on him to study and his father never used the scale on him, though it was never far away from him! He shares:
“At 13 years, I was a part of “family decision making system” as I was valued much beyond my age.
My dad was an extreme simplicist. Nothing would upset, anger, frustrate, disappoint, depress…. basically, he was the most positive person on earth for me, the reality of which started hitting me only when I became a dad and started experiencing things that tested my integrity and true self.
The chaos of traffic, workplace, education system, the media, the expectations, the ego etc. continued to make my role as dad daunting as I could not stay as myself but had to think of what all dads do in similar situations and adjust. I kept thinking how to leverage my dad’s experience and make my son Atharv feel the way I felt about my dad…After 45 years in a son’s role (when my dad passed away) and 17 years in a dad’s role, I can see that I am 40% myself and 60% what the situation needs of me… The right balance remains under exploration.”
From John and Murali I understood that they are bringing up their sons in their own unique ways. I am sure they are constantly engaging their “past parenting experiences ” and reinventing. The environment must have changed from Birthday Cards to Instagram’s and Kodak Camera to Phone Cameras. One thing that stood for me is the way they responded to my request for sharing in this blog. Within hours I got all the messages and I was overwhelmed. So, I felt this was the best thing that happened to them on that day and made that as a defining moment.
As fathers we learn from our children and we try to stand tall to match our fathers and that is how we stand the test of time.