Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father as Life Manager: A Father’s Day Tribute

It is impossible to hypothesize who is more important to a family; the father or mother. As with formation of human life, in its evolution as well both are essential. The roles are, however, different; neither being less important than the other. Times may have changed with mothers becoming career women and fathers becoming more involved in home making but the basic attributes of each role have not changed much. As with a mother, a father also represents a leadership role in bringing up of a family. This blog featured a post on the role of the mother in the post “The Quintessential Indian Mother: Subtle Principles of Management”, Strategy Musings, May 13, 2012. This Father’s Day, this blog post features a tribute to the Father. The role of a father, however, is best told by his sons or daughters as they travel through the time machine on the Father’s Day, or any day for that matter.

Life has relative permanence but unfortunately humans have no permanence. Yet, as long as one has the powers of remembrance, one can never forget the intents, acts and emotions that personified the father, fondly called “naanna”, “appa” or “bapa” in some Indian languages. Tragically, in most cases the children lack the maturity and ability to identify and analyze what the father meant to him or her. By the time the required level of competence is reached, in some cases it becomes too late pay back with gratitude what the father did for him or her. As one reflects, one sees his or her father as a co-builder of the family institution, endeavoring always to make the children better endowed and more successful in life than he himself has been. He plays a leadership role as the chief executive of the family even if he is just a humble worker, an emerging executive or an established manager, essentially one among many in an organization.

Caretaker and Educator

The earliest memories of the father are always those of a caretaker; helping one as a baby make the first crawls and take the first steps in life, and later holding the hand to stroll, shop and enjoy in the seemingly vast and perpetually exciting places of parks, shops and movie halls. The father is always there to take the child to a doctor when the child turns sick and to take turns with the mother to follow the doctor’s instructions; measuring temperature, administering medicine, providing the prescribed diet, and maintaining all-night vigil. The greater the sickness the greater is the concern and the weaker the child the greater is the attention. The seemingly unending advices and the occasionally unnerving admonishments have always only one objective of seeing the child grow strong and healthy. Many advices of good health given by father unfortunately ring true only when one grows up!

Even as he is a caretaker par excellence, the father is a great educator too, regardless of his own level of education. Right from the selection of pre-school to the high school and college, he always tries to do the best within the means in terms of providing the best education in the best institutions possible. The care he takes to buy the school books, wrap them and pack them in the school bag leaves impressions on a child’s mind even when he or she becomes a parent. A time does come in the family’s development to leave the growing child in the hostel as he or she enters the portals of a college. The joy of the father knows no bounds when the graduation happens and the first job is taken. Many times, the father is more interested than the son or daughter to secure the best career opening. Unknown to the son or daughter, the father seeks the best advice from his peers and well-wishers on appropriate career options and job openings. He looks for the best competitive examinations, the best services and organizations and looks over, or even rough-fills, the application forms as they get prepared.

Toiler and Breadwinner

Probably, the more profound images of a father in a child are those of his being a toiler and breadwinner for the family. A mother may take on additional pressure to have a working life and supplement income but the father’s hard work remains the sheet anchor to create wealth for the family. Despite facing the pressures of working life, the ideal father always has time for the family, playing light games such as chess, caroms and cards with the children whenever. Work life is never easy for the aspiring father. Roving across the country, leaving the home state, and often even separating from family for years, or even going abroad alone, the father stakes the best part of his life for earning for the family.

Typically, the father earns to save, and saves to pass on wealth and security to the succeeding generations. While maximizing his earning potential, the good father, however, controls the spending power of his children. The value of money is known when the money at hand is less than the desires in the mind. That money comes from toil and toil comes from commitment is a fundamental principle that is passed on from generation to generation of successful families. The new clothes the father brings home on the eve of each festival, the crackers and fireworks he buys for the Festival of Lights ( Diwali), and the care he takes in spending money on vacations, the first child savings bank account he opens reinforce the smiles that money can bring to the family but more importantly how careful saving and investment habits can sustain the smiles.

Characterizer and Motivator

An ideal father builds the character of the child; values such as integrity, rectitude, helpfulness, friendliness, piety, sincerity, discipline, diligence, religiousness, dedication and service are imbibed in the child as one watches the father reflect those positive values in his professional and personal life. The kindness and caring with which one treats his parents, wife, children, relatives, and friends has a lasting bearing on the evolution of the child’s personality and potentially lays the foundation for the development of his interpersonal skills. While the genetic disposition on personality development cannot be predicted or controlled, the father, along with the mother does play an important and integral role in characterizing the right personal and professional traits in the child over years of childhood, adolescence and teenage.

Motivation is one factor that separates achievers from non-achievers. Whether one achieves certain material comforts and social status or not, one’s level of motivation must never ebb. In many ways, motivation by itself is the single most important factor for any human being to have faith and optimism in life. Motivation is that faculty of a human being to stay focused, fight against odds and seek higher goals even as earlier goals are achieved. A strong sense of self-worth and a keen sense of learning from experience help one stay motivated. The motivation the father displays in handling his work and family matters despite the enormous pressures of continuing education and career development, the stability he displays in handling the difficulties and pressures of family life, from sicknesses to celebrations, provide a motivating impact on the child.

Protector and Mentor

The father protects; he observes and analyzes what is good and beneficial for the family, from his own life to shaping the life of the other members of the family. He is always watchful of how the family is shaping up and how the children, especially the girl child, is able to cope with the hostile conditions of the world. From providing the fundamentals of day to day security of housing, food and clothing to the enablers of higher living such as education and lifestyle goods, protection is always felt by the children without the father ever being explicit about it. A father who protects his parents and wife provides a solid feeling of protection to the children.

As the child grows and matures, gets educated and employed, and becomes empowered and independent, and as the father himself becomes aged and progressively dependent, the role of the father changes from that of caretaker and protector to one of mentor. The ability of the father to transition from a relatively influential role to one of relatively guidance role, providing life's wisdom in a contemporaneously acceptable manner, calls for significant equanimity while the ability of the son or daughter to deal with the transition with respect and understanding, and with the wisdom to benefit from the wisdom of the elders, determines the mutual happiness all members of the family would derive. The dutiful child never considers himself or herself as someone who could forget the past in which the parents brought him or her up.

The child is the father…

The circle of life has neither a beginning nor an end, even as humans enter, age, accomplish and leave this world. Within the impermanence of life, the intents, thoughts, expressions, actions and memories of positive guidance, good living, emotional loving and fulfilled life are the relatively permanent ones. As the child grows into an adult, and becomes a father himself or mother herself, the love and affection showered by the father (not to mention the mother) need to be fondly remembered and repaid with gratitude through respectful caretaking in the twilight years by the younger ones.

Posted by Dr CB Rao on June 17, 2012

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