Throwing aside stereotypes

Throwing aside stereotypes
He’d be on an important conference call for work and a loud ‘appaaa’ would echo through the house and to the other side of the call.

Silence. “My colleagues would ask if I needed to take a break,” says Krishna Prasad, laughing. But he never did. As a stay-at-home dad (SAHD), he was used to juggling work and his (then) four-year-old daughter Raksha.

This was nearly four years ago. He is no longer an SAHD, but he fondly recalls the bond he shared with Raksha for those two years he worked from home. According to Krishna, it doesn’t matter whether you are a stay-at-home mother or father — the responsibilities are the same — what does is the ability to manage everything efficiently.

Shattering boundaries and stereotypes, more fathers are choosing to stay at home while their partners work from office. And unlike a few years ago, they don’t have to worry about society being judgemental. It’s not just the trash-talking section of society that has been silenced, even employers have become more understanding. “Seven to eight years back, employers would have either asked us to stay at home and not work or come to the office. These days people are more understanding and the situation is changing,” explains Krishna.

But he admits that SAHDs are questioned more when they apply to work from home. “People want to know whether you can manage your personal life and work. If you prove that you can, it’s not a problem. But there are more questions asked to fathers as employers are a bit skeptical at first.”

While talking to Srinivas, another SAHD in the City, you can hear Shraddha, his four-month old in the background. Him and his wife Prema have timed their schedules in such a way that they get to spend enough time with Shraddha and each other, without compromising on their work. “I am on night shift so my timings are from late evening till 4.30 am, while my wife works from morning to around 5.30 pm. In between, we spend time together. I go to the office once or twice a week. It is close by so it doesn’t take much time,” he says. Even though their body clocks are set differently, between the two of them, they work it out.

The lack of family close to home was a major factor in Srinivas opting to work from home. “My parents are in Mangaluru so it’s just the two of us. Prema’s workplace is farther away so I decided to stay at home.”

Fathers who stay at home have the benefit of watching their children grow and they get to forge a close relationship with them. This might seem trivial to many but it’s an experience most fathers don’t get. Shwetha, Krishna’s partner, says that during the two years he worked from home, she saw his relationship with Raksha grow by leaps and bounds. “She was much closer to him since he was always around.

And he is a very indulgent father,” she says with a smile. Krishna adds to this saying, “It’s hard work but it’s also lots of fun. Most of the family picture and videos back then are of Raksha and me, even though there are better phones and cameras now. I’d be on a call while carrying and playing with her.”

As the number of SAHDs increase, so does the knowledge they can share with each other. As Krishna explains, “My male friends come to me for advice on what’s the best diaper brand to buy and things like that when their wives are away. This makes me feel proud.”  But as Shwetha points out, companionship is necessary for anyone staying at home.

“Those days, when I’d come home, Krishna would ask me how my day was and we’d spend a while talking because he’d be alone otherwise.” This cemented their relationship, as it did for Srinivas and Prema, who say that there is more equality now.
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