CHENNAI: Rob Kemp, who penned best-selling books Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide and New Dad’s Survival Guide, is perhaps one of the ideal authors to seek insight on modern fatherhood, especially on Father’s Day. June 21 also coincides with World Yoga Day and World Music Day.
'It’s a great day to be a flexible dad, with a long playlist!" Kemp jokes while talking to author and journalist Kaveree Bamzai during the recent Indulge Time Pass session.
The UK-based author’s new book Dadding It centres on the importance of navigating the milestones in your child’s life. "I think with the rise of women in the workplace and the shift in dynamics, and also with men wanting to become more hands-on, things have changed significantly. Even in celebrity culture, we have many hands-on dads, like there’s David Beckham who gets a lot of admiration, a lot more than what he would have got a generation or two ago when it wouldn’t have been considered as the most masculine thing to bring up children!" says Kemp.
Not just fatherhood, perceptions are also shifting concerning masculinity-related toxicity in parenting and the idea of role-modelling. "I think one of the key things which I have tried to express in my books is role-modelling. We always look up to our dads, we have to realise that every action, the way we interact, our choice of media, our children absorb it all the time. From before babies are born, the focus is very much on mums, be it prenatal care or postpartum depressions. But now there are postnatal father groups, there are some great dads groups now which recognise that empathy and knowledge are helpful," shares Kemp.
A father to a 16-year-old, Kemp believes that it’s crucial for fathers to prioritise and put parenting at the top of their list. "Part of our makeup has been to provide, our role has been to be the bread-winner for so long. There needs to be a two-pronged approach, the society needs to change, dads themselves need to change. It is not humiliating to say that I’m a father first, it’s not humiliating to say, you know I’m leaving early today for my daughter. So changing the priorities is something we need to do as dads and contribute to the shift," opines Kemp.
Kemp reveals that he was taught to cook by his wife and it helped him in perceiving his role as a primary caregiver better. "Re-prioritisation is essential, men need to think about what they are. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of dads coming together, be it online or in real-life. Women have done it for years, to be able to share ideas or suggestions, to be able to talk about anything you are struggling with, because there’s no set manual to parenthood. It gives you an idea of what being a father involves, when you talk to other fathers. Modelling best practices like going on a ride with your child, eating healthy etc., is more influential than we realise," emphasises Kemp.