Hands- on or hands- off? Just as you need two hands to clap, you need both parents to give quality time to their child
But as long as we’re on the subject of partners and maids/ nannies, Atinirmal Pagarani, 32, admits that he is far too reliant on them when it comes to his three- year- old son, Yogi. “I think I’m much, much less hands- on with Yogi than my father was with me when I was a child,” he says. “When I was a kid growing up in the UAE, the only help my dad had was my mom. My grandparents lived in India and my father, at that time, could not afford maids or nannies. Also, more importantly, we were a total of five children, all looked after by my mother and father by themselves. I, on the other hand, have a good number of helpers, which makes memuch less of a handson dad than I would like to be,” he admits.
“My dad is a role model in so many ways, I can’t quite describe it in words. He is always so patient, understanding and calm — I don’t understand how he does it all the time! I don’t remember him ever being angry at me, or my mom or my siblings. For him, every situation, good or bad, was handled very lovingly and calmly.” He adds that he clearly remembers his father trying to patiently feed him… “Standing in the balcony, showing me different cars for my visual entertainment and slyly putting food into my mouth; things I hated, but were good for my health. I can try to do that with my son, but I can’t be sly with him. I can try to distract him with an ipad or a TV show, but he would just spit out his food and give me the ‘ look’, as though it was the worst sort of deception.” He admits that he is nowhere near as patient as his father, but hopes that he will attain that zen- like calm someday.
“My father, like many fathers from that generation ( he is now 70 years old), wanted his kids to study business and come join the family shop. Thankfully, I loved the family business. But this isn’t the case nowadays,” says Atinirmal. “I could expect the same of my son, but I would like him to follow his passion and I will respect that. I think my father, or his father before him, would not have accepted that sort of a thing easily. Even things like getting married to someone from within the community was a compulsion in that generation. Not anymore. Thankfully, things like respect for parents and the community have remained the same. A child’s upbringing really matters and the ways that my father taught me is the benchmark for me and for my child.”
But the lessons didn’t stop there, adds Atinirmal. “He taught me that a child will not learn anything overnight — ‘ Rome wasn’t built in a day’, he told me. ‘ Anger is only one letter away from Danger’ is another one he taught me and I’ve learnt that being angry towards a child is not just dangerous, but disastrous, and hampers real growth. ‘ Never be stuck up or stubborn with a child; you will never win. Just learn to accept it and let go. Don’t give your child everything he asks for; make them work for it — not slavery, but bravery. Be their role models and teach them the value of life… The list just goes on and on.”
Despite the maids and help, Atinirmal agrees that it is very important for dads to spend quality time with their kids. “I travel a lot for work, and spending time with my son is something that doesn’t go without remiss. Just as you need two hands to clap, you need both parents to give quality time to their child,” he says.
“My father gave me everything I asked for and still does. Maybe because I was pampered, being the youngest of the kids and all,” he says, laughing. “But he does make me work for it. And that’s how I will be with my son too.” NOT SO SLY DAD: Atinirmal with his father Ghanshyam J Pagarani ( above left) and his three- year- old son, Yogi