Upbringing Your Child
For any man, there can be nothing more meaningful and satisfying than becoming a father. Belonging to the new generation of fathers, however, let me share a completely different aspect of fatherhood that many of us would shudder to even think about.
This pertains to the challenges a father faces due to the emergence of our inflation-hit economy. A father in today’s times is not only financially compromised but also feels socially useless, guilty and ashamed since he is unable to meet his spouse’s or children’s expectations.
In the outside world, the same person is seen as a decently dressed, well educated and civilized gentleman. He leaves his home for work each morning and comes back late at night after an exhausting day at work. His monthly income is ten times higher than his previous generations and by all standards, he is a committed man both in terms of his personal and professional life.
Even with his devotion and commitment towards his responsibilities, this man finds himself nowhere when it comes to meeting the basic needs of his family members. The blame for his condition can be placed on the degrading socioeconomic and political circumstances of our country, which leave him and his family with a hand-to-mouth lifestyle, no matter how much he may earn as a salaried worker.
For today’s failed father, mandatory vaccinations for his children appear to be more of a luxury. When out for grocery shopping, he thinks a hundred times before buying even daily use items like fruits. It is virtually impossible for him to take his family out for a meal or to provide a fun outing for his kids at their favorite malls and amusement parks.
The only time he feels as if he has achieved something is when his children get enrolled in school, that too not in some top-of-the-line fancy institution but in a mediocre private school located right at the end of his street. As part of his plan to cut down on unnecessary expenses, this man keeps himself away from parties, family events and social gatherings, and compels his family members to do the same in order to avoid the customary obligation of giving gifts.
Unfortunately, this is a new social class that is fast emerging in our urban society and it consists mainly of people like this very gentleman. His employers claim that he is paid handsomely and yet he is seen struggling to make ends meet with the rapidly rising cost of living. It is due to these conditions that the standard of living for most people in the middle and lower income groups has declined significantly, wherein the middle class has merged with the lower class and the lower stratum has fallen below the poverty line.
Being the primary breadwinner of the family in most cases, it is inevitable for such a man to feel the burden of not being able to provide his family with the quality of life he would want them to have, especially during these financially challenging times.
In Urdu, such a person would be described by the term ‘safaid posh’ , although the prevalent economic situation has taken away the right from people to lead their lives respectably while staying within their means. What needs to be understood by men going through this depressive state is the fact that it is not an outcome of their failures or an ill-fated curse, but an unfortunate scenario that fathers have to face presently.
I often compare myself with my own father, who did not get the opportunity to acquire as much formal education as I did. He worked on daily wages and his monthly income was significantly lower than mine. He, however, managed to construct his own house and raised me and my siblings successfully, helping us all acquire a minimum of university level education.
Since we had a big family, my father never bought fruit and vegetables in small quantities. In fact, he used to get them in large wooden crates and managed to provide us almost every amenity of life even with his limited income.
Perhaps, this comparison reflects my father’s impeccable capability and farsightedness in managing his family. In a complete contrast, when I look at myself, I feel like a complete failure!