Changing Policies Need A Change In Mindset Too…

Jaibala/ August 8, 2017/ Guests Posts, Musings/ 3 comments

I have spent a long time trying to make up my mind about the recent policy changes and I remember being unsure about how I feel about them. For a person not directly being affected by the said policy changes, it is maybe a tad bit easier to take an unpopular view. And I wondered would I feel differently had the situation been different.When I read the below post for the first time, I realised, that my opinion would not be any different. Janaki thank you, for writing this, thank you for voicing out so eloquently what most of us have just thought. And most importantly Thank You for choosing my blog, to say something so important.

As I read appreciations and rave reviews for the forward-looking maternity policy that the
Government of India has introduced, there is a part of me that feels that this reinforces the
patriarchal mindset of the society and assumes that the mother should be the primary care
giver for the baby. In fact, if a mother is in a dilemma between pursuing her dream job and
caring for her young child, the policy seems to guide her in the direction of child care.

As a working career-mom, I am glad that things are changing and such policies help.
However, there is a clause in the policy that states that a new mother can visit her child up
to 4 times in the child-care facility. In all likelihood, I might stick out like a sore thumb when
I say, ‘I love my son to bits but I don’t want him around when I am working’. It’s just the
truth. When I am in the office and focused, any break from my routine creates a gap and I
have to focus harder to get back to what I was doing.

When you visit your child during your work day and he/she is grumpy, crying or haven’t
eaten, how much focus will you have when you get back to work? As a mother, it is likely to
make you feel guilty. As a working mom, there aren’t dearths of occasions or people
that/who make you feel guilty for not spending enough time with our child. I learn to live
with it, in the hope that I am raising a tolerant son, who will not expect his wife to sit at
home and take care of their child.

I am all for better policies to support women, when they want to do something. The
question here is – do they know what they want or can they choose what they need?
I have been fortunate enough to spend the first year of my son’s childhood with him. With a
policy that let me take 12 months of maternity leave in the UK and with no family to support
us in London, it was the obvious thing to do. I still cherish the first year and it was the best
decision I had made. However, I had my reservations about resuming work and going back
to the same office where I hadn’t been for 12 months. And as expected, a lot had changed
while I was away.

My big question here is, in all of these forward-looking policies, where is the dad? Click To Tweet

And what are his duties? What is the expectation from him? I know many developed countries allow
the parents to split the child care leave. What is stopping us from doing that? Why should
the day care be closer to the mother’s office and not the father’s? And why shouldn’t the
parents decide who should visit the child at the day care to check on him/her? This is really
my bone of contention with this policy.

I have been fortunate in many ways- my husband has always supported my career
aspirations and spends time with my son, when I cannot. But if you think that all I have to do
is wake up in the morning to a well-made breakfast, go to work, come back and sleep while
my husband takes care of everything – that’s an unrealistic picture. My days usually start at
5am and ends around 11pm when I usually crash into bed, dead tired. I am there for my
son’s doctor visits, his school events, taking him to the park, teaching him to cycle/swim;
being part of his life, and playing an important part in his formative years to make him a
better person.

Of course, people ask me why I do it. I never say, it is because I have to; it is always because
I want to. I love being self-sufficient. My job fascinates me and I meet many types of people,
encounter different kinds of challenges, all of which enables me to grow professionally. The
time I spend with my son is refreshing and he teaches me so many things in my life. I just
wish everyone, irrespective of gender can do things with their life because they want to and
not have to.

I will leave you with these hypothetical scenarios …

Imagine this…

Aditi: Honey, can you drop Nidhi at the day care? I have an important meeting and need to
review a few things before it.
Rahul: Sorry Adi, the day care is close to your office and a detour will add an hour to my
commute. I am sure you will figure it out.

And this,

Mom to daughter: But, you have the option of taking 6 months maternity leave and working
flexibly, why would you not use it to be with your young baby? A promotion is not
everything in life, you have a child to take care of. You can always resume your career after
a year.

Perhaps, the policies aren’t the only things that need to change. Our mindsets need a refresher too. Click To Tweet

About Jaibala

Academically a Microbiologist, I am a Web Columnist for popular magazines and websites, Freelance Writer and a Blogger. Words define me and writing and reading compete to be the love of my life. My biggest belief is that there is something good in everything and I always looks to highlight the best in things. Creative writing is my forte.You can reach me by dropping a mail at contact@jaibalarao.com

3 Comments

  1. Oh, does the policy spell it out like that – – only for mother? That definitely is not right. Also, are the daycare facilities only offered to moms, not dads? Again wrong. It must be gender neutral. Maybe, they think that a mother needs to be there for a baby in the initial few months because she is the primary caretaker. Most working mothers I know have welcomed the extension of this leave. But you make some valid points.

  2. You know I think we forget that the father needs to play a part too and many a time he wants to but the policies don’t aid in that. Like for example, my husband’s office is going to have a creche but only for kids of women employees. Why? They will also pay half the daycare fees for the kids of women employees. Why not for the kids of the male employees as well. It’s so unfair.

    You know I like that the maternity leave has extended. Some companies blackmail women employees to come back or put down their papers after 3 months of ML. So, it’s a welcome change when a woman needs to be with her kid and there is no one around to step in. But something similar needs to be there for the fathers too.

    Being a working mom who has literally no time on weekdays, I’m all for any policy that helps us maintain the balance but when it comes to children, a father needs to chip in too. And that’s what most policy makers forget.

    It would do us good to remember that when a child is born, a mother is too and so is a father.

    This is the first thing I read this morning and loved it.
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#MommyTalks | Being A Mom In The Age Of Social MediaMy Profile

  3. I too wish that Maternity leave should be flexible and could be divided among Father and Mother. And yes, policies alone cannot bring the change, mindset definitely will.

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