Indulge Time Pass: Author Rob Kemp on stay-at-home dads, toxic masculinity and modern dad-hood
UK-based author Rob Kemp who penned the best-selling books Expectant Dad's Survival Guide and New Dad's Survival Guide is perhaps the best person to seek insight on modern fatherhood, that too on Father’s Day. Incidentally, Father’s Day also co-incides with World Yoga Day and World Music Day this year. “It’s a great day to be a flexible dad, with a long playlist!” Kemp jokes to author and journalist Kaveree Bamzai during the recent edition of Indulge Time Pass.
Incidentally, Kemp’s new book Dadding It talks about navigating the milestones in your child’s life. And the author opened up about changes and shifts in the child care spectrum which are so visible around us. “I think with the rise of women in the workplace and the shift in dynamic, and also with men wanting to become more hands-on, things have changed significantly. Even in celebrity culture, we have so 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 perceived as the most masculine thing to bring up the children!” remarks Kemp.
The author also addressed how toxic masculinity often takes a toll on perceptions of parenting and the idea of role-modelling, especially in modern society. “When I became a stay-at-home dad, it did feel like I was seen as someone who took the easy way out. The idea of a stay-at-home dad was seen as kind of a parody, someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing. But it’s about the engagement. 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 recognize that empathy and knowledge are helpful,” Kemp tells Bamzai.
Kemp who’s the father of a 16-year-old also opened up about how crucial it is for fathers to prioritise right and to 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 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,” says Kemp.
Kempo reveals that he was taught to cook by the mum of his son and it helped him in perceiving his role as a primary care-giver better. “Re-prioritization is essential, men need to think about what they are. I can’t emphasize 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, tTo be able to talk about anything you’re 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 practises like going on a ride with your child, eating healthy etc is more influential than we realize,” says Kemp.