Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Now-a-days there seems to be a lot of role ambiguity about the roles of the mother and father in parenting and bringing up their children

Here is a tried and tested orthodox parenting style which clearly defines the parenting duties of each parent  the father and the mother  and removes all role ambiguity in the matter of bringing up children.

Musings of a Veteran

My late father-in-law was a wonderful man, a cherished mentor to me, and I pray that may his soul rest in peace.

He once told me, I think just after my wedding, a time tested age-old three-stage parenting theory for bringing up children.



From birth till a child is five years old, the mother should pay maximum attention to nurturing the child.

In fact, the baby should be under the full care of its mother.

The father should be generally around as a source of amusement and joy. 

The father should play a supporting role, as a father figure. 

He must play with the baby, entertaining him or her, and be a source of happiness, fun and joy for the baby.

Mother Nature has designed that at these young ages, the baby biologically needs its mother’s physical affection (nurturing, breastfeeding, ablutions).

A small baby can do without the father  but cannot do without the mother. 

However Metrosexual a man may become  to the best of my knowledge  a man cannot breastfeed his baby  only a mother can do that.

A small baby needs the mother physically, and, most importantly, the baby needs the mother’s emotional love the most.


Between 5 to 12 years of age the father should play a vital enriching role in the child’s life.

The father supports, buttresses, reinforces and inspires a sense of discipline, security and confidence in the child.

At the same time, the mother plays a complementing role as the more loving and principal parent.


It is only after the child becomes 12 years old that the father begins to play an increasing major role in the child’s development. 

Now the father must take charge as the principal parent while the mother recedes into the background (playing the supporting role as the father did in Stage 1). 

As children become teenagers they require firm handling (especially boys) and inculcation of discipline and a sense of responsibility. 

Meanwhile  in case there are younger children  the mother will be busy performing the cardinal role as principal parent looking after the younger children who are in Stages 1 and 2 of their lives.

In case you are a single parent then you will have to perform both the roles in all the 3 parenting stages. 

However this may prove difficult. 

Just imagine – if you are a single parent and if you have one child below 5 and the other above 12 – for the younger child in Stage 1 you will have to perform the 100% Mother Role – and for the older child in Stage 3 you will have to be 100% Father – you will go crazy due to role ambiguity – and your kids will get confused by your contrasting behaviour. 

That is why it is not advisable to divorce or separate if you have children.

I am of the view that divorce of parents may adversely affect the all-round development of children. 

While a mother plays a prominent role in inculcating emotional balance  the father is the one who shapes personality and inculcates discipline.

A parent is like a trustee. 

So once your children become adults and start earning their living and fly off from your “nest”  you have to just let go and observe your birds fly high in the sky. 

Then  it is best to give advice only when it is asked for.


Dear Reader  do you agree with this traditional parenting paradigm…?

Or do you prefer the New Age Proxy Parenting Paradigm described below…? 


Maybe I am an old fogey  with outdated views  but sometime ago  I was shocked to learn that a young mother working abroad had sent her three month old first born baby to India with the baby’s grandmother [the baby’s mother’s mother].

The old lady had gone there to assist in her daughter’s delivery – and she came back with her daughter’s baby to be brought up here by the old grandparents.

The old lady grandmother would be the proxy “surrogate” mother – while the biological mother continued to stay far away from her baby to pursue her career in a foreign country.

Is it morally correct from the baby’s point of view?

Is it in consonance with the biological laws of nature to willfully deprive a new-born baby of natural physical and emotional maternal love for the sake of her selfish career ambitions? 

Is it not cruel on the hapless child?

Is it fair for the natural mother to deprive herself of the joys of motherhood?

I find it unimaginable that a mother, and even the father, prefers to willingly remain away from her small baby.

Can a grandmother, or anyone else, fulfill the natural role of the mother better than the child’s own birth-mother ?

How will this lack and willful deprivation of natural physical maternal love, and absence of a father figure, affect the development of the child in later years…?

Will it affect their interrelationships as parent and child…?

And the interrelationships of the child with others, in later years, like the child’s future inter-relationships with friends and spouse?

We are born wanting a loving, nurturing attachment to our parents [particularly the mother].

Within the first year or two of life we all develop an image of our "love object" and our relationship with that person.

These images comprise feelings, fears, needs and wants – the mental-emotional yearnings of an infant baby for his or her parents [especially the mother].

Suppose the birth-mother fails to meet the baby’s natural needs and yearnings  can someone else  like a grandmother  take the birthmother’s place as a proxy “love object”?

And  if so  what are the repercussions of this proxy surrogate parenting on the development of the child…?

A grandmother playing a mother’s role – won’t this cause an ambiguity in the child’s mind…?

Well  I don’t know the answers to all these questions.

Do you…?

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This article is based on my personal experience. It may or may not work for you. Please do your own due diligence before deciding your parenting style.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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This is an updated, abridged and revised version on my lecture prepared in the 1990s and first posted on my blog on 

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