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Thursday, December 12, 2019


Is the yardstick right?


It’s made and unmade more people than anything else, and fatherhood is still a puzzle
MAYANK VYAS | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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Is the yardstick right? The father, perhaps the most misunderstood in a family, is often a trigger that can make foes of families. A major reason for this is perfectionism, handed down from generation to generation, and cheered by people who believe it’s merely an attempt to excel. Striving for excellence is not a bad thing. Neither is perfectionism, which is a normal human impulse. But when it runs riot, it can discreate. Fathers can then push people to the limits. Often, the perfectionist father may feel all or some of the following. He is often amazed at the incompetence of his children and other family members. He can’t stand it when things are out of place. He has a burning need to set things right. He worries a lot about why his children haven’t done better. It seems to him that standards are slipping in his family. He finds the unpredictability of his children vexing if not intolerable. Any kind of personal failure is the worst thing he can think of. There’s barely a human being who hasn’t been driven to the wall by such peculiarity.

“The father is the backbone of the family and more and more incidents of friction with children are occurring. This relationship has to take a turn. Children will look forward to more space and fathers have to be more practical,” Gaurang Jani, a leading sociologist based in Ahmedabad, said to TSI.

Since nothing on earth can be perfect, perfectionists are barely happy or satisfied. The base of their self-esteem is unattainable. The perfectionist father lives in terrible bondage. Not only must things around them be perfect, so must the people. They are absolute masters at finding fault. Nothing is ever quite good enough. The catch is that perfectionists don’t fall from the trees fully formed at the age of 30. They were trained, then they went into training themselves, and finally they started training others. The cycle is clear enough once you start looking for it. This is the reason why the fathers of the future may be battling perfectionism, more than anything else, at home.

This tragedy of dealing with a perfectionist father was observed in the home of Mahatma Gandhi. The Father of the Nation couldn’t do a thing as his eldest son Harilal died an alcoholic death. Till the end, they blamed each other for not meeting the other’s standards of behaviour. It’s largely bliss, however, in fatherhood, which is a huge charm and a life-altering experience. Hrithik Roshan said it, “The journey to fatherhood is the biggest bliss a man can experience.” Sachin Tendulkar said it, “Fatherhood has changed my life.” If it has to change the family, there’s this little thing about yardsticks to be dealt with first.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017