When Tusshar Kapoor, a single man, became a father to baby Laksshya (seemingly numerologically approved with the double ‘s’) through surrogacy, the nation sat up and took notice. There have been famous celebrities, who chose to become a single parent without conventional circumstances like divorce or the demise of a spouse forcing their hand. Neena Gupta had boldly decided to bring up her daughter Masaba outside wedlock way back in 1989, and Sushmita Sen had to go the legal route to be allowed to adopt a young girl child when she was just 25-years-old (she later adopted another child). Actor Raveena Tandon also became a single mom to two adopted girls before her marriage.
So the reason Tusshar is making waves with his transition to daddyhood is because it is rare to see single men choosing to parent. “I am thrilled to be a father! The paternal instincts in me have been overpowering my heart and mind for some time now. Therefore, I am thrilled beyond words to have Laksshya, now the greatest source of joy in my life,” the Bollywood actor said in a statement. Though actors Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao’s son Azad and Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s third child AbRam were born via surrogacy, Tusshar’s decision stands out since he is not married, and there is no female parent in the picture to help him bring up his child.
He might not be a film actor, but 28-year-old Aditya Tiwari certainly deserves mention among remarkable single dads. A resident of Indore, he adopted a toddler suffering from Down’s syndrome after struggling against legal hurdles for more than a year.
Internationally, manly men have been taking to fatherhood, even single fatherhood, with aplomb. There have been several examples of gay men, like singer Ricky Martin who became father to twin boys through surrogacy, along with his partner. Then there is somebody like Liam Neeson, who after losing his wife in a tragic skiing accident, is much admired for being a devoted father to his two sons. There is also Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who quite mysteriously announced the birth of his son (speculated to be the result of a one-night-stand) and took to fatherhood rather flamboyantly. Whatever the circumstances, all these men, and many others like them, are committed to bringing up their children well.
Winds of change
Gender dynamics are like the Chinese concept of yin and yang. While we see more women shunning traditional gender roles and storming male bastions, it is equally important for men to shun patriarchal norms and embrace the nurturing side of their personalities, in order to bring about the ideal balance in the gender equation.
The cool quotient
Today’s men no longer find hands-on parenting contradicting with the alpha male persona. So social media is replete with dads who have embraced the cool factor of daddyhood. Be it Ryan Reynolds’ humourous tweets, “I’d walk through fire for my daughter. Well not FIRE, because it’s dangerous. But a superhumid room. But not too humid, because my hair.” Or Shahrukh Khan’s Instagram post steeped in sepia-toned nostalgia, “Today the only negative is that my kids have grown up…now to wait till they start believing in fairy tales again…” these men have no qualms about letting the world see their softer side.
The gender-neutral breadwinners and homemakers
As men and women move away from being bracketed into conservative slots like ‘the breadwinner’ and ‘the homemaker’, it’s heartening to see that parenting roles are also no longer straitjacketed. With fathers being more involved in their children’s lives, the psychological benefits or, in layman terms, the feel-good factor for the entire family unit is certainly higher.
The Domino Effect
When men become nurturers, it helps them deal with other aspects of their work or life in a more empathetic manner. Barack Obama spoke about daughter Malia’s impending departure for college at a recent school event. “My daughter leaving me is just breaking my heart,” he said. “If there are any parents here, I hope you can give me some pointers on how not to cry too much at the ceremony, and embarrass her.” So it is not surprising that Obama is one of the few American politicians who have been vocal about the need for stricter gun control laws.
A phase of change that takes on unfair standards of social behaviour is always an exciting period when it comes to social evolution. After all, it is said that a man is never as tall as when he kneels to help a child, and it looks like there are several admirable men who live by this dictum.