We have heard of the blessing “ May you be the mother of a hundred sons”. But I think someone ought to bless a man with “ May you have at least one daughter”. Ask me why?
While having sons might prove his masculinity, I think becoming the father of a girl makes a man a very sensitive human being. He gets an insight into the female world as his little girl starts growing up and becomes part of it in a way no man ever can!
I have read somewhere that men want sons to do “man things” with them – like riding a bicycle, flying kites, fixing things around the house etc. But I think my father tried all of those with me and my sister. He tried to teach us both to cycle ( though it was she who finally learnt it) and took me to the swimming pool with him to get me to swim. But somehow I did not take to these pursuits with much enthusiasm. Kite flying is something that neither me nor my sister have any interest in. I think that is the only time he missed having a son.
A man does not need to have a son to bond with. Bonding with daughters also happens and in very special ways. And naturally, no man can ever measure up to his standards in her eyes!
When I see my husband and my daughter I see in many ways the father – daughter bonding repeat itself. I see him teasing her about boys, threatening to read her text messages or imitating her when she is on the phone with her friends. She tells him things in the same way I used to narrate things to my father ( though I never really told him about boys). My husband also teases her about the heroes she finds attractive, the movies that she watches, her clothes and hairstyle. I think along with her, he has also unwittingly entered the female world. And it is all the more endearing to see this because he belongs to a category of men who in his youth must have been referred to as ‘macho” !
As fathers of daughters men understand problems of women from an “insider” perspective. They are more sensitive to issues like violence and harassment. Social problems like dowry, access to education, the need for independence of women suddenly begin to make sense to them. Being men, they see and spot the baser instincts in other men realizing how vulnerable it makes us women. I remember once, while inside an elevator in a mall, he pushed both me and our daughter into a corner and stood like a wall in front of us. As we got down the elevator and began grumbling about a suffocating human wall inside the cramped space that made it difficult for us to breathe, he told us both that he had noticed “ a sleazy guy” get in along with us and was afraid that he might do something to us. “ You girls just know to talk! When it comes to actually spotting such a fellow you are clueless!” he told us angrily.
Men with daughters also become familiar with female talk..! I remember watching a TV program on the making of “Gone with the wind”. There was a discussion on the shooting of the famous scene where Rhett Butler tells Scarlett that he does not “give a damn”. Both me and the daughter watched riveted as Clark Gable performed that scene. And when a certain man in our family started laughing loudly we fell upon him and started punching him. “Ok, ladies.. what is so great about this guy” he finally asked us. “ You won’t understand” we chorused. “ Try me” he said!! I think that was his attempt at understanding the female mind. There are of course days when he grumbles that he cannot stay inside the house with “two hormonal females” bickering with each other.
While this is about men with daughters I am in no way suggesting that men with sons are insensitive. It is just that they are often deprived of the ability to understand women by living and observing us at close quarters. They probably carry more responsibilities in the sense that they have to inculcate respect for women among their sons through their own behavior.
Someone once told me that while sons are a result of passion, daughters are conceived during moments of tender love!! Probably a lot of rubbish but when I see any father- daughter bonding I am inclined to agree. No wonder, a daughter often looks (in vain sometimes) for a dream man who shares her father’s qualities. But someone ought to tell her that few men are born with these qualities. They develop them as they bring up their daughters.