Things I Do Differently From My Dad

As a father, do you find yourself doing what your father did? Or is your relationship with your child very different? We talk to a cross-section of dads to find out.

By Divya Sreedharan

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it -- Clarence Budington Kelland (American writer 1881--1964) 

Every dad plays a vital role in their child’s well-being and success. But what kind of a dad are you? What relationship did you share with your father, and does that colour your bond with your child? ParentCircle features five very different dads talking about their experiences, their childhood and the special bond they share with their children.

Be patient. Be kind

Sridhar Laxman, Executive Coach, Bangalore

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

Tell us something about your father.

My father, M K Lakshmanachar, worked in the Life Insurance Corporation of India. He is well-spoken and well-read, as well as a kind, gentle person. He grew up with practically nothing as the eldest of a large family. He had lots of responsibilities, which meant he also had to work very hard. But my father never complained. He is a very kind man, and he has been a giver all his life.

What was your childhood like?

I am the middle child with an older sister and a younger brother. My childhood was a very happy one. My father conveyed his affection in his own way, though he was not a ‘hands-on’ dad. And as I grew up, my father gave me space and freedom -- whether it is to do with my choice of life partner or my career path.

What did you learn from your father?

As I said before, my father is an extremely kind and patient man. He is also very empathetic and in fact, wanted to be a teacher. This quality of being there for others, of listening without being judgemental, has crept into my personal and professional life and, shaped my own relationships.

How do you differ from your dad?

My wife Asha and I have one son, Ved. As a pilot with an international airline, she is away from home for almost 15 days every month. So I made a conscious decision to be around for Ved -- I gave up my corporate career and trained as an executive coach. I plan my work so that I can be with Ved. Right from when he wakes up, to dropping him off to school, helping him with homework and reading stories at night, I am there for him. My father was not around that much as he was in office all day and had to go on work trips as well. Also, I am also very physically affectionate with my son -- I keep hugging him, kissing him and telling him that I love him. Ved and I are both fans of the forest and we love going for nature-based holidays. My father was very different, he displayed his affection by spoiling us with kindness. But we know he has a deep and abiding love for us all. 

Stay rooted. Give wings

Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, Indian-American Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist, USA

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

Tell us something about your father.

I was born in Dharwad, Karnataka and my father, S G Deshpande was a Labour officer in the State Government. Ours was a middle-class family, with no business background whatsoever.

What was your childhood like?

We lived a very simple life. I studied in small and big towns of Karnataka. I completed my Class V to VIII at a small town called Sankeshwar near Belagavi. Simplicity and the significance of education were the most important elements that characterised my childhood.

What did you learn from your father?

Staying true to my roots is something I imbibed from my father. My wife Jaishree and I have two children. My father gave me wings to fly and explore the world while always making sure that there is a loving nest to come back to. As a father, I would like to give the same gift to my children.

How do you differ from your dad?

My father was born in a small village and achieved many things in his life. However, I had the opportunity to venture out into the world and play in a bigger space. My father lived and continues to lead, a very simple life. As a father myself, I have tried to make sure that my children know I am always there for them. Because I have had the opportunity to see the bigger world and meet some extraordinary people, I try to show my sons that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they are driven by passion and conviction. In that sense, I differ from my father. I am fortunate that today, I have the ability and the means to make a difference in the lives of the people in India, USA and Canada.

Happiness is about family

Vikram Ramchandani, Fashion and Media Entrepreneur, Mumbai 

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

Tell us something about your father.

My father, Naresh Ramchandani, worked in finance before starting his own office equipment business in Toronto. But his primary job was to make sure his family smiled. During my early years, my father was hands-on and would include me and my younger sister in most outings. When he wasn’t at work I remember him being home or taking us out for meals and activities. I never felt the need for attention and never felt alone.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was a well-rounded one, without emotional scars or painful episodes. I am extremely proud of my younger sister who is a successful copywriter in Montreal. We are very close. My relationship with my dad then and now, has varied. The physical distance between us along with my familial and professional responsibilities don’t help either. I need to put in more effort in making him feel the same way that he made me feel when I was a child, always wanted and never alone.

What did you learn from your father?

My father played an instrumental role in me being both centered and content. He also initiated my love affair for food, music and all things beautiful. My wife Payal and I have a daughter, Mira. I would like to think that I am hands-on with my daughter, but in reality, I do not get enough time with her. So, last year, I made a commitment to travel alone with my daughter annually, without focusing on anything but her (in fact, we are on a father-daughter vacation as I write this!). My father taught me the importance of just showing up and being attentive. I’ve also learned the magic of smiling with family, because that makes everything okay.

How do you differ from your dad?

Well, my daughter and I love to crack stupid jokes, eat junk food, dance to pop songs and act like adventure junkies (although we’re really not) while we travel aimlessly. I also would like to think that I differ from my father in many ways but I don’t believe that is truly the case. 

Freedom of choice

Avinash Krishnamurthy, Sustainable Developmental Expert, Bangalore

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

Tell us something about your father.

My father, Ramarao Krishnamurthy, was and continues to be, a very traditional man, in his thoughts, beliefs and philosophy. He was very short-tempered and couldn’t keep a job but he was also extremely skilled. He used to repair cameras and was so good that people from across the country and even tourists, would come to Bangalore to seek him out. His name had spread purely through word of mouth.

What was your childhood like?

Growing up, my older sister and I, were looked after by a nanny because my mother worked as a Kannada high school teacher, to support the family. I don’t remember my father ever playing with me or spending time with me. He never read me stories or anything but he did teach me technical stuff. I looked up to him because he was the figurehead. I was much closer to my mother.

What did you learn from your father?

At one time, I had many conflicts with my father. My father views everything through the lens of his culture, his community and his traditions. My values, choices (including my choice of life partner), even my work, are very different. But as I grew older, I realised the value of my father’s work ethic, honesty and dedication to his skill. Today, I realise he will not change. We agree to disagree. I know that some of his beliefs are the result of his upbringing. And I respect him because without him, I wouldn’t be what I am.

How do you differ from your dad?

My wife Radhika and I have twin toddlers, Leela and Sarayu. Unlike my father, I consciously engage with my girls. I like being hands-on with them, putting their hair in ponytails (though they say their mom does it better!), preparing their food and so on. After they were born, I took paternity leave and was a stay-at-home dad for a while. I love taking the girls to lakes and parks, to show them how nature works. And unlike my dad, I believe my childrens’ lives are their own. They have the right to lead independent lives. 

Give them space. Let them be

Rajesh Venugopalan, Microbiologist-Turned-Entrepreneur, Hyderabad

Things I Do Differently From My Dad

Tell us something about your father.

My father, M Venugopalan, was a scientist at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He is an ethical, highly respected man, very civic minded and he is a huge inspiration in my life.

What was your childhood like?

I have three older sisters. Ours was a happy childhood but yes, my parents had high expectations of us all -- that we will excel academically. It was a no-questions-asked kind of approach that we had with my dad. And in the 1980s, there were not too many career choices available -- you either became a doctor or an engineer. So, that was expected of us as well. And yet, growing up in the IISc campus was wonderful. My father and I did many things together, he was also very supportive of any sports activity I took up.

What did you learn from your father?

My father encouraged my interest in science. In fact, he used to bring me science textbooks from the Institute library. Those were so much more interesting than my boring school textbooks! He also encouraged my love for sports and taught me to be always ethical and honest.

How do you differ from your dad?

My wife Aparna and I have one son, Ajay. As parents, we both consider all-round development to be important. We don’t place too much emphasis on marks alone. I went to a mainstream school but we have put Ajay in an alternate school in Hyderabad. Aparna and I are both very involved in our son’s life. We believe we must nurture his value system, give him exposure to art and culture, science and reading. We believe he will choose his own career and that once he discovers what he is passionate about, he will perform. And as a dad, I am not as strict as my own father was! I give my son space. I let him be.

Looking for expert tips and interesting articles on parenting? Subscribe now to our magazine. Connect with us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube