While many recognise stand-up comedian Amit Tandon as the ‘Married Man’, not many know about him as the strict father of two. Amit has performed over 1,200 comedy shows in all the major cities in India and has been travelling to foreign locales for his stage shows. In an exclusive email interaction with Express Parenting, Amit talks about changing trends, his attitude as a father and comparison with western parenting. Excerpts:
How much has parenting changed from the time when you were growing up?
It has changed a lot. Now, parenting is treated as a science and kids are treated as subjects, to be handled very carefully. So people look for different kinds of formulae on how to bring up the kids, how to take care of their diet. They just don’t leave the kids alone and let them grow up naturally. And that is where parenting has changed. There is too much interference in the natural growth of a child by the parents.
What is the biggest challenge of parenting in the current age?
I think the biggest challenge in the current age is to ensure that you stay away from too many formulas, too much advice and too many books and articles that are written about parenting. It is intimidating to parents because there is access to too much information of all the potential risks that a child could be faced with due to the usage of mobile phones, or because of eating out or drinking contaminated water or impact of a bad company or seeing somebody smoking. I think the biggest challenge is to not get impacted by all the information that comes out about parenting.
How much does a married life change after having kids?
It changes a lot. Suddenly, there is a third person that you both are discussing all the time. So 80 per cent of your time is spent on a single subject and that is your kids. Whether it is about their doctors, prescriptions, education or whatever, which sometimes is a great thing, because if we run out of topics to talk about every day, kids bring us together all the time. Like you know your pain brings you together and closer than your joys do and that is what kids do to you!
With you traveling for shows, does it get difficult for your wife to manage alone?
My wife manages most of the things at home and I think she is a real superwoman that way. It is very difficult for her to take care of everything at home but she has been doing a great job of it. The only advantage is that fortunately for us, we are at a position where we can afford a lot of help. So whether it is keeping a driver or getting house help and all of that, which does make a difference, but yes it is not easy for her to manage alone. I am out for almost 200 days a year.
As you have a comic image, does it get difficult to be a strict father?
My comedy is reserved for the stage. I am considered a strict father and, in fact, my kids are more scared of me than my wife. It’s not at all difficult; you just have to ensure that your onstage persona is very different from the one off-stage and you communicate to the kids clearly what is expected of them and what they can expect of us.
You travel to foreign countries, what changes do you see in parenting compared to India?
Well, I think in the western world, parenting is much tougher than in India, because you have lesser help available and you are expected to take your kids for more activities. And they don’t have any help; one parent is almost a designated driver in every house. I think parenting is tougher abroad. But the school curriculum is better and as for the boards in India, I find them very poor. There is too much concentration on mugging up the entire chapter and not on understanding the subjects. Also, somehow there are too many allergies in kids these days when I look at the western world. There are too many kids who are allergic to nuts, etc, and parents have to be really, really sure. They even have to drive their kids for play dates, which I find a weird concept, but I guess that’s the culture.