Envisioning Fatherhood: Indian Fathers' Perceptions of an Ideal Father

The image one forms in his mind about an ideal father may often affect the way he fathers his children. The present paper therefore aims to study the behavioural and psychological characteristics that define an ideal father. Responses were gathered regarding attributes of an ideal father through both open-ended and closed-ended questions. Urban Indian fathers (N=350) who had at least one child aged 10 years or younger were asked what it means to be an ideal father. Seven dimensions of the fathering role were identified: (a) Caretaker, (b) Surety, (c) Economic Provider, (d) Playmate and friend, (e) Role model, (f) Family head, and (g) Resource. The findings revealed that caretaking was viewed as one of the most important attributes of an ideal father. Nevertheless, a noticeable proportion of men believed ideal fathers to be surety, economic provider, and/or role model. The study further attempted to find out whether these men viewed themselves as an ideal father and the problems faced by them in being an ideal father. The relationship of fathers' characteristics with their perception of themselves as an ideal father has also been examined.