Balance October 2017 - 35

H E S AY S

NIHAL
Off the record:

How important is it for a Dad to say 'I love you' to his son? Nihal Arthanayake
reflects on the influence his father's approach had on his own ideas of parenting
photography by WI LL I REL A ND

T

en years ago, I first became a parent
and as each year passes, I become
more conscious of the fact that I
have helped mould two mini human beings.
They have traits I find annoying but recognise
in myself. However, rather than blame myself, I
tell them to not be so annoying and absolve all
responsibility.
I'd like to make it clear that these traits do
not involve the torturing of living creatures
or the hero worship of Kim Jong-un.
After the birth of my first child in November
2007, I quickly became my dad. By that I don't
mean I started wearing slacks and comfortable
sandals, using Brylcreem or falling asleep in
armchairs with a copy of The Times adorning
my lap. But there was a gradual drift into the
patriarchal mindset that since I have to go out
and provide, I should take no active interest
in the mundane non-financial activities
associated with looking after a baby. No night
feeds, very little changing of nappies, and bath
time only when I had the time.

GROOMING: RICHARD HARVEY

GENERATION GAP
While I was waiting for the 1970s to call and
ask for the return of its attitudes to parenting,
my wife decided to explain to me a few home
truths. Namely that if I carried on like this I
wouldn't have a home to come back to.
There are few more destabilising things
than being stripped of the illusions you had
about yourself. I was young (ish), worked in the
media, was well travelled and liked Japanese
food. How could a person like me not be a
model hands-on dad?!
But I was also a product of the environment I
grew up in. This is not to diss my late father. He
was an extraordinary man who I loved dearly
and miss every day. But he was from a different
generation. He wasn't even in the room when
either my brother or I were born.

He was very much the breadwinner, who
paid for most things, but did not do laundry
or ironing, hoovering or polishing. He
cooked only when my mum worked the night
shift, every weekend at the local hospital.

Shout back
@therealnihal
@BalanceLDN

CAN'T BUY ME LOVE
Recently on my BBC Radio 5 Live show, I hosted
a phone-in about the relationship between
fathers and sons. Whether it was important for
a father to say 'I love you' to his son.
My father never said he loved us once. But
don't be sad - I knew he did. He exhibited

I WAS YOUNG (ISH), WORKED IN
THE MEDIA, WAS WELL TRAVELLED
AND LIKED JAPANESE FOOD.
HOW COULD A PERSON LIKE ME
NOT BE A MODEL HANDS-ON DAD?
that love through deed not word. By his care and
protection, counsel and guidance.
That afternoon, I heard from so many men who'd
had terrible relationships with their fathers. What
was heartwarming was how those
I spoke to were determined to
make sure their own progeny
would not grow up in a similar
environment. A whole new
generation of boys were
being told that love was not
a word to be shunned, or feel
embarrassed to utter. What's
not to love about that? B
Nihal hosts Afternoon Edition
on BBC Radio 5 Live, 1pm-4pm,
Monday to Thursday, and the
Asian Network's Big Debate
from 10am-1pm on Friday.

October 2017 BA LA N CE

35



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance October 2017

Balance October 2017 - 1
Balance October 2017 - 2
Balance October 2017 - 3
Balance October 2017 - 4
Balance October 2017 - 5
Balance October 2017 - 6
Balance October 2017 - 7
Balance October 2017 - 8
Balance October 2017 - 9
Balance October 2017 - 10
Balance October 2017 - 11
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