PARENTING SOMA BASU becomes a wiser mother after attending the launch of the magazine ‘Parent Circle'

I am experiencing the inevitable, which parents, particularly moms, both love and hate – bringing up pre-teen kids. In a newly-published magazine called “Parent Circle”, I recently read a candid account of Radhika, a Chennai-based full-time mother, who went back to work because she realised she needed time for herself: “I never expected to feel this way, sometimes I do not enjoy being a mom.” In the same issue, Smitha Bhaskar, an interior designer and a mother of two, writes: “I read somewhere that every homemaker gets about 26 minutes of ‘me' time but I am grappling to find that.”

Instinctive

Parenting, people say, is instinctive. But I try to attend as many workshops and meetings as possible to listen to experts and widen my horizon of the do's and don'ts. This weekend was one such occasion when I returned with lots of tips after attending the meeting convened to introduce “Parent Circle” in Madurai. It is a theme-based magazine first released in Chennai four months ago. After listening to editor-in-chief Nalina Ramalakshmi on how to be not a perfect but just a good mom, when to say yes or no to your kid, how much freedom or appreciation is too much, I was once again recharged to change my approach towards my six- and 12-year-olds.

When I returned home, I wished I had stayed out longer. The neat and orderly rooms I had left behind now looked like a battlefield – books, papers and chocolate and biscuit wrappers strewn all over, ink splashed on the floor, glue spilled over, water colour on their clothes, sketch pen art on their body. I begin counting numbers to control my anger. Comes my angelic daughter, holding up a drawing with pride and asking, “Do you think this could be published in Young World?”

Instantly, Nalini's words ring in my mind: “Sometimes you don't find the work of your child attractive because you are judging it through your eyes. Whereas the child has put in his or her time, energy, effort and interest and shows it to you with all joy thinking it to be a masterpiece. Recognise that.”

Everybody talks about good and positive parenting, but there is an equally important need for wise parenting. You accept your child's abilities and celebrate the achievements at every step. There is, of course, much more a parent can learn and the magazine is trying to help. Says Nalini: “My own fights with my two teenaged boys set me thinking and launched me into this venture of bringing together a community of parents, educators and child experts, well-researched articles and opinions.”

Holistic development

The glossy monthly magazine of 60-odd pages, which aims at parents of school-going children, tries to pack in a “healthy mix of content and resource”, building itself around the holistic development of a child. It addresses the physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs of the child and has regular sections on education, health, relationships, technology, socio-environment responsibilities, culture and heritage, activities and lifestyle and humour in parenting.

Observations and feedback from innumerable friends on how “confused” today's parents are, made Nalini weave together this assortment. “Earlier, our upbringing was very strict. Now it is at the other extreme when we, as parents, are friends with our kids. Yet we don't allow them to fight for their own rights,” she notes.

During a slide presentation on the occasion, which was organised by the Madurai Chapter of Soroptimist International, Nalina highlighted several important points for parents who could do with a little advice now and then. “We only need to guide them and prepare them to face life, and, not just make a living. Parents should step back and watch. They should know their child's strengths and weaknesses, support them, work with them in a more understanding way, protect their self-esteem and build their trust and confidence,” she said.

The most important thing, she said, is to always remember that we don't own our kids. She asserted: “Use words with care and do not feed the child on a diet of criticism, blame and comparison. Give them age-appropriate responsibilities. You cannot berate your child for not reading if you do not read yourself.”

And those of them who read might remember this quote of Khalil Gibran: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you, but not from you. Though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. You may house their bodies, but not their souls. You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.”

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012