BOOK REVIEW

Effective parenting

PARENTING FUNCTION: H. L. Kaila; Icon Publications Pvt. Ltd., 4331-32/3, Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 195.

MANY BOOKS about parenting by Western scholars are available in India. But the dire need of the hour is a scientific treatment of the subject by an experienced Indian author and this has been fulfilled now by H.L. Kaila, whose book under review will be a valuable guide to parents who are desperately looking for guidance. This culture-friendly book would surely serve as "a small but bright lamp in the search of perfect parenting at all ages of children."

The author has covered a wide range of issues related to development of value system — personality, sexuality, adolescence, studies, career choice, delinquency and single parenting and the depth of his experience is evident in the interesting illustrations throughout the book. Times have changed; so have the children. Raising children today is more challenging than yesteryears.

The book aims at effecting a paradigm shift in "transforming their attitudes and behaviours from traditional ones to more practical and workable ones."

The author does not seem to believe in loading parents with theoretical constructs; however, pro-active and "democratic" parenting are emphasised through out the book.

In the contemporary times of "collective erosion of human values" Kaila insists rightly upon parental models. He also warns parents about the potential danger of developing sibling rivalry, in the present day lifestyle, as parents indulge on their children. Preventive steps are offered for parents with two or more children.

Emotional health and the components of emotional intelligence are effectively discussed and substantiated with many research findings. Ragging, bullying and bed-wetting being included in a chapter throws light on the emotional dimension of these issues.

On special children and their needs, the author has neatly stated the symptoms and diagnosis of the disorders and has given some guidelines to parents, taking good care not to frighten them.

Chapters dealing with developmental changes in adolescents and related issues on sexuality deserve appreciation, because the author has maintained a just, balanced approach doing a "tightrope walking" in places.

Providing chapters for juvenile delinquency and single parenting reveal the holistic perception of the author.

He instills hope in parents of volatile children that they can be moulded by the team work of parents and teachers and also to single parents who are often not confident of filling the empty space left by the partner.

Perfect parenting may be far-fetched. If parenting is viewed as an art or a skill, it would not sound like a Herculean task or a drab function. Chapters on home studies and examinations could have been condensed to one avoid overlapping.

The chapters on personality development and emotional health again could have been combined, as emotional intelligence, introversion-extroversion and self-esteem are issues connected with personality development. Reward-punishment, freedom and responsibilities, good and responsible parenting are aspects of positive disciplining techniques.

This topic and communication with children are areas that give parents hands-on tips and hence need to be treated separately. Neurological aspects of development in early stages is another area which has not been given due attention.

From the viewpoint of parents, who look for "quick-fix solutions", do's and don'ts would not satisfy them. Hands-on exercises and self-assessment tools would have added more value to the book. The author has quoted researches done in India and other countries wherever possible which validate what he tries to say.

The free flow of narration sprinkled with humour, empathy and parental anger, frustration and other feelings all through, makes reading experiential. Punchlines given in boxes here and there are very powerful. The get of the book is good and it would make an excellent gift for parents.

BRINDA JAYARAMAN

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