As a lifestyle journalist for the last fifteen years, I have written mostly about health, food and social issues for leading English dailies like the Times of India, The Hindu and presently I am working with the Outlook magazine. I have written about parenting extensively for all the publications that I have worked for even before becoming a mom. My colleagues used to make fun and used to say how motherhood is going to be a cake walk for me. I have always considered parenting to be my primary job. So when Rupa publication asked me to write this book, I thought this will be the best way to pen down my experiences. This book holds a very special place in my heart since parenting is a topic that I can relate to even with my eyes closed.
There is another reason my book ‘Are You Over Parenting?’ is close to my heart. When my husband, who is in the Indian Navy, got transferred to Russia, my son was just 41-days old. I was a new parent and that too in an alien country and bitter weather to beat. Managing everything on my own and single parenting most of the time, I have learnt parenting the harder way. The bond that I have now developed with my son is something that I am proud of. I have realised during my stay in Russia when I was single-handedly managing my new born and adjusting to the weather that anything you give your heart and soul to, be it parenting or your job, you are bound to be happy with the outcome.
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From a full-time lifestyle journalist, I became the master cleaner of poop and puke. There were days when being a mother used to give me those euphoric feelings and it was followed by those sinking moments. The day he was born, I knew I am going to be the slave of this cherubic, bubble blowing pink ball. Those were the days when he used to influence every decision of my life and I don’t think much has changed even today. Freedom, self-indulgence and career took a back seat and I became an expert in baby babble. I won’t say that I am not enjoying motherhood, but it has its own ups and down and one should be prepared for it before taking the plunge.
I have written about parenting extensively for all the publications that I have worked for even before becoming a mom.
Those initial few days when we shifted to Russia as a new mother was the toughest period of our married life. There were days, I used to sink into depression, but motherhood made me stronger and smarter. I learnt how to breast feed my baby as I was doing the cooking. And the best thing about single parenting is I know my child inside out.
There were days when I over fed my child, but I learnt from my mistakes. And like all other parents I also suffered from the same pressures and fears. I spoke to many parents and also child psychologists and teachers to get their views on parenting. I would love to hear from parents of special kids as I have dedicated a chapter for special kids, a topic which needs to be handled with a lot of sensitivity and care.
If you have read my writings on parenting in leading publications, you will find the style similar in the book. Like a journalist and most importantly a mom who is a journalist, I like to justify my writing with quotes from experts.
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I feel every stage of parenting has its own share of highs and lows and there are actually no theories to bring up kids. We live in an age of hyper-information which is the main cause of our confusion and we end up doing hyper-parenting. This book is for every new age parent who is confused. The book looks at how over-involvement can lead to harming the child in the long run. I am no expert but I realized that my experience as a mother and also as a professor of media studies helped me understand young minds. My younger colleagues ask for suggestions for a lot of things, especially their careers and their personal life.
This book is for every new age parent who is confused. The book looks at how over-involvement can lead to harming the child in the long run.
In one of the chapters, I also talk about how parents should take care of themselves. I learnt this the hard way when I was diagnosed with life threatening disease called sepsis. The doctors had to say that my body was giving signals, but probably I was not paying attention to it because I was so busy doing my duties in the perfect possible way. Being an urban working mom, whose husband is not around most of the time during his growing up years of the child is not easy task. I learnt a lesson that I need to be fit first to take care of my kid.
To all the parents out there, I want to convey that while parents’ love for their kids is undeniable, we as parents should not be over ambitious. Wanting them to do well is not wrong but remember that your child is not your possession! If you nag over every small thing of our child and want everything for them and by them to be done to perfection, then that is a sign of hyper-parenting. So, let’s solve the riddle of parenting together!
But who are these new age parents you may ask? The new age parents expect the best- be it the child’s behaviour or performance. This is because the society expects them to excel. This forces parents to emphasise more on short term goals than long term goals, which improve the confidence of a child. We forget that excess involvement in our child’s life can impede emotional and mental growth of the kid.
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Can we not admit that at some point of time we are overdoing our jobs as parents? Although well intended, we don’t realize when to stop the urge to parent in order to secure their lives. We all want the best for our children but it is time that we should just let go.
Many parents today feel that being a parent is like a full-time job. We have been programmed to believe that that the ticket for their kid’s success is in their hands. In fact, the preparation to bring up the perfect child starts even before they are born. Parents are turning their kids into mini robots and scheduled slaves.
In one of the chapters, I also talk about how parents should take care of themselves. I learnt this the hard way when I was diagnosed with life threatening disease called sepsis.
I believe that over parenting reflects in the parent’s desire to manage every single decision of their child and not giving a scope for them to decide what they like or what they dislike. As parents we all have our high days and low days, times when we are proud of our parenting and again times when we are totally embarrassed of the way we have brought up our kids.
There was a time when I used to make my son participate in each and every competition that took place in school starting from fancy dress, to painting, elocution, and even stressing on academic based functions like Math-o-fun and Spell-O-fun. Although my son was always interested in sports, we wanted him to paint and also play the piano. We never realised that there is no fun left in the competitions if a child is pushed to participate in every single thing. I didn’t even bother to ask if he was happy doing it. I thought he was too young and I wanted him to be an all-rounder in everything. Today I regret about the fact that I had pushed him too hard to do things which he didn’t really enjoy.
When he told us one day that that piano was something you wanted me to play and that I liked playing games and sports in my free time, it was a total eye-opener for us. I started to ask myself – was I actually ruling his life? Was I getting into the power struggle for every little thing? Am I one of those parents who struggle to allow the child to make his own choices? Am I one of those parents who jump into the rescue of my child whenever I get the faintest of feeling that he is failing in something? Am I overburdening my children with my own failed dreams? I sat peacefully and asked and re-asked myself. The answers to all these questions were a loud and clear ‘YES’. The bottom line to this is – I was over parenting. I was stunting the growth of my child by over protecting and over indulging him.
In this book, I share from my experiences of being a mother of a thirteen-year-old and try to explain how I resisted the impulse of being a hyper parent in the hope that it is going to help you too. My advice, which is just an advice, is to make your kid’s childhood simple and uncomplicated.
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Lachmi Deb Roy has been a lifestyle journalist for over fifteen years. Her book Are You Overparenting has been published by Rupa Publications. The views expressed are the author’s own.