Fatherhood, A Casualty of Conventions

This blog is for those of us who miss and/or have missed their father’s active participation and/or attention in their lives. It is also for the fathers who think their children, who they work so hard for, are more closer to their mothers and do not share an as good rapport with them. This blog is also for the mothers who want their spouse and offsprings to share a bond better than it is right now. All those who don’t fit in any of these categories may stop reading here.

What are your best childhood memories? I am sure many of those memories would be those rare parent-child things you got to do with your father.

Why did I write rare? They were rare because our fathers were mostly either too busy working outside home and earning a living for the family or they were too tired after a day’s work to play with us or help us do our homework. We probably never even expected them to do those tasks because fathers, the men of the houses weren’t supposed to do those.

If they did have time and there was a moment when they were needed by the children, they were hardwired to not show us their feelings and emotions and if we did sit down to talk, it was mostly critical appraisal of our behavior or misdoings and moral preaching, that we got.

So those times were very few when we hugged, laughed, played, had simple funny times or experienced mushy moments with our personal superheroes.

When I think of my early years’ fondest recollections, I think of my father cooking an occasional delicacy for us, our once a year one day trip to visit the temples in our state (this was the only annual trip when he accompanied us), when he went with me for my admission in the University, when he once told me that it tormented him whenever he saw me crying, when he couldn’t eat the good homemade food thinking that I must be eating awful hostel food, when he occasionally spoiled me bad by indulging my reasonable and sometimes unreasonable wishes.

These memorable instances were very scarce and sparse, when I got to feel my father’s love and affection for his favorite offspring and how I wish that there very many many more such times to hold onto especially when heavens didn’t grant me many years with my favorite parent.

These countable on fingertips occasions are few not because your or my father wasn’t emotional, loved us less or didn’t want to be around us more than he did but because of the stereotypes that are attached with being a man and a father.

Here are some of those cliched conventions:

  • Men have to be strong and unemotional.
  • It’s a man’s job to earn for his family.
  • Men can’t cry or have a sentimental meltdown.
  • It isn’t a man’s job to do household chores.
  • Fathers have to be strict and discipline their children.
  • Fathers only have to provide comforts and materials to their children.
  • Either they have to be critical of their progeny, else they become spoiled or spoil them with stuff at the end of a work day.
  • All else is a mother’s job.

Because of these stereotypes, fatherhood and its role in a child’s life hasn’t changed much with the changes in generations. In today’s times when women are better equipped to earn and are earning and hence sharing or are capable of sharing the bread earning responsibility, when there are just one or two children and enough opportunities to play, travel, bond together, fathers are still shy of expressing love, spending quality time with the young ones and being more supportive and less critical.

It is an established fact that children benefit from quality presence and active involvement of their fathers in their day to day lives. Children who have involved fathers do well academically, have lesser behavior issues, are not delinquents, are physically fitter, are emotionally more stable, are less prone to anxiety and depression in their adulthood.

But more than the children, the fathers will gain from the increased camaraderie.

Fathers are as human and sentimental and sometimes even more than their female counterparts. The more involved father gets a much needed emotional outlet which can be the best medicine and de stressor for him.

Ever wondered why men are more prone to heart attacks, hypertension and depression. There are high chances that an involved father who doesn’t keep himself bottled up will be spared from these deadly ailments.

Fathers too need love and being involved gets them their share of love from their young ones, the love which they can never earn with the money they make but only with the time they spend with the kids.

The counsel, advice and guidance is more naturally accepted by the growing up adolescents when fathers have been involved from the very early years. In the opposite cases the teenagers mostly find their father’s new interest in their youthful lives intrusive and annoying. In such cases the youngsters don’t listen to their best guides and the poor fathers feel unwanted and isolated.

So what should the superheroes sans capes do? It’s very simple.

  • Break some stereotypes. Do a fresh appraisal of your own childhood and see what your own father could do more or differently.
  • Feel entitled to the love and companionship of the tiny or now not so tiny bundles of joys and earn it with more quality time spending.
  • Make time to attend all their meets, activities, drive them to their classes as often as you can, cook for and with them, find your common passions and pursue them together. Have some pure father child rituals and times.
  • Give some break to your alpha male and let out your beta father and spouse.
  • Be more expressive of your love and emotions. Let your child know how much he/she means to you.
  • Be an authoritative parent who empathizes, communicates and disciplines only when required and not an authoritarian parent who only demands obedience and discipline
  • Treat your wife as an ally in the upbringing of your child. Seek her help, ask for inputs and feedback and make amends. Stop showing each other down. You are not competition, you are collaborators when it comes to rearing the lives you created.
  • Relish the newfound role.

Parenting is God’s way of giving us another chance to relive and relive well. Fatherhood can be as rewarding and rejoicing as is motherhood. It’s high time when some role reversals happened, for everyone’s sake. Fathers need to shed some command and control to gain more space and stature in the young lives and hearts. Remember, the hands-on fathers are the happiest fathers and happier fathers are better than wealthier fathers.

Lives Matter

Whenever a famous celebrity or a well known personality takes the most drastic and tragic step and commits suicide, people wake up to the aotherwise shunned subject and start wondering that why someone so successful and famous had to resort to this extreme action. If you too are wondering, “Why does someone take his own (otherwise much loved) life?”, then read till the end.

When someone loses all hope, gets engulfed in sorrow and feels worthless and miserable for bit longer than his endurance and is not snapped out of the feeling by someone or something, suicide happens.

“I have always believed that suicide is an accident because it is sudden and mostly a momentary decision.”

If someone is lucky, the moment of agony may pass and life may resume and eventually become better. Those who aren’t lucky on that day and time may not be pulled out of the trance at the exact moment and hell happens.

Many of us may have had that fleeting feeling at some point of time but either an internal voice or an external help might have helped the moment pass and here we are, well and alive.

“What is unfortunate, is not falling in the abyss of gloom at occasions, but not being pulled out before sense prevails.”

What should anyone do at such times of hopelessness when life feels like an unbearable pain and the desire to free self from the pain starts overpowering all love for life and logic?

If you are someone or know someone who gets such self-harming thoughts at times, do or tell the person to do the following.

  • If ever that feeling raises its ugly head, immediately get in touch with someone and talk your heart out. If one person isn’t available try contacting another person but reach out immediately.
  • Even if all is well these days still confide in to your closest people that you experience such thoughts on your rough days. It is absolutely okay to confess and ask someone to look out for signs and also to look out for you.
  • Take professional help to learn how to deal with the lows of life. This is the permanent solution. You need to learn to be stronger mentally and emotionally. There are experts who can understand your psyche and transform you into someone who will never think of ending his precious life.

Here I will share my thoughts on what is the biggest cause of such emotional weakness that leads to our emotional breakdown. The foremost reason for our depressed state of mind is dependence.

  • Dependence on people for love, attention, affection, support, companionship, etc.
  • Dependence on materials to feel accomplished and successful.
  • Dependence on success for feeling worthy.
  • Dependence on substance and toxins to feel good or happy.
  • Dependence on social approvals to feel good about self.

People who seek happiness, sense of worth, love, companionship, support from external sources are the weakest emotionally. It’s like others have the switch to your happiness and lack of it and what if these others are unavailable or insensitive to the person’s needs or rather than helping, start tormenting. Then breakdown occurs.

The recent tragedy is most probably an example of someone seeking love and support from a fraternity that is most competitive and very selectively supportive. When the sought out acceptance did not come, depression took hold of the mind and in that one weak moment when the mind felt completely lost and no help was available, life got lost.

Now everyone is blaming the people for being insensitive, unaccepting, nepotistic, closed to outsiders and what all. These are not some special species of self-centered snobs. In reality such people are everywhere. In schools, colleges, workplaces, offices, social circles, family groups, everywhere. Groupings happen everywhere and there are some lowly, lonely souls who do not get included in those groups.

It is definitely an insensitive thing to do but it happens. In the name of common interests, backgrounds; common friends; old relations, familiarities; same social, economic status; eliteness; whatever, but people form groups. This elite gathering then even indulge in mocking, bullying, ridiculing the lesser ones.

Unfortunately those on the sidelines seek approval from the same groups. They seek love and acceptance from their haters. Why? Because sadly they are usually the idols. It’s them that everyone wants to become. The unaccepting, uncaring, self indulging, mocking, jeering, shallow and hollow yet classy, successful, suave, good-looking people are the superstars everyone is chasing and intends to become. So their approval and acceptance matters.

Everyone wants to be a part of some such group and hence is running the race. Either one gets into the league or doesn’t. Those who gain the elite entry lose one’s own good self in the process. Those who don’t lose all hope and sometimes life.

Why do we have to be someone else or a part of those who don’t love us for who we are? Why can’t people see and love their own qualities and be proud and not seek anyone’s validation of them? Rather than following others’ trends and footprints why don’t they create their own mark to be modeled by others like them? Why need the coveted entry to a classy club? Why not form your own less classy but a more mature, intellectual, down to earth group that doesn’t look down on people rather works for some higher purpose? Why not prefer being alone than chasing hollow illusions and dummy appearances?

Read it, reread it and think about it. We are here to love and live our precious lives. We are perfect the way we are and with what we have. Strive to do and be better if that pleases you but don’t lose yourself in the process. Find the love, hope and strength inside the depths of your own being. When you do that you will see that divinity has become your ally and is guiding you to your rightful place.

Let’s be more mindful of our lives and the lives around us because, black or white, classy or non-classy, lives matter.

My Wishes For My Girls.

“Que sera sera. Whatever will be, will be.”

A song I heard for the first time when I was a little girl. At the time, I did not at all understand what it meant, but it somehow remained with me and now I very often find myself singing it to my girls.

The song means what is meant to happen, will happen. On one hand I understand the reality of this sentence but on the other my mother’s heart doesn’t stop wishing for all that’s best for her beloved children. There are a million things that I hope for, when I think of my daughters’ future.

First of all, I want both of them to have a very positive view of life. Their lives will have their shares of ups and downs, good days and bad days, victories and failures but in any situation they find themselves in, I wish that they see an affirmative reason and outcome at the end of it.

Besides being positive, they must be pragmatic too while dealing with what life serves them and always find ways to make something beautiful and worthwhile out of whatever they have.

I wish them both to be believers. Believers of God, goodness, miracles, love, happy endings. Those who believe find it easier to be hopeful, happy and at peace with life.

When they grow up I wish them to be at peace with their life and to never be tormented by any demons from their past. I want them to experiences life closely and learn from it but my mother’s heart wishes to shield them from any ugly and frightful incidents and if there’s ever any such troubling event I wish they learn their lessons and move on with more strength and wisdom.

I wish them to be intellectuals and deep thinkers, someone with ideals and strong beliefs. They must be strong minded and not submissive or meek followers.

I hope the seeker in them connects with the depths of their minds and souls and they learn to live a life with consciousness and mindfulness.

A superficial and shallow life is a wasted life. I wish them to feel, think, reflect and contemplate deeply and then stand by what they think and feel. They should question what is not acceptable to them and not conform to norms and prejudices just to fit in. They should rather enjoy being different and influence those around them.

I wish them to be distinctive and original yet open to new ideas and knowledge. They should know people with different views and ideologies and engage in healthy discussions and exchanges. They must be willing to learn, adapt, change and evolve when they come across a better way of life.

I wish they have many good friends and nourish and cherish friendships that are fun, inspiring and are there for life. I hope they enjoy great bonds with good people from all over the world and inspire and be inspired to live a good life.

I wish they remain their beautiful selves, both inside and outside. They should be elegant and delightful but more than that they must be kind and empathetic.

I wish they turn their passions into professions and love and enjoy what they do. Hope they never make their living at the cost of living a happy and fulfilled life,earn enough to live comfortably and to afford the experiences they want and know that money is just a means to life and not a measure of their worth.

I wish they never forget the value of education and be well educated as well as well-read. May they never cease to love their best friends, the books and remain avid book lovers for life.

I wish they have an adventurous streak in them and should enjoy all the exciting, adrenaline pumping feats and adventures of the world. And to enjoy those escapades, stay at the peak of their health and fitness.

May they have an eternal love for traveling just like their mother does and see and explore the whole world and then find that one place they can happily call their home.

I wish they find people worthy of their love and trust and take little chances if and when their hearts tell them to but never cease to believe in love if their hearts ever get broken.

And above all else I hope they love themselves more than anything or anyone and know that no one has the right to make them feel less or unworthy. I hope they value their precious lives, dignity, respect and worth more than anyone especially those who can’t value the same.

It’s a mother’s wish that her girls, her princesses shall grow up and live life like worthy queens. I hope they rule their own small worlds and always know that they have one another world that was, is and will always be for them to rule. Their mommy and daddy’s hearts and home will forever remain theirs and they will be always welcome to be back and be our eternal little princesses.

Bond Over A Shared Passion.

These days, we often hear parents complaining that their growing up children are mostly engrossed in their routines and they don’t spend much time together. Couples are struggling in relationships and the mother of the problem is not investing enough time in each other.

Reason is simple.

In this fast paced life, where everyone has a lot going on in their work spheres, lifestyle routines and busy social lives, spending quality time together for any two people is a dream.

People these days have so much to do for themselves apart from the usual day’s work. The fitness program to stay in good shape is important and so is staying updated with news from all over the world. Social networking is unavoidable and staying abreast on all Netflix series and shows is a new compulsion.

Novel interests of baking, painting, photography, YouTubing, Instagramming as well as old ones like reading and writing are contagious, so easily find place in our busy lives.

So in our busy lives, there is an office time, zen time, fun time, social time, and even the quintessential ‘me’ time but there is no ‘you and me’ time. That being so, relationships are withering and people especially life partners and parents who seek affection are feeling unloved and abandoned.

Today everyone has a lot of personal space with all the personal means like a personal income, phone, TV, room, car and circle of friends and hence there is no dependence or even need of bumping into each other.

But is it a lot of personal space or actually a huge, invisible boundary between the relationships, which could only exist and flourish, if there was some sort of dependence on one another?

The lack of time and over self-indulgence is causing deterioration of bonds between the closest ones. Hence, there is a need like never before to invent a new work-life balance equation, that has a place for the ignored dear ones in it.

There is an easy way to do it and that is to bond over one or more shared interests. Yes. There are too many interests and hobbies in everyone’s life so why not do some of the daily ‘to do list’ together. Don’t forsake the newfound passions or your life partner, just find out the common interests. If you are a parent, find some shared passions with your young ones.

So here goes the list. Read it and discover your common calling.

If you are a fitness freak, have joint work out sessions. If you both are cyclists, go out together on your favorite route, watch the stunning sunrise, challenge each other for a race and come home exhausted yet full of exuberance.

The creative ones can bond over the masterpieces or projects you can do together or help each other do better.

The culinary enthusiasts can bond over their favorite cuisines and occasionally cook a multi course menu and feed the gang or own clan and be applauded.

The nature lovers can grow and nourish plants and themselves, watch birds, go for nature walks and find solace in the greens in unison.

The readers can read together, exchange book reviews, tell tales, discuss plots and characters and engage in intellectual insights that this breed does have in abundance.

The dance lovers can boogie to the beats, perform a Zumba, salsa, Bhangra or whatever their heart desire.

The music lovers can have recitals, go to concerts, form own band, have karaoke evenings and if nothing listen to their favorite melodies and distress on the rug together.

The list is endless. Binge watch, have movie marathons, play domino or cards if that’s your calling, do anything but do it almost daily and do it together.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this list and could easily envision myself bonding with those who I call my family over our common obsessions. I am someone for whom my ‘me time’ has always been sacrosanct but so is the need to share my time and life with those who I call mine.

Life inside home in these times have proved that family is the new friends, our babies are our new buddies and spouse is the second self. So invest in them and insure your precious partnerships for life!!!

People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Living With A Stubborn Child.

The most interesting work for parenting coaches is to work with parents who have stubborn children. They come to us tired and exhausted because of the constant conflicts they have with their unyielding youngsters. Their common concerns are “My child doesn’t listen to me”, “She doesn’t do what I tell her to do”, “He won’t budge once he has said no to something.”

What makes a child stubborn? Why do you think children defy their parents? Why don’t they simply obey what they are asked to do? There are reasons why stubborn people resist any command or advice given to them and are determined to do as they want. Stubbornness may look like a bad quality but the reason why someone is stubborn is, in reality, a blessing.

“Stubbornness is not a problem but the strength of mind. People who are independent thinkers and have beliefs and opinions of their own, appear to be adamant. They are actually directed by their own inner intellect and that is why they find it difficult to follow external orders. They are not defiant, they are just more intelligent.”

Unfortunately, the most superior quality of human brain is not well appreciated because our society expects children to conform and follow and not question the conventions. The established norm is that parents know it all and the children must comply with them and those who don’t are labeled difficult, stubborn, defiant, obstinate, etc. I prefer to call them, if I have to call them something, willful and strong headed which to me are compliments, not bad names.

“It is a good quality to be independent and inwardly intelligent and someone who is that will have own preferences and choices.”

If your child wants to watch T.V. now and study later it is because his mind is telling him to do that. If you tell him to do otherwise he may not listen, not because he doesn’t respect you or enjoys defying you but because his mind doesn’t want that.

So what to do if you have a child like that? First of all, be happy to know that your child has a working head in its place. That son of your friend who follows all that his mother tells him to do is the good obedient boy because his own mind doesn’t guide him. He may seem too good now but will be all trouble later when your friend’s influence will wane off and some not so good influence will replace it. So don’t compare your unmoving bull with the meek cow as your current troubles are nothing in front of what awaits the other ‘now happy’ mother.

Now let me again count your blessings.

  • Your child is more intelligent, even intellectual. Stop criticizing him and pay attention to his/her qualities.
  • Your child is independent and doesn’t need to hold on to someone all the times.
  • Your child doesn’t copy others and doesn’t get influenced by others easily.
  • Your child has better mental processes like memory, decision making, etc. as brain improves with more usage.
  • Your child is a deep thinker and not superficial. He is unique and not just a second hand copy of someone.

If at all he is a copy then he is your copy. Either you or your spouse or you both were the same difficult youngsters and your parents too complained like you do now. In fact, your problem is not just your stubborn child but the stubborn you versus the stubborn child. So don’t fight your own self but be empathetic and just accept the fact that you have another mature mind in your house. And in case the disagreement persists, learn to give in and accept new viewpoints. There are definitely times when it is important for you to be heard. At those times, follow these smart tips.

  1. Just give suggestions and don’t preach.
  2. Say it in a story or through an example.
  3. Don’t give orders but options.
  4. Negotiate and reach a win-win outcome.
  5. Treat him/her as a mature person and give responsibilities.

“Remember, not all fights are worth fighting and winning. Let your strong willed child have his/her way, occasionally fail or fall, learn lessons and then change permanently and that will be his/her transformation and it will be lasting.”

I know all this because I am living with a stubborn child and I love every bit of it.

When The Journey Began…

Whenever I think of writing, it’s my own story or some part of it that comes first to my mind. Not because I am self infatuated or narcissistic, but because it has been quite an interesting journey and I feel worth sharing too. As the entire journey can’t be shared on a blog, I am choosing to share the part that may interest my readers.

I once said, “If my life is ever chronicled I would want it to be in two parts- before and after Princess’s birth.” Princess is my first born’s name and bringing her to this world changed my entire world. Motherhood to me came as my salvation as the restless soul inside me found its purpose.

I don’t remember ever being fond of kids. Being the youngest sibling myself I never had to live with someone younger than me. As a child I had lived quite a pampered life and never even showered few tiny bits of affection on anyone’s cute munchkin. I was actually so childish that when I got pregnant I remember my friends joking that a child was going to have a child. And maybe that’s the reason the transformation was so apparent.

When I held the little bundle of my own flesh and blood in my hands for the first time, I said to my husband, “I don’t know anything about being a mother.” The conscious acknowledgement of my complete lack of knowledge and expertise in my new role of a mother initially made me develop cold feet. I knew just one thing that I knew nothing. The advices I got from all quarters were overwhelming and sometimes terrifying. I knew everyone wished well but I was determined to find out the best ways to do everything.

So soon the reader in me started to soak up all that I could on the subject. In all the free time I had between the feeds and the naps I frequented the parenting websites and devoured relevant books to learn the tricks of the world’s most difficult job. From how to hold her, feed her, deciphering her crying, knowing what the color of her poop meant, to the importance of burping, reasons for her hiccups, checking her milestones, setting sleep routines, introduction of foods, learning logics behind what her doctor said, I think I tried to know it all.

The initial curiosity to learn the basics later led to reading about the child’s behavior and psychology and that’s when I found my calling. The more I read the more I started understanding myself, the world around me and off course the one everything began for, at the first place. Understanding the human behavior fascinated the seeker inside me so much that when Princess was one year old I quit my high paying corporate job to study and later practice my current profession as a psychologist and a parenting coach.

Please note that the journey I intend to share with you is not of professional change and growth. Not everyone should and will change jobs after becoming a parent. What I wish to share and probably inspire you with is my personal growth.

Motherhood transformed the insecure, short-tempered, naive, pampered, stubborn child inside me into a mature adult and the process is still on. I was a very difficult person and was not at all sorted emotionally. I had my reasons but didn’t know a way to change things. Now I know that the child in me needed to be given a responsibility and luckily I didn’t waste the chance I was given. I was conscious of my shortcomings and didn’t want my child to know them. With years of practicing mindfulness and self management techniques I have come a long way and now nothing easily deters my peaceful existence. (To tell the truth I still enjoy being childish, playfully with my little ones.)

In our whole lives we all go from one stage to another and then to the next one and I have always felt that in every new stage we need to change and evolve. We all have several imprints on our minds and beings, of our genes, our caregivers, our handlers, our faulty learnings and acquired or formed beliefs. We need to unlearn all the wrong learnings and unload all the clutter that we inherit or acquire when we enter a new phase. That is what is called adaptation and adaptation is required in any new environment. Be it marriage, child birth, professional shift or change, a loss or tragedy, life gives us many reasons to adapt and grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. With every phase come new environment, roles and responsibilities and thus the opportunity to evolve. Honestly how you are doing in your various roles and positions today depend on how much you altered your being.

I myself didn’t make much of some opportunities that came before so I suffered but luckily good sense prevailed when motherhood knocked my door. I can say that my attempt to become a good mother made me a better human being. Now I also know that there’s nothing like a perfect mother and especially now that the little bundle has become a teen I on some days get the title of the worst mother too. But I am still happy and madly in love with my precious first born because all that is a part of the beautiful journey called motherhood.

Thanks for reading my heartfelt reflections. These were just my journey’s introduction to you. Through my musings I wish to share my experiences both as a mother as well as a Parenting Coach and a Psychologist.

Keep reading and happy evolving!!!