Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Active Listening






The oft laid woe of a parent is: 'My child does not listen to me at all.' 

Children complain 'My parents don't understand me at all.

Communication is not a pill to swallow and fix an issue. Communication is a two way process undertaken over a period of time to express oneself and make oneself understood, understand others and decode what they actually mean to say!


Often, authentic communication has never been learned nor attempted. It begins very early and needs consistent fine tuning and must be adaptive with the changing needs of Family. 

 I share three Communication skills that have made our Parenting journey extremely meaningful and poignant. I will try and make it simple.

YOU ARE REQUESTED TO PRACTICE WITH A SPOUSE, COLLEAGUE OR CHILD.

You may write back or join the ongoing workshops to hone these skills. 
It takes practice to build this skill.

 Skill 1 ~ Silence

Your child has much to share. If we observe we often push in the Conversation with our inputs, advice, suggestions, preaching, moralising. This puts the kids off and they clam up.

When the kids are sharing their side. Let them complete their sentences. Very often we interrupt their sentences mid-way to attend to a phone call, check something on the phone or plain get up and go away. This makes the child feel unheard and unloved. To make themselves heard, they then create scenes that you may find unpleasant. You may call them rude outbursts or tantrums. They were mere pleas to be heard. 

Ensure you give your child your undivided attention when he or she brings to you an opportunity to be heard. 

How can you make them feel heard?

Start with the following. 

Physical Postures

While listening with silence. 

Give appropriate Eye Contact

Appropriate means, 

If they share an excitement, eyes twinkle accompanied with smiles.

If  there is a grim aspect, your eyes reflect the intense engagement. 

Give gentle nods of your head, that tells them you are perceiving what they are sharing.

Lean bodily a bit towards them. This communicates that you are engaged and interested.

If your body leans away, it signals your disconnect.

Attitude Set Required

In order to Listen with Silence you need to suspend your judgements, feelings for a while. It means creating a Flexible mindset that is eager to uncover a new aspect of your Child.

Easier said than done.

Do try the skill and share if you could.
If not what happened? Few questions will generate good insights as to 'What was more important that came up? Could it wait? Is it your impatience to sit through while the child strives at explaining and expressing? Are you reaching conclusions on their behalf?' 

Skill 2

Passive Listening

It is not always possible to remain silent when child is speaking, so we employ certain sentences that are encouraging but gives nothing of your mental thinking.

Some handy statements are:

Tell me more about it. 
This is really important to you. 
That is how you feel about it. 
You seem extremely happy/angry/disappointed/sad. 

Physical postures

At times if the child is shedding tears, venting feelings you may hold their hands and gently squeeze them. (This refers to Nurturing and Nourishing the person)

When you do this you express your language of Acceptance and Respect to all that is expressed. We communicate, we accept all that you express without burdening with our inputs. This is where communication is garbled when we butt in with 'You shouldn't feel so hurt!' 

'You must care!' 

'It is not like that!' 

'You are over reacting!' 

'You will be fine soon!' 

'You go and play/watch something!'

In all these statements, you take away the worth of the child's feeling of here and now!

What he is feeling may be transient but is genuine. To hear the pathos or jubilation will go a long way in the child learning to understand and process his feelings deeply. 

Skill 3~ Active Listening

Honest Sharing.

When a child speaks

'I am bored of school.' 

'I don't like that Uncle. '

'I hate writing.' 

There are two components(He is used in generic way)

The words he is using. 

The feeling he is expressing behind those words. 

Often we only hear the words and begin our
Moralising/Preaching

You should not feel that way. Good children like studies.

Commanding/Advising
Don't waste time
Go and study.

Threatening dire circumstances
Do it else...
Don't misbehave.

Interrogating
Something happened at school?
Uncle did something?

The questions put the child on the defensive and ask him to explain.

Feelings are transitory, fleeting but they are important. Child who feels heard, feels valued.

Instead if we were to use the Silence, passive listening we encourage him to say more.

We show that his feelings matter when we pick up 'The feeling'

Sentences we can use to do that:

'I don't like writing.'
Hmm, I see writing seems to bug you.

I don't like School.
'You feel not very happy in school'

Active Listening and picking up feeling takes time.

Check facts.

A little incident.

Child: Mom, when will dinner be ready?
Mom: I am making it. Don't rush me. I know you want to go and play. Go and study. 
Child: Mom, full day study study study... How much should I study?
Mom: Go away before I shout...

Communication breakdown! 

Consider this... 

Child: Mom when is dinner ready?
Mom: You are very hungry. 
Child: Yes, mom.
Mom: You want to know when dinner will be ready for you wish to play. (Fact Check)
Child: No mom, I am hungry and it is looking another hour before you finish cooking.
Mom: Oh that is true. You can eat this peanuts or a banana in the meantime, with honey?
Child: Yes, please!

Suspending our thought process to check on theirs will bring you lots of results.

Honest Sharing takes the same form.
As a parent, give authentic expression with I feel. 

Some statements... 

I feel tired to sleep so late as so many gadgets keep beeping around. 

I feel angry with a messy kitchen. I need help to clear it.

I feel worried to see so much time spent on mobile. I would like to talk more.

Honest, direct, Clear.

No hidden Guilt, no shaming.

You are always on the mobile.
You are never studying.

I would like so much if you shared news from the papers. It will make me proud, instead of... 

How will you learn anything if you don't read newspapers? (Interrogation?)

Do try these skills and Share your experiences. 

Develop a family walk habit as many times a week it can be managed.

The Honest sharing can be used with adults. Create clear boundaries as to what is acceptable and what is not.

Always find out if the Restrictions or Unacceptable emerges from a personal belief or popular agenda one reads on media these days.

This may sound a bit different to you. All four of us have our personal cell phones including the 12-year old. We have clear rules of what can be viewed and what is not. Each time it is breached we call out honestly. However, some of the fabulous movies and experiences have come through my younger kid. He even managed to give me an insight into my post mom's demise period for Grieving and valuing her. It was based on one of the movies he saw.

He is sure using it well.

Even Food, we are pretty lenient. During rains, sweet and cold is limited as they know it affects tonsils but if knowing it fully, both still insisted on Cold Coffee with Ice cream. We agreed with warm water gargle and oil massages promised.

So, a lot of conflict is avoided as there is more communication, permissiveness, allowing them freedom to choose actions with consequences. With younger kids, you might have to exercise more control on health issues. 

As they move developmentally, they will recede a bit. However by being present while they are upset, allowing them to express their feelings, taking time to hear and authentically sharing what is acceptable and non-acceptable will go a long way in establishing communication channels that are clear and Direct!



-Sonnal Pardiwala 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Parenting Myths


All I do here is share my perspectives. If they are not in immediate resonance or understanding, please stay with it.

We begin with a clear assumption that, "Our Children are innately intelligent and if we let them, they will choose wisely."



Today I share how as parents we live under certain Myths. Yes, I was under them for a while but knowing them and demystifying them has reduced the stress in Parenting my two sons (17 and 12, respectively). 

As parents we burden ourselves with so many shoulds.

I share a few here... 

It may immediately trigger few memories, few situations may dawn on you as resonating. It will be exciting to understand how they entrap you and truckloads of fun, once you set yourself and your kids free! 

Myth 1

We parents have to know everything and Provide all that our Children demand.

If we honestly look at this big world, it is humanly not possible to know everything. Let us learn the Magic words. 

'I don't know but we can find out.'

Putting yourself in the situation, where you must have answers to everything does two things. 

  1. You set yourself up for defensiveness each time you come across a piece of information you don't know or you have heard for the first time. Instead of accepting a new possibility you end up feeling uncomfortable. 
  2. You instill in your children an unreasonable expectation too. Only if they know everything, they are smart/intelligent/worthy is the message shared. In this ever expanding world of updates and upgrades, there will always be something you (inevitably) don't know. 

As soon as you shed this preoccupation of being a Know all, you can easily say "Never heard about this, come let us find out what it is all about."

This brings an easy comfort between both of you and and understanding that it is okay to seek new stuff that we heard about. 

We don't have to know everything

Myth 2

I must provide all that my children desire. 

Yes, we would like to Give the World to our Children but there are times, when certain things are out of our reach. Let us have the courage to gently accept and declare 'At the moment, this is not likely.'

We are easily able to deny things like chocolates and cola drinks for we can plead health reasons until the manipulations begin 'Next door kid has it!

'Everyone has it.' Now, it gets a bit difficult. At times, heavy loans are incurred by parents in order to send the children away for educational degree. Sometimes the demands for branded stuff reigns heavy. We rather work on reducing our own expenses and needs to meet theirs. We, through this behaviour, also create a sense of entitlement in the children that others must work to fulfill their wishes. 

This is among the top stressor for parents today. Continuously trying to meet their demands in limited incomes they have. 
I suggest to keep the communication channels clear and open, 

'We cannot afford this and so just now it is not possible.' 

'My funds allow this line of Action for your Career, beyond that it will stretch our Resources!' 

Allow your child to be a Co-participant as daily decisions of expenses are made. Let them see you efficiently allocate Resources as per your needs. Postpone some for later date. Prioritize some for now. 

These are effective lessons every individual needs as they are growing up. 

Myth 3

I have to 'Rescue' my child from tricky situations.

This pattern makes us 'Whatsappie swappie' parents.

How many times have we swapped homework on this media?

This is just one example. If we observe closely, we will come across many situations where we have been the 'Rescuer'.

Let us learn to know 'Who owns the problem?' and Cultivate the patience to allow the owner to deal with it.



We, as parents, mutually decided to develop a 

*Step in*
*Step out*
                     *Just Hover* Philosophy.


When the Child absolutely needs it, we step in.

 If he has fever, infection, I cannot be detached. I am involved. I step in.

If it is academics he /she can pull off, I step out.

During exams, I don't interrupt the process but supervise (Hover). 

It has gone a long way in teaching my kids Independent Thinking and Action.

As I stay away but within reach, they learn to figure out their strategies to solve a problem at hand. It is their precious space of emotional development but so often we jump in with suggestions, criticism and advice!

It plays out in academics. As a child is breaking and gaining pronunciations & computations, we interrupt with impatience. Given more seconds or days, child would pick up. Instead we dump our disappointment on them 'See your cousin/brother/sister reads so fast!' 

Again you do two things 

  1. You fail to identify that each process has its own trajectory, its own pace, its own weaving. You are the one feeling impatient and inadequate for the teacher or neighbour will sneer at you. You Rob the child of this process. You rush them. Permanently telling them they must haste. 
  2. You instil in the child a feeling of inadequacy, inability to cope, to come up to your expectation. 

They then hand over their processes to others and wait to be directed. 

In social situations too, so often mothers speak on behalf of their progeny. It begins with introducing their names, parroting their recent achievements and goes on till asking for job openings. 

One wonders why the child never grows up. Every problem they walked into, their parents rushed with oars. 

They never made their own oars nor how to row their boat!

Parents! Eliminate this stress of being your child's lifeline. Unless there is physical abuse or vicious put downs, let them go forth and strive in situations on their own. Be there, before or after. Sharing inputs, strategies, modus operandis.

Let them buy their own oars and learn to figure out how to row. 

I have seen Umpteen number of mothers jumping in defensive for their 40-year old sons! 

They never realise they are individuals and can fend for themselves! Parents continue to defend, explain away or point out clever reasons instead of simply shrugging and stating 'Their life, their choice!' 

Myth 4

If my child is seen Reading and Writing something, he is creatively occupied.

While reading and writing is a vital form of gaining and expression of knowledge, do gently ask.

Is that the only way Learning happens?

Is our insistence on constant reading/ writing creating in a child some form of Resistance?

How much time do I read and write to model the same behaviours in the Child?

Observe your child, how does he/she absorb knowledge?

Is he an audio visual person?

Are we ready to accept that?

Are we willing to make provisions for this new format if it emerges?

So much importance is laid on paper-pencil-degree based education that when a child expresses a dislike to written/ text format and shows inclination towards sports, dance, music, cooking, parents feel uncomfortable.
It is a hobby, that will not give jobs/money! 

Look around and observe people. Do all people earn one way only? 

Are all well paying jobs only desk jobs? 

So many relationships are spoiled at the altar of Education, under the guise of proper education. So many children grow up resenting their parents simply because they had to pursue that which they did not want to. The power struggle is paid dearly by both parties. 

I don't care about marks... Many parents insist. 

Yet come tenth grade results and they line up for college admissions to Arts, Science and Commerce. 

A unique set of talents are rarely looked at, rarely nurtured. 

If only parents were to release this myth and observe how the child unfolds, and open doors in the directions they want...!

Myth 5

We have to be Consistent parents in front of the children.

While it sounds good, we discovered differently.

Let us say, my son wants to go get wet in rains on a Saturday.

I feel worried he may catch a cold.

My husband is okay with it. If I insist on my husband joining me, would it not be inauthentic on his part to be dishonest to his feelings?

Would we not be Ganging up against the child to influence him?

Would he not see through it?

Would he not learn to use it?

Don't they usually?

Here is what we do.

Each one of us authentically states why we may have different views and leave it on the Child.

I shared, 'You may fall sick.'
Dad : 'I am okay if you do.'

Shahaan, then, decides to get wet with 'I will apply essential oils and Gargle with warm water'. 

He gets two honest opinions. He learns 'Choice has consequences. '

'He learns decision making.'

To be able to do this, we must maturely realise we are different. However as parents we feel this excruciating need to show a joint front. Then it becomes 'You' 'Them' gangs. Often a partner complains, the other spouse spoils the children or is responsible for an undesirable behaviour. Tussle begins when the more powerful of the parent compels the other to join in. The child feels cornered and smartly learns to discern who is not completely honest. S/he learns to use it wisely much to the consternation of the family. 

Manipulations are learned herein. 

We also need to allow each one of us to opine authentically. 

Free yourself of this stress to be consistent with your partner. 

State your side with consequences. 

The child will pick up Authenticity if it is in observation all the time. 

Myth 6

I have to entertain my child all the time.

No!

You do not have to, not all the time. It is an important myth to break, if you wish to have an individual who learns to self-regulate and rely on their own company and depend on their own resources.

The idea is to Help him or her take more and more decisions on their own. Yes, we can look for ideas to explore different experiences but to constantly feel under obligation to keep them occupied every minute, arrange their circumstances can be very daunting!

I understand the pressure internet creates on new parents today for creating an intelligent, smart child. Parents want to engage them in activities as young as one year! 

For God's sake, let them crawl and coo happily. 

Child knows how to entertain self until you step in with your ideas of what constitutes positive engagement. 

Gurgle with them Please! 

Every minute engagement is exhausting. Sometimes just gazing at a passing ant is stimulating to the child. Let them be. 
You too, please stop surfing every child routine for classes, group activities and what not. Hug your baby and sleep. That will be immensely bonding....

I feel like asking 'You looking for yourself to engage or your child?' 

Myth 7

We must never be Annoyed, irritated or yell at the children. 

While this is the ideal we are all striving for, is it truly possible? This is a question we need to ask daily or hourly till we realise this myth. 

Like a certain messiah I can ask impetuously, "Is there a single parent on this earth who has not lost temper or yelled?" 

It is unfair on the parent's part to, YELL

Absolutely! 

But is there one who doesn't or didn't at some point of time in their life while dealing with children? 

Look at a typical mother, she is dealing with multi-nonsense. Cooking, cleaning, arranging, decision making, handling people, their needs, expectations, functions, ceremonies, shopping... The list is endless. 

In all this, as a human, when the other human entrusted to her, begins acting weird, creating impediments, twisting her already loaded state, touches the myths she carries, she is bound to explode. 

Happens

Children forgive if you go back, hug and make friends again. 

Children harbour resentment only when the yelling episode is considered a consistent birth-right and needs no explanation or contrition. 

When I yell, I simply do. 

When the storm passes, I apologise. 

They get to do the same. 

What relief that is in my family. 


Myth 8

Children must not throw temper Tantrums or Cry. It is highly embarrassing and signifies bad parenting. 

Children throw tantrums because ground rules have not been laid out. They want something. You don't want to give them. So far so good. 

Trouble begins with embarrassment, for your social personality begins incorporating "What will this person in front of me, around me, think?"

If they have children, they understand. 

If they don't, they anyway, won't. 

Getting yourself upset is your undoing and child's coaching into smart manipulation. 
Free yourself of this myth. 

Let him or her throw a ball. Don't catch it. They will learn they will have to strategise wisely to get what they want instead of playing up. 

You can amusedly breath deep and be ready with consequences. 

Myth 9

Your child must like you. 

Approval seeking can twist one into pretzels. 

The whole society holds people ransom on this need. Children are no different. They learn to praise another aunt's food to hint how the neighbour is more forward (gives permission you don't, buys stuff you don't).
They learn to frown and make you jump if their favourite food is not in the plate. They learn to appeal to you for an extra note of cash (If you like your child, want to stay in their good books you would want to do it now wouldn't you?) 

Each time you do something only because they must like you, imagine the position you put yourself in each time you may have to say no. As the child grows and walks into teenage world there will be times you will have to have uncomfortable conversations. Some they may like, some not. You must have them though!

Focus on being an Effective Parent and Not a Good Parent. 

Myth 10

Your child must listen to you all the times. There should be no conflict ever. 

This myth is all about Control. 

A theme, elusive and treacherous. 

To control another human being, even if he or she is your very own flesh and blood is an exercise in Futility. The Child's tendency to individuate becomes apparent as soon as toddlerhood begins. The child realises the power of their own movement, will and desire. It creates conflict. 

If you view it positively, it is an opportunity to communicate each other's needs and reach a settlement. It calls for the Art of Negotiation and not coercion. If you navigate well and demonstrate that each one's needs are respected, that each one must learn to put forth needs and also accept that some will be met in the moment, some later. 

Child learns that we all are humans with needs and we all can win. 

Parents who carry this myth of total control force subservience as a recommended behaviour, good behaviour. They often overlook the festering resentment within, waiting to be released in an undesirable format of withdrawal, crying, sulking, screaming, resistance, walking away. 

Give up this need for complete control. Allow child to express the need to do something different. Negotiate to fit it in, meeting everyone's needs. If this seems like a tall order, you may want to look into what you are afraid of! 

If you let them get away with everything, who will discipline them? You want Obedience or Discipline? 

For obedience means 'Do as I say.

Discipline means Self-awareness with regards to Goals one wants to reach and creating strategies to reach there by effective investment of ideas, efforts and time.


How can children be allowed to do whatever they want? The word allowed contains the ability of Control. 

My question would be 'How long would you be able to allow?' 

Soon the authority will be denounced. 

Teenage conflicts and tantrums are witness to that. 

If from an early age, parent steers an environment conducive to well placed ground rules, consequences that naturally arise (you drink ice cold drinks, you catch tonsils; you don't complete a homework, you get a remark; you don't clean the bed or mess, the mess degenerates further into muck). 

Naturally arising consequences are great tools to mould a behaviour, understanding them the child will feel mastery of his/her own self. He or she knows how to behave so a certain consequences can be invited or avoided. 

State the consequences and Get out of the way. 

You sleep late, you miss the alarm, you miss school, you miss the day's work. 

Instead like good parents we wake them up, yell at them for sleeping late, being indisciplined, drag their incoherent self to the bathroom, dress them up and send an unwilling half tired kid to make sense of the world. 

We think we are being Good parents. 

Think again, we need to be Effective Parents. 

There is a world of difference.



Effective parents let children make sense of the world. 



Invite Conflict so each phase of childhood gets new ground rules, art of negotiation and new ways of being emerge where each one wins. 

Walk away from these myths, free your stress laden mind and bring in Effective Parenting!

I begin sharing few. Do bring in your thoughts too.

-Sonnal Pardiwala 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Helicopter Eela: A non helicopter mom's Review!

Helicopter parenting just got glamourised coating and a very generous, glossy one!


#HelicopterEela gives me that feeling of envy at being lazy and neglecting my own oomph factor. Looking at Kajol, I feel dumb. Her son is probably the same age as mine and she looks so well groomed all the time. Single parenting seems to have done wonders. I am jealous. She has not a crease on her face, not a freckle and definitely no eye sags. Who wouldn't want a mother who looks that drop dead gorgeous? Even if she crams herself in every space that belongs to him.

They have taken their shots and images of this hovering brand of parenting from existing mommy portals. The typical running behind the kid in a bus with a tiffin and ten thousand instructions. The mock horror on the face when you see the kid cycling free hand. The following the kid on picnic spots. They could not get more original than that. Obviously this is the portal hyped parenting. The makers have no clue how verdant this form parenting is and the ramifications of it on the children recipient of it. This dude turns out very cool with a happier 'Meri Maa ki Parchaai' rock number, inadvertently endorsing it and to an extent enjoying it with his friends. He is complaining about his mom stalking his Twitter, Facebook and much later in the film exasperatedly announces that his mother dear has opened a Facebook account and he won't ever accept her request. In the end though, he proudly accepts it as mother dear won all hearts by singing on the stage.

Dude (Riddhi Sen~ a National Award winner) is so forgiving and tolerant. His anger fizzles off as soon as it rises. Maybe the Kajol effect! You can't stay angry with Kajol after all. Veteran Actor she is!

So what if she plunders her way into his conversation with friends or checks his clothes? So what if she cannot keep a piece of gossip to herself and creates a rift between his two friends? So what she promises to not follow him but nevertheless  forges her way everywhere into the college. They two land up in the same class! They seem to forget where college ends and home begins or viceversa. What were they studying anyway? Which stream? This is not of consequence for College to makers of film is Canteen, one classroom, various clubs and a Drama Theatre Hall.The mother saunters right in and out, saying whatever she wants to whoever she wants including the Principal. (Rather powerless creature)

The son, however, takes it in his stride and offers olive branches all the time. A situation we feel is going to just pull in the friction goes kaboooommm!

Sense of humour is applied in dollops instead of letting the tension be.

The moms may just go in justification mode on their helicopter services as d'Accord because Kajol immortalises it now.

There were few sensitive moments, if they would have let them palpable. The camera doesn't hover or stay enough.

Son asks a poignant, relevant question 'Where is Eela?'

The mother does not get it at all. She is so well entrenched in her role of Mothering him, perfecting this one project that she fails to get the fact that the son's existence envelops her every minute.

She did not move past that provider stage. She has to get to 'Step back stage. She is unwilling to budge. Her being refuses to allow any appeals to move on with other roles.

There was another sensitive unfolding of the Age gap when Kajol is shown sitting alone on a bench of the College. Her attempts to befriend spurned. Her skills don't extend to now swishing with the young gals. Her son observes comprehending her predicament.

I wish they had stayed in this zone of rare understanding of a mother who due to being a single parent went on an overdrive to bring everything for the child, abandoned by a father.


What a silly father, leaving a thriving family on a flimsy, silly reason!

Single parenthood too sounds such a cake walk. Everything happens so smoothly. Their lifestyle so lavish and upmarket.

Where are the mother's restless, sleepless nights of loneliness of struggling with various decisions, milestones and tantrums of a growing kid?

This kid is just hustled and seen making faces and a happy go lucky resigned recipient of mother's loving attention.

He never seemed to want to know what happened to father?

He never ran fever.

He never looked wistfully at a family or even a thing that the mother found it helpless to achieve.

There are rare, lonely struggles single moms go through daily. Feeling unsupported, drained, fatigued with doing it all alone.

Even if I have a supportive, rock solid spouse, parenting at so many junctures demanded all our resources. There were days when I wore the first thing that jumped into my hand from the cupboard. I remember days I forgot to comb my hair because I ran out to the doctor or  because heavier chores left me tired.

Single motherhood on the Proper Bombay side may be easier I suppose. The husband named everything on her before leaving but is it enough to take care of emotional needs?

The mother ramrods her way into his son's college, son's canteen and friends. They scream, converse and casually interact in the college.

I entered a college for my dude's admission and felt awfully awkward. 

This mom is super confident, rags a kid in the class and already gives an interview to TOI for entering college after 22 years. Amazing contacts she has.

Everything falls in place for her except few misfortunes like not getting the Lifebuoy Ad but getting Anu malik's attention and a Remix that Amitabh goes ga ga about after years...



Neha Dhupia was just sitting idle. 

She throws shoes at students. That is enough to send her packing. This is the most reputed college in town we are talking about for God's sake! Even if she missed the aim, the throwing is abusive enough. Our Hindi films have a way of explaining away abuse so adroitly.

What musical or acting talent she possesed anyway for the Principal to suffer her ?

The only mature presence seemed Riddhi Sen, the tolerant and resigned son, who actually eggs his mother to find herself. All it required of course was to sing a song on the stage of a College Fest to find the real Eela and have likes on social media. Some Benchmark of Finding Self! 

Empowerment Gurus warn that media likes aren't the ultimate goal but in this single mom's portfolio it is the penultimate moment after son braves the shoes and jeans to get mom onstage.

College forgot to employ security personnel for the Day?

If you must see the movie, see for impeccable Kajol so you can tell your wife 'Dekho usko!'

If you must see, you must to tell your son 'Dekho kitna achcha baccha he, maa ke sab sitam hus ke sahe... Only you keep throwing tantrums...'

If you must see, you must for the song 'Yaadon ki Almari' and 'Ruk Ruk Arre Baba Ruk' Kajol's expressions are a steal! She is a stunner!

I envy Kajol for her porcelain clear beauty at 40+. I admire the lovely ironed Kurtis she adorned. Ironed clothes for me are truly special occasions! Even if my kids are grown up, there are crores of chores  multiple decisions to make, tremendous variety of trembling destinations to reach to about their career, daily needs, swinging emotional balances, sibling tussles, health predicaments.

In all this still I found myself and formed a small little island of me.



That was and is the message Helicopter Eela wants to portray that a mom must find an inimitable part of herself so she does not obsess over her child's trivialities. For her obsession focused on a teenager's 'dabba' more than what course he is taking or where his life is headed! I get sleepless nights over my teenage son's life ahead and not what he is upto with his cell phone or check his pants and bags. The concern ends there. This mother is so short-sighted in her view of her son that limited things of his are under scanner.

The parenting nuances are overlooked. The jibes clich├ę. I worry if my son sees this film. He may turn around and ask me 'Why, you don't love me! You never check me or my belongings?'

I am doomed already.

Must take classes to review my parenting. 

-Sonnal Pardiwala 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cognitive Diversity and Supportive Care

Two concepts every parent needs to take to heart.

As usual, I illustrate with a life instance of our own.

When we use the term Cognitive Diversity with Children, it means each child has a different way of processing information, responding to a stimuli and has a self created pace to it. They pick up social cues differently and decode it depending on their own cognitive capacities, parental acceptance, home environs, cultural inputs.
If we were to Accept each frequency, we would not have the need to diagnose or over diagnose a human being into a label.

Dyslexia
Dysgraphia
Dyscalculia
Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (invented recently)
Down Syndrome
Slow learning
Mental Retardation
Cerebral Palsy.
Speech, visual, physical impairments.

Yes these are some mental /physical health issues that are present in our lives.

These viewed from lenses of Cognitive Diversity give you a sense of power and purpose.

For even if you were to reach the diagnosis point, you will know another prognosis that says 'There is no medical cure. "

It has to be managed.

That brings us to creating a Supportive Care that aids the child to reach their maximum capability, whatever that is.

Acceptance is the key that unlocks many a doors.

Intelligent and sensitive management of the situation brings the parent child closer and bond deeper.

A child is given to you to mould and love.

Don't put them out in front of health staff and relatives to dissect.

So, Shahen in 2003, was given a verdict of ITP.

Restrictions of medications.
Bruises at slightest injury.
Fear of bleeding lurking
Continuous blood tests
Confining the kid from playing. For no contact sports for him.

We spend few anxious months before acceptance set in. Internet was not so wide spread in use with us then.

We met doctors, found out all we could and then accepted it.

Decided it would never be a limitation that will stop him from leading a full life.

We as parents co-ordinated. We would not go to the washroom without informing the other. We supervised his play from far. Some injuries took months to heal. We took it in our stride.

In school he could not attend Sports so we arranged with a heavy heart that he sit the hours in the library. Yes, his heart ached when he looked over from the library window the running kids. He compensated by lapping up all the books in library.

He got grievously injured in school and we were on homeschooling by then. We opted out.

Our trust in Universe deepened. He found gentle friends. He began playing cricket. He cycles now.

He is well-read.

Had we made rounds of doctors looking for the invisible, unattainable cure, we would have put in him a fear of life. His zest would have dimmed. We were barraged by relatives with vaidyas, ayurvedic and homeopathic cures, bhabhutis and babas and miracle drugs.

The doctor had explained: Every third day, immunity kills platelets, just in your child's case, more than needed.

Spiritual healings gave us the mental strength but the Supportive Care that was arranged made all the difference.

We talked to him about his special condition, yes Condition, never referred to it as a Disease or Inconvenience.

The precautions needed were taken when we went for outings but we also learned to overlook the bumps and bruises that happened.

Happens! Was our Mantra. We dealt with it and kept living. We brought opportunities of Public Speaking, Scripting, blogging, reading, psychological coaching which requires zero physical exertion yet encouraged when he went cycling for hours or played cricket or ran around in rains.

Every Condition is manageable. First accept and then actively get involved in creating a Supportive Environ for the child. The message to be conveyed is 'We love you and you are valuable.'

Avoid relatives who come in with fixes and restrictive guilt inducing cures.

Whether a Genetic Disorder or learning or behaviour, each can be managed. Learn all there is about the condition.

Accept Medicine has no cure.

Create Support within the family.

Father, Mothet Child and sibling, if any. Rest are outsiders if they do not form a team with you.

Do not medicate amphetamines to a so called ADHD or hyper kid and ruin them for life.

Do not forcibly try to fit a child meant to be safe and secure.

If they are different, you create a different Environ.

Fitting in is anyway outdated.

Sonnal Pardiwala 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Parenting: Seeds Of Conflict




#Parenting #Homeschooling #Resistance #SeedsOfConflict #PowerStruggles
Dear parents,
I begin today to share my insights on mommyhood n parenting in general. I am an authority?! No! But yes, I have two Rocking individuals who spend their childhoods with me.
I gave birth to two people. Did they apply for my parentage? NO!

To become a parent was my need stemming from a prescriptive societal need.
*The question I want you to focus on is 'Why did I become a parent?'
Give honest answers to yourself. Not me, not your kid, not anybody else
Two individuals, my son's, happened to join me on the plane of this Earth at a time when Internet had not happened to me. It was there but I was not in it full time, like I am today. I have adapted it beautifully, Yes, but I am aware how it affects Parenting today.
Besides we have well wishers in the form of friends, relatives, aunties, in-laws.
Together they are always telling you how to raise your child. What you are doing, often times is wrong according to them.
Like you mommies, when my child was born, I was in the righteous zone of doing it right. I was overtly obsessed with infections, bacteria, TV time, educational aids and the right kind of education. Fortunately, only for few hours of my life.
Sense prevailed and I learned to focus on my kids. My children are my Biggest School and Resource. We do not have Power Struggles and Seeds of Conflict sown into our lives at all. My children are developmentally at two different stages and we relate at all levels. Their Resistance and No, I take seriously and Popular Advice can go take a big jump.
We live in a time when we wish to 'micro manage' our kids from Day 1. Pause please. The individual given to you is a Natural human with instincts and tendencies and preferences. Are you capable of honouring it?
To know a Child, you must first Know yourself.
Do you know yourself enough to guide another human?
Deep contemplation is required here. You are a product of your parents, culture and lately the popular thought line of social media.
Daily, blogs are written on what to feed your children, how to feed your children, calories are measured and carbs counted!
The power struggle begins when you offer a food and your child turns the mouth away. Resistance.
You become more determined, read more, talk in Whatsapp groups, get loaded advice, come back, try again, win some, lose some. Power struggles begin that young. You tell your child. Not You, but what I want is important. I think this is Healthy, (links prove it! Try sharing links with your little angels which you share so profusely like darts of arrows? Not one iota of healthy interest you will elicit­čŹ╝­čść)
Have you ever paused and simply observed that since times immemorial we ate what we liked. We eat for nourishment and whatever we eat with Joy becomes that.
Ever try to give up your need to feed Healthy. Just Feed. Child is a natural being born with an urge of hunger. They will eat when hungry. Can we patiently wait and make available different foods to them when that hunger begins and observe what they do like?
More often than not it goes. This is what they must eat. This is how much they should eat. This is how they should eat. No wonder, food times are becoming war zones and stress for new mommies zooms up. You new mommies and daddies take way too much in your plate.
Once my children weaned, they sat with us and ate whatever was there. Junk, natural, semi natural et al. They are healthy eaters today and cook for themselves when I absent myself from the kitchen.
Observe a bit, if you get off your righteous 'I am the zealous mommy/daddy' zone and simply observe what brings twinkle to your child's eyes and where the frown goes up. Heavy clues, not available in any link, Insta story or Parenting Tabloid. Right in front of you, pleading for attention. It is a simple choice. Your high horse or Child's happy buggy. Choose well.
Next comes the stage of Schooling. Here too remember your life is not a laboratory, your child is not a mouse to be experimented with. It is Education. School requires flash cards and worksheets. The Child does not!
I repeat, child does not.
Can you accept it? Here begins another Seed of Conflict. Social media, mommy groups, popular agenda, has you under the influence of 'Do this and you are a good parent!'
So you go, buy stuff, books, educational games and what not. Half the things you complain, your child is not excited about.
How do you deal with it next?
Shame and Guilt. People use it on adults all the time. Clever arguments on one upmanship. We still have not learned the adult way of 'This is what I am, now deal with it.'
Faced with that alternative, I will decide to alter myself, leave the interaction or meet halfway.
We go berserk in the process of embellishing the process called Education. Let us get it straight. It is either Schooling or Education. They both are separate.
Child has natural tendencies and is learning each moment. Right from the first breath. Just what they wish to learn and what you wish they learn and how they learn creates conflict again.
You get them worksheets, they make faces. You bribe, you threaten, you manipulate.
Result: Stress. Temporary Obedience.
Ever thought, the nubile one who subjugates out of fear today may react differently when in power later?
They throw out food, perform poorly on studies, misbehave with guests, play power games whilst dressing; may walk out once Grown up?
Distance from Drama for a while. First find out Who you are.
Next observe your children. They will give you superclues what they want. Act on them. Let them know you read their needs and respect it. As they grow learn the Art of Negotiating or laying boundaries. Not threats. Reasonably discussed boundaries.

Walk a mile from popular agendas guiding your actions and revise your strategies of what needs to stay and what can go. Avoid power struggles and seeds of conflicts with your children.
Follow their lead. They will follow yours too. A happy baby is not one who puts a certain brand's soap, shampoo, powder or eats a cereal of a certain brand or fruit in measured proportion or who wears a certain brand or counts and sings well. A happy baby is one who hugs well, whose eyes twinkle with Joy all the time, who discovers personal delight in the world around, finds his/her own God, religion, meaning in a book he reads, finds his own strategy of adding and multiplying, eats heartily without judgement, hugs mom and dad back and says 'I love you Mom and Dad', voluntarily and looks at the world as a big Theme park ready to explore. With or Without You. I would prefer if it is with me. So I say, my children happened to me. I don't raise them. We rise together.
Sonnal Pardiwala @
#SonnalPardiwala

Saturday, September 1, 2018

#InnerWork

Inner Work: What Is It? 




What I undergo as the day unfolds is what I share.


A Day Spent In Awareness

As I open my eyes to the day, I become aware of all that I feel. Of yesterday, of here and now and the moments to unfold. Each moment carries a potential to carve a beautiful moment of Growth or a vehement reaction based on habit or hurry. In that moment, how I collect and reflect and bring the best outcome is my test of awareness.


I woke up to a shrill alarm that my elder had kept; it kept ringing. My sleep got disturbed crazily. My semi-vision prevents me to search the cell phone yelling. Elder one: deeply slumbering away. Husband had to get up and put off the cacophonous thingy. Sighs and sleeps. Again, it shrills

Anger, and awareness of anger, both kick in. I breathe deep and sternly command to the criminal fellow to get up and do the needful. He does. Turns out, dude wanted to go cycling (An activity he loves and craves). Cheerfully kisses me and Dad before leaving. He knows I am fuming and big time. He goes out impishly grinning at a confessed crime, a slight regret but 'Who cares?' of the youth!

I am alone in my rage. Husband too knows how annoyed this makes me. Anyone who knows me knows my love for sleeping and preference to waking up gently and being woken up gently.


Choicest of thoughts emanated, boiling hot vapours of vexation.


In that moment though, comes in the awareness of being angry.


This time I don't deny. I regard it with detachment and accept the insidiously spreading hot lava. Then I gently ask myself 'What am I angry about? Does my child do it on purpose? Is he not entitled to make his plans? Am I scared that he goes alone? Do you want that he too lie down when his whole being wishes to enjoy the wind buzzing on his face and the liveliness this exercise brings?


Unravelling it in the silence were marvellous answers.


'The child has every right.'

'I trust him to drive safely.'
'I like he is becoming independent.'
'He should not have to waste his morning being subservient to my needs.'


That settled, I was angry. My body had inadequate sleep,we had watched a late night movie! 


I may have a headache that would have to be tolerated with this week's Saridon dose done with.


I had a whole day of work.


My need versus his.


I looked around. It indeed was a beautiful morning. Our plants lush and inviting. My husband, in a pacifier mode.


What had irritated was the shrill shriek of the Alarm.


I knew what I had to do.


In the meantime, I declared we open the terrace and have our tea... 


Little one got up to his usual demands of thousand hugga!

Family hugga.(his lingo for "hug") 


I could not spoil it for him by being caustic.


Me and spouse were vexed.


I also knew, dude would circle the building thinking we were asleep.


We informed him, he may come if his rounds are done. Family brings Familiarity too.


When your majesty sauntered in, bit remorseful, fully rejuvenated, my resolve to fling something had dissolved.


I sat him down and let him know, how my body reacts to his alarm. He is welcome to go where he wishes, only be responsible to honour his alarms himself and not wake up the whole neighbourhood.


I got the agreement with a compliment 'You handled this so mature mom, you are growing up.


I also got a complimentary back massage. Another trick to get my temper down and mellow.


Since we had the morning we went to the favourite plant nursery and came back witha  rose, Butterfly Peacup flowers, Cuban oregano, Brahmi, Ashvagandha, Betel leaf!


Rewards of dealing with awareness and communication instead of flinging and catching resentments.


At class, honestly expressing hurt over a student breaking basic safety rules, also presented a challenge. The violations were repetitive and showed disregard for the institute. I allowed the anger to simmer but expressed it nonetheless in as sharp a tone required as deemed satisfactory for me to establish the boundaries, for the student and all involved.


Self Care Of The Body

As we came home, a messy home presented itself. Maid off for a fortnight!


Husband took up cooking so I took up the cleaning, mopping of floors and scrubbing the wash rooms diligently. Whatever is undertaken, gets my complete attention. An hour of squatting, mopping, cleaning, pouring over corners had a happy stream of satisfied sighs and sweet groans, emanating from every nerve, tissue and bone of my body. It called out for care, now that it had served a purpose. Filling the buckets with essential oils, my favourite soap and abundant water. I bathed till I felt complete. The hurry and worry schedule gets me in the washroom only for three minutes. A simple routine to give it moisture and loving care has been introduced lately. A gentle coat of Coconut oil all over. After this, body vibrates to a rhythm of melodious grace. I am thankful more each day as I become aware of this vehicle given to me to navigate this life cycle. I apologise too for abusing it. I gently give back its power, more and more. If I require sleep, I take it. I energise it with Reiki and Crystals and Essential oils. Chakra Cleansing calms it down. Any part of the body aches, I ask it Gently, 'What do you want from me?' 'What is needed?'


Sure enough, a right remedy materialises for me, be it betel leaf for my mouth ulcers or Brahmi to enliven my tea!


As I offer care, I feel connected more to myself. I walk the inner bylanes, checking, assessing each moment what may be corrected or offered.


My clothes are loose fitting and not constricting or restricting me. The need to be a glamorous gal has ceased. Comfort for the body rules the land. I stand in complete gratitude of my body vessel and each day, aim to treat it right. I assure to bring it pleasant tides and deflect unpleasant experiences or at least promise they shall be for a temporary period of time.


Accept What Is

As a human, I encounter a lot of situations which do not turn out as I design them, do not unfold as I wish. I let go of the need to manipulate or control. Neither situations, nor outcomes, nor other humans. I accord them the same right to be as I give myself.
Yet as a dynamic unravels, I feel... Angry, sad, unhappy, delighted, ecstatic, quietly happy, assertive, annoyed, intimidated.
I hold all these emotions now as they are. No denial. No rejection. They have come from within, they come for a reason. As I attend to it, it gives me the core issue. The reason it plummeted me down in an abyss of dismal valley or what gave me the brief glimpse of my rosy paradise.


I offer attention to both now. They are mine. In them, I learn more about myself
The only education I need in this lifetime.



If I am scared, I offer a hug... 
If I am angry, a tender silence... 
If I am sad, an attentive compassion!


Embrace What Remains

Even though, I have become a loving companion to my self, I still err. Sometimes I fly off the handle with anger. The insecure self persists in its tricks to trigger.

An unchecked tear instead of expressing sadness spurts out volcano.


A distant old age, a dimming vision, a waning profession still reminds lot of work is needed yet. A lot of scope of growth awaits my readiness.


Like an understanding parent I soothe, 'What remains, can be attempted again tomorrow, we will try again...'


With a warm inner working partner, I feel secure, my inner radiance is aglow and will be fueled with love and attention in abundant supply. 

-Sonnal Pardiwala 




Monday, May 21, 2018

Steeped in Love!

We fell in love in the 1990s! We were naive, silly and hugely influenced by Bollywood movies we saw. As lovers, we tried to do everything they did. Imagine ourselves singing and promising lifelong togetherness. We wanted pictures steeped in love.

Alas! The camera we had could accomplish not much! We had to put the ancient thing on self-timer and run in those ten blinking seconds to pose with the beloved. In those blasted few seconds, the spontaneity of embrace or love would tumble off, at times bringing in awkward pics and the smiles rarely reached the eyes!

We sighed sheepish, hid those photographs and got on with life. Our deeply held hugs, romantic moments only captured in our hearts, never on print.

Cut to today’s technological selfie revolution, so much is changing at miraculous proportions!

Today’s youth have it at the tip of their button to freeze moments at every juncture and in the coolest environs.

When we look back, awkward memories of behind-the-tree visits to Aarey Milk Colony,  on-the-rocks visit to Bandra Reclamation and Marine Drive peeks in. We sat there on the edge being harassed by eunuchs asking the truant naive couples for money or the Police holding us ransom and threatening to call our parents. The mini heart attack at having to part with the last hundred. Mortified and moronic memories.

We married, birthed two dudes and witnessed a revolution of sorts. A phone confined to our living rooms had transformed itself into a tiny device in our hand, capable of sending text, mails, capturing pictures! The Selfie Revolution that allows one to capture any and every moment. The techno evolution keeps getting better. We are, and were, learning the ropes! The works! 

One such day, two years back, we visited Churchgate with our two sons. One 15, another 9. We took them to Marine drive and began narrating the nostalgic moments of their parents' life.

They refused to believe.

Yes, being harassed by eunuchs or police is an alien concept to today’s youth that saunters in for cool dates in Malls, Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day or McDonald’s!

Sipping their elite stuff, texting several in one go, updating pics on social media, they have no clue how a generation before, getting a cozy corner or message across was so tough! Pigeons were our ideas of love messengers! Getting the right romantic pose was an exercise and art. 

Really??? So laughed our dudes. Their squeals of delight curdled our toes in mortification and embarrassment. They teased us galore and we gave in and shared our fracas of those times. 

Suddenly, I realised that we were at Marine Drive. We had our kids presence and license to sit there. Neither the Police nor anyone else was likely to fleece us. We didn’t have to be awkward. We had truly kept all the promises we made to each other and made it this far.

It was a jocund moment of Gay abandon.

I had borrowed the hat from my son to tame my flowing tresses.  His hair in perfect ruffle as ever that made me fall for him years back! We both were colour co-ordinated in different shades of blue! We had the perfect backdrop of a clear blue sky. We were on the parapet we were twenty years ago. We were still in love as deep as ever. We still retained the mischief we had in us two decades back. In an impulsive moment, I hugged my hubby and smiled. God bless the smart phone in his hand, he without hesitation took a click!


The expanse of the sky- all embracing and  endorsing our moment. A captured freeze of pure rapture. A camaraderie well shared.
The only wish that can enhance  this perfect pic could be the Mobiistar Front Dual 120 degree angle camera that would have also taken in the resplendent sky and a white birdie that lurked sponsoring our hug and cheer. For no thought was given at that moment to frame the picture, only a quick, on-the-spot click to capture the exploding emotion.

Blessed be the ever-evolving technology that allows seemingly miraculous developments in picture-taking possible. Such as we never envisaged when we foolishly tried to pose as lovers immersed in each other. We emerged totally stupid.

Today, the stupid moments are neatly picked up by these devices to magically transport them to romantically translucent levels.

If there are magical realms possible smart phones like Mobiistar would be the ones to bring them to Manifestation.

For now I am happy with this rapturous moment completely steeped in love of years of yearning for this perfect moment! A treasure I keep going back to reminisce and rejuvenate, a love that is and always will be. 


-SONNAL PARDIWALA