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Book Review: The Art of Mindful Parenting by Shelja Sen

Parenting is not a technique but a reflection of the United philosophy of both father and mother. There is no ‘bad child’, but simply ‘bad routines’. In today’s technologically-driven environment, young parents cannot deny this truth.

Most children today are buffered from all sorts of discomfort and are kept happy all the time – which affects their growth and makes them ill-equipped to handle adverse situations and challenges later in life. To connect deeply with the children, one needs to be ‘mindful’. Mindfulness is about extricating ourselves from the chatter and reactivity that surrounds us. Mindfulness creates the inner space to reach out to our own wisdom and respond with clear thinking, understanding and acceptance of ‘what is’.

Child and adolescent psychologist and family therapist Dr Shelja Sen highlights this through her five anchors of parenting – Connect (create the foundation of parenting); Coach (build the necessary skills in children through an understanding of their unique wiring and temperament); Care (nurture ourselves for a more wholesome life); Community (build caring ecosystems for children to thrive in) and Commit (sustain the courage and compassion).

The book, in a balanced way, suggests emotional and practical ways to nurture a healthy and happy family and not just children. The 5C formula of the author is not just about the holistic approach to parenting, but also gives suggestions on how to strengthen individuals, families and community with spiritualism. The author believes that parenting is not about fixing the child but growing up and empowering ourselves for this journey.

‘Connect and Coach for Teenagers’ is a particularly significant chapter in the book. An eye-opener for parents, it is interspersed with true stories and anecdotes from children she has been involved therapeutically with. Listening, respecting, and not being judgemental are the critical points discussed here.

This book could be a ready reckoner for parents, teachers and all those involved with raising the future through children.

EXCERPT

I remember as a new mum, the thing that used to petrify me was the fact that the buck stops with us and that this little human being’s life was completely dependent on me and my husband. Sleepless nights, obsessing about every ounce of milk taken in or morsel rejected, trips to the doctor, first step taken, first word heard or imagined, first day at school, they are all etched in our mind forever. And the guilt we carry for everything that does not go well. ‘I am a terrible mother as I can’t even control my children.’ ‘I am sure everybody must be thinking I am a bad mother, that’s why my child is not doing well in studies.’ Shame, guilt, self-blame and embarrassment become our nagging companions. We are so quick to judge ourselves for everything we do or believe we do wrong……

….. Children would rather have a mother who is happy when she is with them than a mother who is with them all the time but miserable. Make a choice that builds your sense of growth and well-being. It could be about being a stay-at-home or a working mother, or a single mother. Choose happiness! Children would rather have a mother who is happy when she is with them than a mother who is with them all the time but miserable. Make a choice that builds your sense of growth and well-being. It could be about being a stay-at-home or a working mother, or a single mother. Choose happiness!

…. We live in a day and age in which we have to multitask. You might be helping your child with her homework, supervising the dinner being cooked in the kitchen at the same time and also coaxing the other child to clear up and go for a bath. We also live in a world of constant connectivity, so in between all this you could be answering your friend’s texts or shooting a few important emails from your smartphone. Research is unequivocally indicating that multitasking can not only cause huge stress, but it is not really effective as all that you are doing is dividing and diluting your attention in multiple tasks.

Some pointers from the book

  • I accept and love you the way you are. You are unique, you are different and you are you.
  • I love you as you are and not as I wish you were!
  • More than how we talk to our children we need to think of the way we talk about them.
  • Parenting is not just about bringing up children; it is about empowering ourselves to be better human beings. It is not about teaching but about learning from our children.

 

Text and images by Dr Vijaya Handa

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