Sunday, 12 October 2014

Parenting 2.0

“Here’s my latest Business Card”, she proffered. I was surprised. Having taught for 30 odd years, she was now a `retired school teacher’. Veli, like the rest of us. Or so I thought.

The Card read `Ms So-and so, Parenting Expert’. Hain??  When had that transformation taken place??

You teach in a school for most of your adult life, you raise a couple of `normal’ kids, normal meaning neither Einsteins nor Al Capones, and overnight become an expert at parenting?  What skills do you acquire? More important, are there any skill sets that you can acquire or even teach to people?

I asked her as much. “I’m now a global ambassador for Parenting 2.0!” she announced with the delicate flourish of an ostrich laying an egg.

“O ki hunda ae?” I asked.

She gave me the typical `school teacher’ look, the one they reserve for the more severely challenged of their students.

“Google it!” was the cryptic response.

I did. Apparently it is a collection of retired school marms, spread across the world (hence the `global’ ambassador bit), and even has its own website.

But I was intrigued. Having been brought up by parents whose parenting skills were questionable at best, and having barely raised the bar a notch or two myself, I was definitely intrigued.

All the `skills’, she told me, can be summarized and bullet pointed into one Power Point slide, as under:-
  • ·      Nurture self belief and confidence in the child
  • ·      Offer unconditional and fair love
  • ·      Be consistent
  • ·      Set goals
  • ·      Listen to your child
  • ·      Life and Social Skills

Simple, hain ji? Not quite!

Let’s do a small exercise.

Take an A4 size sheet of paper and pen. Draw up a list of your siblings and/or close friends, and sort the list as per the above qualities, the best at the top and so on. Call that Column A.

Now draw up a list of their children at Column B and sort that column according to how well the kids have turned out.

You could also draw up a third Column C of their kids, and sort it in the same manner.

You’d think the best parents would have the most well rounded kids. You’d imagine that the lines connecting parents to kids and further to grandkids would, by and large, be straight horizontal lines, wouldn’t you? Well, you’ll be in for a rude shock!

In my case, the lines were completely zigzag. How could `below average’ parents produce such terrific, well rounded kids, and how could those terrific kids then go on to produce their own kids who were the very antithesis of `achchey bachchey’?

So is all this `Parenting 2.0’ or parenting skills coaching just a lot of hogwash? Is it just a case of playing blind, a lottery over which one has little or no control?

One would be tempted to think so. But let’s not trash their efforts out of hand. We can only make efforts at being better parents, and hope like hell that those efforts pay off.

I know of a mother who strove to raise her kids as a single parent, slogging to be both mom n dad, slogging to impart her own values to her children. She was a sublime parent by any standards. But her kids won’t even talk to her today, even though she’s well into her 80’s! And they’re good kids otherwise, mind you.

So yes, do your bit. And hope for the best. Pray, if you happen to be spiritually inclined.

But please don’t hand me a Business Card that qualifies you as a `Parenting Expert’. There’s no such thing, believe me.

As I never tire of saying, the only thing I know about parenting is that by the time you get the hang of it, you’re simply and unceremoniously fired from the job! 


  1. Excellent analysis Harish! I concur with you on parental skills. No amount of tutoring can instruct parents on how to raise a child. Every child is born with a different set of needs. Siblings raised by the same set of parents, who turn out as different from each other as chalk from cheese, are a clear example. Some children need more attention than others and may ask for it in the most unloving ways. Parents have to raise them by their own day to day perceptions and not by a generalized set of rules laid down by so called parenting experts. Furthermore, parents make mistakes, and the new trend of being hyper about it and pointing accusatory fingers are not going to alter the fact. Let nature have its way, I aver.

  2. Comment by Ms Anita Prasad

    Well written Col Puri, it was an eye opener for me. As a teacher of primary section we often have to council parents as to how to deal with children. Thrashing children is an offence now and the result shows, the children are withdrawn and lose their confidence. Sometimes the parents themselves ask as to how to deal with the tantrums. But 'Parenting Expert' haha !its a new money making gimmick . We are experts at copying so who knows, this concept might catch up too !

  3. Very nice Harish Puri. I totally agree that there is nothing like Parenting Expert. Every child is unique and I can say so with authority as I have a set of twins (now 30 years old) who are so different from each other. Looking at them I often wonder , how two individuals brought up by same parents in the same environment ie nurture and nature both being same are yet so different?
    Parenting is so intuitive.
    But today parents rush to an expert for every small thing about the child instead of looking for solutions themselves.May be it is a Fad or trendy to go to a parenting expert? God Help Them!!!