A Gift to Mothers: A Life Beyond Motherhood

9005980_xxlBeing a mom is no cakewalk. People might claim to understand that, but only moms know what the journey is like. A mother needs to be on her toes, literally and figuratively, 24x7x365. It is only natural then, that many women, after attaining motherhood, tend to immerse themselves in their new found world and the expectations that accompany it so much so that they tend to forget their original self.

Self-preservation is a critical part of being an effective parent. At the end of the day, how your child experiences you depends on how you feel and what you do. Only mothers know how guilty they might feel when they unconsciously hold a grudge against their child for having taken their past life away from them. The sense of freedom and being carefree is gone. It is important to deal with the fact that the situation has changed in the absence of which, somewhere along the journey of motherhood, existential questions surface. What has happened to me and to my dreams? Is this really all I should be doing? How do I get back to being who I was? Is it selfish to want to do something for myself? Will there be a day when I am able to sit back and relax?

A mother who might be caught up in these questions every day, might find it tough to think about parenting at a conscious level on a daily basis. Remember the time when you tried to reach out to your mother or father or spouse to discuss something of utmost importance and you realized they were so caught up in resolving their own issues that you refrained from communicating with them? Hopefully your child would not experience the same. It is, hence, important to shift the focus of your unconscious mind from yourself to your child. That would happen only when you are able to make a conscious effort to be at peace with your life or to make some fundamental changes that result in a happier and more peaceful state of mind.

Many women around the world traverse the same journey and hopefully, you would feel better knowing that you are not caught alone in this quagmire. Also, know that there are professionals who are trained and specialized in helping you work through your unique situation so that you can carve out a life that is designed to realize your dreams. These professionals are called ‘coaches’. Life Coaches work with you to address aspects of your life that are intertwined with a few others and not limited to your profession or your relationships.  Coaching is goal based and action oriented and is different from counseling or therapy.

To know more about what coaching is and if it is for you, visit http://lifebeyondmotherhood.com or email me at namrataa@lifebeyondmotherhood.com.

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

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My baby, my design?

babyTailor made – everything! Your personal fitness instructor, your personal diet plan, your personal virtual assistant, your personal music tutor and everything else under the sun is going that way too!

And what about kids? Sure, they too, wouldn’t we wish?

Even before a child is born, some of us would like to have decided his / her school and pretty much have carved out their lives, just as, we might have liked to lived ours. Whether we admit it or not, most times, our unconscious mind is busy making decisions about our child’s future  Ironically, many times, our view of our child’s future is really about us and what we want.

Well, here is a math view of parenting. Each of us is a unique individual. We meet our spouse and over time, an intersection of two seemingly separate sets emerges. It is our shared values, interests, passions, etc. Out of that intersection, at some point in time, a baby is born. However, where the parenting equation falsifies itself is the place where we forget that the baby is not meant to stay in that intersection. That baby is a unique individual too. The baby, your baby, is born with some traits and over time, develops emotions, choices, preferences and styles that define him / her. How much time do we spend in getting to know this individual and how much time do we spend in directing him / her to do follow our design and to be the way we want him / her to be?

Agreed that as parents, we need to guide our children, to be there for them, teach them right for wrong. Hopefully, however, we would not be imposing our design on them and would involve them in making decisions that are likely to impact them as they grow older. We cannot have a child decide which school he / she goes to but perhaps we can enable a child to make decisions about the kind of activity he / she wants to engage in during a play date. Enabling a child to make a decision is one of the best things we can teach him / her. It is really the pencil which will allow him / her to design a life moving forward.

So how can we keep a check on ourselves and not become overbearing? Here are three handy tips:

a)     Specify the outcome ‘what do you want to accomplish’?

b)     Paint the big picture. ‘Why do you want to accomplish that?’

c)      Stay away from the ‘How should you accomplish that?’ unless you would like to specify acceptable and unacceptable ways (not as per your standards but as per generic standards that exist in the world, like ethics, for instance).

Delegate your child’s life design to your child.  Be there to guide the child and share your experiences and those of others around you. It is the toughest ask of a parent. Are you up for the challenge?

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

Raising Self-Reliant Children

391This blog post has been reproduced with permission from ParentEdge, a leading Parenting magazine in India. The post is written by Sudha Kumar, CEO of Prayag Consulting, which publishes ParentEdge.

As a mother of two strong willed teenagers, I have been learning how to be an effective parent while, at the same time, letting go, in the last few years! Figuring out that balance is the hard part, especially when you are an involved parent, which I like to believe I am J My daughter is now in 9th grade. At the start of this grade, she had to make her subject choices. For one of her electives, she picked Art. My husband and I, both the hard core science types, did not expect this. Add to this, our son, also one of those hard core science types, claimed that these courses were very hard, and good grades would be hard to come by.

We had to make a choice- either to support our daughter in her decision (even though we may not be able to actively help her in the subject) or convince her out of it citing our experience and saying we knew best. I knew my daughter wanted to take the course badly. And so, I said to myself, how does it matter even if she does not get an A in this course? After this, she may not have a chance to explore a subject like this again.

So, after much consideration, we let her be with her choice. This was at the start of the year. Fast forward to the present. My daughter is not finding the course a cake walk, but she loves it. The outcomes are not always commensurate (the grades I mean). She does get disappointed at times and once even wondered if she should have taken Computer Apps instead. But, she resolved to fight it out and figure out how to up her grades rather than “cop out”. Since it was her decision, she is doing what it takes to improve and is backing herself to do better even though she has had her moments of doubt.

I realized that this “growing up” experience will be far more valuable than the experience of scoring a relatively easy A in a more conventional course. As parents, we need to consciously stop being over protective and all-knowing and let our children experiment and take their own decisions, as they grow up. That is, if we want to raise self-reliant children! Do you agree?