Too much choice?

image-20150303-31835-kbn4ubIn the good old days when I was growing up in the India of the 70s and the 80s, we had very few career choices.  You either chose science and became a doctor or an engineer, or took commerce and became an MBA, a CA or a banker.  I don’t remember any of us bemoaning the lack of choices – most likely because there weren’t any, but also maybe we were too young and un-exposed to really know what we wanted?

Fast forward to our children’s generation, where they are faced with a bewildering number of choices. And Indian universities are still a little behind their western counterparts – here, the enormous range of courses a kid can study in college, and the ability to mix and match courses to create a unique degree of your own, is mind-boggling.  As my son gets closer to going off to college, the brochures landing in my mailbox make my mouth salivate – wow! this college allows you to mix a minor in liberal arts with a major in engineering! That college has a wonderful co-op program, that helps you work and study from the second year itself!

But while I am drooling over these options, I see the opposite reaction in my son, and his many other friends.  Faced with so much choice, they are bewildered and confused and don’t know what to choose.  So in some ways they are on the other end of the spectrum from their parents – we had so few choices and they have so many – but on the other hand, it is the same conundrum –  are the kids too young to be making career choices at this age?

There are various studies showing that too much choice confuses the consumer. One of the best books I have read is The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar. Her research shows that  we can handle more than a few choices, but an overabundance can paralyze us.

So, what can we as parents do?  For one thing, along with my son, I am doing detailed research on the various courses available, and how they will fit in with my child’s interests and abilities.  So much has changed between our generation and our children’s that it is important we find out as much as we can about the various options.  At the same time, education has become expensive, and the world intensely competitive, so it is also important to find out the career prospects and employability of these courses – this is something I find kids are too young to have a good perspective about. And again, because you as the parent know your child so well, it is important to ask the right questions to understand why your child is interested in a course – is it really his interest, or is it because all his friends are talking about it?

As parents, there is a strong a role we play in our children’s career choices, and it is important that we play it well.  For more details on this, do our read the article, “A Parent’s Role in Career Choices,’ in our latest issue of ParentEdge.  You will learn a lot!

This blog has been reposted with permission. Written by Gayatri Kulkarni for Parent Edge (http://parentedge.in).

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A Gift to Mothers: A Life Beyond Motherhood

lbm_smallBeing 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 to me at namrataa@lifebeyondmotherhood.com. You can avail of a Mother’s Day special complimentary trial session till 8-May.

This Mothers’ Day, gift yourself a new life – YOUR life – a Life Beyond Motherhood.

This blogpost is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge (http://parentedge.in).

Protecting your child from yourself

parents-childNobody’s perfect. Moms aren’t, as well. That, somehow, seems to be a mothers’ deepest fear. What if I am not doing this right..? What if what this other mom does, is indeed right about how I should handle this? We only have our gut to rely on. Something that tells us that this is the right way to deal with this situation for our children.

The thing is, that each of us are evolving every moment. Motherhood, really, is a process..which starts when a child is born and does not end unless we choose to end it.

Every moment, as moms, we are discovering ourselves more, finding new ways of dealing with the challenges that raising children presents us with. Every moment, we try and push ourselves to do the best, limited only by our own limitations as human beings.

It is hence, tough for a mother to know her own shortcomings and to learn to address them so as to not impact her child. Losing one’s temper is perhaps one such thing that many mothers would be able to relate to.

Dealing with household responsibilities, the relationship with the husband, the extended family, a high pressure work environment, it can all really get to you.

In the midst of all this, it is tough to take a deep breath and to listen to what your child might be trying to communicate.

It is easy to get caught into this trap of ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Almost all mothers would be able to relate to this…even supermoms 🙂

So how does one deal with one’s own shortcomings as to not impact the child? The last thing you want is to shut down the communication channels with your child and for that to start impacting your child’s development.

The first step, is to acknowledge, that there is, indeed, a problem and it would need to be addressed. That itself requires a great deal of effort. It is important to then be able to isolate the factors that are causing you to lose your temper leading to venting in front of the child.

Seeking help from a life coach might help. In cases where issues are more compounded, as financial pressures or relationship issues or a highly volatile work environment, seeking help from a psychologist might be a good idea.

At the end of the day, if there is an issue, it needs to be resolved. The point is, is the issue that you need to address, you yourself? If yes, own up and take action. If not for yourself, then do it for your child and for your family. As a mom, you need to be able to protect a child. Even if it is from yourself.