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Ready reckoners on parenting

Teenage is a time of doubtfulness, identity crisis and swinging between overconfidence and a complete lack of it.

Ready reckoners on parenting

Teen Times by Gratian Vas. Blossom Books. Pages 213. Rs 299

Aditi Garg

Teenage is a time of doubtfulness, identity crisis and swinging between overconfidence and a complete lack of it. It is also a time between childhood and adulthood when a person is at crossroads and still deciding which path to follow for their personal and professional future. In this time of flux, teens have innumerable questions with little idea about whom to approach with these queries and most of the time, they end up depending on their peers who are as clueless as they are. This unreliable information does more harm than good. In our culture, save for a few households, children find it difficult to approach parents with queries they might feel are embarrassing. Having a handy guide that talks to them could be of much help. 

Gratian Vas wrote a column for The Teenager where he started his writing career and then wrote a book that is still in print. Having been a teacher, a warden, a headmaster, a principal and a resource person in various educational institutions gave him a lot of insight into what bothers children. Over a 50- year-long career, he has written more than 1,500 educational and general books for children. Teen Times is his concise yet informative guide that comprehensively covers issues that bother teens. The book uses simple language, tackles each issue directly, doesn’t beat around the bush and offers advice without sermonising. Given how fleeting teen attention is, making the key points bold is a smart move. The book covers topics as common as bullying and dating to more sensitive issues like teen depression and suicide with due seriousness. Without trivialising issues of self-image, body issues, peer pressure or same-sex relationships, the author touches the right vein by validating these issues and then goes on to offer advice regarding dealing with each. The book gets the tone just right. Calling a spade a spade but at the same time not demeaning anything, the author converses with the teens as equals, which would make them want to sit up, take notice and listen. Surely a book you could slip on to your teen’s bedside and be at ease that they are not being influenced by other unsure teens but by someone in authority and with ample experience in dealing with adolescents. 

As a freelance journalist and columnist, Prakriti Prasad has worked with various national newspapers for more than 20 years. She has authored Parenteen based not just on her own experience but also on her her mother’s, who influenced her parenting greatly. The topics that she touches reverberate with parents of every modern adolescent. The best part is that the book specifically targets Indian adolescents who have different concerns as compared to those in the west. So while gadget and social media addiction is rampant around the world, exam stress in India is at another level altogether owing to the competitive nature of academics. Prasad deals with everything with expertise. When she advises that it is best not to get dragged into a fight, a lot of us would be able to reflect how easily we tend to get embroiled in what starts as a discussion and escalates into a screaming match. 

When you hear it from her, the pressure that we all know plagues children these days seems so much more real. Another important thing that she brings up is stepping back to let kids bloom unhindered. It seems easier said than done in times when every moment of the child is tied up in one activity or another and we have this irresistible urge to impress upon them the best way to do everything. Above everything, the underlying theme of the book is encouraging and keeping lines of communication open. As you read the book, a lot of things will make much more sense. If you are a parent, you would know what a roadblock with an adolescent feels like and the book is sure to present ways to deal with your situation, as it quotes many examples and something is bound to click. 

If stories of tough parenting times are aplenty, so are those that will leave you in splits. Children can be frustrating and fun in equal parts. When you have the responsibility to bring them up, it pays to look at the brighter side, or in the absence of it you may look for humour in otherwise infuriating situations. And you don’t have to look hard, just change your outlook a bit. Sathya Ramaganapathy is an author who writes with a touch of everyday conversational style and that makes her writing endearing. And her humour turns it into a great read. Her book, It’s a Mom Thing, is also the name of her blog on parenting. 

She chronicles everyday anecdotes with her children and some of these are sure to strike a chord. Be it their sarcasm, their hilarious come-backs or those that will get any parent fuming, these may all sound quite close to home. Through it all she subtly gives a lesson in parenting by being patient, understanding, involved and everything a mom can be. After all, can any of us say with confidence that they haven’t struggled to get their kids to the bus stop every single morning. The way she nurtured the love of books in her children is commendable and a lesson to every parent who asks how they can get their kids to read. Read on for some light-hearted parenting moments that we all could do with. 

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