10 Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to Having Glasses

10 Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to Having Glasses

When your little one gets diagnosed with glasses it is daunting. A feeling of dread creeps into your heart  and a million thoughts go through your mind.

Will they be able to adjust at school? How will your little ones handle this change? Will they be bullied for being different? Will they be able to handle a piece of equipment with them constantly? Will they be able to see themselves like they were? What did you do wrong that they got glasses so soon? Is there any way you can help them get rid of these? 

Not for long mind you. Within a few hours your heart and brain align and you understand that this is not really a big deal. Specially if you come from a family of people with glasses or astigmatism which is known to be hereditary . Heart in hearts you knew this was inevitable but you just weren’t prepared for it to happen so early in their lives.

The thing that we forget is that with technology so advanced, such cases are being caught earlier than before. Also, that it is better that they get support for their eyes so that they are better equipped to see the world. Besides, it is only a matter of time before they will grow up and either get lenses or Lasik and this point will be moot. Also, wearing glasses in many cases can be used as an enhancement and one can just remove them before clicking pictures or going swimming.

I have shared our personal experience here, but I wanted to go ahead and break down step by step the ways in which you can help your child adjust to this life altering event.

Prepare Them Before Eye Test

This depends on the child. But I find a well informed child (as they are naturally curious) helps them understand why it is important to sit still and give the right answers. My son found it very difficult to focus on where the doctor needed him to. Knowing that his persistence was important for the end result encouraged him to have patience.


Also, don’t be overly optimistic. Prepare them for the possibility that when you leave the eye institute they may have a cool device that gives them the power to see better.

Encourage Them During The Test

Children squirm. Incessantly. You will need to ensure to have your the bucket of your patience fully stocked as they keep trying to get out of the contraption. I must have had to tell him a million ties to “stay in his seat” and “give the right answer”.

 

Help Them Process Their Feelings

The minute the doctor said, “He will have to wear glasses full time” , my son face fell and he was close to tears. Negating and saying that ,”It’s okay. It’s fine. ” won’t help anyone. Let them understand and accept this new truth. Explain to them in the simplest terms using their favorite characters or interests how this new device helps them enhance their life.

Pick Out Something Cool

Whatever “amazing” is for them currently. Let them enjoy the process of picking out glasses that are their favorite color. They will grow an attachment to the glasses only when they enjoy owning them. Even if the glasses may not be your favorite, help the little ones guide you to their choice.


Ensure the glasses are durable and inexpensive. Get the year warranty for they are sure to damage the first pair of glasses they get within the first year.

Milestone Day of Fun

The day you get your glasses should be a day they remember forever. Make it a day full of things to do. Their favorite outing, their favorite food and getting their glasses. We even got my son a toy but that was because he braved this unwanted change really well and we wanted to reward his positive outlook.

Compliment Them (Within Reason)

Make sure you, your family and friends make a happy deal of them getting glasses. Have them compliment your child on how wonderful they look with them. One of my neighbor’s very kindly told my son, ” Oh! You look so smart with your glasses. ” and that’s a comment he remembers to this day believing they make him smart. Haha.

But be careful not to over comment. My daughter was so worried about her friends not being able to recognize her with her glasses on. When everyone started complimenting her, she started avoiding wearing them because she thought people couldn’t see anything else about her.

Associate it with Someone They Look Up to

My husband and I both wear glasses and eventually now my son loves that fact that he has this in common with us. When children see a role model they adore wearing something similar they enjoy the change all the more (brands use this concept often 🙂 ). On the first day, the only way my son stopped getting upset was when we reminded him that Superman wore glasses too.

Make It an Advantage

In the initial days, we explained to our son that his glasses are give his eyes super power. After understanding he went on to explain this to his other friends who also got diagnosed with glasses, which as endearing. Educating kids about the ways something is useful for them, helps them educate others or deal with comments when they do come.

Explain How To Care for Glasses

Like any tool, it is important to explain to them how to care for this new addition.

  • Clean them with soft microfiber cloth.
  • Keep said cloths handy.
  • Wash the glasses often.
  • Always keep them in the same place every time they take them off.
  • Take them off only when scared of them getting broken in physical activities.

Be Persistent

It is not easy for a child to constantly wear glasses. They find it uncomfortable and inconvenient. Most importantly, they feel scared of losing them. But once again, you have to reiterate that these are a tool to be used to ensure they see the world more clearly. A tool they need to keep close and be using all the time. It takes a lot of reminding before they get into the habit of wearing glasses.

Have your children or anyone around you gotten glasses yet? What do you think helped them adjust to them? Comment below and share your experience.

 

Sharing is caring. Make sure you tell your friends about these important ways to help their child.

What do you do when you find out your child has glasses? Here are 10 things to keep in mind when helping your child adjust.

No More Mean Girls! Raising Strong Women Who Do Not Judge

No More Mean Girls! Raising Strong Women Who Do Not Judge

As a parent, it falls on us. To raise boys who respect girls.  We are aware of this need. But do we remember that we need to be raising strong girls who are respectful? Who grow up to be not judgemental of other’s choices and situations?

International Women’s Day is a wonderful time to bring this home! Raising women who celebrate other women.

I have seen it. You have seen it. Every so often, we come across women who don’t understand our choices. Their snark comments and sly compliments leave us gaping and disheartened. What reels us more though is that this person is a woman.

At an early age, we see it in play-yard bullying. As we grow, we see it in our “frenemies”, when we get older we see it the judgment of our #momlife. In India, we see it from older women. A subtle condescension of our way of life when compared to the hardships they have endured. Women very easily forget that they have been girls.

I saw a video recently, that said that girls are as aggressive as boys and that aggression only grows emotionally, with age. It is only more visible in boys in physical action. In girls, it’s all about how to manipulate and vent on those closest to us. Namely the friends. And this is actually true!

Counter Mean Comments

This is so important to teach our girls, the effect that their words have on those around them. Mean comments, back handed compliments and snark responses are so potentially harmful. A great way is the toothpaste method. You take a tube of toothpaste and ask them to take out some onto a plate. When they do, ask them to put it back. When they respond helplessly, explain to them that this is how words are. When you say things that are unkind, it leads to a mess and that cannot be  cleaned up no matter how much you desire or are sorry.

Ask your girl to compliment other girls as often as they can. Building others up and appreciating what other’s have is so very important to teach. Ask them to think about what they are going to say. Is it kind? Is it a compliment? Is it respectful? It is necessary to say? If not, it’s better to keep their comments to themselves.

No other time than now, to make sure our girls comprehend the ever lasting effect and consequences of words said in haste or spite!

Avoid Being Territorial

Girls, are very territorial. There is something innate within us, which protects viciously that which we consider OURS. Probably an instinctive thought that is a big part of our make up. This may be why we tend to feel threatened when our friends make new friends. But we need to impart to our girls early, that they need to be kind and nurture those we consider close to us.

A great way to do this is to be as social as possible yourself. By this, I do not mean parties every weekend but be friendly to every single person. Build your community with friends, acquaintances and strangers alike, caste, race, religion aside. The more our girls see US being open to new relationships, the more they open they will be.

Recognize Frenemies

Not everyone is a best friend. Little girls tend to think that every person they play with is their best friend. Specially if you have a people pleasure on your hands, who loves being the center of attention. This is what allows them to let slide a lot of mean comments passed by their so called friends. Relational bullying is the worst kind and our girls need to be able to identify that early. If your child is one, recognize and act on this instantly!

That comes from how we talk to them. Treating your daughter like a princess does not mean giving her the world. It means, teaching her to respect her herself and expecting nothing but kindness from those who surround her. And being okay with letting go of those who do not. I have spoken in detail about maintain friendships and teaching little kids to handle bullies in my bestselling book Strong Roots Have No Fear.

 

Be Mindful of Insecurities

Not happy enough. Not thin enough. Not fashionable enough. Just not enough. These insecurities make us do a lot of weird things. Women, from the time we are girls, are often fearful of losing what we have. We need to counter this by letting our girls know that they can depend on themselves for their happiness. Jealousy is possibly one of the most dangerous things to harbor within.

A wonderful way of this is to cheer for others in their joy. Often, parents seeing other child succeed worry about why their own child is not doing the same. Verbally. If instead of that, we rejoice in the success of others and use that to positively inspire us our girls will learn to do the same.

Breathe, Assess Before Reacting

A book I read recently, “Men are Waffles, Women are Spaghetti” spoke about how when women react to something, it is a reaction with a lot of history behind it. That women minds are intricate webs where everything is connected to teach other.

That really need not be the case. When some supposed infraction happens, we need to first see if it really has anything to do with us? Was the decision one for the person’s personal gain/needs or was it some way to hurt us? And even, if it was going to hurt us, is this really going to matter in 5-10 years time? This silly thing that someone has done that will soon become a thing of the past?

How do we impart this to little girls? By making them understand practically why they weren’t invited to a birthday party or a play date or why they aren’t getting something they really want. By focusing their thought process to think logically about they WHY of a situation. To teach them to see  the other side of a conversation or situation.

Often, when we grow we harbor resentment and use it in consecutive situations. That just leads to lot of build up.   Not every battle is worth fighting. Not every situation needs a reaction. Also, when you see your child being overly emotional about something and that time, bringing up other topics, make sure you bring their focus back to the situation on hand. Talk to her about how precious her tears are and how important it is for us to be mindful about what we are crying about.

Participate in Healthy Conversations

Everyone talks behind you. Again, this is an innate thing that happens between people. Not just girls. But there is a difference between gossip and unhealthy conversations.

Vents what happened to them and works on a solution to figure out how to better handle the situation. Unhealthy gossip is where people talk needlessly about other people’s lives, passing on rumors which are probably untrue or saying vicious things about someone just because they have been wronged in someway.

How do we teach young girls to not do that? When your child tells you something, be practical in your response to it. Divert their attention to how to better the situation the next time instead of calling up the other child’s parent and being aggressive. Recognize when children are being children and the consequence of your own actions before acting out.

Also, make sure your child knows the importance of keeping a friend’s secret. And that before passing on information, to be a 100% sure it is true. For a misplaced rumor is damaging and it all comes back to you.

Stand Tall

People, not just children are most susceptible to peer pressure. It all begins with what other kids have and just never ends.We need to teach our girls to be able to own their choices. To stand tall for themselves and for others, if need be. That we don’t need something or have to do something, just because another has it. Our actions are based on our family’s needs and the circumstances unique to us. This also helps build empathy and understanding of others, for everyone has their issues.

Give them ample respectful answers for things they are teased about and let them know we as parents stand behind them a 100%.

Make sure you read to them stories of friendship, love, caring and kindness.


 

If we want to raise girls who do not judge other, we need to first and foremost stop judging other women and celebrating them. Let those small things go and fight for what’s right.

What would you add to this?

Raising Girls Who Grow UP to Be Women Who Do Not Judge Other Women or Be Mean

7 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Sexual Predators

7 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Sexual Predators

I am neurotic about predators. When my kids started preschool and when they go to out for activities to the park or for classes, I’m constantly on the look out to protect them. To look for people who may not be “safe” or are  “over friendly”. This is not just a fear thanks to the vivid, disturbing news we are exposed on a daily basis. It stems from memories.

At the age of 11 living in Madhya Pradesh (India), I opened the door to the  postman and he asked for a glass of water. When I got it for him, handing it through the grill(thankfully) at the door, he caught my hand and held it to his crotch of his pants, then kissed it and smiled. Even at that young age, I knew that was wrong and ran to my mom to tell her. He was put in jail for a day before his wife came to plead for his life and he was released.

When I was 14 and used to walk home from school in Kuwait (Kuwait) with my mom a man used to often follow us all the way home in his car.

These are just two of the many experiences I’ve had personally. I don’t say this to scare you. Of course, it was scary and still leaves me feeling icky. These events taught me at an early age, that there are many deranged people out there.

While these are some of my worst memories, I think somewhere it made me hyper aware and at the same time stronger, knowing it’s not to be taken seriously. Maybe I got desensitized to it all (not a good thing). In India and Kuwait, there is an unsaid acceptance and allowance of such behavior. That is food for another discussion.

But this is why I’m a strong advocate that the conversation begin early so that children be able to recognize such behavior, understanding that sometimes even people you know are capable of horrible acts. Mind you these things happened while my parents were close. It is not the act but the reaction that carries significance.

My son is 8 now but I have been having conversations with him about personal safety since he was 4. Specially because he has always been an extremely friendly child who loves to make “friends”. Now, so is my two year old daughter. And I worry about their friendliness making them easy prey. On the other hand, I never want to them to lose their happy demeanor. To be too scared to say Hi to strangers. We need people who are friendly to make the world a warm place to live. Who aren’t scared to be the first one to break the proverbial ice. So how do we do it?

pexels-photo

The below conversations we have at regular intervals in my household becaus for children repetition is very essential. Every child is different. You will find it useful to use the below as baseline to start a dialogue essential for proactive thinking. To start talking about this disturbing topic is the first step.

No Secrets Within Family

I believe this is the most important thing kids need to remember, in their early years specially. Of course there will be a time when their life is their own but when they are young they are to know that while they don’t have to tell their parents every single thing, it is wrong if someone, specially an adult tells them to keep a secret. My parents have always have open dialogue. There absolutely nothing I feel uncomfortable talking to them about. This I think is what helped me just go and tell my mom, ” The postman took my hand and put it on his pants. ” immediately after it happened. One should never feel fear in telling their parents anything.

I always say that no topic should be barred from discussing with kids, specially when they see something on TV (adults kissing) or hear something that may possibly confuse them about issues.  Listening and letting them ask questions, no matter how uncomfortable that are answered as you may see fit is a great way to make sure kids trust parents.

“It’s Mom Dad’s Job to Protect You”

I write this because, I have often read, predators scare kids by saying “Stay quiet or we will hurt your mom/dad/family” or “Don’t tell anyone or I will say you did …. so and so” . Please re-iterate to your child that it is YOU who are supposed to protect them and that you trust them. And no matter what they do, they can always come and tell you.

Your body is off limits
No one and I cannot emphasis this enough, No One should touch them inside their shirt or skirt/pants. Or kiss their lips. With some people being extra cuddly, it is okay that kids understand that saying no if they feel uncomfortable is just respecting their body. This is one of the reasons why I too personally always ask children for hugs. They can always be taught to show their respect and love in other ways. It means a lot more when it comes from them than mushing them anyway.


Permission is Must

We all tell our kids they should ask before going anywhere but many a times we forget to tell them not to walk off with a friend to an unknown place. They should always play where you can see them and they can see you. They should understand walking off into the horizon behind a balloon or ice cream cart is Not okay. Going to a secret exciting place with a friend or some adult they know is not okay. They should always ask for permission from the person in charge before going anywhere.

Define Stranger

In the beginning, when I started this conversation my son asked me, ” Who is a stranger? ” And then we went on to discuss who all are considered family, friends and people we just meet once in a few months or a year. It is important that kids understand the definition of a family’s boundaries and relationships.

No Helping Strangers

It’s important to be nice. Say hi to strangers. Smile at them but remember to explain to your child that they are too young to actually help an adult. Many children feel very grown up in being able to do something an adult asks them to do. They are in a constant hurry to prove themselves or please others. So if an adult who is a stranger says,” Can you help me with … ” they are to respond with, ” Sure. Let me go ask my parents/teacher first. “

There is Enough at Home

Kids are greedy by default. It’s not their fault. They are drawn to that extra piece of candy or toy or whatever is their favorite thing.  And many times we parents exploit this honest response by making lot of activities incentive based. But at the same time every child needs to know that their parents can provide everything for them. They do Not need to ask or take anything that any other person offers them in return for something.

Shout, Run away & Assault

Like honesty is the best policy. I believe running away is the best policy in any dangerous situation. Children need to know that when they feel uncomfortable, their first response should be to shout out and run away. If someone does try to or successfully does grab them then nothing is off limits. Nothing! You are allowed to hit, punch, bite, scratch and most importantly scream. We even practice the volume level at home.

 

Fear is not the solution to anything. The world is scary. The only way we can live is being constantly cautious. As adults we now are naturally so but we need to enable our children to do the same and know what to do in any given situation.

Have you already had this conversation with your child?

What age did you start?

Are there any other things you would make sure they know?

Let me know in the comments below. Keep the conversation going with your children, stay safe!


Hows & Whys of Using YouTube Safely for Kids

Hows & Whys of Using YouTube Safely for Kids

Yet another dangerous challenge is doing the rounds on the internet. A mom finds videos on YouTube that tells kids to do harmful things to themselves or others through MOMO Challenge. I have known for quite some time that YouTube if not used in limit has the potential to be very harmful to kids and their mindset. At the end of the day, it is a tool to be wielded by the person holding it. As a gadget or as a weapon.

Using YouTube as a Crutch for Education and Baby Sitting

It happens often with new parents and it was with me also. When he was small, I let my son watch the fun animated videos on YouTube. Keeping him occupied, it was super convenient for me to work around the house or just do my thing. Soon he was watching kids unboxing videos and being adamant that he wants the same toys. He was so attracted to it all!

We observed the change in his behavior just in time, I think. Ask him to stop watching and he would revolt!

We decided to stop giving him the device then. Any videos online were watched only once a week, or as a treat for doing something that we couldn’t get them to do otherwise. Till the day I saw him watching a video on YouTube-Kids where Spiderman and Elsa were pregnant and talking about babies. I went online and found that this was very common where toys would talk about adult topics.

That was the last time we let kids have Youtube in their hands.

From then on, any video would only be streamed on TV and only those that I had researched.

youtube harmful kids safely

Affect of Online Propaganda As Kids Get Older

But it doens’t end there. Even with those videos streamed, the advertising certainly become a bane during shopping as kids request for things that we have never even heard of. It breeds materialism, at such an early age. Instead of advertising to parents, now stores have direct access to little children. Which is why we need to talk to them early about having enough and buying only what we really need.

But it isn’t only toys. The propaganda can go in deep.

One day, we were driving around and my son, then 7, spotted a political poster. He repeated verbatim the negative campaigning we had seen on YouTube before you can skip ad.  We had laughed over how often those ads keep coming up, but it had not occurred to me how much of an impact they were having on my family’s vision of the world we lived in.

Here was my son repeating something he had no idea about, without any proof himself. How horrendous it is to have the whole coming generation blatantly influenced so negatively!


 

The Many Ways YouTube is Harmful To Kids

Idle Time Consumption

In the  time a child could be creating or discovering the outside or their own thought processes, they are busy consuming content that may or may not be productive towards their growth.

Instant Gratification

YouTube gives you what you want at the click of a button. It gives them a false sense of adrenaline rush to get what they want the moment they want it. Life does not work that way and this is disturbing.

Dangerous Hidden and Not so Hidden Propaganda

As seen with the recent discovery of the MOMO Challenge and earlier when they were showing adult content through kids’ videos, these challenges and trends will keep happening again and again people find ways to influence children in a disgusting or subtle way. Some ways are clearly obvious, others not so much.

Peer Pressure

In a time  when we want them more than ever to be able to stand their ground in the face of external influence, we let them watch videos of advertisements of kids playing video games or unboxing toys or just playing pranks. And of course once, they start looking up to a certain YouTube star, they want to use what they are using and doing.

Unregulated CONTENT

In a time when we should actually be very cautious about what we let our children watch and the age rating of something, instead we let them have a gadget and watch whatever their little hearts lean towards. Which can possibly have anything within. It is so unfortunate though now, that they let free on a platform that is totally unregulated, with videos being uploaded every few minutes.

Distorted Thinking

The constant instant gratification and change in video watching as they scroll through different topics makes kids unable to learn to focus. They learn way more than their little minds can comprehend and that leads to distracted and distorted view of the real world.

Reality TV for Kids

This is my personal peeve since I do not approve of any reality television. Even though most people know it is scripted, to show people in such a vulnerable and bad lighting in the guise of popular television is just sad. It makes us all so cynical of the world view for it is real life but people play games with each other’s emotions for money or fame. And what is YouTube but reality television for children.

Emotional Impact

As I mentioned my personal experience, I could visibly see my son’s behaviour change for the worse and it was clear to me the impact the incessant scrolling was having on him. And I believe that goes a long way to show the impact on any child for the above reasons. When they do not get their fix, they retaliate violently, which only grows.

Eye Strain

Very recently people have come across the harmful effects of screen time. Recently when getting my son glasses, the technician said get the expensive ones that help against gadget use. My answer was that my kids do not use gadgets that much yet.

How to Use YouTube Safely

No Personal Account for Kids

Please do not give little kids their own accounts. Yes, it avoids your personal account being flooded by kids videos but it is totally not needed for kids to feel in ownership for YouTube account. The moment kids feel in charge, they start watching whatever they feel like.

Clear Your Browser History

We are adults who sometimes click on things that are inappropriate. And that leads to YouTube showing videos that are similar in the suggested video section. Make sure to clear your browser history to ensure kids do not end up even watching a thumbnail that is inappropriate.

Make Kids Watch YouTube on TV

Anything they watch should be streamed via television through chormecast, roku, apple etc where everyone can see what is being consumed. Stay close and monitor often what kids are watching.

Make a Playlist

This is tedious but very important for your child’s safetly. Go through every video you plan to let them watch and make an approved playlist of the videos.

Talk to Kids About What to Watch and how to behave online

No matter how safe you be, it could still happen that they go to someone’s house and watch something inappropriate. With my son, I have told him he goes to people’s house to play, not to watch TV or play videos games. So when someone suggests to watch TV, it’s time to go home. Also, I have talked to my son about how important it to to behave appropriately online as it is just like in real life. With cyber bullying rampant, it is so much more important for kids to know early how to be online.

Download Control Apps

Mcafee safe familyDownload this or any other app to keep an eye on what your child is doing online. You can track all your devices. My husband and I have the app in our phones and we can check which sites they are visiting and which videos they are watching on YouTube. You can block the sites from the app too.

Enable YouTube Safety Mode on computers

Go to the bottom of any YouTube page and turn Safety Mode on.  (Learn how).  Safety Mode won’t catch everything – even YouTube acknowledges this – but it will prevent some unsavory content from younger eyes. For example, with Safety Mode turned on you cannot watch the video titled “Call Me Maybe (Dirty Parody)”.  The other nice thing about Safety Mode is that user comments are not immediately visible.  You have to specifically click to view them.  This is my favorite feature of Safety Mode.  Sometimes the video itself is fine, but the comments are rude, mean, and totally inappropriate.

Set a Time or videos Limit

As with everything, moderation needs to be promoted within children to impart self control. Make sure they know not to exceed 20 mins of time or 3 videos or a pre decided limit.

Make Videos a Treat

In my home, video watching on YouTube on television is a treat that they get as a bonus when they achieved something.

Use outdoors, Books and Streaming sources Instead

All the things you find easy to do with YouTube, can just as easily be done with books. The local library and book stores are wonderful resources to provide your child for endless wonderment. All the shows your kids so love are easily available on Prime Video or Netflix or for free on PBS Kids or Disney. Create a love in your child for reading or let them spend time outdoors.

 


Don’t Fall for ” YouTube-Kids is safe “

No matter what, Youtube or any platform that is not controlled by moderators is open for unsafe content being uploaded onto it. In different ways. So make sure you do not give kids access to your gadget or online videos in the false notion that it is  safe.

The only safe way for kids is to be constantly vigilant on what they are consuming, searching for what is appropriate content online and then making sure our children have only limited use.

What tips would you add to this? Comment below and share with other parents.

 

The Many Ways YouTube is Harmful & How to Use it Safely

When Your Child is Reluctant to Speak Their Native Language

When Your Child is Reluctant to Speak Their Native Language

My son refused to speak or learn Hindi. Even though, we could see he could understand Hindi completely. How we knew was when his grandparents were visiting and he responded appropriately to their discussion solely in Hindi about when they should go back. Besides, he would vehemently respond should we ever talk about something he did not want to do. But embracing it, was a struggle!

We also made a lot of mistakes in teaching it to him. “The cries of I’m American, why do I need to learn Hindi?” ran rampant in our home. The conversations about how important it is to speak two or more languages went long and hard.

But why did this reluctance exist at all? I thought about it and related to it with my own upbringing.

My mother tongue, the language I grew up with, would ideally be English. Since I spoke it most often with my parents, friends, teachers etc. The language of my mother though is Marathi. The language spoken in my maiden home is Hindi as is the same that is spoken in my home today, other than English. My mother tried to teach me Marathi but at the time, I jumbled them all and she dropped it. Gave her an edge to talk in secret with her family members too. haha! I did learn to understand it completely but I wish today I had all the advantages to learning a native language. After all, most people around me are multilingual.

With my son, a mindset shift needed to be made.

What do do when your child refuses to learn their native language

Being Persistent

Once I realized the mistakes I had been making,  I worked on improving on them. I never stopped the conversations about why native languages are important and the many benefits a person can have. I used many practical ways to ensure that we made the effort to learn the language. The persistence would eventually pay off when all the tips were combined with the below. I never stopped the conversations about why native languages are important and the many benefits a person can have.

Working with Siblings

It was gradual, the shift in mindset. I kept working with my children constantly. With my two children I have often seen that if I need one to learn something, being persistent with one improves the other. Seeing his sister picking up the language so excitedly, sparked an interest and maybe a little competition edge too as he would see our joy at her attempts.

Friends Who Spoke Their Own Native Language

This was a wonderful happenstance. During play dates, his friends would talk about going to learn their mother languages and one even spoke to me in Marathi. That made him realize that this is something most people do. And it is fun when you can connect with your friends. Even in my book, I have used Hindi proverbs to bring home life lessons that are essential for children to grow with strong values.

Speaking It With My Own Friends

It is rude to talk in a different language in front of others, but bringing it up in reference to something while talking about life back home or how something is done in your own heritage or maybe a quote shows kids that there are things unique to your language that is interesting. Kids are always listening. 

Watching Fun Movies

Most Hindi movies are not very child friendly. I found a few that I knew would pique his interest. About warriors, sports etc that had good messages. Reading subtitles, he developed a desire to watch more content.

Simplifying The Learning

I did everything. Made up simple stories. Taught them a couple of words a day. Fun little quizzes when we were walking around. Spoke to them only in Hindi on weekends.

I essentially took the pressure off the learning. Instead of committing a time, I did it almost all day long, in various sneaky ways. The progress he shows now is overwhelming. His sister is way ahead of him now, but his desire to learn his mother tongue is heart warming.

What helps YOU in teaching your kids? Was anyone you know ever reluctant to learn their mother language? What helped them in the mental shift?

You can grab our free checklist for making sure kids speak their native language OR get my bestselling book that talks about multilingualism in detail with many practical tips to help your child.

 


Valentines Need Not Be a Lavish Celebration to Be Meaningful

Valentines Need Not Be a Lavish Celebration to Be Meaningful

Romance from Indian movies is way more cheesy than any Valentines celebration can ever be. But Valentines day is very much a western/commercial influence in most multicultural homes. What can this celebration of love actually teach children, you ask?

Love for me has always been simple. Our first Valentine’s Day together was the most incredible! He surprised me with dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant. Then we headed out for what would turn out to be one of my favorite movies “Definitely, Maybe.” And then we drove around town talking the night away. It never got fancier than this but it was always special.

I have always known romance is kind of overrated. Love is much more than candy, long walks, lavish surprises and candlelit dinners.

So, why celebrate Valentines at all ?! Do we really need to show our children that you have to celebrate on this ONE day?

No, we really don’t. We should show our love every single day. But let’s face it. In our every day hustle of getting through the routines, classes, homework and our own agendas taking this one MORE day to show our love is not too bad either!

If we don’t fall into the materialistic trap, what is Valentine’s Day but another excuse to spend time with those we care the most about. And we can never have enough of those right?

Love that celebrates the tantrums, growing pains, and sick days when cooking was forgotten and messy house and hair ruled! What we are doing is marking this day with more memories of ttime together that make us laugh and our eyes well up with tears.

This love is more pure than any other. It takes hard work. Every. Single. Day!

In my book, I talk about how important it is for children to see that love is so much more about respect and nurturing. And I wish my kids can see that kind of love, in the people they eventually look towards for support through a lifetime of struggles and triumphs. How will they learn unless we as parents show them that it matters.

So our valentines are made memorable by rejoicing in our little family  –

Handmade Keepsakes

Fancy gifts have been replaced by keepsakes. Handprints. Footprints. You name it, we have it. Pinterest is full of simple crafts to do with your little ones no matter how old they are.

Simple heart cut out of papers, with loving messages written on them is a great way too. You could also choose to

Make adorable Monster Pom poms
Easy Valentines Pop Up Cards

This year I’m gifting both the kids books I got from the local library sale as they both enjoy reading. Also, I did the thing where I posted a note of what I love about them on their door. We are going to read them all on V-day. It is paramount kids learn early that gifts/acts of care are not about BIG gifts.

Really See Ourselves

To love another, we need to know ourselves better. For if we can love ourselves with all our imperfections, we can surely love those around us more fully.

And who better to give you a real perspective that the little ones who have no filter. Every year I ask my kids questions. I record their answers in a journal or a fancy card that later goes into the journal. Their answers are super cute and so heartwarming to go back to and read. It’s fascinating to see the world as they see it.

  • What does dad like to do?
  • Who do you love more?
  • What’s your favorite food?
  • What is your sister’s favorite thing to do?
  • Who do you think mom loves?
  • What do you love to do?

As the kids get older, I can make the questions help me see myself in a better light. It helps the kids learn how to self evaluate as well.

A Themed Dinner

Restaurants used to be a hassle. So, every year our meal is home cooked and made fancy for us. Something to a theme, that we can cook together. We have been doing a lot of baking: brownies, cakes, cupcakes.  Decorating together. Cooking together. Setting the table as a family, are all fun things to do. The kids do whatever they can. We have a blast creating memories while learning kitchen skills.

Decorating the Home

I always do a little something to make the home feel a bit more festive. My son is older now, and my daughter has a lot of opinions. So what do we do? We head to the dollar store and brainstorm a few items appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Then we go home and decorate together. Nothing too lavish ever mind you, but I personally enjoy shopping with my little ones. Getting inventive with little is certainly a must have talent.

Spending Time With Our Village

Valentine’s Day is a super special time to enjoy those we truly care about. Being with friends only shows our little ones how important it is to nurture relationships. And nothing is better than having a party to enhance the occasion. You could just have a potluck with no major frills. If we do have a party, we do a photo booth with props or a small budget meaningful card/gift exchange that goes with the event. It’s a wonderful way to value relationships. That love is about celebrating every bond!

Games, so Many Games

We make it a super special night with games. I love playing games with the kiddos. The laughter, hugs, and memories we create as we cheat, lie, and run around are truly priceless. You never feel as young as when you play with little ones and relearn the lessons of life with them. If you like, you can grab our free ebook for games, that can actually be played with anyone in the family.

Beats to Your Feet

We make sure to spend a part of the evening dancing our hearts out. It is so therapeutic. and the kids love getting their wiggles out. When we put on some slow songs, the kids get into the fun and slow dance with mom and dad too. Seeing moms and dads enjoying so with the kids, shows how important activity is to mark the occasion. Equality in genders and how to treat someone you care about is something that comes across in the small things.

 

Talk About the Four Pillars of Love

Kindness, Actions, Appreciation & Respect

Our celebrations may be a few of these things, or all of these, but sometime during the festivities, we make sure to discuss the four pillars on which all love stands. We converse about what are the different ways we can be kind and show our appreciation for someone. We discuss about the importance of respect and how we can care for our family members and friends. This conversation for sure lasts all year long.

Wishing you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day as you shower your endearment on those who matter the most.

Share below how your celebrate this special day. Send us pictures/crafts to contact@localhost and we will give you a shout out all across our social media.

Sharing is Caring. Tell your friends about these wonderfully simple ways to celebrate this day.

Valentines Day Simple and Meaningful

Kids' Mundan in USA Vs India: Simplifying the Tradition of Tonsuring

Kids’ Mundan in USA Vs India: Simplifying the Tradition of Tonsuring

“Oh! Your kids are going to be born with lots of hair.”, said anyone to whom I cribbed about the acidity I experienced while pregnant. “I would rather have them come out bald.”, I would remark.

And sure as sunshine, they both were born with a full head of baby soft, fine hair. As they grew, their hair got super curly and thick and I started dreading the Mundan ceremony.

The process where you shave off all the baby’s hair at 7,9,11 months or 1 year or 3 years.  They say it ensures thicker, fuller hair coming but has a lot of basis in traditional medicine too. What is ideally supposed to happen is that you take the baby to your native temple, the priest performs the ceremony, your family is of course there, you shave the baby’s head, wash it, apply haldi to it and then the hair is submerged in the water body near said temple.

Tonsure In USA

With my son, I was a new mom. So, going to India for the traditional Mundan ceremony was out of the question for me. So, on my mother in law’s suggestion, we kept it simple. When she visited a year later, we took him to a local barber shop, got all his hair trimmed off and then she took the hair with her to India. We prayed at home and wished him well. It was easy, no fuss.

Mundan in India

With my daughter though, it was hell on earth. The Indian barber came home, and seeing his scary razor I asked for him to use a trimmer. His trimmer was so much more worse. My daughter hated being made to sit still at 7 months. She cried and screamed as his horrid trimmer buzzed loud in her ears and then her hair was cut uneven because of course the trimmer wasn’t sharp. The whole family was crying with my little girl as she raised hell. It took a good hour to get it done.

If I could go back in time, I would just make sure to take her to a professional salon vs someone another suggests.

With all my experience in the past years, I’ve seen that kids, my kids have always had a better experience doing traditional things where I have known where to go through personal research.

I do not say, do not go the traditional route. I would however encourage you to keep things simple. Trim off the hair when and where the kids are most comfortable, at an older age and make sure to do the rest with a complete heart, having faith in the fact that no matter how you do something, the intention of giving your child the complete experience will stay true.

Have you had a Mundan or Tonsure done for your kids? Is this something you would consider doing? Have you had the traditional ear piecing ceremony done for your kids?

Broaden Your Parenting Horizons

sr

Multi Award-winning Parenting Book – Strong Roots Have No Fear

Childhood is a country in itself. And the same rules of immigration apply. One needs to observe their culture, learn their language and imbibe traits from them to help build a sense of community. With the belief that if we raise children with a strong value system, we need not fear for their future,  I bring to you Strong Roots Have No Fear.

I am a global citizen, raised shuttling between countries and now parenting children who are American by birth. An Indian writing about challenges every parent faces in our ever evolving world. A Third Culture Kid, I understand first hand what it means to be raised on the borders of multiple countries and cultures.

In this book I have given simple strategies I’ve learned from observing mothers around the world and my own childhood to help raise kids who are confident and have a global mindset early.

This small book made BIG waves around the world by being named TOP 10 among thousands of entries at the Author Academy awards.

Chapters in the book include –

Being an Empowered Parent
Channel Big Emotions
Imbibe Multilingualism
Motivate Self Reliance
Cultivate Talent Within
Balance Technology
Impart Self Moderation
Instill Gender Equality
Counter Bullying
Prepare for Tragedies/Predators
Infuse Your Heritage
Celebrate Diversity
Ingrain Racial Equality
Mantras for Travel
and more …

In short this book includes simple, easy to implement ways in which you can use your child’s strengths to intuitively, be mindful about –

** Raising Confident Children
** Building a Global Mindset

An easy read, this book uses the Author’s experiences as a multicultural child herself and parenting journey to empower multicultural families like her own to raise awareness about important values every child needs to grow strong.

PRESS FOR THE BOOK

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ABOUT THE BOOK – Strong Roots to Live an Empowered Life

I want for my children is to be safe. And strong. With good behavior and decision making skills to boot, with a lot of kindness sprinkled on. To be rooted in their values, no matter what storms blow across their life. Strong Roots Have No Fear – talks about raising children with a confident and global mindset.

I can only assume you are nodding your heads in unison. Yes, we want our children to excel academically but more than that, we want them to win at life. Not in the getting a trophy kind of way but a, able to find the silver lining in every situation or being a culturally aware kind of way.

Do you worry about your child’s future?

Of course you do. You are a parent. That means fears are a part of your life every single day. Wondering how you will teach your kids to navigate this elaborate maze called life.

I often hear comments of trepidation, “Oh! Wait till they hit their teen years.” or “Some day they are going to forget everything about our culture. ” or “This generation is so spoiled.” etc. and I wonder why are parents doubt the values they are providing their children?  Sure, the kids will have a phase of rebellion and self discovery but that does not mean they will never find their way back. There is no guarantee for tomorrow but to be so negative in your own mindset hampers your child’s vision of themselves.

Having high expectations of our children may hamper their growth but knowing we believe in them will help them stand strong no matter the struggle. And life is so full of struggles, right? While we cannot control our kids future, we as parents sure can create a solid foundation for our children to grow into. Giving them their history to anchor them, their present to grow into and their future to look towards with joy.

When I was young, my mom constantly talked to me about being good, manners, being strong in my choices and a LOT of that had a big effect on many decisions I made later in life. Decisions that were life altering. The lessons my parents taught me and a lot they didn’t, form the crux of all that I have achieved in my life. All the decisions that taken timely saved me in my darkest moments.

That is partly why I started writing about the many challenges parents face in balancing current cultures and their own heritage.  To have one space where parents can go for easy answers or relatable content. That mission grew into what you are reading today, a magazine for parents by parents because we all can after all learn from each other.

Empowering Children to Thrive in a Multicultural World with Intuitive Parenting

Strong Roots Have No Fear

Over the course of the past 8 years, I have come across few simple strategies that negate all the current mumbo jumbo surrounding parenting. All we need to do is trust our instinct and make sure the kids grow rooted within prepared for the many challenges an ever evolving multicultural world will provide.  So how do you give your children strong roots?

  • By providing them sound start in their early years.
  • Teaching kids to stand tall in face of life’s milestones.
  • Imparting the vision to make good choices.
  • A global mindset that helps build awareness within.

To that end, I bring to you the very first book that talks in a most straight forward language about all the above in great detail with tips of everything below. Parenting our children with a strong, culturally aware mindset enables us to be optimistic about their future thus removing a lot of the fear associated with an unknown tomorrow.

In the book you will find

  • The confidence to be intuitive as a parent.
  • Introspection towards mindful living.
  • Timeless strategies to impart a positive mindset.
  • A global approach to nurturing your multicultural family.
  • How to be culturally sensitive and rooted within self.

While the book is aimed at parents raising kids aged 0-10, most of the timeless life lessons in it are applicable to any age really After all, most of us can use reminders of what to do with bullies, how to deal with self doubt, increasing self empowerment, being aware about the world with an open mind etc.

Most importantly, it is not a “one size fits all” solution. It is a – “here is the fabric and ideas, get creative with your own dress” solution to parenting everywhere.

You can find out what people around the world are saying about my writing here. Signing up gives you tons of freebies and also keeps you in the loop as to the progress of the book. 

You can find ALL my work in one place here or get a taste of what the book includes HERE.

I’m passing on all that I have implemented and learned over the past years, so you do not have to ask anyone the question, “What tips would you give me to make sure my kids grow strongly rooted in values, right from the beginning?” .

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends. If you would like to support the growth of this book, you are welcome to join the Strong Roots Book Support Group here.

Don’t Forget to Tell Your Friends or Pin This Post for keepsake. After all sharing is caring!

strong roots have no fear


Raising Confident Kids with a Global Mindset - Strong Roots Have No Fear

Bring the Warmth of Lohri into Your Homes This Winter

Bring the Warmth of Lohri into Your Homes This Winter

Celebrated on the 13th of January every year, Lohri is celebrated to mark the end of peak winter, this festival is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. The traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January, therefore, Lohri is seen by some to be a harvest festival. And thus, Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial New Year. The festival of Lohri, which is celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus all across India and is traditionally believed to welcome the sun to the northern hemisphere. Observed a night before Makar Sankranti, this occasion involves a Puja Parikrama around the bonfire with prasad.

The rituals related to Lohri symbolize the attachment of the people with Mother Nature.

You can choose to mark this occasion in any way you like.

I have been celebrating Lohri since a few years now, with friends who have shared their festivities with us. From simple celebrations at home with snacking on the traditonal peanuts, popcorn, seasame to lavish parties with all of us dressed up in Punjabi attire with our hair decked in Parandas and dancing around a bon fire.

As anyone who has ever celebrated the festival in full fervor around the bonfire would tell you–gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are threeedibles associated with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a tradition to eat Gajjak, Sarson da Saag and Makki Di Roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat ’til rice’–sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.

Going around the fire singing “Sunder mundriye ho!”, adding popcorn, sesame etc to the fire dancing in the winters is a celebration you have to experience ONCE in your life time. It brings Punjab right into your heart.

The folklore — Sunder Mundriye — is actually the tale of a man called Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Being quite the ‘Robin Hood’ back in the day, Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys of the village, and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye.

 

via GIPHY

Read this book about the festival of Lohri to your kids.

Lohri holds extra significance when there’s a new marriage or new born in the family.

Simple ways to celebrate Lohri are –

  1. Fly a Kite. Please don’t say you don’t know how to fly one! …
  2. Enjoy snacks of peanuts, popcorn, chikki etc while sitting around a fireplace.
  3. Dress up in parandas/colorful Indian attire.
  4. Have Sarso Da Saag and Makki Di Roti.
  5. Light up a bonfire.
  6. Dance around the fireplace with your friends and family.
  7. Read a book or watch videos about Punjabi folk tales/Lohri

You can see the fun of Lohri in this song from the movie Veer Zara. It wonderfully captures the essence of this festival. Colorful dresses, teasing between friends/family, food and dance is a big part of most Indian celebrations.

Have you heard of this festival before? Would you bring the warmth of Lohri into your home?

The Worst Fear of Every Immigrant - Having to Leave it All Behind

The Worst Fear of Every Immigrant – Having to Leave it All Behind

No one tells kids how life can suddenly throw you a curve ball and you are supposed to act as if you expected it all along.

It was a simple life, my family of four. A tiny apartment, family friends and weekends spent enjoying celebrations. Much like life is now in Richmond.

I was 10 and happy to just have become elder sister to a little brother. We had just visited Iraq on a month long trip seeing all the sights and meeting the friendliest strangers. Till some of those very strangers (I presumed at age 10) helped invade Kuwait August 1990.

When we visited India, 3 months every year, I never ever thought we would one day have to take refuge in our motherland. Leaving a whole life built behind. Moving with nothing but an purse full of jewelry and a bag full of diapers for a 6 month old.

Life was different. A room on top of the terrace, with a tin roof that made atrocious sounds when rain or hail came. A school in which I failed in the first semester, pining for my dad. Caste system. Relatives. Being a non vegetarian in an all vegetarian household was

All were jarring to a 10 year old. Not with any awareness mind you! I had no conscious inkling of how all this was affecting me. I just went along with everything, because, hey! I was a a kid. My life was all about making it through whenever and wherever we were.

Once my dad came back, we moved to a different city. A home my dad could build after losing everything because he had savings to fall back on. Two years of me building memories, another safe haven and learning dance and then that too changed with my parents deciding to move back to Kuwait.

Back to a tiny apartment, family friends and weekends. But you see, things has changed. Everything felt a shade greyer. There weren’t as many celebrations anymore. Fewer parties. People kept more to themselves and saved every penny and thing they owned, for the day they had to leave Kuwait again.

Living with the Worst Fear of Every Immigrant - Having to Leave it all Behind

It was not a question of IF anymore, but a WHEN.

There were after all around us the reminders that some day everything could disappear again and we would be left with nothing. The old apartment that we would pass by, the tanks, the buildings that were destroyed and of course the liberation tower.

The entire older generation turned into squirrels. Foraging for winter. Either you had people not buying anything and saving everything or my parents, who bought everything twice, keeping one in India whenever we went there for the time, we had to go back. Even if after retirement.

My mom became a borderline hoarder of things. She currently has things going back to 1990. Not just for sentimental reasons but out of fear. I get why she does it, but I hate it. It means we have cupboards full of things no one needs anymore, or could even use if they wanted to.

Yes, life had certainly changed.

The Constant Reassurance to Self

Today, I feel abhor storing things and am constantly purging. The possibility of moving our whole family back to India at a moment’s notice is an underlying rhythm to my days. Losing everything my husband and I have so lovingly built haunts me, more so now that I am a parent and think about what my parents had to go through. It makes me extremely conscious of choosing anything I buy or put my time into.

No matter where You end up living with your family, you have to be very aware that you are but a phone call aware from losing all that you have. Your pretty things, furniture, cookware, photos even. Poof!

So, make memories with those you love, and take full advantage of EVERY city you live in. Be mentally prepared for tragedies and constantly converse with your children about the world so they know that a place, at the end of the day is just that. A place. Who you are inside is what matters.

For my America born kids, India can only be as much as home as for me, a Kuwait born child was. Is. The day it happens, I hope they can happily acknowledge that the place they live in does not define who they are, their experiences do. Their values do. And how they live does.

A home is wherever your family is.

What advice do you have for people who live in this fear?

 

Why We Need to Stop Whining About Motherhood

Why We Need to Stop Whining About Motherhood

Parenting life can get very overwhelming. In Indian mythology, Goddesses have many forms. Many idols are created with many hands. Maybe, just maybe it has something to do with the many, many roles we play as a mother. The overwhelm that comes with it was life changing. And I see it every single day. Mothers constantly stressing, lamenting to each other about how difficult and hectic their life is.

I understand venting about your day, but when we see it happen incessantly in the way in which most mothers today seem to do it, it speaks towards the building of a negative mindset and the fact that almost everyone is going through difficult times. And our empathy for others seem to be eroding as we drown in ponds of pity for ourselves.

The Many Roles We Play as Parents

I was cleaning my daughter’s nose with saline solution. My son came, gazed intently at his sister and mumbled, ”Who are you?” I was too busy trying to do what I was doing without further traumatizing a wailing child. After I was done, my son came and put a hand on my shoulder (with sympathy almost) and asked again, ”Who are you?”

I laughed out loud. ” You don’t know who I am. I’m your Mama right ? ” He shook his head and persisted with the question, further elaborating, ” Who are you? Are you a Doctor? ” Ah ! Cleaning his sister’s nose giving her much needed relief during her cold and fever made him wonder. I of course found it amusing and affirmed. ” Yes, I’m doctor. I help you also when you get boo boo.” He smiled and said, ”You are a good doctor.”

Next time the question arose when I was trying to teach him the written letter. ”Who are you? Are you a teacher?” And so on it went.

Random comment would pass while I was doing generic stuff.

”Who are you? Are you a pilot ? ” , when I drove the car.

”Who are you? Are you a helper?” , when I helped him tie his shoes.

”Who are you? Are you a worker? “, when I’m finding something on the laptop.

My son, who was 3.5 at the time, recognized the simple fact that as a mom I play many roles at the same time. Doctor, driver, helper, researcher, nurse, teacher and much more. The moment made me introspect about how my children perceive me. Apparently, this person who multitasks constantly.

Not to mention the amount of managing we do to keep up with chores, food, appointments, social commitments while at the same time herding around a family of four to wherever we need to be at the exact time we need to be. Time management, team work, keeping up with information, being organized are all traits every mother imbibes, not to mention being there for everyone as much as I can emotionally and physically. Add to this working on my freelancing career and passion project, which are 24/7 in itself, life can certainly get overwhelming.

And that’s just in the beginning. A parent eventually plays the role of friend, teacher, preacher, judge, jury, confidante, and sibling also in many cases. To constantly use every teaching moment, parent them when needed, hand out consequences, keep their secrets and fill the void whenever they need us. Let’s not forget all the party planning that is involved during the festive season and when birthdays come around.

Stop the Overwhelm with This Mindset

I don’t write this just to glorify parents but to take remind every parent to take a few moments each day or week to sit back and take stock of all the work that you do. Appreciate all the roles that you play and how they help YOU evolve as a person constantly.

We can often catch ourselves cribbing about how hard parenting is and how we wish we could relax. Specially during the holiday seasons. We need to remember, every person on the planet is overwhelmed with some aspect of their life. Most importantly, the attitude of complaining sets a negative example for those who look towards us for how to look at life’s challenges. The health hazards of having a stressed outlook cannot be emphasized enough either. What we need to do is counter the overwhelm before the onset proactively.

Self care is a big part of avoiding the frustrations that come with parenting. But equally so is the need for us to look at it as a blessing. Being a parent is not just taking care of a child, but being many things so that you can together as a family grow and learn the multitude skills required to live a fulfilling life.

It is this very exhausting and overwhelming life full of worries that helps us appreciate all that our life has to offer. It forces us to take a hard look at our lifestyle choices and be aware of what it is we need to do to be better role models. Our children teach us life lessons each day and force us to introspect over our words and actions.

Gratitude for what you have and all that you are able to do has a wonderful way of making your parenting outlook more positive.

Why We Need to Stop Whing about Motherhood #parenting #motherhood

How to Make Diwali Meaningful to Children Today

Every year I try to make my home smell and feel similar to how my mom’s did in all the years I was growing up. We went home to home savoring delicious feasts from different cultures. Diwali is not a linear celebration. It is a month long festivity of all that brings light in our lives. Bringing the crisp, cool air that comes around this time. A clean, elaborately decorated home. It is the excitement of new clothes, jewelry, kitchen utensils and decor coming into the home. Diyas and candles everywhere.

The smoky warmth, lights and shine of sparklers circling in the air. It is the huge spread of spicy, hot, sour savories and sweet dishes spread out on the dinner table. It is this smell of mom’s cooking wafting through the home bringing back memories of all the years gone by. One by one each candle is lit up, sending vibes through the house to turn into a haven for you. Though, in the past few years as you can see I have taken to making my own diyas which is my own little tradition and I am loving it.

http://localhost/raisingworld/2018/10/22/the-many-reasons-celebration-of-diwali/

How is Diwali traditionally celebrated?

  • Prepping before the festival begins by spring cleaning and organizing.
  • Buy gold, silver and kitchen for the home.
  • Illuminate the house by lighting diyas, line them outside the door and around the house.
  • Whip up and relish multiple sweet and savory dishes all through the festive days. Exchange them with friends and family.
  • Put up door decor (toran) that can be made with flowers or cloth to welcome good vibes.
  • Make Rangoli (intricate designs with colored powder or these days chalk) outside your door.
  • Put up string lights outside or/and inside your house.
  • Wear new and festive clothes.
  • Making wheat or earthen diyas.
  • On Bhaidooj, siblings share gifts.
  • Light fire crackers to enjoy on Diwali days. (the MAIN event)

But in today’s fast paced world, celebrating traditionally is a real struggle. So, how do you make it easy for kids to relate to these age old traditions?

 

IMPART REAL LIFE VALUES THROUGH STORIES

Mythology though, is hard to comprehend by young minds. It is paramount we connect these stories to real world examples to make them easier to understand and digest. The many reasons Diwali is celebrated are a wonderful way to talk about life and it’s many pitfalls.

  • Read children’s books featuring stories about Ramayan, Ganpati, etc.
  • Encourage kids to ask questions about the story lines.
  • Explain to kids in the simplest possible terms what every aspect of the story means.

When I was young I did not understand and even negated the beauty of the mythology of Ramayan. I could not find respect in my heart for a man who would exile his wife for no fault of her own. But now, over the years I have understood that it is not just a story to glorify God in the incarnation of Ram.

It is a story where it is proven that even Gods when in human form can make mistakes. So, we should not be so hard on ourselves when we happen to do the same. It teaches us that choices have consequences.

That when fathers make thoughtless decisions, children have to suffer. When people get selfish, the reward is nothing but pain. That when you do not pay heed to the warnings of those you love, you suffer. That not respecting women, can lead to the downfall of even Kings. That the happiness one feels when a child comes home is priceless.

That when disrespected, any woman can choose to part ways with her husband. But that is of course my interpretation. Anyone who reads scriptures or mythology derives their own meanings and using them to grow in their own life!


EXCHANGE MEANINGFUL GIFTS

In a materialistic world, it is important to teach kids to value presents made with thought.

  • Make cards together for your extended family. Send them in advance. This is a great way to stay connected with family far away.
  • Create idols from playdoh or earthen/ecofriendly clay.
  • After spring cleaning (a tradition of Diwali), donate items that are old and have not been used for more than six months to those in need.

CREATE TRADITIONS THAT ARE FAMILY DRIVEN

Every year start a new ritual that convey life lessons and encourage creativity. Below are some great ways to connect as a family and dare I say, save money too. Being frugal of course is a wonderful trait to foster.

  • Cook sweets or cookies together.
  • Create cards or decoration together.
  • Discuss and put up decorations together.
  • Find new ways to use the older years’ decorations.
  • Visit a local orphanage or old age home with gifts or treats.
  • Create Rangoli at home with flowers or sidewalk chalk or pulses.

Connect with Your Community

In an age where people often get lost in the hustle of everyday life, it is important to connect with your friends and neighbors on this wonderful occasion. Organize a get together to create flower arrangements, Rangoli designs or art creations. Getting creative together in groups is a wonderful way to bond and break ice with new friends.

FIND NEW WAYS TO CELEBRATE THIS FESTIVE SEASON.

  • It is fall season. What a wonderful time to collect dry
    leaves, twigs, etc. Use these to create a bonfire in your
    backyard.
  • Fill up balloons with glitter or pieces of colored paper.
  • Burst these in the evening for a vibrant ambiance.
  • Kids could even blow up paper bags and burst giving you the cheerful sound of crackers.
  • Make Diyas out of wheat flour. It is very simple and beautiful way to decorate your home.

Wishing you a very happy Diwali this year.

 

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The Many Lessons Hidden in the Varied Origins of Diwali

The origin of Diwali is a wonderful way to explain to children, how good always conquers evil. The many stories that form the foundation of this world celebration, are a lesson in life about how to always stand true when faced with difficult choices. You may be surprised to learn, Diwali is celebrated across different sub cultures of India for various reasons. And thus, holds an extremely special meaning in the lives of many. Contrary to popular belief, not all Indians traditionally follow the same Hindu culture and yet, Diwali is  one of the most auspicious days in the lives of many. People from different parts of India celebrate this day for different reasons.

North India

Lord Ram, the most beloved prince and son is sent to exile by his father because of a promise he made to one of his wives (granting any two wishes when she wants). Laxman, his devoted brother chooses to go on exile with his brother and sister in law Sita. After years of hardships, Sita one day sees a deer she desires and on her behest Sri Ram and Laxman go after it. She consequently gets kidnapped by Raavan when she crosses the Laxman rekha (a spellbound line made outside their home to keep her safe by her brother in law). Ram and Laxman slay Raavan, saving her with the help of Hanuman an ardent devotee of Sri Ram. They all come back home to Ayodhya (on Diwali) among great pomp and show only to send her into exile all on her own when a citizen of the city raises a question of her purity after living with Raavan for so many years. She goes into the forest where she brings up her two sons. After years, when his sons cross his path in battle, Lord Ram goes back to bring his wife home. She in turn chooses to go back to Mother Earth instead. The Return of the Pandavas: Another story about the origins of the Diwali is within the great epic ‘Mahabharata,’ it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the five Pandavas (brothers Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva) appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

South India

In South India, Lord Krishna slaying Narakasura. Narakasura was a demon drunk with power stole the earrings of Aditi (mother of all Devas) and kidnapped 16000 women. The Devas were unable to stop him and so they went to Lord Vishnu to reincarnate as Krishna, so as to destroy the evil demon and save the women.

Marwaris and Gujratis

Diwali is the new year time for Marwaris and Gujaratis.  This is when the merchants close the accounts of the old year and pray to the goddess of wealth that the new year should open with even bigger increase of trade.  Kali Chaudas is devoted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti as this is the day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Also referred to as Narak-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is the day to abolish laziness and evil. Thus, many regions pray to Goddess Laxmi (giver of weath) on this day. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, emerging from a feud between the gods and demons, who were tangled in a race to obtain the nectar of immortality. Consulting Lord Vishnu in this pursuit, they could successfully churn the nectar of immortality from Goddess Lakshmi, who chose Vishnu to be her companion, consequently Lord Vishnu carried goddess Lakshmi to the heavens.

Jains  

To the Jains it marks the day after Lord Mahavira attained nirvana. He was released from his worldly body on the night of the full moon. So the people of Pavapuri, where he attained nirvana, lit lamps in their doorways as a symbol of their guru’s enlightenment.

According to Myth Gyan , Mahavira attained Moksha at the dawn of the Amavasya (new moon). He was cremated at Pawapuri. It is believed that many Gods were present there illuminating the darkness. But the following night was pitch black.

So people illuminate their houses in order to symbolically keep the light of their master’s knowledge alive.


Sikhism

This day for Sikhs celebrates the release of Guru Hargobindji along with 52 Indian kings who were imprisoned along with him at the Gwalior fort by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1619. This day is thus also known as Bandi Chorr Diwas (meaning the day of freedom).

Nepal

Diwali is also celebrated in Nepal and the Indian states of Assam, Sikkim and Darjeeling in West Bengal. The five-day festival in these places is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crows, cows and dogs who maintain an intense relationship with humans.

Arya Samaj

It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when the 19th-century scholar Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj, attained his nirvana. Dayananda’s great mission was to ask humankind to treat one another as brothers through practices of nobility.

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Historically 

In history, this day is celebrated as the coronation day of One of the greatest of Hindu kings, Vikramaditya. He was crowned on the Diwali day. The legendary emperor, who may have been a historical figure or based on one, is thought of as the ideal king, known for his generosity, courage, and patronage of scholars. Thus, Diwali became a historical event as well.

And thus, this day is celebrated across five days,

1. Dhanteras. 2. Choti Diwali (Naraka Chaturdasi). 3. Badi Diwali (Laxmi Puja). 4. Naya Saal (New Year). 5. Bhai Dooj. Many today, celebrate this day the whole month as the only time to rejoice available is on weekends. What is your reason to celebrate?

What does this conversation about origins of Diwali teach kids? 

  • Love your family.
  • Support your loved ones always.
  • Stand by what is right.
  • Freedom is a birth right.
  • Choices have consequences.
  • Women should be nurtured.
  • Every woman has a right to make her own choices.
  • Above all, be loyal.
  • Be careful about spending and save.

Do Not

  • Think ill of others.
  • Let ego get in the way of your relationships.
  • Disrespect those you care about.
  • Make decisions in haste.
  • Be selfish or greedy.

The Loneliness Parents Don't Talk About

The Loneliness Parents Don’t Talk About

Parenting is a paradox. You are constantly surrounded by people and yet, extremely alone in the challenges you face. And No one talks about how isolating the solitude is and how utterly dark it can get within.

I lived 5 years by myself before being married. Had many meals, enjoyed movies, trips to the market, holed up in my room reading happily. I have always known how to be by myself. But being lonely within a family is an alternate reality.

And yet you do not see anyone discussing how lonely being a parent can become. You may know yourself before but after having kids you sometimes slowly lose the connections you had and sometimes yourself as well.

Before having kids, you are flitting around parties, going out whenever you want and having friends over at the drop of a hat. After the babies are born, the most well meaning friends stay away so as to give you space to adjust, so much so that the phone stops ringing.

The babies keep you on your toes and the words, “needs to be fed” and “needs a nap” have you rushing home. As they grow up, their random tantrums and exhausted crying have you wishing you had just stayed home.

Your friends who do not have children do not understand the urgency created by a restless child (on the verge of a tantrum). Friends who are not drama free are distanced from without conscious thought because you honestly do not have anything left to give to them. After all, your time is already consumed by kids’ tantrums.

The few couples who do have children may be ones with whom your kids just don’t get along with and even if they do, it may happen that your parenting philosophies don’t match. In the end, you end up with little to no friends with whom you can relax. Slowly, as the kids grow up you realize school, classes, birthday parties and chores leave you with no actual time in which to socialize.

The Isolation of Parenting

It eats at you, this slow isolation that happened without you actually being aware. Humans are a social group. We need connections in order to thrive and in fact survive. Social media does not help as you see the best moments of other families enjoying their apple picking and parties. You do not realize it is not real life but a reel life that you see on screen. Everyone goes through the same pains but do not care to reach out during them instead only coming to you with their joys.

Social media is no help for it only makes you feel, how others are managing the same milestones so much better. Here you are wallowing alone on weekends and others seem to be partying through parenthood.

You grow cranky and exhausted without those few precious moments with people with whom you just laugh and be carefree. And if, within that time your spouse has to travel for work, you end up being completely isolated without any adult conversation and no one to express your frustrations to.

All of the above happened to me. To top it all, all my acquaintances and one of my best friends moved away. There was a period of 6 months when I literally scrabbled to understand what it was that I was going through. I grew listless, irritable, going through the motions, developing aches and pains that I couldn’t justify.

What was worse was, I started pushing away the couple of friends I did have left. I started stalking them on social media, obsessing over who was doing what, and whey they weren’t doing it with me. Why they hadn’t commented on my photos, why I wasn’t invited to one party but not the other , etc. I had the time in which to create a pity party in which I was Chief Guest.

One day I realized I was just ruining my own peace of mine. This wasn’t who I wanted to be. I needed to channel my energies positively and find outlets for myself. Empower myself to be a better mom and person. No one but me that could get me out of this hole I had dug up.

What did I do? Well, I pushed all the below up a notch. These are tips I think would help you too.

Celebrate Everything

Even if it’s a small win. Or a celebration no one else cares about. Light some candles, make a dinner. Have an impromptu party with the kids. Do not ever let your kids be affected by what you are going through. Teach them the importance of living life to the fullest.

I believe in enjoying life to the fullest now. Celebrating Valentines day my way, even if my husband doesn’t want to plan anything on this commercial holiday.

Find A Mission

I joined a non profit called Circle of Peace International, and worked with them using all the social media knowledge I had to help spread the word about them.

There are many non profits out there that need people to give a helping hand. Find a cause to support. Use your talents in any small way to be there for those less fortunate. Even if it is just making cards or ornaments for the festive season, doing something for another less fortunate helps not only them but is good for your soul.

Take Care of Your Body

Walks and runs are good for exercise but more than that the fresh air, open spaces and silence is good for your soul. Going to the spa is not just a matter of luxury but your body being pampered reaches out to your mind to soothe it. If you cannot afford the spa, use at home remedies to invigorate your senses.

Give yourself nurturing time. Dress up and go to town for no reason other than you want to look pretty for yourself.

Get a Baby Sitter

This is an issue most Indian families face who are not used to hiring baby sitters, specially when living in USA far from family they trust.

I cannot stress this enough. If you have no family or friends to assist, find a baby sitter in your community that you can trust with your children for even a few hours. Or better yet, let your husband take over. Yes! He’s not a baby sitter but the father. But let’s face is. Not most dads are hands on all the time and this time alone with the kids is a great way to get to know the kids uniquely.

Get out of the house by yourself, go shopping, read a book or if possible catch up with an old friend.

Pursue an Interest

My biggest solution was nurturing my passion for writing and creating.

You need to have a passion to feed your inner self. Writing, gardening, painting, find something that helps you grow. Creating something other than your children’s schedule for the day is extremely essential.  Me time in which you are not watching TV  or reading a book but putting something out there. Using your body and mind to create

Find Your Tribe Again

Reach out to your old friends. Make new ones. Many a times for no reason people just grow apart. Even if they do not have kids, even if your children do not get along, do not let it affect your relationships. Talk to the person at the park.  Converse with others, learning what their life is about.

Everyone needs someone, and maybe by reaching out for a coffee or a drink that someone could be you being there for them. Be the first one to be a friend. Be for someone, what you need in your own life.

Disconnect

Step away from the social media apps. Switch off the TV. Dare yourself to not log into the accounts on certain days or hours of a day. The silence virtual and real, will force you to think up ways to occupy your time more productively.

Let’s face it. A lot of anything does more harm than good.

Meditate

Take a few moments to empty your mind of all the schedules and multi tasking clutter and empty it to let thoughts in. As we need air to breathe, we need our senses to be able to feel every single moment in it’s totality, something we rarely do in the daily grind that is life.

Be Your Own Friend

I realized I had become dependent on having a friend to be with when I was not with the kids. I needed to grow myself in a way that I could to appreciate. While being with my kids watching them play is amazing, having them with me had become a crutch that I needed subconsciously. Going out means going out for grocery or to run errands. Don’t just do that. Go out to do something that you love that is not connected with children. Spend time with yourself and the experience the world as it was meant to be.

Most importantly, do not feel you are ever alone. You just need to reach out, physically or metaphorically. And the universe will take care of the rest. Give yourself a chance to love yourself.

  Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two, living it up in Richmond Virginia in USA. Raised in Kuwait, being Indian by birth she has often felt out of place. A computer engineer by profession, she is now a freelance writer and entrepreneur having founded Raising World Children. Impromptu dance parties and trips to the library with her little ones are her ultimate picker upper. She provides tools to open minded parents to empower their children to raise positive, gracious, global thought leaders. She currently writes for the HuffingtonPost, Thrive Global, RMB and is author in “When You Are Done Expecting ”. Her own book Strong Roots Have No Fear comes out soon.

That Inherent Vicious Cycle That Causes Victim Blaming

That Inherent Vicious Cycle That Causes Victim Blaming

** Trigger Alert !

His hands slid down his brief case and before I knew it, they were on me. He pressed and pushed and groped. I sat stunned, unable to move. Praying for my bus stop to come. In a bus full of people, I was paralyzed. Voiceless. The bus stopped, finally. I rushed out of there, went home and told my aunt what happened.

Her response, “It’s your fault. Why didn’t you just get up?!” 

I felt like I had been slapped. Why didn’t I get up and leave? What had been stopping me? Nothing!

After this, I knew better. I would get up when I sensed a man reaching for me. Before long, I would turn around and snap at the people next to him. Or just turn away. Or worse, ignore and walk way.

From an innocent 17, I went to a 22 year old expecting men to assault me wherever I walked. In India, it’s a silent acceptance that this is a regular occurrence.

There is anger but NO surprise when men touch your inappropriately, lech at you, cat call or even masturbate in front of you.

This blind acceptance is one of the roots of all sexual assault. It is accepted. And so when such incidents happen, some people think, “It happens. Deal with it.” 

It is only after I’ve had a daughter that I have come to accept that a teenager, unless told how to handle a situation will not know how to react in any sexual situation. Be it assault or otherwise. My call to action in such situation was tell dad and mom, and that is what I thought I would do. That THEY (our guardians) would take action. And it is only recently, that I have come to question this blind acceptance.

No one says, THIS SHOULD JUST STOP.

Every group of girls sitting around has war scars of being assaulted. There are a lot of hows, but no whys. Moreover why is it that us girls are blamed for what happens to us? 

Our skirts. Our attitude. Our behavior. Our choices.  

Of all these, the only true reason for victim blaming is denial. Girls who are assaulted are blamed or not believed is because those who are doing the blaming are thinking, “This would NEVER happen to me.”

They are sitting on their high horse, thinking they are above it all. Either they have been through it, accepting it as something that happens naturally OR they have never experienced it, secretly hoping they never DO. For they are following some set para-dimes that they feel will keep them safe. 

Whereas the one and only solution to this is raising men with awareness. Raising women with empathy.

Today I understand that my aunt having two sons and being of a certain age had maybe forgotten the shame, desperation and disgust a girl feels.

I never forgot what happened. I also never forgot what was said to me after. About me. How it made me feel so much worse. For what the man had done was natural to him. But I had thought my aunt would be the one protecting me.

I never forget. Not because I have a girl. 

But because I have a boy, who is going to go out in the world. I have the responsibility as a mother, a woman and most importantly a human being to protect those around us to the best of my ability. To teach my son what it means to treat girls/women with respect. To tell him, what it means to be a good boyfriend. A great husband.

PASSING THE TORCH

 

A couple of weeks ago, he (now 7) said, “I don’t want to get married because I don’t like kissing girls. I don’t know why people have girl friends.”

I responded, “The best age to have a girl friend or boyfriend is when you are 20 because by then you have some understanding on how to be a good boyfriend or girlfriend. You have to care for them like dad cares about me. They are your responsibility.”

“Then why do teenagers have girlfriends?”

“Because some people think it is a matter of being cool. Sometimes you just like someone, and want to be around them more. But if you want to be a GOOD boyfriend, you have to know it is work, just like studying or being married. You have to be kind, gentle and loving.”

“Yuck! I don’t want to do all that with girls now. I think I will wait for when I’m old enough. “

Yes, there will be those out there who tell me he’s too young. But it is these very conversations that add up to a mentality in a society.

The only way to stop the vicious circle of sexual assault & victim blaming is to understand, that is is someone’s child who is going through something. It can happen to anybody. And this is not something that ANY VICTIM just forgets. It haunts them for the rest of their lives. And shows up in subtle ways. 

So, there is certainly nothing wrong when it haunts the person who does the assault either. That is what is called justice. We need examples for our children, that we can say, THIS is what happens when you take scar someone. And THIS is absolutely why when we put men in power who have disrespected women or stay silent when another is being assaulted/harassed, we exemplify this horrendous behavior which seems to have No consequence.

It is up to us, to be a gentle world. To believe. To act. To empower the children of tomorrow with kindness and respect.

To stand up and say, “No MORE!”

How are you stopping the cycle of victim blaming? What are you doing to STOP this vicious cycle of assault and blame?

Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two, living it up in Richmond Virginia in USA. Raised in Kuwait, being Indian by birth she has often felt out of place. A computer engineer by profession, she is now a freelance writer and entrepreneur having founded Raising World Children and IndiFusion Creative Academy. Impromptu dance parties and trips to the library with her little ones are her ultimate picker upper. She provides tools to open minded parents to empower their children to raise positive, gracious, global thought leaders. She currently writes for the HuffingtonPost, Thrive Global, RMB and is author in “When You Are Done Expecting ”. Her own book Strong Roots Have No Fear comes out soon.

Strong Roots Have No Fear Book