Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Need parenting help? Call a coach

Shobita Dhar TNN 

    How do you deal with a rebellious kid? Do threats work or inducements? When should you have your first talk about sex? Is there a way to explain divorce to a child? 
    For answers to these and many other tough questions, an increasing number of newage parents are turning to coaches. This new breed of consultants, or parenting coaches, provides advice once sought primarily from mothers, grandmothers, friendly neighbours and gurus like Dr Benjamin 
Spock. “Parents no longer have the support system their parents had. The responsibility of bringing up the child falls squarely on one adult, usually the mother,” says Sonal Kothari, 42, who organizes Positive Parenting workshops in Bangalore. A molecular biologistturned-parenting coach who has lived in the US and Japan for long, Kothari moved back to India four years ago with her husband and two children. She is a certified PET (Parent Effectiveness Training) trainer and her clients are mostly techies who have lived abroad. She says that the demand for her classes, which cost Rs 8,000 for a module of eight sessions, is rising steadily. 

‘It’s all about listening to kids’ 
    Struggling parents can now turn to parenting coaches to deal with kids and their tantrums. Sushant Kalra gave up his job as a financial consultant to start the Parwarish Institute of Parenting in Delhi. His school organizes three to four workshops every week.“We grew up with an authoritative style of parenting. Now, it’s all about listening to your child,” says Kalra, who is pursuing a diploma in early childhood care and education from IGNOU. 
    Coaches range from moms whose only expertise is that they have brought up their own children to experts trained in the fundamentals of behavioural science and child psychology. 
    Dr Garima Shivhare, who teaches at a medical college in Chitrakoot, MP, and has a threeyear-old daughter, is taking a 12-session course that costs Rs 15,000 because she wants to be ready for any parenting eventuality. She attends the sessions, organized by Parwarish, on Skype. 
    Kothari has an interesting take on why parenting is so challenging today. “Your child needs to be social, good at studies as well as sports and well-versed in arts,” she says. This means tiger moms and dads are constantly looking for tips to improve their child’s skills and behaviour. 
    Lalita Iyer, a blogger and author of a parenting book, is dismissive of such workshops because she believes what they actually teach par
ents is how to manipulate choices for the child so that the desired outcome is what the parent wants. “For instance, if the child won’t eat his cereal, I don’t really see the point in asking him whether he would like it in a blue bowl or a green bowl. You are trying to project that you are giving a child choice, but at the end of the day, you are getting him to do what you want him to do.” 
    Esha Puri, 33, would disagree. She says her Skype sessions helped her tackle a difficult situation with her 11-year-old. Her child came back home within a few months of joining a boarding school and refused to go back. Although Puri was angry, her trainer advised her to have an honest talk with her daughter and find out the reason for her reluctance. It turned out the child was ashamed of facing her classmates after “running away from school”. Simple advice but it worked. “Sometimes, all one needs is an outsider to tell you what you probably already know.” 
    And nowhere do parents need more handholding than on how to talk about the birds and bees. The ‘children and sexuality’ workshop organized by Geniekids, a Bangalore-based learning centre for children, attracts many upper 
middle-class IT professionals. 
    The need for advice seems to stem from a desire to do a good job rather than just muddle through. While a workshop is no guarantee that one will crack the parenting code, coaches say it can make what is hard work somewhat easier.

Source:::: The Times of India, 13-11-2013, p.15,

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