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PostHeaderIcon Teaching and Learning


I don’t believe that a child can learn through intimidation. I don’t believe a child can learn through  sarcasm either. I am not sure why some teachers never appreciate a child’s efforts or for a moment, think about understanding a child’s mindset. And I’m not talking about a teacher in a class of 30 students.

Recently, I had a firm word with my daughter’s online religious studies instructor. I put my mother’s hat down and spoke to him, teacher-to-teacher. Needless to say, he was shocked at my suggestions. He’s old school and thinks we can make a child learn by instilling fear in them. I told him a child can memorize prepackaged lessons via that method but never learn, understand or appreciate. If lessons become a mechanical task completion where a child makes a check mark next to a list, then no learning has occurred. I also told him that punishment is different from reprimand.

Another issue I have is with teachers comparing children. No one’s in a hurry here. I don’t really care if my 11 year old doesn’t know as much as a 9 year old. There are ways of bringing out the best in a child. One way is to focus on a child’s strength, and while setting expectations, making sure they are realistic.

Putting my mother’s hat back on, I made sure my kid wasn’t aware of my discussion with her teacher. Regardless of the teaching style, a teacher must be respected and honored. Doubts in my mind can be transferred to her mind and that can start a problem that isn’t even in her thoughts.

As parents we want to make sure we don’t injure a child’s emotional stability. Taking them on guilt trips and long dramatic sequences of extreme consequences is not only demoralizing but demotivating. It never works. It isn’t necessary either. If we can learn how to awaken a child’s potential for learning and expression, then we’ve succeeded at one of parenting’s most daunting roles. But for that we need patience. How many of us have it?

PostHeaderIcon Resistance is futile…


Have you heard of iPotty? The Consumer Electronics Show in 2013 unveiled a portable potty trainer that comes with an iPad holder to keep a child entertained during potty-training moments. I’m not sure if this invention is necessary. It seems more like a tool for our already prevalent parenting predicament, and will make us lazy parents, given that many homes have practically left child-rearing to electronic gadgets.

Technology isn’t a replacement for parenting or for personal interactions, but leave it to us human beings to abuse any good thing that comes our way. Tsk Tsk.

Like food, it’s up to us to choose the whats and hows and know the whens and whys. And as parents, it is our responsibility to set the rules and guidelines. It is all about attaining the perfect balance and understanding how technology can be used to an advantage. Let’s talk about education for a minute. Look at the wide selection of apps one could use to teach children math and vocabulary for example. Getting connected with libraries and other resources for research has never been easier and homework can be completed with so much motivation and ease. As a parent, I have access to my children’s homework, progress reports and can effectively communicate with the teachers when needed. Think of how much paper we are saving when we can actually read what is urgent and important on a website instead of going through piles of colored sheets that are sent home every day containing vital information that lands up in the recycle bin.

I can go on and on about the benefits of using visual technology such as Skype, and how my family can connect with other family members in different parts of the world and bridge the geographical gap. While it can never be a replacement for the touch and feel experience, it is certainly a more interpersonal association than a simple phonecall.

And so to think that we do not need technology in this day and age is naive, perhaps a denial combined with a lack of willingness to transition from the more familiar times. It provides an enhancement to our everyday lives, the doses of which need to be determined by our personal situations. I don’t think we should deter our children from embracing technology, just keep a check on their indulgence. But resistance, my friends, is futile…

PostHeaderIcon So what if there’s a little mess…


Children are little people. They are allowed to spill, to make a mess, to break things, to play, to make noise, to play with more than one toy at one time without putting the others back in place…it’s all part of growing up. That’s how they learn, that’s how they get in touch with their inner feelings. When a favorite toy falls apart, a child struggles to fix it or to find an alibi or to discover ways to replace it. It’s a mental exercise towards problem solving. Even someone as old as me loves to buy houses in Monopoly and see my opponent pay rent. So what if I scream when they get to go to jail and miss a turn.

Yes we all need some quiet and alone time, but just imagine if all our homes were empty. The silence would be claustrophobic. There wouldn’t be any random, out of place laughter. There wouldn’t be anyone who’d come from behind and give us a hug, all of a sudden, and then hide under the table! And if everything were always in order, we’d be like robots or soldiers, marching through life with stiff arms, too rigid to feel the warmth of living… :)

PostHeaderIcon “Back in my day”


A few days ago, I heard a parent yelling at her 5 year old kindergartner. “Stop crying! Back in my day, I used to walk to school alone, and I didn’t have my mother drop me off and take care of my crying business!”

The little kid, hurt and torn, then waited quietly in the gym for the school bell to ring.

I hear that more often that I’d like to hear. What happened with me back in my day is my memory, my circumstances. It isn’t my kid’s fault. It is also not fair to expect my child to go through what I went through, good or bad, because the times have changed. If I walked to school alone at age 5-6, it’s probably because I could do so without getting hit by a drunk driver or a mad rush. If I had only 4 outfits in my closet it’s probably because that’s all my parents could afford. If I didn’t watch any TV it’s because darn it, there weren’t any shows for kids and there was only one TV in the neighborhood. And the list goes on. And if everything was so perfect way back in my day, I would be the most amazing person with absolutely no flaws…and we all know that’s not possible, is it now?

So then is it fair to repeatedly take our children on guilt trips? It was my trip, not theirs. Why let my not so savvy parenting present itself in a barbaric manner? Why must my children suffer because I have not been able to handle that project that was due last week or because I had an argument with my spouse earlier this morning?

It is one thing to share stories of our childhood with our children…in fact, it’s an amazing way to bond with our kids. But just because I drank water from a well isn’t justification for slamming at them for drinking treated water.

The goal is to enhance our kids life, make it a bit better than what ours was, enable them to make good decisions, expose them to the world as we see it today. And it isn’t that I’m not guilty of telling my kids that I knew how to make roti at age 11…but as soon as I say that, I realize that it would have made no difference in my life if I had learned it at 18 instead. :)


PostHeaderIcon Time Capsule


If I could record every lovely act or every beautiful story of my children, it would take time, pages, but mostly tears of joy and gratitude. It isn’t that they don’t have their share of tantrums or moments of breakdown. Trust me; we have plenty. They are little people with real emotions and feelings, but maybe I’m the kind of parent who looks at problems as opportunities for character enhancement so I try to focus on them with an open mind and even a challenge to make a better connection with my children.

The bounties, though, are heart-warming. And I collect them in my mental time capsule, relishing each memory and saying a prayer for more blessings.

One day I will be old, and my children will be big people. I’ll shake up my time capsule over a cup of coffee and wait for one of the memories to unfold. I know I will smile, perhaps have a few regrets and maybe even the urge to find a time machine to go back and change a few things. But I won’t be able to, and so I think that today I need to iron my attitude with a spray of stability and the warmth of nurturing, and hope that I won’t have as many what ifs or I wish I hads.



PostHeaderIcon Mom, a human after all


It’s heart-warming to know that your children realize you’re human and can make mistakes too, that underneath the supermom status, you’re very capable of breaking a cup, or spilling coffee, or even forgetting that they wanted something else for lunch. Even more humbling is when they tell you “it’s alright mama, everyone makes mistakes.”

I think that while it is important to set standards for children, it is necessary also to stay relatable, so somewhere in the middle of it all, they can find themselves.

PostHeaderIcon Secrets


Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some precious time before school with my little daughter. We get to school about 15 minutes before the first bell and though I could very well use that time to complete a few chores at home, there’s no pricetag to the conversations we enjoy, sitting by the playground at school. It’s our special time when we share secrets. It’s the time when my daughter can talk to me about what’s on her mind, happy thoughts or the not so happy ones, and the time when she can hear me out as well. In just these few days, I’ve come to know the introspective side of my 7-year old, her sensitive side and also her caring side. I’ve also had the chance to be even more grateful for these moments that create a deeper bond with her.

I am not sure how long we can continue this schedule, but there will be other opportunities. I’ve always felt that when we look for something, we usually find it. Looking forward to more mornings of filling my mental secrets box.


PostHeaderIcon Dealing with death


Today has been a new challenge as a parent for me. Someone my daughters know and look up to, a young teenager, passed away after fighting cancer for a few years. The news has been shocking for them and I see them sitting quietly at times, and other times, asking me questions about the disease.

At this age, my children understand that death is irreversible. I’ve always been the type of parent who likes to talk to my kids and drive them to ask questions so they don’t carry a heavy burden of unknowns in their tender hearts and minds. How I choose to answer the questions has to be strategic and appropriate for their level of understanding, of course. But I can’t help feeling all of the grief myself and find myself working hard to not let my own sadness pour into theirs. However, I’ve noticed that allowing myself to be sad is making them relate better and understand that it’s alright to feel that way. I guess it gives them comfort when I express my feelings openly so they, in turn, do the same.

Overall, it’s going well, but I have to say that parenting isn’t always about protecting our children from pain and suffering. It’s teaching them how to deal with what comes their way, and in the process of teaching them, I guess we become better students as well.

PostHeaderIcon Helping your children develop their talents


It’s a privilege to see my children growing each day, physically and emotionally, building their personalities and developing from little people into young ladies. I have also noticed how they each have their set of interests and talents and as a parent, it is my responsibility to help nurture these.

But first, as sometimes children exhibit random interests, it may be confusing to figure out which areas to pursue. I have, therefore, exposed my children to a variety of activities such as sports, the creative arts and technology to help discover where their interests and abilities lie. Once those areas were identified, I engaged my children in acquiring knowledge and skills to further develop those interests.

Many parents force their children to pursue activities that their children may not enjoy, and while to a certain extent, this may be a necessary process in identifying the child’s interests, it may distract the child from what is his or her natural talent. When a child expresses their interest in a particular activity, that is a pathway for the parent to steer them on the right track. And with time, their interests may change and as parents we need to be flexible enough to change with them. This is all part of the learning experience and it really isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It is, in fact, an opportunity for creating memorable bonds between the parent and the child.

Also, it is important to challenge children but while they are busy testing the waters, some parents tend to set very high standards. We have to be careful not to demoralize the child by having unrealistic expectations so we must work on striking a fair balance during the learning process. This where we need to understand the difference between “nurturing” and “pushing.” And if as a parent, we are unable to provide the coaching and mentorship needed, we can check out resources available that can provide the help the child needs.

There is great joy in seeing watching your children’s talents bloom. And there is even greater joy in knowing that you are experiencing the journey with them.


PostHeaderIcon Reaching inside the mind of a 7 year old


Change of any kind requires a shift in the mental comfort zones we all create for ourselves. There’s a fear of the unknown, speculations and apprehensions, as our familiar routines become displaced.

And so for even a little child who exists within a psychosocial framework, emotions present themselves in different ways. Some children verbalize their thoughts while some are more passive in their expression. However, as a parent, I realize that my children have the same human emotions I do, and while their manifestations may be different, they must be given their due respect.

Our upcoming move has been an example of such a change where my 7 year old daughter’s affectation was beginning to look like her reality. She seemed like she was alright with it all and as long as she was with her family, nothing else mattered, until yesterday, when all of a sudden, I saw her fighting with her inner sadness, but it could be contained no more. At that point, I knew I had to create a dialog where she would get in touch with her true feelings and pour out her thoughts freely. It is at times like this when I wish I could buy pills of patience and swallow them so I could work with the situation at hand instead of hoping that it would just fix itself. It isn’t easy to see your child suffer even when you know that life can never be a steady path of predictable events, and that every person must be subjected to their share of change.

So we talked like we always do. Her feelings were exactly the same as mine the only difference  being that as a grown up, I know that change is inevitable, and we can control certain factors that could make us uncomfortable. I can also see positive in the change because my exposure is greater and battle with the transition anxiety by focusing on the benefits of the change we are about to experience. It is imperative to validate the feelings in a child because that relaxes their mind and they know that it is not wrong to feel uncomfortable. Then, we address the fears by breaking them down into tinier problems and offer solutions to deal with those problems. At the end, it is all about offering reassurance to a tender mind that can cook up a storm inside. And once a dialog is in the process, the red lights soon fade into lighter colors as we help the child to think beyond their doubts and fears.

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