What inspired you to write Spiritual Parenting?
I believe that Spiritual Parenting is a book that just came through me, without a conscious application. During the writing of the book, each time I wrote a few lines, I would read them. Then I would always wonder how I could even come up with such ideas and concepts. During childhood, I had not been exposed to anything remotely spiritual, as my father was a doctor having an incredibly rational and sceptical outlook towards life.
Even after I got married, my poor mother-in-law would try persuading me to attend study classes at the Chinmaya Mission in Mumbai, but I never showed any interest. So, I still find it strange that when I was about a week pregnant, my husband’s aunt (whom I consider to be my guru) started a Vedanta class for young people and something within me prompted me to attend it.
After that, I was hooked and I found myself looking forward to these classes. My thinking also underwent a huge change and I found myself subconsciously applying the principles that I was learning, to my life. This continued throughout my pregnancy (a friend told me that my children were the ones who impelled me to attend these classes from the womb!) and when I gave birth to twins, I found myself very calm and collected.
I started using all that I had learnt towards becoming an able parent. For example, if they were crying, I would chant and they would automatically calm down. I realised that if I am a happy and fulfilled mother, I can raise happy and fulfilled children.
I had been a freelance journalist before becoming a mother of twins. During a conversation with a random acquaintance about how Vedanta was influencing my parenting style, I was questioned as to why I had not already written on this topic. And that’s the story behind Spiritual Parenting!
So how does one become a spiritual parent?
Spiritual Parenting sounds so esoteric and mysterious, and yet it has the elements of knowledge that is ingrained in us, the kind of things that your mother, and dadi and nani have been telling you for years.
To me, spiritual parenting is a calmer way to bring up a child (especially in today’s highly stressed-out environment) while remembering the principles of spirituality that are already a part of us, such as:
- being and showing gratitude for what we have
- watching our (negative) thoughts, actions and words around our children,
- learning to let them live out their dreams and destinies,
- accepting our children for what they are,
- realizing within, that trying times (like nights of no sleep when they are little) are not forever, and will always pass.
When we keep these points at the back of our minds, it puts situations in perspective, which puts less pressure on us to be perfect. We are then able to relax during the parenting process and this eventually makes us happier parents. I really do believe that a happy, self-assured parent makes for a happy, self-assured child.
So anyone become a ‘spiritual parent?
Of course! There is no qualification or pre-requisite exam to clear! If you view parenting with detachment and humour, and also with realism, you will find that not only are you a better and more ‘spiritual’ parent, you are also evolving in your own right.
What challenges are you facing as a parent that you think your parents probably didn’t face?
Ever so many! Our children have so much – toys, books, clothes, entertainment – that it is hard to keep their lives tuned to the environment around us. Both my husband and I are united in the idea that we have to make our children aware of the reality of living in a country like India. We constantly remind them that they are part of a privileged minority, whether it is through sharing news stories with them or by making them aware of the value of money and how they need to spend this wisely.
I am quite firm with my children, so I fortunately don’t face any major disciplining issues (so far!). I feel that keeping our children’s needs and wants in check, is the biggest challenge for any parent of our generation.
How do you juggle work and parenting?
I write two days a week and work for three days at Ummeed Child Development Center, a Mumbai-based organization handling children with developmental disabilities. My work ends the minute my children enter the door. Then I’m mom – getting them to eat their snack, checking up on homework, taking them swimming – the usual mom routine. So actually, there is no typical day in my life!
Tell us something about your latest book.
I’ve written three books in four years and I thought that it was time to stop, or at least give myself a break.
But then, inspiration has seized upon me yet again, making me work on my next book. This one is being co-written with my husband, who is a lawyer having his own highly successful practice and who is also a life coach. It is tentatively titled ‘Spiritual Success’, and it talks about how you can incorporate spiritual principles into your work life, and create harmony between personal and professional aspects of your life. I am really excited about this one!
Finally, a message for parents ...
Be happy and content within – only then can you be a good parent!