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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

How to be a better parent: These workshops in India are training moms and dads

"Parenting is an extremely important skill. And when can go for training for everything else, from yoga to cooking, don't you think you need more help for one of the most important jobs which is parenting?"

Written by Disha Roy Choudhury | Updated: July 26, 2019 11:11:32 am
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Ask any parent and they will tell you what a huge responsibility it is to raise a child. Taking care of the child’s health needs and putting him or her in the right school does not complete the job. Effective parenting entails holistic development of the child, which is not an easy task. With the impact of changing times on children, parents of today encounter new challenges, leaving them in a fix about ways to cope with them.

With increasing consciousness and awareness about child rearing, certified educators and trainers are now joining hands with parents to guide them through the parenting journey and assist them in adopting the right approach to ensure their child’s well-being. Most of these workshops involve interactive coaching sessions with parents, where they are counselled and trained on various issues associated with children, from education to behavioural tendencies.

One such institute is Parwarish in Delhi that has been working with parents for about eight years now. Express Parenting spoke to its founder Sushant Kalra, who explained, “Parents normally come in for issues around children’s lack of interest in studies, eating problems, most importantly screen addiction (mostly phones and gaming), and behavioural issues.”

As for the workshops at Parwarish, they are designed as per the requirements, and can hold anywhere between 100-200 parents in a session, including those of children with learning disabilities or special needs. These mostly take place in schools. There is also an extensive two-month classroom ‘No-limit Children’ programme which accommodates around 10 couples. Every parent is assigned a personal coach who guide them in their parenting approach. The philosophy behind the programme is that it is not just about learning but also supporting a parent in complete implementation of the techniques.

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While Parwarish believes in nurturing children’s limitless possibilities, Parenting Matters in Chennai focuses more on building the parent-child bond. A not-for-profit organisation started in 2004, Parenting Matters associates with the philosophy of ‘parenting with connection’. “Our sessions are organised for a fixed group that meets once a week for two hours, for seven weeks. We start by informing parents about what science and research has got to say on a child’s brain development and a parent’s role in ensuring a child’s optimal development. Then we move on to understanding the behaviour of a child and the things that impact him or her. This is followed by talking about boosting communication between parents and their kids. Parents are also informed about the ways to regulate themselves, stay calm and stress-free,” said parent educator Sunitha R. Besides, parents also come in with their personal challenges which are addressed by the educators. The sessions are not just information-based and parents are also trained through engaging activities like role-playing and watching videos and even interact on WhatsApp.

Taking holistic parenting a step further, some organisations are training parents in meditative practices, sound healing and other spiritual exercises as well besides coaching them in parenting techniques. The Healing Circle in Bengaluru, for instance, focuses on what is known as ‘conscious parenting’ which caters to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of parenting. “The decade-old model involves a one-day workshop with learning session after, which cover some essential aspects of holistic parenting. We teach a lot of self-awareness because most parenting is very unconscious,” Jayashree, founder, Parenting Matters, told Express Parenting. This parenting course consciously steers clear of prescriptive solutions to parenting, she said. “Our efforts are dedicated towards empowering parents, and help them connect with children and learn from them. Most of our parenting methods stem from fear and paranoia, which we project on to our children. We help parents recognise these patterns so that they can empower their children in turn. That’s where the spiritual dimension comes in,” she explained. The workshops include different forms of meditation, activities and games, art therapy, affirmation practices, simple energy healing and so on. The maximum limit for these sessions is 40.

Parents are also enrolling in courses to help adopt innovative ways to encourage learning in children. Education is a very important aspect of a child’s development and that’s what Inventing Minds in Gurgaon focuses on. “In our workshops, we help parents work on the ways to encourage children to have an innovative bent of mind, move beyond rote learning and make education a fun process without imposing it forcibly on them. In case you do that, learning follows automatically and children become better and passionate learners. We also encourage parents to adopt homeschooling if they are comfortable with it,” said trainer Rituparna Roy Chowdhury.

Why parenting workshops

Parents of today might recall how those of previous generations were pretty much managing the task on their own. So, if today’s parents are seeking guidance in parenting, does that make them any less competent? On the contrary. Jayashree attributes the change to the growing consciousness among parents for giving their children a better quality of life. “In general, there has been a shift in consciousness. People today are more focused on the quality of life their kids and they as a family have. It is also because the world outside has changed and so, parents are looking for ways to empower their children and make them capable. These days, a lot of parents want their kids to make choices consciously. And to be able to parent like that you have to take care of yourself well,” she said.

Another practical challenge is the sense of alienation one may feel in one’s duty as a parent. “They say, you need a village to raise a child. Now, with families becoming more nuclear, we don’t have that ‘village’ any longer. Earlier, you had the elders in the family who would usually guide you through the parenting journey and knowledge was passed on. More importantly, parenting is an extremely important skill. And when can go for training for everything else, from yoga to cooking, don’t you think you need more help for one of the most important jobs which is parenting? Also, with so much information on everything online, you are really not sure about what is right or wrong. It’s nice when you come to workshops and see that other parents are also having similar problems or have overcome them,” Sunitha added.

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