Corporate diaries for parenting right – Think through your child’s career

Being a parent is a 24×7 job and is more difficult that being a CXO of a Fortune 500 company. There are however, plenty of experiences from the corporate world that we can use as parental guides. Here’s one such interesting story. A group of American car executives went to Japan to see a Japanese assembly line. At the end of the line, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in US, the missing link was that in the US there was a worker who would take a rubber mallet and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. In Japan, that job didn’t exist. The American executive was confused and asked, when do the Japanese check the door fit perfectly? The Japanese responded, “We make sure it fits when we design it.” The Japanese auto plants didn’t examine a problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution, they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process. 

Learning from the story:

  1. Do we wrongly design our children’s career and then use a mallet to fix the problem? 
  2. Does your teenager have a say in decisions taken for her or his career? 
  3. What do you do to help guide your teenager? 
  4. When do you design her/his career? Do you believe that the best career for her/him is still just medicine or engineering and thrust him/her into coaching classes? Are you aware 29% of those who qualified JEE Mains in 2019 opted out of JEE Advanced?
  5. Are you aware that many of those who pass out of leading engineering colleges opt for careers in blogging, photography and social entrepreneurships? 

Many of those who pass out “use the mallet to fix the door”, for the simple reason that they graduated with subjects that don’t excite them as a career. We see too many who pass out coming back disappointed with their career and needing to redesign their lives. 

We strongly recommend you to explore what your child enjoys. Plan their path taking their thoughts into consideration, ensure that, like the Japanese design, our children have a smooth take off. #Corporate diaries for parenting right

Corporate Diaries for parenting right – Small roles matter big

As parents, we are our children’s first Guru. Our work-life brings in plenty of experiences which we can effectively share with our children. Sudhanshu Vats, Viacom Group CEO, in an interview says his advice to youngsters who join an organisation is not to focus on the title or size but to focus on the role. The holistic learning that comes out of the so called “smaller” roles is much greater than what it appears to be. 

Vats shares his personal story at HUL. It was the year 1995, and after a stint with the Calcutta Metro, he was given a product that nobody knew. Unlike some of his friends who were handling the better known, Lux or Lifebuoy, etc. he was treated as a stepchild. He was told by his friends and colleagues that this would curtail his growth and he should move out. Vats, however, stuck on. The product he had to handle had Sodium Hypochlorite which is also known as bleach. He had to interact with the development team, and since this was categorised by the Government of India as being in the insecticide category, he had to make many trips to New Delhi. These trips he goes on to add, helped him understand the legal perspective of this business. Later, he had to work with a third party to set up the plant in Sylvassa right from scratch. This exposure empowered him with the know-how of permissions required, understanding the setting up of a plant from scratch and other nuances. He had been told many times during these two years that he had been written off, his educational background of being an IIM alumnus didn’t commensurate with this role; however, he persevered. The learning he had gained from these years has helped him grow to what he is today. 

Surprisingly we as parents often get carried by the big money a job begets us. We guide our teens in their career decisions often without taking their thoughts, emotions, interests into account. It is important we help channelise their dreams into actions keeping in mind the experience they will gain in their journey. Don’t stunt their growth by pushing them to earn big money often through careers they are not keen to take. Chances are they won’t. Every little experience in life adds up and it will add up for them too.

Use this lockdown to know your children. 

  1. Ask your teens to write down what is it they would want to do, experience and achieve in the next two years. 
  2. Break this up into quarterly goals then brainstorm on how they can achieve them. 
  3. Write the quarterly goals using different coloured A4 sheets and put them up on a board that will be visible to all of you. 

As your teen achieves each goal, cross it off. Motivating your children to achieve a small goal, which may seem irrelevant to you, will be a huge move in developing your teen’s curiosity and respect for action taken. Respect their curiosity, the learning and achieving smaller goals than going for the big run right away. They will persevere if it’s something they are keen to do. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

How tough is talking to your teen about sex

Sex is a taboo in our society despite the fact that it’s staple food for entertainment, news, and advertisement. It is like the forbidden fruit that everyone wants to eat but not get caught eating. While working with parents, students and teachers I often highlight the importance of having candid chats with our teens on sex and it’s impact on how they grow as adults. Teens these days are exposed to visuals and information galore. We would be foolish to live in a la-la land and believe our teens don’t know anything much about it or they don’t discuss it with their peers.

You must speak about sex to your teens from the perspective of their emotions, their relationships and values. I often advice parents based on how I tackled this tricky topic with my teens. I had to keep in mind, how the talk I have with my son needs to be different from that I have with my daughter. Remember this is a chat, not a biology lesson on sex, precautions and STDs. That input is provided by their Biology books!

I started with how relationships of any kind add happiness in our lives, stress levels reduce when we share and talk to others and how all this makes us more productive in life. Then, I decided to ride the “Me Too” wave to speak to my son about it. While everyone is a friend, however, the criticality to first respect the “friend” before indulging in sex was one of the first points of discussion. Having empathy for and understanding the girl was important as it is for any friend. Trust needed to be established and permeated in the relationship all along. Before indulging in any form of physical proximity it’s important to establish friendship. Not to fool a girl was an important area of conversation as was not to be led into foolish acts by peer pressure. Having said that I added, that parents these days are very edgy. It’s important to be on the right side of the law. Even consensual sex can become a legal issue if the girl isn’t 18 years old.

Our chat also included emotional aspects of a relationship. Considering I work in the domain of emotional intelligence I pushed the need to understand the uniqueness of each of us and how expectations are defined by us based on how we ourselves are. There could be fall outs disagreements and how that should be tackled.

With my daughter my talk was a little different. I started off with what it is about relationships with friends that she enjoys the most. Unlike my son who’s more intellectually driven and is quieter, my daughter is a communicator. She loves company of others and adds energy to any place she goes.

I told her the criticality of self worth and self respect. It was necessary that any “boy” who gets close to her emotionally must first respect her for what she is, she too must reciprocate it. Then we went into the topic of sex and the consequences of it, the need to wait until an appropriate time when she believes she is sure of herself and what she wants out of life. Not to pressurised into any act by anyone, be it any friend. Everything has it’s consequences.

Both my teens were cautioned of those who hound the social media. How risky sweet talking can be and some events that have been discussed and written about in the media.

Lastly, I assured them that I shall be with them through thick and thin and honesty in our relationship was important if I had to help them out. Assurance that you are there helps raise socially intelligent and confident youth and also gives them the liberty to discuss otherwise uncomfortable issues with you at ease.

The author is a Gallup certified coach working in the area of Strengths based Parenting and Educational Leadership. She also speaks to parent groups on compelling issues. She helps set kids up for success!

Parenting – Let’s show them to care, it’s easy to hate

I was reading how racist abuse started on the social media after the Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, had his decisive penalty saved in the Super Cup final shootout against Liverpool in August. His mother was in tears, while he says, “I’m always a strong character, it doesn’t affect me as much. But saying that it could affect people who don’t have my personality.”

How do we raise kids to develop strong personalities? Hate messages, racism, oppressive behaviour towards those who are different from us are exhibited in offices, colleges, schools and even when kids play in non-structured environments. The seed to this “hate” is often planted when our kids are small and is an offshoot of our own behaviour and conversations with them at a young age.

As parents we often focus on our child’s achievements and happiness than whether they care for others. If we want our children to grow up to be moral people, we have to raise them to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. No child is good or bad, it is our duty to raise kids who are caring, responsible and respectable.

Do we ever tell our children, “It’s important to be kind to others.”? When the time comes do we encourage our children to give credit to other’s who have worked with them? Do we ask them to stand up against bullying? It’s easy to get into a bad mood and get harsh with our kids, have you ever thought how this harshness is imbibed by the child and replicated later in a different scenario by him?

Small acts develop caring behaviour in children. Ask them to fold the newspaper as they received it so that the next person reading it finds it easy to read. Or ask them to take their plates to the sink and wet it so that washing it is easy for the maid. Tell them to request for something rather than demand it. Often accepting new people in the circle of friends is not the easiest thing for a child to do. Encourage them to accept and help a new class mate, making her feel welcomed in the new setting. Walk the talk, display the behaviour you want your child to exhibit. At dinner table discuss ethical issues and how they should be handled. It has been seen that those who show gratitude and respect are happier individuals than those who don’t.

Should your child at any time feel shame, anger, envy or other negative feeling don’t shrug them off. These feelings are as normal, train your child to tackle them. They shouldn’t be overwhelmed by such negative feelings. Just the way we tackle our own conflicting thoughts by deep breathing and counting down from 10 to 1, ask them to do the same. It will help them calm down.

Parenting is an important job. How you raise your kids will pave the leaders of tomorrow.

Parenting – Are you a coach or instructor to your child?

Yesterday I received a youtube notification on Neil deGrasse Tyson. The name immediately struck a chord. America’s best known astrophysicist had said his world expanded after a visit to the Hayden Planetarium when he was 9 years old. His parents fuelled his passion to know more and more about the universe. They gave him a telescope after his first visit and allowed him to develop his expertise. This helped him develop a strong sense of self and the confidence to persevere. Being a black kid from Bronx in the 1960s he needed this. He goes on to say, “I was an aspiring astrophysicist and thats how I defined myself, not by my skin colour.” He told Parade magazine, “I was just glad I had something to think about other than how society was treating me. Teachers would say, ‘You should join this or that team,’ not the Physics club. My fuel tank had been stoked since I was 9, but it took me some time to overcome the resistance. I wondered if there were a lost generation of kids who succumbed because their fuel tank was little smaller than mine.”

As a parent, are you creating a big fuel tank for your child or are you infringing your own perception of the world into him? There are five most relevant methods by which we feed help our kids to learn, grow and succeed.

The first method is INSTRUCTION. This is the most common method that we as parents use. You believe you are the expert and so you tell your child what to do. ‘It’s I who has the power and what is expected of you is to obey my instructions.’ It is the oldest method used by parents and also the least effective. Of course it is easy and quick to use, the problem is it’s use is limited to very young children. Once your child becomes a teen, believes he has an intelligence of his own, this doesn’t work. It’s perfect to use in crisis, but that’s where it ends. It’s disempowering and your child may get frustrated with you. You may have told your child, “How many times have I told you..” remember you are probably using Instruction mode of communication. Do not be over-prescriptive and drain out the intelligence your child innately has.

As parents we also often use ADVISING. This too assumes you know best, and your child obviously doesn’t. You suggest and leave the decision to your child, but more often than not it becomes a compulsion for her to follow. Again this method leaves very little space for her to explore her own thoughts and ideas.

MENTORING may be a technique you could use if you have the expertise in that specific field of knowledge or skill. So if your child is being bullied in class and you have gone through that situation or have helped someone out in that situation, you could say, “When I was in that situation, this is what I did..” You leave your child to think about possible action plans he could use.

One of the most effective way to lead your child to success is by COACHING him. As a good coach you should ask questions to gain clarity on what you wish to improve, check if there is the intent in your child to achieve the desired outcome and then brainstorm with her all possible options. It is about listening to answers and fine-tune her thinking. Once you fix a plan then you give accurate, supportive and non-judgemental feedback. So, you are still the expert, however, you help your child find the best answers to problems and challenges. This will empower her to think, deliberate, and evaluate options. Unlike instruction based communication where there is 90percent forget rate in three months, coaching has 85percent retention rate. This creates Smart kids who think for themselves.

What kind of a parent are you? Today’s world demands our children think and evaluate situations by themselves and come up with collaborative solutions. How are you helping your child reach there? Which of the above methods are you using?

Parenting – how it’s changed

I look at my kids and often wonder how different their lives are compared to the one I had as a kid. At 17, my son has already experienced two jobs, my daughter at 13, copes with nine subjects at school along with her Kathak and Ballet dance classes. Not that I ever pushed them into any of these, but they chose to opt for these activities.

When I was in my teens I was just bothered about school and my circle of friends. Kids these days have a greater understanding of the world, what plagues the world, what they want to achieve, and sometimes even how they want to achieve it. My mother focussed on my studies and, I must admit, marks was the only criteria for me to get brownie points. Things have changed since then.

What kind of a parent are you? Are you a helicopter parent hovering over your child’s space, ensuring you are clued into every part of her life? Or are you a parent who’s so engrossed in your life that taking some time out for your child is a challenge. Do you believe you are getting your child most of his wants and thereby are fulfilling your role as parent? Is instant gratification your style of parenting?

In my years of experience as a parent and as a professional helping parents set their kids up for success, I have met all kinds of parents. Have you ever thought, what it takes for anyone to be successful? Probably the first item that needs to be tick marked, is a desire to know what they are good at. What’s that one thing, which would get them into a trance? What’s that one thing they would spend hours doing without looking at their watch? Have you ever discussed that with your child? Let’s accept Gary Kirsten or Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t ever become Albert Einstein or Homi Bhaba. They excelled because they worked on what they were best at. So, spend that little time with your child to know her. Stop judging her through your lens, see her for who she is. Ask her the right questions so she opens up, don’t push her into a corner to do what you want her to do!

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