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‘All You Need Is Love’…the simple, inside-out wisdom of parenting…

AYNIL for blog

I have read books on parenting before, and I have written about books on parenting before. But I have not journeyed before with an author, as she talks, from a lived and honest position, about the highest highs and the lowest lows, the trials and tribulations, the complexity but also the refreshing simplicity…of the most human of experiences, that is parenthood.

In this book, Shelja brings together the life lessons from her years of lived experience, both as a parent and as a therapist, and combines this with the results of research on what works and does not work, and gives us, in simple and relateable language, the five anchors of parenting:

  • Connect: The relationship that is the foundation of parenting
  • Coach: Building the necessary skills in our children through an understanding of their unique wiring and temperament
  • Care: How to nurture yourself for a more wholesome life
  • Community: Building caring ecosystems for children to thrive in
  • Commit: How to sustain your courage and compassion through it all.

Most importantly, this is a book that makes us look within as parents- delve into our deepest recesses to stay mindful of our own vulnerabilities and pressure points, but also to be able to draw out, from these very depths, our most deep-seated reservoirs of love and connection and wisdom, to give to our children.

I would most unfalteringly claim that there is something in this book for everyone. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will resonate with some of your deepest experiences as a parent, but also as a child. It will make you drop your jaw in awe that parenthood could be so vast and complex, but it will also make you shake your head in disbelief that it could be so simple. As simple as saying and believing that…all you need is love, really.

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Child Friendly News

A newspaper that is truly child friendly!

A newspaper that is truly child friendly!

In an age where news of bloodshed shares cover space with condom ads in every leading daily, how do we ensure that our children get their daily dose of news and current events in a language that they understand, and without having to make their way through reams of explicit content?

Enter Child Friendly News, a newspaper written keeping young readership and their needs at its centre. Child Friendly News was co-founded by Anita Mani, and born very much out of the need to explain news and current events to her own seven year old. As she says, “Every issue is written with children in mind. Each issue is in fact read by my son and his friends – no losing sight of the target audience here! ”

Besides presenting news and current affairs in a simple and reader-friendly language, other exciting features of CFN include The Book Nook, which introduces a children’s book in each edition, bits on sports and technology, as well as interesting little word scrambles and other games.

I love seeing young readers in our clinic’s waiting area sitting right next to their accompanying adults, one reading the adult newspaper and the other engrossed in CFN, and then comparing news and headlines in an atmosphere of utter seriousness and ‘grown-up’-ness!

Subscribe to CFN today and read-along with your 7-13 year old at home or as you drop them off to school. CFN is now available for free at most children’s organisations and schools too 🙂

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Palatable Parenting Advice in A Book

“What can I do to get him out of his shell?”

“If only she would spend half the time she does on boys and dressing up, on her studies!”

“Why does every conversation between us turn into an explosive nightmare?”

These are just some of the questions I hear exasperated parents of teens I work with, battling day in and day out. Parenting dilemmas can leave parents feeling guilty and dis-empowered, as they wade through these turbulent seas, trying a hit and miss strategy of sometimes firmness, sometimes confrontation, sometimes giving in; and at other times, simply giving up!

As hard as it may be to believe, these tussles impact teens too. Behind the high walls and “I don’t care”s, we often find a teen who is feeling misunderstood and helpless too- “Nothing I do is good enough for them”.

Parenting teenagers is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges facing parents today, as we live in what Faber & Mazlish aptly describe as a  “meaner, ruder, cruder, more materialistic, more sexualized, more violent than ever before” world.

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So how do we end these endless tugs of war and screaming marathons and begin to evolve healthier patters and ways of being with our teenagers? Faber & Mazlish’s book tells you just how. Packed with true stories, typical scenarios, instructive comic strips, and reminder pages that highlight the ideas in each chapter, ‘How To Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk’ demonstrates the communication skills that will give parents the know-how they need to enjoy a mutually respectful relationship with their teenage son or daughter. What’s more, all of their strategies are non-preachy and very do-able. Get yourself a copy today. Easily available online and in bookstores.

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When We Were Very Young

Many of you who love little people’s literature, or just good, heartwarming writing in general, would be familiar with the work of A. A. Milne, of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. Milne’s works, full of the most charmingly written insights into the world of children, are my constant source of comfort and inspiration, and I personally cannot imagine a little people’s blog without a post dedicated to him.

Milne’s inspiration for his writing came from his own little boy Christopher Robin, and his various stuffed animals, the most notable among them being his stuffed bear Edward who later took on the name of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Milne embodies the child’s voice in his or her world, as it is. Complete with imaginary companions who are just as, if not more, real than the ‘real’ ones. It is so rare to find your own voice, without judgement, put out there in a book written by an adult. And that for me is the greatest appeal of Milne’s work.

Apart from the Winnie-the-Pooh books, Milne also wrote two lesser-known treasures called When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, and these are my personal favourites. All his books have been beautifully illustrated by the notable English artist and book illustrator Ernest H. Shepard, whose strokes make them come alive.

Here’s a poem that I especially love from Now We Are Six and read over and over.

solitude a a milne

Milne’s writings make for immensely enjoyable together-reading for children and adults alike, and touch upon themes that can provide brilliant entryways to talk to children about friendship, togetherness, and the power of imaginative play. More than anything, they remind us of the parts inside us that are still very young…sometimes six, and two, and twenty, and sometimes everything in between 🙂

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P.S. Here’s a 1929 audio recording in which Milne reads excerpts from the Pooh book in his own voice. What a rare treat!

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For Girls Growing Up

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I am constantly looking for ‘growing up’ resources that are informative and yet written in a language that kids find easy to read. This book, brought to me by one of the little girls I work with, has been one of my best finds in this department yet.

Just for Girls: A Book About Growing Up’ by Parragon Books tells girls all they need to know about what bodily and other changes to expect, along with simple explanations of why they are happening. I particularly liked the simple and affirmative language they use to normalise differences in bodily and other domains of development, along with other necessary inputs on self care, hygiene, along with a portion dedicated only to bras and tips on how to select the right one.

I spent an entire session taking turns reading it aloud with this little girl, and answering her questions. Because of the child-friendly and easy-to-understand way in which it is written, it makes for excellent together-reading with any little girl on her way to growing up 🙂

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Alohomora! Harry Potter Audio Books Unlocked

Stephen Fry is at his eloquent best in these highly-engaging audio-book versions of the Harry Potter books. I have been an out-and-out Harry Potter fan for years now, and have read and re-read the books many times over, but that did not take away from how much I enjoyed Fry’s audio book versions.

A long-standing and heel-digging paper book supporter, these also happen to be the first ever audio books I agreed to try. When read aloud by someone as engaging and articulate as Fry, audio books do provide an excellent alternative for auditory learners or children who have never taken to paper books or find written text simply too overwhelming. Also an excellent companion while walking, travelling or doing chores around the house!

Easily available for purchase on Amazon and for sampling on SoundCloud here.