“Successful mothers are not the ones that never struggled. They are the ones that never give up,
despite the struggles”
– Sharon Jaynes
Meet Dr. Avani Desai who has around 20 years of corporate and academic experience. She holds an MBA in Finance and a PhD in Investor Relations. And most importantly she is a Supermom.
Professionally, she is the Dean of Business Administration in GLS University and a Visiting Faculty at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad and MICA. She teaches finance and communication at the undergraduate, post graduate and PhD levels. An avid reader herself she tries to balance work and home.
With such credentials, another feather to her cap is being the mother of Vishwesh Desai, a teen celebrity. An author with a successful book Shadows of the Northlands, he began writing at the tumultuous age of thirteen and completed it at fourteen. Vishwesh is currently working on a trilogy while simultaneously sitting for his board exams and also working on his college applications. A true yellow collar role model, he is keen on pursuing a degree in genetics alongside his first love creative writing.
So how does one get to a point where one has so many balls to juggle yet manages to make it look effortless? It was an absolute delight getting to know this unassuming yet knowledgeable mum who shared so much of wisdom despite her busy schedule.
Finding pockets of time to hang out together with your child: be it driving for classes, waiting at the bus stop or making meals together.
Start doing this from an early age and your child will get accustomed to your presence and will share incidents of their own.
Challenges Faced along the way:
Vishwesh being a hyper active kid she found it a challenge to keep him engaged. She found a solution to this by having ready to go bags which she filled with puzzles, books and toys and the minute they had to step out she would just grab one and take it along to avoid a hassled day. She learnt the importance of keeping her son mentally stimulated to ensure peace prevailed.
In order to balance work and bringing up her son she moved from the corporate sector to academics, initially working part time and then moving on full time when he went to regular school. This ensured that she didn’t have to give up on her passion and yet at the same time she could make time to be there for her son. Having good family support also enabled her to get through the tough days. She did her PH. D while Vishwesh was seven years and would pull all-nighters to study so that she could spend the day with him. She would avoid socializing or stick to important events just to be there for him.
MOTHER’S GOLDEN RULES
Speak the truth:
No matter, what the circumstances, speaking the truth is a non-negotiable rule.
Pick your battles:
Know which issues are important to enforce and let the small things slide. Ultimately it is all about creating a balance.
Never disrespect your elders:
No matter what happens, disrespecting elders is something that is not tolerated at all.
Reinforce the rules immediately:
If the child needs to be corrected do it immediately rather than waiting for a good time so that it enables the child to make the connection. Good or bad, the feedback should be instantaneous.
Your word is your law:
If a commitment has been given it is understood that it will be met at all costs despite any setback or physical discomfort.
Mum’s the word!!!
And sometimes there’s no harm in using the mum card…… most mums are guilty of having used this trump card…” I am your mum… so you have to listen”…. It works a lot of times…
“Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge
and absorbing the truth about life.”
– Shakuntala Devi
The Riverside school:
- Focused on the wellbeing of the child
- Concentrated on character building rather than just academics
- Gave opportunities to be a part of school projects
- Instilled the importance of physical activities
- Taught the value of time and how time management was vital to one’s success
- Taught planning and coordination
- Emphasized giving back to the society: Children are expected to volunteer for a cause for 2 hrs every week
- Passion project : Use one’s passion to creatively help the society
- Gave the freedom to formulate a schedule that worked alongside academics as well as helped allocate time for writing the novel
- Entrusted the child with responsibilities and built their self confidence
MANTRA FOR SUCCESS
Quality over Quantity:
It matters the most how much of quality time we spend with our teens. It’s not about being there the whole day but, within the time we allocate for them, how we devote all of that in being there with and for the child.
Boredom: The father of creativity:
Leaving children free of structured activities and allowing them to get bored is essential because from that, will spring the fountain of creativity. They will start exploring possibilities and will engage in activities like reading, drawing, writing, enacting and so on to curb their boredom .
Never run a child’s life:
As well-meaning parents sometimes it is taken for granted that we are most qualified to make the best decisions for the child. But each child is unique and parents need to identify the innate qualities of the child and bring that to the forefront rather than trying to fulfil their ambitions through their offspring. Key to that is never trying to enforce our personalities onto the child.
“Kids are like flowing water; they will find their course.”
– Dr. Avani
Tough times bring tough people:
As a parent one is faced with taking tough stances. When they had to take a call on the choice of the school, they had to decide between a reputed old school or a school which would focus on their child’s overall development. They took a choice and there has been no looking back with the school playing an enormous role in shaping up Vishwesh’s personality.
Another instance was forgoing a school trip due to a raging fever. As any parent can identify with these situations “Do I do the right thing or do I give in to my child’s happiness?” Eventually it’s the matter of doing the right thing and explaining it to your child that health trumps all.
Academics: a boon or a bane:
If education is measured on the yardstick of grades only, then it is going to lead to co-curricular activities being driven away. Whereas, if co-curricular activities are part and parcel of the child’s upbringing they learn values from the activities they are a part of. Children learn to be disciplined, focused, moving with self-confidence and much more. The skills they learn will eventually help them in their academics too.
Being a Motivational mother:
When Vishwesh went through tough times or when he was overwhelmed she was just there for him. She patiently taught him the power of letting go. She used the distraction technique to help take his mind away from the problem and when completely rested and happy he could tackle his problems again. She ensured he knew that he was bigger than the obstacle. She reminded him of instances he had overcome difficult situations in the past to restore his self-confidence .
Gadgets – The new age toys:
It’s not enough to just tell kids to stay off gadgets. You need to provide them with viable alternatives to occupy their time. Think of creative ways of spending time together. Think of ways of keeping the child mentally stimulated. Automatically when the child is engaged in activities that interest and challenge him, he is going to stay away from gadgets. From playing games, to watching movies, listening to music, cycling or gardening; parents are the best judges of their children’s interests.
WORD OF ADVICE TO PARENTS
Let go of your rigid ideas and the concept of trying to imprint your thoughts on children. Teens have well-defined ideas on who they are and what they want to do. So as parents, we need to step back for teens to find their way.
Listen without being judgmental.
Find out what is the new normal. What may be interesting or acceptable to you doesn’t necessarily have to align with your teen’s interest.
Know what your values are and as long as the teen doesn’t disregard them, give them the leeway to make their own choices.
Create your own list of priorities and see what can be worked out together to ensure harmony.
Figure out a way to make your own goals (health, education, etc.) the child’s goals so that they want to succeed for themselves rather than doing it because it’s thrusted upon them.
Nudge them in a subtle way and show them the benefits of doing things they love and making a success of it.
WORD OF ADVICE TO TEENS
Live your life weighing the benefits.
It’s your choices that make or break you. So be wise.
If you take a call to do something, stay committed to it.
Even if things seem uphill, persist on seeing the big picture and focus on achieving your goals.
It’s your life. You need to get your priorities right.
“Kids are very smart. You show them what’s good for them
and they latch on to it.”
– Dr Avani
SECRET TIP TO PARENTS
Listen to your kids patiently without being reactive or judgemental.
Avoid lecturing them.
Explain things from their perspective.
What worked for you may not necessarily work for them.
Parent & Career Advisor