Keep Calm And Mommy On by Dr Tanu Shree Singh is a must read book for parenting in India, that can really help stressed moms and dads.
Look no further! This might just be THE answer to all your parenting pleas, cries and problems. If you ask me, this is India’s parenting bible. Period.
Little did I realize how bloody good this book would turn out to be when I first laid my hands on it! The author, Dr Tanu Shree Singh has a knack of enticing her readers right away with her intelligent wit, creative bent of mind, endearing humility and a wildly free-spirited attitude. As soon as Ms. Singh got me all hooked with her fascinating introduction titled ‘Confessions of a Not-so-super Mom’, I flipped to the back page of the book earnestly looking forward to reading the author bio and seeing the face behind this highly evolved brain. Boy! Was I pleased to see a gloriously beaming face with salt and pepper hair and a ‘devil may care’ attitude, which I personally think is the best kind of attitude to sport in this thickly populated ‘Log Kya Kehenge’ society!
Summing it up
In a nutshell, Keep Calm and Mommy On makes a valiant effort to crack this tough nut job called Parenting.
“That is exactly what motherhood seems like sometimes – velvet bugs scattering from a broken jar.”
The book is a clever, cheeky pun on this whole halo surrounding parenthood, more so, motherhood in particular. This book comes straight from a brave, young mother who’s been there, done that and got her hands dirty, burnt and bitten but not shy. And coming out unscathed! Hallelujah! She has a lot of clever parenting tips and tricks under her sleeve along with tons of parenting advice and wisdom to get around even the most trickiest child.
This book is a gentle reminder as it nudges its readers to see the world through the rosy shades of our children and join them as they curiously explore the world around them.
“Is it fair to straitjacket childhood? To put blinkers on your child, lead her to the starting gate and expect her to run like a champion racehorse?”
She handles all the trivial as well as complex aspects of parenting with equal elan. Dr. Singh tackles head-on every universal issue that seemingly appears to tear this world apart – diversity, prejudices, death, war and religion. She helps us to break down these ugly realities for our children without shattering their confidence and hope. The melancholic dark concept of death is discussed in a wondrously pleasant, philosophical and hopeful note.
“A prejudice free society is a thing of fables, but a positive outlook and compassion is definitely achievable. We always have a choice – do we want our kids to grow in an environment fraught with uncertainty and hatred, or do we want them to grab that faint glimmer of positivity and hang on to it?”
The book has a ‘no-holds-barred’ approach when it comes to sexual issues plaguing children and young adults – pornography, paedophilia, masturbation, adolescence, sex, mixed gender friendship and teenage romance. There is absolutely no veil of hypocrisy as Dr Singh discusses all the taboo topics with an admirable feat of maturity, sensitivity and dignity.
“Contrary to what we’d like to believe, this generation is not that different from ours. They are just more vulnerable thanks to the virtual world. It is our job to be the gatekeeper and the guide, but never the judge. Ever.”
I was pleasantly surprised that non-sexual abuse (bullying is one) was also discussed in great depth. Whether it is a menacing look, passing snide remarks, physical blows, not giving merit etc., we need to educate our children about what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour by peers, teachers and authority.
“Bullying weakens the child. In no way, does it help him become tough. For that, there is love, support and the child’s strength of character.”
There is a delightful section on how to nurture happy children. The prescription goes something as follows – embracing boredom and a slow lifestyle, shunning technology, unlearning learning, being respectful and responsible, cultivating empathy and not falling bait for materialism.
“It is always tough to swim against the tide, even more so for children. The boys have classmates who mock them for their ignorance about the latest video games. I believe in arming them with thick skin rather than the latest technology.”
I found the persistence of Dr Singh in getting rid of the all-pervasive technology out of her kid’s lives inspiring. We also shared exactly the same outlook and strongly opinionated views on education.
“Education is meant to give kids wings, not chains.”
My personal favourite was the final chapter. Always save the best for the last, as they say, Aye! Much like the enticing and highly soul-satisfying dessert at the end of a sumptuous meal, ‘Reading the World’ is dedicated to the simple, precious joys of reading. This section reminded me of my daughter’s early education years in the USA. While she was the brightest child in her class when it came to academics, her teacher had one complaint – that she always picked books that were way below her reading level. Well, it was a relief when Dr Singh wrote –
“Age is just a number. And books are too big to be bound by numbers.”
This book wins you over with its sheer goodness in every which way you choose to look at it! As radical and unconventional as the book might deceptively appear at the outset, it is essentially filled with timeless wisdom, practical knowledge and the most loving, tender and caring soul. Much like any mother truly is!
The book is written in a fun, casual style with lots of humour generously swirled in to create a delectable reading experience. It really helps when you can look at yourself as a parent and laugh at its ironies. The author does just that and lifts off this whole burden of parenting off its readers’ shoulders, making them feel not just light but also see things in a whole new positive light.
What this book did to me was incredibly powerful! The more I advanced through every chapter in the book, the more I wanted to practise the same with my child. I cannot place a finger exactly on it but it really moved me to introspect and reflect my own parenting style. I started connecting with my daughter in a slightly different but remarkably improved way. This book will stir in its readers, a strong urge to connect honestly and bond better with their own children.
While technically, I did not find any loopholes in the books per se, I wished the author had also touched upon the topic ‘Food and Nutrition’. I don’t expect to read full-blown recipes but I felt like I had missed out on the author’s experience as a mother when it came to physically nourishing her children apart from the intellectual, emotional and spiritual nourishment. Were her boys picky eaters or were they a mother’s dream come true? Either ways, how did she cope?
While gender sensitivity and feminism were discussed extensively, it would have also been interesting to see mental footprints of those who have girls. I perfectly understand that the author has two sons. But, just maybe sharing some fun and random childhood anecdotes from her own past or her take on the young girls of this generation would balance it out. Just a lil’ bit!
So, who should pick up this book?
This is an immensely helpful book for all parents and ‘would be’ parents who are genuinely seeking parental Nirvana.
This book is also for the youth whose self-esteem and confidence is still a ‘work-in-progress’. This book is particularly helpful for them to understand all blurry topics from sexuality, bullying, education, character, love and philosophy.
So Yes! This would make the perfect gift item for all mums, dads and young adults whose life you want to change for the good.
What I loved about Dr. Tanu Shree Singh was her authenticity! Of course, notwithstanding the fact that she is the perfect testimony to the maxim – ‘Intelligence is Sexy’. Her mind is a beauty – intriguing, hilarious, provocative, probing, reflective and deep! I have no doubts that this sparkling debut is the start of many more stellar books to come by this brilliantly fascinating and inspiring mind.
The author is a huge bibliophile. So, there are tons and tons of book recommendations for both parents and children alike to the rescue!
Keep Calm and Mommy On, published by Duckbill books, is a step in the right direction. If more parents were secure and confident in their children’s natural spark and ability, India would be renowned not just for its doctors and engineers alone, but also for its artists, writers, sportspersons and more. What this also means is that we would have self-assured, empathetic, genuinely happy and fulfilled individuals in the end as well. Isn’t that what the end-goal of all learning and education truly is?
Finally, the chirpy-cheery blue cover-page of the book that is designed by the talented Vivaan Singh (the author’s son) gets five twinkling bright stars.
* Originally published on Women´s Web.