Parenting Tales | Anju Dhawan | Book Review

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Parenting Tales

Neelam Sharma


You know becoming a parent is not only one of the biggest joys of this world, but along with this bundle of happiness comes a truckload of responsibility too. Responsibility for life, if truth be told. In such a scenario, we often feel how we wish someone had told us how to do things, the do’s and don’ts of them, and so on. And yet, we do not enjoy reading those typical handbooks, which just tend to give us bookish knowledge in this regard. Parenting Tales by Anju Dhawan is a collection of 12 short stories that discuss the nuances as well as the curve balls associated with the whole aspect of parenting, but in a unique, engaging manner, through tales that touch our hearts.

Children do not need us to shape them. They need us to respond to who they are.

Naomi Aldort

Indeed, as Brooke Hampton has put it, one needs to be empathetic as well as considerate of their offspring, speaking to their child while having total conviction that they are the wisest and most magical humans on this planet, as what they believe is what they eventually will become.

Parenting, in the true sense of the term, is indeed about investing yourself wholeheartedly in a soul who is a part of your own and, at the same time, needs your help, support, guidance and, most importantly, compassion and love to become a better version of you. Isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

Well, not the same anymore in today’s times, if truth be told. Nowadays, somehow parenting has downsized from this love and compassion to something more like a rat race of sorts, jumping on the bandwagon in a bid to make your offspring the “best,” the perfect, talented and super skilled child that is the new “normal” for today’s competitive generation. But take a moment here, guys and think about what parenting is all about. Are you simply raising your children akin to a derby horse who has to put their best foot forward in a race, or like a bull who needs to fight and win in the most robust of duels? Certainly not!

In case you are wondering why I am speaking on such grave yet extremely essential issues today, Parenting Tales: Stories that will remain in your hearts forever by Anju Dhawan, a book I recently delved into, made me question so many of the erroneous practices of parenting that are taking place nowadays that I am amazed at how we, as a generation that is presumably one of the last so-called “helicopter parent” zones, can make such abysmal mistakes. Indeed, Anju has managed to point out as well as explain so many important pointers through a collection of stories that are written in this one, from the point of view of addressing this elephant that continues to exist in our lives. Simply put, this one is a collection of 12 stories, or mini-sagas, as I like to call them, that revolve around the various challenges faced by individuals at various stages of life while parenting and how they choose to address them. It depicts the societal mindset of these individuals as well as puts forth the scenario from the perspective of the “children.”

Every tale Anju has got here is such a beautifully depicted myriad of emotions, bringing forward an aspect of life that is so refreshing to read and dunk into. While Gaurav-my Pride is a tale that deals with autism and the “taboo” sort of factor associated with it, I loved the way Anju showed how the protagonist Gauri eventually accepts and makes peace with reality, accepting autism more as a “special ability” and pledging to work on helping Gaurav and her son live with it happily, rather than getting into the dark alley of considering it to be a bane of life.

Varun’s headache was another story that brought forth a challenge very much present, but again, it is often shoved under the carpet and not addressed for fear of being judged. Yes, as parents, we do have expectations, but it is wrong to simply pile them on our children, expecting them to fall in line with the footsteps we choose for them. Your child may or may not want to pursue the career you deem fit for them. It is OK, and they’d rather do something that makes them happy so that they deliver fruitfully. Indeed, I had once heard a line saying, “If you make your hobby into your profession ever, you will end up with no single day of work So, simply yet beautifully, Anju has managed to capture this reality and encapsulate it through this tale.

Love you, Dadima, another tale that kind of transported me back to the COVID times, when we all surely learned the true value of our lives, albeit a hard way if you ask me, too resonated with me on a high note. Yes, until we go under the bridge, we do not value what we truly have. Isn’t it important to understand and value one’s blessings and to celebrate and be grateful for one’s life always, as well as for all those around you who are your lifelines and your biggest supporters? A brilliant one!

But The STARs is one story that, for me, was a “showstopper,” the best of them all. Not that I did not enjoy it all. But The STARs were something else. The tale that virtually brought me into the lives of Sudha, Teena, Anjum and Rita felt as if I were perhaps the fifth one besides them, watching their lives unfold right before me. I felt as if I was a part of their lives as they sat decoding and empathizing alongside each other, the variable curve balls that life was giving each of them at every juncture. Be it marriage advice they shared, parenting advice, the detachment theory, aka learning to “move on” whilst giving their children autonomy and space, accommodative acceptance to the new generation whilst understanding their teething issues, or the balancing acts whilst being the “sandwich” between their growing children and ageing parents, Anju has so flawlessly brought together so many variable paradigms of life, un-knotting all challenges, and surreptitiously providing solutions to all those issues, which indeed form a part of today’s challenges. For instance, while we and our parents might have been from the “helicopter parenting” era, our children may not necessarily adhere to that, and that is fine, as we need to accept that as a change and not a revulsion we are facing. Liberty and freedom are good, and at the same time, accommodative parenting needs to be incorporated by one to achieve a greater good for both.

I liked how Anju has subtly explained all the challenges of parenting and also addressed multiple issues and challenges involved in one’s life through this assimilation. Kudos to her for putting forth such strong perspectives in this light-hearted yet informative manner. A beautiful ensemble of stories, Anju has not created a mere handbook of short stories for parents. She has managed to assimilate those extractions of life that need to be shared and adopted; their essentials must be incorporated into our lives if we want to raise our generation in the right manner. This is a book I would recommend to all parents and children alike.

So, I hope you guys liked my book review of Parenting Tales by Anju Dhawan.

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Adios Amigos!

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