Parenting ain't no Child's Play
Times of India, May 16, 1999
By Sameera Khan

When Akanksha Sharma was five, her mother worried about her continued thumb-sucking. At 28, Ms Sharma, who now has a five-year-old son, has other concerns. "I worry about the amount of time he spends on the computer," she says. "It's useful and he learns his alphabet on it, but how many hours should I allot for his computer time?"

Welcome to the dilemmas of modern urban Indian Parents.

Be it monitoring their children's viewing of horror shows on TV or preventing their access to pornography sites on the Net; grappling with failure to get into the 'right' play-school, or confusion over what hobby class will best increase their child's IQ, young parents today find parenting as challenging, if not more, as clearing the MBA entrance exams.

Some have immediate concerns like bed-wetting and potty-training. Others like Nitish Kati, father of two, bother about the amount of time they spend with their children. Still others, like executive Seema Kelkar, who has a five year old son, are tormented by the future. "As a parent I constantly feel pressurised. I worry about my son getting access to drugs, getting violent, falling into bad company, and not keeping up with the competitive environment," she candidly admits. Lolita Saletore, mother of two pre-five daughters is concerned about potential situations of physical abuse. "The situation was so different for my parents who didn't even have a TV set," she says. "Now, I have to worry about the impact of images of sex and violence, safety for my children and so much more."

Help is on the way for these frazzled parents. Earlier, this week India's first parenting website - - went online…. This, in addition to all the parenting and child psychology workshops that have mushroomed in the city, and of course the definitive Dr Spock's guide to babies, or nearer home, Dr. R.K. Anand's tome.

"Parenting has become a complex role these days, what with so much happening in the environment around us. We can't just rely on hearsay or what our mothers recommend. And what about those young couples who live far away from their folks; where do they get advice and information?" asks Nirali Sanghi, who has put together the India Parenting web site. Last year, when the techno-savvy Ms Sanghi had a baby, she went to the web to search for details on parenting and baby care and came back dissatisfied. "Too much stuff related to bringing up baby in the western context but nothing for us," says Ms Sanghi, who left a high paying corporate job to spend time with her baby and set up the web site.

For the Indian parent, she offers 1800 pages of information on baby care, mother care, baby names (with a special section on easily pronounceable Indian names for foreigners), children's movies, reviews and issues ranging from teen eating disorders and sibling rivalry to diaper rash and baby's crying. For the NRI parent stuck with a toddler in Wyoming, she has Indian stories, rhymes (even Chakki ben, chakki ben in Gujarati) and recipes for baby food like moong dal khichdi.

"The advantage of being a web site is that we can constantly update our information, offer advice on new issues, and have an interactive relationship with Indian parents around the world," says Ms Sanghi. "After all, what parents need is a forum to air their concerns, a chance to share experiences so that they know that they are on the right track."

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