Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"Bringing Up Kids Is Challenging"

Soni Razdaan On The Challenges of Bringing-up Alia Bhatt & Shaheen Bhatt

@nishjamvwal

“Bringing up kids in today's world is challenging full stop  period !!!” says actor Soni Razdaan with her typical jest intertwined with  serious undertone, about her girls Shaheen and the new kid on the Bollywood  block -Alia Bhatt.

A mother daughter relationship to me has always been intriguing, mainly because of the complexities of my own relationship with a tiger mom. I do believe she’ll agree with Soni wholeheartedly. 


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There is some curiosity within me about Soni, an opinionated woman, bringing up two attractive girls, the tough times, frustrations she faced as a mother and how she circumvented these.... 


“I think I am blessed really. I have two such special daughters. Shaheen, the elder one is balanced, sensitive and astute. Alia , an obedient and serene child who floated through her childhood on a little pink cloud,  mostly did what ever she was told, unlike Shaheen, who had a mind of her own from the age of two and argued about everything. I remember her telling me at eight-'Its my life, don't tell me what to do !' I was trying to get her to eat her vegetables. As a mother, suddenly having to deal with teen age moods is rather unnerving and both had their share of those.... “

As soon as Alia turned fifteen, she climbed off her cloud and turned into a normal, rather moody teenager, which was a shock to Soni Razdaan. “ Where did that come from ? Why is my happy go lucky child weeping behind a locked door! Then Shaheen, who had by now become wise beyond her years, patiently explained to me that all this was perfectly normal, and to just leave her alone !  She reminded me of all the years I had spent banging on her door, asking if she was ok. 'She will figure it out mom,' she said. ‘Let her be.’ “

  And then all of a sudden, life for Alia changed forever,  much to Soni’s bewilderment-  “She has had to grow up fast in the last two years, sometimes I do feel a pang for the pressure on someone so young. It's tough sans those happy go lucky college years.  I’m concerned that she should keep her head on her shoulders and stay balanced through all this sudden attention. It's not normal and can be very dizzying for an eighteen year old to handle.”

In terms of do's and don't's , controlling girls and shaping their value systems is a tough one for a mother most often “I always believed that it was more important to be a friend to my daughters.” Having said that, kids do need boundaries. How does one manage both “One thing I never gave them grief over was academics. I believe that if you are going to be an academic achiever, it's already there within you. 

My mother never pushed me, I just had the bug in me to work hard in school and so I did. I pushed gently now and then when I felt they were not focusing  but mostly I told them if you don't work, you won't reap rewards, and you may suffer the consequences. So they learnt to be responsible for themselves that way.  They didn’t have mom to fall back on to do their projects or grill them before exams.  Of course I took up their work and helped them a lot, but very soon, they learned to do all that themselves.  To the point where, when it came to the boards and I kept asking them if they needed my help, they shooed me away !  “

Suddenly when she made her entry into Bollywood, Alia had to scramble around and lose weight in three months flat, go on a strict diet regime, all while doing a stressful International Baccalaureate course. “Phew, that she managed it all convinced me she that she’s become a strong girl! “
  
“I have  always been more concerned for their safety, than any kind of pseudo moral issues. I think one way I coped is by not having an ostrich mentality. I know many parents just think - oh my child would not do this or that. Don't you believe it ! So I bring everything out in the open and we talk about it openly and naturally. Boyfriends, drugs, alcoholism, money, values, decency-I encouraged them to tell me the truth. I see my contribution in their lives more in terms of making them aware of the problems they can get into before they get into them (hopefully).  I think its worked very well so far."

I can say that probably the hardest thing a mother has to do is to let go. I know I haven't yet, and I probably never will.  Whatever my kids may say, I can sense that they still need me around to lean on, when the going gets rough. 

They need my husband Mahesh Bhatt's brilliant sage like advice now and then to give them perspective.  The trick is to be there and not be there both at the same time.  Don’t ask me how one does that.  As parents, we are still learning.  Isn't that what it's all about ?

Written for & published by Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle

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