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Raising Happy Kids


This article first appeared on the Learning & Creativity website. It has been reposted with Ramendra Kumar’s permission.

Ramen with his children

Ramen with his children

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy’s immortal classic Anna Karenina begins with these unforgettable words – words which ricochet in my mind  whenever anyone  talks of happy or unhappy families.

So what makes a happy family? A number of  aspects,  but one feature that is common to all families which are happy and hence  effective is the bonding between the  parents. If the mother and father share a relationship of love, respect, trust   and mutual concern the family unit is sure to be a contented one. One the other hand if the  home is a battle ground of egos and mistrust you can  be certain that the  family is going to be unhappy and the children emotionally bruised.

I speak from personal experience. My parents were very good looking (the ideal made for each other types), highly educated and with a liberal outlook. My father was a professor and my mother a talented writer. On the outside ours was  a ‘happy family’. But in actuality it was anything but that. Every few days there were skirmishes and every few months a full scale war.

My sister and I would be  either reading or chatting in our room at night when suddenly we would hear raised voices.

“I think they have started again,” my sister, who was older, would mumble. The   slanging match would morph into screaming and yelling and breaking of stuff. This would continue late in the night as the two of us would sit huddled together, hoping and praying for a truce – since peace was an outlandish fantasy. These battles would be followed by a long period of silence and our house (I could never dare call it a home) would resemble a mausoleum.  The eerie calm before the next storm  was as agonizing as the  full scale war itself.

One evening I returned home and found my parents and my sister sitting in the garden joking and laughing, like ‘normal families’ – I just stood there, soaking in the scene, imploring almighty to freeze  time. This scene remained etched in my memory for a long, long time and I would often revisit it  in my  reveries.

I remember my sister once telling my parents, “Both of  you are charismatic and brilliant – My friend  Beena envies me so much. Her father is a pot bellied business man  who is not even a graduate  and her mother is a house-wife who can’t speak a word of English. Beena  is even  ashamed to call them for PTA meetings. But I would any day exchange them for you two. At least they love and respect each other. Their  house is like a home unlike our place which resembles a battle field.”

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer for children and young adults with 27 books to his name. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His writings have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages and showcased in many text books and anthologies. Ramen is a much sought after inspirational speaker and storyteller. An Engineer and an MBA, Ramen is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha. You can visit Ramen's website www.ramendra.in


One thought on “Raising Happy Kids

  1. Susila Raman

    The best advice I received about parenting was simply this – always be glad to see them. And I’ll add this – if the grades are OK and you know your child is a good person,

    Reply

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