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The Teen Connect


Ramendra Kumar is a national award winning author with 25 books to his name.  Ramen’s work has been published in several Indian and foreign languages and six of his books have been recommended as supplementary readers by CBSE, India. His stories have found a place in text books and anthologies published across the world, including the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. This blog is an excerpt from his recently published parenting book, “Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm”.

Effective parenting

 

How do you connect with a teen who has a myriad attractions  vying for her attention and distractions  leading to a   dissonance in the real as well as the virtual world?

The best way is by creating a connect  based not on authority but on mutual passion. For me and my son, Aniket, the connect is cricket. While I am fond of the game he is obsessed with it.  With him in the terrible teens and me in the frenetic forties our house has often resembled a mini kurukshetra.  Both of us realised that one common ground of  confluence, one common space sans conflict is cricket. Now  often after a fight a truce is called with me drawing Aniket’s attention to the latest imbroglio in Pakistanti cricket or he pointing out what makes Dravid (his icon) a superior batsmen as compared to Tendulkar (my  idol). We have our disagreements here too. But these are mild skirmishes when compared to almost a full  combat on other issues.

When Aniket is not  mesmerised by the grace of a square cut or the power of a pull, he is held in thrall by the elegance of  the antelope and the majesty of the lion. He is crazy about wild life and so am I.

Last year he came down with viral fever and I was given the job of ‘baby’ sitting him for three days. A friend of mine had gone  for an African Safari  and he sent me the snaps of his tour.

“Papa, these photos looks awesome. Can’t we make a trip too?”

To humour him I nodded my head.

Well, Aniket forgot about his fever and went about planning the entire trip.  By the  time  his ‘papa’ –sitting sojourn had ended he had chalked out the detailed itinerary, the costing and  finalised the tour operator – all on the net.

Since all of us are wild about wild animals we eventually made the trip. I got  Aniket a  Nikon camera and organised some hands on training. The trip went off like a breeze and Aniket got some mind-blowing shots. After coming back I wrote  a couple of travelogues and sent them for publication to two top of the line publications,  along with Aniket’s photographs. You can imagine our thrill when the articles were accepted and subsequently published.

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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


9 thoughts on “The Teen Connect

  1. Sudha Kumar

    Great post Ramen and I can so relate to it- with a teen aged daughter and a 22 year old son (who was once a teen!). As parents we need to quickly and naturally transition from the ‘instructional’ mode to being a friend and share interests as our children graduate to teenage. With my daughter for instance it is the love for cooking and baking and with my son it is a passion for cricket, and interest in current affairs. Though both my children do not even live in India anymore, these common interests have helped forge a bond (enabled by the myriad technology options) and strengthen our relationship!

    I also find that being open to taking their opinion on issues when we take decisions ( concerning us) is also a great way to stay connected.

    Reply
    1. Ramendra Kumar

      Thanks a ton, Sudha. Glad you liked it. My children too have flown the nest and live in Mumbai. We are on touch on the phone and Whatsápp. Invariably whenever there is a slight disconnect it is the common threads that bind us which restore the status quo, asap. Over the years I have realised that what connects us the most is a zany, irreverent sense of humour……

      Reply
  2. Jayanthi

    True that – teenagers need to be handled with care. You don’t want to damage their budding personality and yet don’t want them to go astray – many battles are fought before we hit that fine balance. I also have two teenagers at home and we have managed to find some common areas to discuss that are non-controversial. Sports, technology, TV sitcoms etc. – are a great way to bond and comfort your teenager that all is not war.

    Reply
  3. Ramendra Kumar

    Hi Sudha & Jayanthi,

    Another great way of connecting with your teenage Tsunamis :) is by inviting them to mentor you. I am technologically challenged and whenever I approach my son to bail me out of the technical whirlpool he gladly jumps in. And for those few moments, minutes or hours the Dad – Son synergy is near perfect.

    Reply
  4. Sia

    The days of the Authoritative father are past. the old adage holds true – when your son starts fitting into your shoes, it is time to treat him as a friend.

    Reply
  5. Sudha Kumar

    Ramen, yes, am with you on getting tech mentoring from the teens- it levels the playing field for sure! Happens with my daughter all the time in my case!

    Reply
  6. Vishakha

    Ramen, thanks for the suggestion. What’s your take if it’s single parenting . Esp mom- son thing ; would love to read your opinion.

    Reply
    1. Kritika Srinivasan

      Hello Vishakha

      Just wanted to let you know that the July issue of our magazine will carry an article on Single Parenting – the unique challenges, tips on coping from single parents, family counsellors, etc. Do check that out if you are interested in this topic. Else, if you have a specific query, you can send us an email at editor@parentedge.in and we will have an expert in the field respond to you. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Ramendra Kumar

    I am not an expert on single parenting but yes, I can take inspiration from my dad. He was a single parent since I was 14. He never, ever tried to replace my mum. Instead he made every effort to become a better father. He believed in the currency of trust and there were no secrets between us. He never made any attempt to become a super dad or hide his frailties. I had written a poem for him which I hope will provide an answer to your question.
    MY HERO

    When I was five
    My father was the greatest,
    He was my Hero
    Better than the best.

    My best friend was he
    When I was ten,
    Someone to love and trust
    And have lots of fun.

    The kite that wouldn’t fly
    The boat that refused to sail,
    Every test my Hero passed
    Not once did he fail.

    Of love and togetherness
    We shared many a moment,
    His future he neglected
    But never even once my present.

    He regarded quality time
    His most precious gift,
    Even if it meant
    Giving his career a bit of short shrift.

    When I was twenty
    He suddenly became a stranger,
    I was Mister Know-All
    And the cool, lonely ‘ranger’.

    I thought he was a failure
    Who had achieved nothing in life
    Neither wealth, nor status nor position
    He was merely a father to his son, a husband to his wife.

    When he should have been climbing the ladder
    He wasted his time on the family,
    Instead of being busy in meetings
    He was tending my hurting knee.

    I envied my friend his father’s success
    And felt very small,
    How I wished my father too was a Chairman
    So that I could strut proud and tall.

    One day my friend saw my album
    Of the time when I was nearly ten,
    In it were all the memories
    The love, the joy, the fun.

    As he scanned the snaps
    His face grew long and sad,
    “I wish we could trade places
    And I could have such a loving Dad.”

    “I have everything,” my friend said,
    “That money and status can buy
    Yet in my album
    There is no photo of Dad and I.”

    “While I was growing up
    My Dad too was busy growing,
    And in my stock of photos
    There is not a single one worth showing.”

    “You have so many memories to treasure
    While I have none,
    Though I may have a swanky car and a big house
    I have lost a childhood of love and fun.”

    As my friend left
    I had tears in my eyes,
    How selfish and mean I had been
    He made me realize.

    I went to my father
    A tired and crumpled man
    I told him, “I am sorry,
    But I love you more than anyone ever can.”

    As he took me in his arms
    And both of us began to cry,
    He was once again my Hero
    And I only five.

    – RAMENDRA KUMAR

    Reply

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