Parenting lessons

Parenting lessons

During pregnancy, actress Sonali Bendre Behl read as many books as she could on parenting to prepare herself for motherhood. Family and friends always had suggestions, but she wanted the journey to be smooth. And then came the big day, and she still remembers that the very moment when she first looked at her son, Ranveer, “she didn’t feel any surge of motherhood.” A confession like this isn’t easy to make, especially if you are a public figure. But then she has made many such confessions in her debut book The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments with Parenting, that focuses on emotional and physical vulnerability a woman goes through post pregnancy.

“We, as mothers, end up living in a lot of guilt. And you don’t know what it is but as a thinking person you would feel why I am feeling guilty. I see all mothers going through it. But none of the parenting books talk about these issues,” the 40-year-old, who was in the capital recently, tells Metrolife.

“At the point, women are so fragile and are literally turned upside down. I presumed I was prepared well for the new arrival in our family because I thought I was used to hectic schedules, but I took some time to understand that this was an entirely different experience. That is also when I realised each child is different, so we all have different experiences,” she adds.

The model-turned-actress, who made her Bollywood debut with Aag, is best remembered for her role in movies like Sarfarosh and Zakhm. Having an identity of her own, little she knew, Ranveeer would initially be so demanding that she struggled to keep pace with things. In the book, she writes “I was an unkempt zombie — faded old track pants, tacky top, uncombed hair. Who cared what I was wearing or how I maintained myself? I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror — dark circles, overweigh and badly dressed.”

“I had lost my identity, I was so caught up in things,” she recollects. “The day I realised this, I started taking care of myself. It sounds so clichéd that one should look good, but the fact is that how you look also dictates your mood. I am not saying that one should go for crash dieting, but one should exercise regularly and lead a healthy lifestyle.”

According to Bendre parenting isn’t easy. “There are no shortcuts in parenting. It teaches you discipline,” she says, adding parents had to face different challenges earlier and there are different challenges now.

However, she feels that one thing that is important for every parent is to teach their children “compassion and empathy” because that is missing from the society. “Education has become about numbers.  But for me, education is about knowledge and learning.

We have forgotten compassion and spirituality and parents should aim at making their children better human beings.”

Bendre’s acting career has taken backseat and she isn’t complaining. “To be honest, what I have done in films is done. I am happy that I did those films. But now I am not that person anymore, there is a different person in my head. So, unless and until there is something that is worth doing, only then I will go for it,” she says.

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