September 2014 For parents distraught with contradictory advice from parenting experts, and challenged by the task of raising a child in today’s fragile times, help is now at hand. Ooops, a toolkit for parents by Dutch author Erik R Robertson, published by Life Positive Publications, was launched amid applause and animated conversation on July 19 at the Life Positive Soul Space, Mumbai. This was followed by a launch in Delhi on July 28. The Mumbai launch was followed by a panel discussion. The panellists included the author, Erik Robertson, Dr Trupti Jayin, child psychologist and past-life regression therapist, Dr P Vaidyanathan, author and pediatrician, and Dr Liza Mishra, child psychologist. Suma Varughese, editor-in-chief of Life Positive, moderated the discussion. The topics of child abuse and sex education were openly discussed. Dr Jayin pointed out, “We teach our children the names of all body parts but skip the private parts. Therefore a child does not know how to convey if he/she is being touched inappropriately.” Erik stated that the central principle behind good parenting was to love but also to be firm when needed. Pointing out that children needed the establishment of boundaries in order to feel safe, he summed up his perspective with two words – love and law. “Children must know who is boss,” he said. Observed Dr Vaidyanathan, “Too often I come across new mothers whose first questions revolve around when they can return to the gym or go back to work, before focussing on the well-being of the new born.” Dr Liza Mishra recommended that everybody at the launch should buy the book. “It is the best book on parenting that I have read,” she said. In his book, Erik specifically deals with all the present-day threats to our children – sexual precociousness and promiscuity, sexual predation, drugs and alcohol, media and market pressure for a certain body image – and offers valuable advice on counteracting them. Ooops! is topical and relevant in this country too, as India is under threat of a breakdown of the family system, and suffers from a high rate of depression, deviance and delinquency among adolescents . In some senses Erik advocates a return to old-fashioned value-based parenting. It is the duty of the parents to inculcate human values such as respect, peace, integrity and compassion in their children to counterbalance the material values of modern-day consumerist society. Laying down rules and boundaries is not old fashioned; combined with unconditional love, it rescues parenting from powerlessness. All in all Ooops! is a toolkit that all parents must have handy to prevent parenting breakdowns!
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