Stories about parenting

Parenting in Pakistan: An unhealthy mix of care and competition

Having lived abroad for nearly five years, I have become a keen observer of certain behavioural differences between Pakistani children, and those raised in the US or the UK. I firmly believe that cultural differences in early childhood decide who we become in our adulthood. A lot is determined by how parents and family members react to a child’s behaviour in his initial years of life, thereby instilling in him either a rightful or an inappropriate sense of what is correct or wrong. Each year during my annual trip to Pakistan, I noticed aggressive behaviour in Pakistani children which people in our country conveniently term as ...

Read Full Post

Thank you Abba, for making me the woman I am

It’s been almost nine years since Abba left us. I have written much about Ammi since then, about how she did not take his going so well, about her dementia. But I have somehow avoided writing about my father. Perhaps there is too much to write and it is difficult, even for someone like me, for whom words come easy. In the last few years of his life, his health was flailing and he knew. He started to wrap things up, though he loved life and fought for it till the end. In that twilight phase, what came up repeatedly was ...

Read Full Post

We lack the wisdom to raise our sons the way we raise our daughters

Before our son Kareem was born, my wife Priya, my daughter Madina and I were on a flight and we ended up sitting next to a woman who was expecting her first child. I sat in the middle seat between Priya and the expecting woman while the two of them discussed things only an expecting mother could discuss with another mother. At one point we asked if she knew the gender of her baby and she said, “A boy thankfully. I am so relieved.” As she went on to explain why she’s relieved, she said having a girl would be a lot more ...

Read Full Post

Don’t deny it, Pakistan. We are responsible for the teenage couple’s suicide!

Sadly, there is nothing unusual about teenage suicide. Nothing new about the reason behind it either. Recently, two teenagers, aged 15 and 16, killed themselves at their school in Karachi, apparently because they were ‘in love’ and did not expect their families to consent to them marrying each other. According to The Express Tribune, the boy shot the girl first as per her request before pulling the trigger on himself. The young couple had left behind two suicide notes for their parents. Both of them said that they were aware that their parents would never allow them to get married which is ...

Read Full Post

Murphy’s Law for parents of three-year-olds

I am going to take my parenting “expert” hat off and put my mom-of-a-three-year-old hat on. I’ve been feeling under the weather, and although I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, I started to write these to make myself laugh. I hope you have some chuckles too. And yes, these did actually happen. You will cut the wrong end of the freezie, stir the yogurt the wrong way, break the banana or use the wrong-coloured cup. The day you are late for an important appointment is the day you will unbuckle the car seat, as you always do, and your three-year-old will shriek like s/he ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan, the Pied Piper to our children

“Everything depends on upbringing.” – Leo Tolstoy Case One My parents always give me what I want, and in the end, I win. I have been giving tantrums since I was born – at least that’s what I have been told. I always wanted something; either it was permission to go to a forbidden place, or permission to hang out with a forbidden person or permission to buy something forbidden. Yes, it was always one thing or the other with me. But somewhere along my years, I should have been stopped by the authority figures called parents, right? Why didn’t my parents ...

Read Full Post

Do men play their role as fathers?

I come from a mind-set where men and women are different. Hence, none is better than the other. Their anatomy is different, their thinking is different, their perceptions are different, their priorities are different, and hence their job descriptions are different too. In their role as parents, their job is well defined. And I love the description my mother used to give while defining parental roles – dad represents joy and happiness and mom is a necessity. But does that mean that as a primary caregiver of the baby, it’s only the mom’s job to feed the little person and change diapers, ...

Read Full Post

Pay attention to where and whom you’re sending your child to

Our children are not safe. December 16th was proof of that. Whether they are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), drone victims or survivors/fatalities in terrorist attacks – children have paid the price for our wars. They have become collateral damage in a war they know nothing about. And as if all of this isn’t scaring parents everywhere as it is, there are the undocumented madrassas – the countless, unmonitored religious seminaries, where parents send their children to learn the message of God. Reports have frightening statistics. They are free to air hate speech via loudspeakers. They are free to brainwash young and innocent minds. There ...

Read Full Post

Aao Parhao – Jo Seekha Hai Wo Sekhao

As part of a remembrance to Robin Williams, I arranged a showing of Good Will Hunting and invited some school friends over. After the movie ended, one of them remarked on the critical role the protagonist’s teacher, Prof Gerald Lambeau (played by Stellan Skarsgård), a Fields Medal winner, and mentor  Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) had in his development. “We didn’t have anyone as dedicated as them. Not even close.” I had to disagree and thought back to an incident back in March 1991. The phone rang and my mother picked it up. “Hello, is this the home of Sibtain Naqvi?” a lady asked. My mother ...

Read Full Post

Karachi is… love

I started this year with a blast, quite literally, and to date, this city has taken more lives than you and I could have expected. Being an average student trying to live an average life, I have been told to reach home ‘foran’ (immediately) innumerable times and have seen my siblings dance over missing school or exams due to unforeseen circumstances. This city has become no less than a war zone and those who just thought ‘yeh kya bakwas hai’ (what is this crap) to themselves are seriously delusional. In these past few months, I saw a leader being arrested, witnessed an acquaintance get ...

Read Full Post