Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Parenting in the age of anxiety - book review


Childhood is bliss or that is what they say. Gone are the days when childhood days were considered to be the best days of a person’s life. The truth is our children are ridden with anxieties. Those may be unreal for an adult, but they do eat up the children. Parenting in the age of anxiety by Dr. Zirak Marker acknowledges this. It is one of the best books in the parenting series published by Rupa publications.

The author begins by sharing his own childhood experience and telling us how anxiety entered their home with his mother’s illness. In the very words of the author “Apprehensions or fears about the unknown leads to anxiety. There could be endless triggering factors. It may be the child’s first day in the school, birth of a sibling, parent returning to a job, daycare centres, fear of certain people or situations, a movie or a particular character in a show, intolerance of certain sounds, smells, places, visual stimuli, textures, unpleasant situations with a peer or a friend or news about wars, terrorism, global warming, natural calamities and disasters.”

As parents the writer asks us to be supportive, caring, understanding and non-judgmental, while trying to understand what children are really feeling and what the triggering factors for the onset of anxiety may be.

The chapter unreal expectations deals with academic stress and pressures. The author warns us we are not perfect and no one is perfect. There is no perfect child, no perfect parent and no perfect parenting rules. He says there is almost always a hidden beauty and innocence in the imperfections our children possess.

In the chapter why me, bullying and peer pressure is dealt with. It tries to analyze the psychology of a bully. The author tells us to to make the child feel safer and tell him that you will take the matter forward and do exactly as the child wants you to do. The author warns us that an impulsive or emotional reaction may be detrimental to the child.

The chapter coping with a difference deals with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. The author tells us the signs to look for with regard to the learning disabilities.

Caregivers anxiety is a chapter devoted to the borderline personality disorders. Teenage anxiety to fit into the group is dealt in the chapter Dear diary, teenage crises, eating disorders, experimentation and self harm. Sexuality, abuse and anxiety is the topic of chapter six. According to the author children who have been subjected to abuse and their families, need intensive professional psychological and psychiatric intervention with therapy and counselling.

Death of either parent creates stress on the child. The chapter dear doctor discusses this issue in a very poignant manner. Adoption and single parenting find a mention in the chapter happy birthday. There is a chapter devoted to fatherhood as well.

What I liked about the book is that it doesn’t waste time in quoting research findings and footnotes. It hits you directly. The case studies come in the form of letters. The emotional outbursts in the letters can even sensitize a stone hearted person. We parents too were children at some point of time. This book will take us on our journey to childhood again. We will meet our anxieties again. Unfortunately our parents never realized that we had anxieties too. Hope we don’t repeat the mistake with our children. That is why this book is a must read.

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