Parenting is not what it used to be even a decade ago, and not just in terms of newer concepts and ideas to implement. It can be an unrelenting challenge to raise a child in a chaotic and rapidly changing world, while also coping with one's own struggles.
Recognising this, specialised mental health professionals, medical doctors and coaches with a wealth of experience have been helping out parents, new and otherwise, with their insights, advice and personal services suited to all kinds of parenting situations.
If you’re a hands-on parent, there are webinars, workshops and book recommendations that could help you dive deeper into concepts and expand your understanding of what is going on with your children.
If nothing else, simply keeping some of them in your social media feed can help you update your parenting vocabulary, read comforting anecdotes every now and then, and even pick up a skill or two to manoeuvre crises. Here are five accounts you can check out on Instagram.
Paying attention to the ‘good’ kids
In order to better understand our children, we need to look beyond what we see as behaviour or personality traits, even the seemingly praise-worthy ones, says Maggie Nick, a Florida-based clinical social worker who runs @parentingwithperspectacles. For instance, a child who may seem well-behaved at all times and in need of very little parental help is very likely bottling up their emotions out of fear of disappointing their parents or disrupting the home environment, Nick says. One of the core needs of a child is safe emotional release and the way they do that is by resisting or testing their boundaries. In those moments, Nick says, the job of the parents is to teach and model healthy ways of expressing ‘negative’ emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness without resorting to punishment. Through her posts and reels, the expert shares tools and insights that help parents have compassion for themselves as they work towards raising children who feel truly seen and loved.
Breaking the cycle of trauma
Yolanda Renteria is a psychotherapist, somatic coach and speaker who has a decade of experience working with children, teens and adults. Through her posts on @thisisyolandarentaria, she speaks about how trauma manifests in parents and is then passed down to children. “Children tend to be mirrors for the parents in the areas that they need growth,” she says, explaining why some parents get triggered and behave in ways that are not nurturing or kind towards their children. A lot of her posts speak to adult children of such parents who are coping with the effects of childhood trauma in their lives. By gently connecting the dots between the past and the present, Renteria helps people bring their unconscious emotional and behavioural patterns into awareness. By making small, sustainable changes, we can begin to disrupt the cycle of trauma, she says.
Real talk with kids
Coimbatore-based psychologist and sex educator Swati Jagdish (@mayas_amma) gets a lot of flak on social media for suggesting that children need to be given the full picture about sex and sexuality early on, and yet, she stands by it. Through her educational videos on YouTube as well as her fun reels and posts on Instagram, the expert informs parents about the importance of having honest conversations with children about such matters in order to build trust and cultivate a wholesome way of viewing the world. Several of her reels feature real-life conversations with her six-year-old daughter Maya and are quite endearing and insightful. She conducts live interactions with other experts to talk about topics such as sexuality, bullying, inner child healing, etc. Jagadish also offers online and in-person workshops on gentle parenting, sex education and lactation.
Setting boundaries with love
Dr Meghna Singhal, a psychotherapist and mother of two children, also draws from her own life experience to guide others through the thickets of parenthood. Using posts and reels on @thetherapistmommy, she shares personal anecdotes, parental toolkits as well as ways to handle sticky situations with children and teens. Her tips on having a conversation with the young ones about tricky subjects such as dark complexion, LGBTQ identities, puberty and sex may be immensely helpful to those struggling to find the right words. Singhal also highlights the importance of setting boundaries firmly but lovingly. “Your superpower as a parent is your calmness,” she writes. Besides parenting, the expert also shares ways in which couples can strengthen their relationship amidst the chaos of raising children. Getting one’s needs met in the relationship, coping with body image issues and reigniting the spark are among the many topics that she addresses.
The teenage years are undoubtedly a most challenging time in both the child and the parents’ lives. Tension tends to run high as the growing child begins to individuate and constant conflict becomes unavoidable. Understanding their developmental needs at this stage and learning healthy ways to communicate can help mitigate the problems and build trust with the teens. @teenhealthdoc is a treasure trove of information for parents raising teenagers. Run by New York-based paediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Dr Hina Talib, the account contains fun infographics, reels and live interactions with other experts on topics like addiction. Dr Talib firmly advocates for the teenagers’ right to privacy and independence, while coaching parents on offering support and structure without harming their developing sense of self.
Indumathy Sukanya is an artist and independent journalist based in Bengaluru