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One Minute Mother – Spencer Johnson


  • Author – Spencer Johnson
  • Category – Self Help
  • My rating – 3 on 5

Yes!  It is a self-help book on parenting!

For me, parenting is a mixture of science and art   –   and you never end being a parent irrespective of whatever age your kids are!!  This short book from Spencer Johnson (author of many “one minute” series) reinforces that there are still few facts out there about parenting which can be put to use effectively in day-to-day parenting.

The book is designed to be a short story where an young mother-to-be goes in search of the secrets about good parenting.   She meets with an elderly woman who is the “one minute mother” and her daughters to collect the wisdom of being an effective mother.    The basics of human psychology are established when the author says “Children who like themselves like to behave themselves”.   This is followed by the sharing of the three communication secrets which helps to be a “one-minute-mother”.

  1. One minute goals  (Goal is a dream with deadline)
  2. One minute praising   (Catch them doing something right)
  3. One minute reprimand (Feedback is the breakfast of champions)

As a parent, it makes lot of sense to develop the sense of responsibility in our children and help them reach their full potential.   It takes lot of effort and  will to persevere through the challenging situations in parenting and keep our sanity.  Johnson highlights the importance of being in balance when he writes “The best way for a mother to keep her sanity is to keep her sense of humor”.   Can’t agree more here  :)

While the following tips hold good for any interpersonal relationships and mentoring, Johnson highlights and fits them rightfully into the parenting tips

  1. Teach children to like themselves and to like to behave themselves.  Enjoy yourselves in that process
  2. Set goals and praise and reprimand bad behavior ( tell them they are good, their behaviour was bad)
  3. Speak simple truth and express feelings clearly
  4. Hug your children and laugh often and show them you love them
  5. Encourage children to do as you do (be a living example)
  6. Pay attention to many little things that make life more enjoyable
  7. It is more important to start right away the right things than is to wait until we think we can do it right
  8. We become what we think about
  9. All things are ready if our minds be so
  10. Anxiety is fear of unknown and fear immobilizes people

The crux of the book remains in the fact that good parenting is ensuring that your children become independent and do right things by themselves.   “When the children are caught doing something right, they want to do something right again (one minute praising). It makes them feel good about themselves. And children who like themselves like to behave themselves. So, instead of behaving for their parents, they do it for themselves”

Given it is a short book  (100 pages +) and written like a story, it is worth spending some time to read through it – helps young parents and also the veteran parents (to revise the facts!!). 

Milk!


Everyone was in a hurry!  The birthday party is at 7 pm and when it was decided to attend the birthday party, it was already 6.30 pm.  The elder kids (7&8) were all ready…….The little three-year old nephew was so excited that he was running around the house with his toy car and driving it all over!!.

Sister-in-law was busy….-  she was getting things ready for dinner for the elderly folks staying back at home, getting herself ready, packing small things (when you go with three kids on a road for half hour, you will be surprised to know what all they demand  –  especially when we are stuck in the traffic inside a car!)  Suddenly she realized that little one is not interested in finishing his milk.   Being as patient as any mom can get (I admire her for her patience when it comes to little kids!), she was cajoling the little one to finish his milk.   But the time was ticking…………after five minutes of unsuccessful cajoling, she moved to the next mode – little threatening………”See, if you do not finish your milk now,you have to stay back at home with aunty” .

The little one continued to drive his little car on the dining table and with no wink of an eye he answered ”  Why?  Aunty also did not finish her milk?”   :) :) :) :)

Ofcourse, sister-in-law was stunned !!!

Living one’s own life!!


……………my first reaction was of profound shock and disbelief.

It was a typical conversation on that day too –   as always, I have been the one talking and going on and on about the mundane things in life, without a damn about whether I am talking sense!  I think this mindless, reckless talk happens only when the other person you are with is someone who understands you inherently – not just by the words you speak, but by being your buddy for the last 20 years without any expectations!!

And suddenly, I feel that there is something my friend is waiting to share – I slow down and listen  and the story unravels itself in front of my eyes  –  and  I was shocked and could not believe what I heard!!

Coming from a small town and being brought up in a ‘oh-so-orthodox’ culture with similar social status –  me and my friend share very similar thoughts on what is right and what is wrong (call it ‘values’?). I agree that our thought process and values (rights and wrongs) are mostly shaped based on our upbringing and is a legacy.

The story is about an extra marital affair – yes !!…my shock was due to the fact that one of the close female relatives of my friend had chosen a different life ( it is with another man).  I was shocked and angry because of what this made to my friend’s family –  a teenage daughter and a tween age son lost their mother –  not to mention the fact that a ‘oh-so-orthodox’ household lost its ‘bahurani’ (master of the house) and the  aging in-laws lost their ‘bahu’ and  the rich (reasonably handsome) husband lost a wife and her parents lost their ‘pride’ in the society!

I listened intently to the whole story – impact on the family, what our little town biggies think about it, how the elders at home are taking it, how the children are taking it – I was ANGRY!!

It kept haunting me…… her daughter will be ready to be married off in another 6-7 years from now……..and this mindless lady put her life in front of her kids!! How dare she do this???

Couple of days passed and it was the weekend – I was killing time watching the movie “The perfect man”  in the television –  It was an average movie – an American romcom, a story of a teenager.

The teenager is upset of moving cities frequently as her single mom has personal meltdowns involving second-rate guys in the cities they move through. The single mom is so desperate to get the right man as she feels her lifetime is ticking away.  To distract her mother from her latest bad choice, the teenager creates an imaginary perfect man to romance the mom and boost her shaky self-esteem.  The story after multiple funny incidents ends “happily-ever-after” with the mom finding her perfect men”.

I never had any qualms about the movie –  it was very natural for me to accept it!

As an afterthought, that night I happen to wonder on why I could feel this movie was natural and why I am angry with the other lady’s action –   both women have kids and they want to live their life  – they have multiple reasons on why they want to choose a different partner in their life.  The only difference was that the movie showed the women including her kids in her plans whereas in this real life incident, the lady left the kids back with her husband – but, is it not her choice?

On further thoughts, I realized that I never felt angry when I heard about the movie stars like Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan  (latest addition is Prabhu Deva) choosing a new life partner leaving behind their kids with their former wives.  So, why is that I am angry on this incident now?

-          Is it because

  •  I can relate to this ‘oh-so-orthodox’ scenario?
  • In a ‘oh-so-orthodox’ scenario, I probably expect the mom to be glued to her kids, irrespective of whether she like living her life with her husband and in-laws.  I get angry and fume that how can a mom of a teenager look for her own life?
  • she is a women and not a man like Aamir Khan or Saif Ali Khan who did the same thing?
  • I am a hypocrite    – can take it if it happens elsewhere but not in my circle?

More and more I think of it……… Gosh!  Am I turning SYMPATHETIC??  Looked like I am suddenly feeling sympathetic with the lady  ((I got to admit that I am far from being empathetic  –  thanks to my conditioning during early years of ‘oh-so-orthodox’ family). But the thought of a teenage daughter, aging in-laws brings back the anger in me.

No, I think I am still not clear. I am honestly confused!!   Is it Anger or Sympathy?

This post is participating in a contest and you can vote for it in indiblogger. I declare that any monetary benefit(Rs.75k worth prizes) I get through this contest will be  contributed to the non profit organization – OnlySuccess Foundation.  If you have similar fire freeze moments, you can share it in the closeup  facebook page.

 Further thoughts:  This situation is a plain simple case of someone wanting to live their life. As a society, we still have a long way to even assess a case like this, but as an individual we get emotional over these.  The individuals are mostly pushed to a corner – forced to make a choice between living their life and living as per society’s norms.  In a western culture, probably there are ways where they can still live their life and also be socially accepted.  But that brings in another debate……..is our culture much sought after across the world??  More to explore………..

Connections!


When the fourteen year old talked about  anthropology and the connection of races  –  the six year old has to add on to it….”  i know, i know….i am connected to you, you are connected to grandpa and so i am connected to grandpa!”  –   the pride of discovering the concepts and the pride of discussing a topic with the elders make the little one so enthusiastic!!……….so, he adds on……….

“mom, what happens to grandmom?………..is she still connected to you…….you said she is dead?  how do we connect to her?”…..

As though it was a dream,  the answer came “our souls are always connected –  what went missing was the physical presence!”……

Not sure how much the six year old would have understood, but this was indeed a very satisfying answer which made him feel that grandmom is around still!!

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