Raising a Humanist- the Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting in the 21 st Century.

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The two-day literary festival “Symbiosis Lit Fest” 2021 brought an array of highly insightful writers and speakers. The event took place over two days, the 20th and 21st of November.

Professor Manisha Pathak Shelat took centre stage to talk about ‘Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World,’ a book she co-authored with Professor Kiran Bhatia, published in March 2021.

Manisha Pathak Shelat is a professor of Communication and Digital Platforms and Strategies and the Chairperson of the Centre for Development Management and Communication (CDMC) at Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA). She has taught and worked as a media consultant and researcher in India, Thailand, and the USA. She has a PhD in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and education from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.

The discussion was multi-dimensional and touched on various topics surrounding parenthood, including otherwise challenging to hear aspects. Professor Manisha went from casually talking about bedtimes and how they aren’t enforced that strictly in India to her extensive ethnographic immersive research on media and children. She began by saying that the book’s contents held important information usually hidden in libraries and research papers, away from real time parents and society, when it should be on display for everyone to learn from. This is the reason Professors Manisha and Kiran created a book with ethnic content rather than one that focused on academics. When asked about her parenting strategies, she stressed the importance of learning society and socializing and unlearning old baggage and child-rearing methods. She reminded the audience to check their privilege as parents and acknowledge the concept of systemic discrimination to build a parenting method that includes and understands their importance. She pushed parents to encourage ‘why’ and ‘why not’ questions for themselves and their children.

In the age of the internet and online living, children often tend to validate themselves based on their interactions on the internet. Professor Manisha was asked how she taught her children that their self-worth does not have to rely on social media, to which she said, “If you want to enjoy certain opportunities, you cannot avoid certain risks.” She talked about the importance of exploring the internet for the positives it has to offer and showing children that there is so much more to it than just likes on a post.

“How conscious you are as a parent will affect how conscious your kid is online.” To answer the question, ‘How do you teach kids at a preschool age compassion and empathy?’, she reiterated that language is essential. Parents must understand the importance of words and how they can affect children. She said, “Parents must do what we want the children to learn because they constantly watch us.” Children see how you handle conflicts surrounding caste and religion and how general communication occurs.

Professor Manisha then spoke about her experience working with professor Kiran, her advisor at MICA. She only had good things to say, right from the fact that they had spent years working together and converted their formal relationship to a closer, working relationship to how they began writing and publishing papers together. She said Professor Kiran had helped her stay focused when she found it challenging to juggle her commitments, encouraging her to write.

All in all, the conversation with Professor Manisha Pathak Shelat was highly interactive. She encouraged multiple questions and answered them all with ease. She also spoke about her daughter, who had read parts of the book, and told her that she was incredibly proud. The session ended on a highly positive note, leaving the audience fulfilled and more aware than before.

During the symbiosis lit fest, author and professor Manisha Pathak Shelat spoke about her book ‘Raising a Humanist: Conscious Parenting in an Increasingly Fragmented World’ that she co-authored with professor Kiran Bhatia. She spoke about parenting strategies and the challenges of parenting such as bedtimes for children and how they are enforced. She stressed the importance of learning society and socializing and unlearning old baggage and child-rearing methods. She said the purpose of her book was to bring this information to the general public and not limit these conversations and research surrounding parenting to academic spaces. She spoke about how children can turn to the internet for validation, and how parents can help their children in these situations. She also talked about how children learn from their parent’s behaviour and that parents need too be more compassionate and empathetic, especially around their children. Overall, it was a highly interactive and informational session where the audience learned a lot.

Dishha Prasad Tumalapalli

(Batch 2024)

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