Jyoti Ahuja is a professional physiotherapist who is an influencer mother of a 3-year-old toddler Kabir Ahuja and runs an Instagram page, ‘Moms_cruise.’ She is a preacher of ‘gentle parenting techniques. Jyoti Ahuja believes that love and empathy can cruise through any parenting concerns to aid kids’ growth and development.
Jyoti Ahuja is also a certified yoga trainer by profession, though presently, she is not practising.
ICY Tales is in conversation with Jyoti Ahuja, where she talks about her journey as a mother and influencer.
Q. What difference do you see between present-day parenting and previous generation parenting?
Jyoti Ahuja: I feel there is a lot of difference between how we have been brought up and how we are upbringing our kids. One of the significant differences is ‘Gentle parenting’; earlier, this practice was not a common parenting style. Though the scenario was different back then, the nuclear family was rare, and these days it is one of the predominant family structures.
Most parents’ styles of disciplining the child would include showing eyes, anger and making them scared. One impact of this type of parenting was that the children were scared to approach their parents. I believe that home is the more secure place for any child; whenever they are scared or need help, they run toward home and their parents to feel safe, but if they are scared from this very secure place, where will they go?
So I think today’s gentle parenting style does mark a significant difference from the previous generation’s parenting. In addition to this, I think it cannot be denied that previous generation parents were highly indigenous when involving their kids in games and activities: through toy rotation or even by using whatever is present in the house.
In this aspect, I like the previous generation’s parenting, unlike today, where there is a mad rush to buy toys. For some parents, purchasing expensive toys is not possible, so I use my Instagram page to share various ‘no-cost’ activities to keep children involved.
One can never say what kind of parenting is wrong or right. I believe the mixture of both styles may be helpful, but since every parent is different. The situation is different, and I would say practise yourself and see what works for you rather than sticking to one specific style.
Q. As a new generation parent, how do you deal with breaking stereotypes?
Jyoti Ahuja: The message that I constantly share through my social media feed aims to break stereotypes. The first of these kinds includes establishing the idea that a mother can do everything, contrary to the accepted notions that once a woman becomes a mother, her role gets restricted within the four walls of the household. She should focus on the child, kitchen and other household chores.
I am a toddler’s mother, yet I use my social media platform to share ideas, activities, toy rotation, videos on nutrition and gentle parenting etc., even earning through my social media engagements. Apart from this, I also engage myself in various other activities revolving around lifestyle fashion, and I even participated in the Mrs. Indore competition.
The second thing that I wish to break through is ‘gender-biased parenting’ as a mother; I root for gender-neutral parenting because I believe that if a woman or girl can do anything, so can a man or a boy. So I believe that a woman can do everything. Yet, I cater to the needs of my child. For example, my son loves cooking, and his favourite colour is pink.
And deep down, I know that he might face criticism or scrutiny with a gender-biased tone in the future. So I share this with him and tell him that apart from the biological organs, there isn’t a differentiating criterion for what a boy or a girl can do or cannot do. I push my baby according to his interests and likes, rather than what boys like or girls like.
So I think it is the responsibility of parents to instil the idea of respecting everyone and not belittle anyone or undermine anyone based on their being a boy or girl. This can only come with awareness; I talk to him about everything; even at this age, he is aware of the human body’s private parts, menstruation, about privacy. I always try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives and attempt to prepare him for the future ahead.
Q. Do you feel the involvement of electronic media in our everyday lives has made parenting easier?
Jyoti Ahuja: I am totally against screen time for kids at this age; my baby has rarely watched television till now. Sometimes we share screen time where we watch moral stories or something informational. Maybe once a month is fine; because I have tried and found that screen time made him more irritable and was giving cues to his tantrums.
I believe in engaging the kids in self-involvement activities or spending time with them rather than enabling prolonged screentime hours to ensure the child is not causing any trouble. I feel it is my observation that too much screen time impacts the mental ability and development of the child. Parents use videos to teach and information sharing.
I do not deny the practice, maybe that works for them, but I still believe books are the finest information sharing and learning source. Moreover, the covid induced changes in lifestyle and community interaction have reduced people’s sphere of involvement and physical interactions. Now, if we as parents expose our kids to prolonged screen timing, I think that will impact the development of cognitive skills overall development of kids.
Q. When it’s come to eating habits with the variety of options available, what do you do to make the kids eat right?
Jyoti Ahuja: I make a conscious effort to not feed any pre-packaged food like biscuits, cookies etc., to my child, I try making them at home, and if at all am unable to do so, then I prefer getting them mostly from some home bakery rather than buying the packet foods.
I mostly make many things at home like granola, sugarless jams, ragi or oats cookies, makhanas, flavoured yogurts and fries, but mostly baked; we rarely have anything deep-fried in oil or anything high in sugar. I prefer adding these kinds of food to my shelves because they usually are loaded with sugar and preservatives with refined flour as the main ingredient. I usually have some other batter ready with me and use them when required.
Again I would like to highlight that awareness of the child enables a better understanding from their end, which further enables them to decide what is right or wrong for them. I also share various recipes on my Instagram page so that it can help other moms. It is true that the more you restrict children from having something, the more they will crave for it, so I make it a point that he understands what’s good and what’s bad for him, he eats everything at home and even when we go out he eats everything, but we ensure that he has that food in moderation.
Sometimes people come up and say I am restricting him too much now, and when he grows up, he will not listen to me and hog things, but I trust my parenting and believe that in anticipation of the future, I cannot impact his present.
Q. According to you, what are the key aspects of good parenting?
Jyoti Ahuja: Honestly, there is nothing as good or bad parenting because every parent is unique and irrespective of any social status or financial status, all parents root for the welfare of their child. I believe that every parent should treat their child the way they want to be treated by them, and in addition to this, neither parents should be too much dependent on their kids, nor should they make their kids similarly too much dependent on them.
It is normal to be burdened with emotions on the idea of being separated from them but being practical. Eventually, it would happen that they would move out for education or profession, so it’s better to be independent for the children and the parents.
Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience; becoming a mother changed me from tip to toe; I embarked on a journey of self-growth each day, be it my temper issues, food habits, and overall attitude. So I think we all are learning and growing, which makes no parent a bad parent as each one of us is having our self-journey along with the growing kid(s).
Q. With the plethora of information and the kind of exposure children get these days from TV/internet, what’s your take on addressing questions that are not age-appropriate?
Jyoti Ahuja: I think it’s never too early to answer any kids’ questions; since they are very curious about things, they will try to get an answer from you, any other elder or even from the internet. So it is better for you as a parent to address their concerns than for them to learn them from different places and harbour wrong perceptions about their queries, particularly queries relating to the human body, private parts etc.
Since these are susceptible topics, the kids should learn about them from their parents than that from outsiders. While travelling with kids, parents should keep the following things in their mind; freedom, trust, bonding and boundaries. All these four things are essential. The kids must have the liberty to ask about anything that tingles their curiosity.
Once their curiosity is catered to, they won’t ask further questions. Hence it is better to avoid lying to them instead of trying to find ways to tell them the answers within the boundaries of what kids should know; avoid going into too much depth or behind the science details. To sum it up, every kid looks up to their parents to address their concerns, so we should answer their questions than allowing our kids to be misled by others.
Q. Internet is influential; what, according to you, is the right way to deal with this?
Jyoti Ahuja: Since I do not involve my kid in much screen time, I haven’t tried much, but I have heard about these various apps and features enabling parental control on what the kid is watching. Avoid too much screen time for the kids; instead, engage them in various cognitive development activities.
But if exposing the kid to screen time is inevitable, I would suggest keeping track of the kind of content the kid is watching would help; because we can’t go around people asking them not to post content. One cannot control the world but can surely monitor their activities, so I would say keep track and supervise yet don’t stand over their head, allowing them some level of privacy. Allow them space to explore and grow but stay aware and supervise their activities as parents.
Q. What are your learnings through this journey of parenthood when it comes to staying connected with children?
Jyoti Ahuja: I would say becoming a parent has been a great learning and growing experience for me, be it controlling my temper, being more acceptable, adapting to the changes, being expressive about my emotions etc. So this entire life event helped me grow as a human being and as a mother and helped me broaden my ability to perceive different things, so I think becoming a mother or a parent is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life.
Q. What advice do you have for parents and to-be parents when handling their kid(s)?
Jyoti Ahuja: Kids are like blooming flowers, the way you treat them today, they will treat the same you in future. Adopt a gentle parenting style rather than screaming or hitting them in attempts to discipline them; kids deserve to be loved, so adopting a more empathetic approach shall benefit them in the best possible manner.
Discipline them, draw boundaries but give them freedom, take time to listen to them, address their concerns and don’t force them into doing something they are not willing to do. Nurture them into respectable, empathetic humans, allow them the room to express their emotions and insecurities; never project yourselves on them, let them have their choices, and be happy with what you have rather than attempting to mould your children to strive for your aspirations.
Allow them to have their own persona and accordingly role model them. If you plan to have kids, read a lot but don’t get overwhelmed or copy others. Try to be yourself and work out things just as they suit your situation. I believe love and empathy are the finest approaches to dealing with kids and connecting with them on deeper levels. Be the best version of yourself, and don’t ever compete with others.
As Mrs. Jyoti Ahuja strongly affirms that no parenting can be stamped as good or bad parenting, she crusades through her journey as a mother, which enabled her to fulfill herself differently. She emphasizes how parenting can be an enriching experience and how the kids get moulded to become the future. So love your children, love yourself and believe in your parenting style.