Here’s a story from Sumathi Ponniah, a mum who lives far away from her hometown and shares on life experiences and on varied parenting styles according to different cultures. Sumathi is also a mum who began a platform to connect and share on parenting concerns through “Happy parenting A-Z where we feel ‘H for happiness quotient’ is most with her to live and cherish life, hold on to precious moments and take efforts to reconnect. She is also someone who uses social media to re-connect with her interests regarding food and culture.
Sumathi shares with Mums and Stories, “ I lived for 27 years in Bangalore where my childhood friends became friends for life. We are in touch with each other even now after good 30 years. I have an elder sister who has all along been like another mom for me. We shared many good times and we have great memories. It was a secured and safe childhood.
I started learning Taekwondo since the time I was in 4th grade. Today I am Taekwondo black belt holder and have won gold and silver medals in state level championships. My memories of childhood is filled with happy memories of having friends, family potlucks, vacations, functions, celebrations of all festivals and surrounded with family, friends and relatives.
After marriage I left my IT job and shifted to Los Angeles CA. Now I am a happy stay at home mom. No matter how clean, exciting and comfort a new place is, there are thousands of reasons for why I miss my country. Nothing in this world can replace the richness of our soil and ancient powerful medicines. Before marriage my life was full of celebrations and with lots of people around me to take care. But after shifting to here, I do miss my family, Indian foods and festivals.
I started a community called “Happy parenting A-Z ” which is a page/community three years ago. It mainly deals with practical tricks on how to raise happy healthy kids along with food recipes for picky eaters. The page provides complete list of baby food recipes starting from 6 months to toddlers ,food recipes and tips for pregnant women, forgotten Indian dishes – millet recipes and ancient remedies. We also share ideas on baby products ,educational toys ,crafts and activities to keep one’s toddlers busy .
Our ancestors ate 7 types of millets, but today we hardly eat any. They drank pure desi milk – now we drink and eat what west produce with GMO. Our country is rich in all aspects but not utilized effectively. I use social media as a platform to share our Indian traditional healthy recipes, pregnancy foods, baby foods and even millet recipes.”
On varied parenting styles, Sumathi shares, “All over the world we find different parenting styles depending on their culture and experiences. The difference which I noted are that Indian parents tend to get more freaked out, are self sacrificing, hardworking and emotional. For Indian parents, their kids will always remain kids even if they grow old. American way of parenting is very structured. They would treat them according to their age and deal parenting with lots of patience.
We take more efforts to feed the child, songs are sung during meal times, one plays youtube rhymes , toys and many distractions are brought in.. On other hand the kids here are served food and left to feed themselves from age of 8-12 months. Studies and good grades are the center spot of Indian families.
Academics and sports are given equal importance in American families. Educational Toys are given more importance to develop gross motor skills, speaking skills and fine motor skills. This is something which we are seeing now building up slowly in urban India.
Most of the time kid’s future milestones and decisions like colleges ,courses and marriage are decided by Indian parents .Indian mums generally monitor the child’s every move to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. Americans parenting is more of freedom and letting them be independent. They allow their kids to choose what they love and follow their dreams. Bed time in India tends to not be so structured. Here where I live, they have schedules with fixed times for meals and naps .It needs to be followed on daily basis. Kids sleep in separate rooms. The kids have a wide spectrum of freedom along with sex education. .
When I came to US I was 2.5 months pregnant and with minimal cooking skills. Pregnancy carving for sweets and Indian home made food haunted me .Initially my mom would give instructions over skype. Later I decided to learn one by one watching youtube videos. I aspire to start a 100% hygiene, healthy babies and kids restaurant for 0-12 yrs in India .
My son is 2.5 yrs. Apart from completely enjoying the phase of motherhood, I do crafting, blogs for my page, knitting, cooking and baking new recipes. So most of the time I spend time for learning new recipes. Me and my hubby both love to travel and hike. During my pregnancy also we didn’t stop traveling or hiking. Till my last day of delivery I was on long trips and travel .We had covered major places in California during my phase of pregnancy.”
Recently to surprise her husband Sumathi cooked 31 dishes for his birthday. “ This time for his 31st birthday I planned for Indian food themed party and decided to cook 31 dishes. To cover popular recipes from all states of India. Right from jalebis from Haryana to Cauliflower bai from Mizoram I had taken the effort to put up the special menu.”
Sumathi wraps up mentioning- “Life is not how much you give but how much love you put into giving”