S & S Family First

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I was speaking at a book club; the topic was about – Home & Family.
I spoke on Child development, bad parenting, parenting styles, and parenting types.
A lady quipped, “What is the point in talking about husband and wife, parenting techniques, and child development. I have lost my child to social media, so have many of my friends. This ‘kulandhai valarpu’ (child upbringing in Tamil) is out of our hands. Give us suggestions”.

I felt downhearted at not being able to create an impact in the audience. As I trudged back home, I started to ponder on what could be done to stop this gadget addiction in kids. My mind raced back to our neighbor’s son. This 10-year-old would wake up the entire neighborhood with his screams when he could not lay hands on his Gaming Console.
Why was it that my daughter was not addicted to social media though she excels in PubG, is a Youtuber, and has 3000 plus Instagram followers. There must be something we are doing right in parenting?

I wish to list down 11 Mistakes that we worked on, some of them to a greater extent and some to a lesser extent.

As you breeze through these points, do introspect and see to what degree do you execute these activities as parents? I don’t want to bring in parenting styles – Baumrind’s Parenting style or Maccoby & Martin’s methods.
I just want to share the 11 Biggest Mistakes in Parenting that every Family should work on & what steps you could take to overcome these errors.

In the end, you can Take the Test on the 11 Parenting Mistakes & check your Parenting Score
Rate yourself as a parent on each of these approaches and check your score towards the end on your skills and attitude towards child development.


MISTAKE 1: How involved are you in your child’s sporting activities?

Tiger Wood’s father Earl Woods would take little 2-year-old Tiger to the Golf Course early morning. Every day, Tiger Woods would hit 1000 golf balls. No wonder, his father predicted way before he entered the Masters’ Championship that he would be a World Champion.
Golf was drilled into Tiger’s DNA. This sport became his second nature.

            Young Tiger Woods

Back home, Saina’s parents had to leave their lucrative job in Haryana and shift base down south, in unknown territory – Hyderabad, just to hone and train the girl child’s badminton skills.
P.V Sindhu’s father, Ramana left his career as a Volleyball coach to invest full-time in Sindhu’s badminton career.

Every time, Olympics come, we hear the same old story of lament. One out of six people on this planet live in our land India and we struggle to get a single medal. Isn’t it the job of every single parent to make their child excel in that particular sport?
Why do parents make their children forgo health, teamwork, coaching, mentorship, and leadership just for the sake of a job? How long will it take for them to realize that sporting can bring in more money and fame than just getting a job? Aren’t their spaces all around us?
Rowing, skateboarding, equestrian sports, fencing, and judo are totally unheard of here. Just a bold step by Bhavani Devi’s mother to pledge her jewels and make Bhavani pursue her career in fencing has made a huge difference.
Today, though Bhavani is ranked 38th in the world, she is well-known and has also earned fortunes, just because she stepped into an unknown sport where 140 cr Indians fear to tread in.

                               Bhavani Devi

There are spaces all around us – football, basketball, hockey, cycling, volleyball, softball, skiing, gymnastics, artistic swimming, beach volleyball, bobsleigh, kayaking, canoeing, mountain bike, rugby, surfing trampoline…the list goes on and on. There are spaces everywhere around us. It just needs a small step of one parent to create a giant leap for India-kind.

Also read: Role of Family & Parenting in Tokyo Olympics 2021

What are you doing as a parent to make that difference for your Child? In your parenting goal, are you giving your youngster a different experience?
How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
Would you thump your chest and walk around with pride because you made that difference to your teenager.

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?

QUESTION: I am highly involved as a parent in my child’s Sports activities – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 2: How involved are you in your Child’s Reading activities?

A Harvard study of 2015 states that children benefit more from having their father read them bedtime stories than their mother. The studies found that dads initiate more ‘imaginative discussions’ and advance their children’s language development because of the way they read to the kids.
Mothers are usually teacher-like state how many apples do they see on the tree. Whereas fathers’ will talk about blue apples and watermelons the size of a football field.
Reading makes a huge difference, particularly if they are read to before the age of two.
Savy and I, have one regret in life – we should have read out to our daughter Sagarikka when she was a toddler. We started off very late.

                     Reading with Sagarikka

As guilt-ridden parents, we resolved that this should not happen to any child that we came across in the future. We zeroed in on Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Though it costs 1800 Rs per book, we were determined that this investment was nothing in comparison to a child’s life.
On the child’s first birthday, we would gift the parents Grimm’s Fairy Tales and extract a promise out of them that they would read aloud at least one page a day.
The parents readily agreed. We gifted out dozens of books but it was piped dream. Not one parent; repeat – not one parent could sustain this habit. We then insisted that these parents report to us after they had read out a page to their toddlers. We thought that this would make these parents – accountable.
When the parents did not call us, we called them but they did not return our calls.
This one parenting tip went down the drain. Couldn’t these parents take 10 minutes out of their life and read out Peppa the Pig or Winnie the Pooh?

When Mahatria (Ra) tells stories about how a family would read and exchange notes every day before dinner and get a million views on Youtube for telling this story – I fly into a rage. What is the point of watching and hearing all this? Doesn’t charity begin at home? Haven’t you created the world’s largest force of youth totally devoid of imagination?
Take any app – Twitter, Youtube, PubG, Hotspot, LinkedIn, we have to look towards America or Chine. Aren’t our kids busy preparing for the JEE Entrance so that they can work for an American firm in the future?
What is the meaning of parenting, if they cannot take responsibility in the first place?
After all, aren’t your kids, shouldn’t you be their relationship hero?… and then, they complain that the kids are addicted to social media. Who made your child into a monster?
Now ask yourself, are you investing time every day…every day in reading to your kid? How much time do you invest? Are you content with the effort you have put in, in building your child’s imagination?
Are you peppering your entire house with books and thus transporting your child or your teen into a whole new world?

We recommend you to read the book My Unskooled Year. A very useful book for both parents and students. Click on the link to grab your copy today: My Unskooled Year Book

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?

QUESTION: I am highly involved in my child’s Book Reading activities – Yes / No (tick)

MISTAKE 3: Are you working on your Child’s Financial Intelligence?

Our friend Rani (name changed) runs a popular ice cream shop. Every morning she gets up at 4 am, cooks food in the house while the whole family is fast asleep, and then opens the shop by 7 am in the morning. Her entire day goes into making cakes, pastries, samosas, and ice-creams. Rani also handles the cooks and the waiters, checks the accounts before heading back home.
Her family impatiently waits for her to cook the meal and feed their ravenously hungry stomachs. In spite of seeing their mother struggle, none of the grown-up sons step in to share her burden and shoulder her responsibility. They are busy biking, YouTubing, photography, and discovering the world.
Don’t you notice this happening everywhere?
Youngsters of today don’t have the skin for the game.

Also read: Why don’t we have a SKIN IN THE GAME?

How many youngsters have you seen go from door to door and sell products in order to support their family or at least make some pocket money?

Our daughter trading daily
        Door to door sales

In our town Trichy, I see students in 2 categories:
Category number 1 – perennially prepare for government exams like IAS, TNPSC, Bank Entrance, RRB, SSC, GATE…blah, blah, blah. Many of them spend more time preparing for this exam than they did during their graduation.
Category number 2 – these are the elite ones, they dream of being the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. They ideate on starting their own Airbnb or higher version of Starbucks. They dream of how they could make a 10 X profit by getting the next multi-bagger stock or making a killing in intra-day trading.
Recently, we needed to recruit people to fortify our business. Though we were ready to offer a 5 digit salary package for a person with zero experience, no one turned up.
We came to the conclusion that – there is no employment problem in India.
But talk to them one on one and they have zero ideas about the nuts and bolts of Digital Marketing, roles and responsibilities in a company, Business Industry, stock valuation, or even the finances at their home. They are zero within a zero.
Parents, shockingly never talk to their children about money. Children don’t know their parent’s income, their expenditure, or their savings.
What steps are you taking to make your child Financially Intelligent?
Do you let your child plan out the family budget?
Do you discuss Investment Strategies with your child and ask them for guidelines?
Are you a Parental coach, treating your child to the best Finance books and attuning them to real-world problems?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent working on my Child’s Financial Intelligence – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 4: What are you doing to improve your Child’s Mind Expansion Quotient?

I was a student at Campion School, Trichy. During the breaks, the boys would group together to solve ‘The Hindu’ cross-word puzzle of the day it used to be a fun and thought-provoking pass-time. The other activity was cracking the Rubik’s cube.

Today these mental activities have spread out into Monopoly game, Cash-flow game, and Sudoku. Incidentally, Bridge seems to be a forgotten activity.

Let me share 2 instances of how the family was involved in enhancing the mental prowess of their children.
CASE 1 – Narayana Murthy (the founder of Infosys), would constantly challenge his son Rohan with mathematical puzzles, cracking codes, and formulating algorithms. It’s no wonder that this family is considered among the intellectual giants of India.

CASE 2 – The Polgar Story: Laszlo Polgar, as a bachelor challenged that his would-to-be kids would become chess prodigies. True to his word, his three daughters – Susan, Judith and Sophia became Chess Grandmasters. Sophia became World Number 2 and Sophia became World Number 1 and even broke into the bastion of men by becoming among the top 10 in the world.

What was the parenting style of Laszlo?

He did 3 things:
i. Pasted posters of chess champions like Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky everywhere in the house. They would become the idol of the daughters.
ii. Place chess books everywhere in the house so that the girls would grow in an environment of chess.
iii. Made the girls interact with top chess players in Hungary, who would mentor these girls into becoming world champions.

Also read: Future Of Families

What steps are you taking to expand the intellectual capacity of your child?
How often do you work out chess strategies, GO strategies, play Bridge, solve Cross-word puzzles or crack the Sudoku with your child?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in improving my Child’s Mind Expansion Quotient – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 5: Are you working on building your Child’s Networking Skills?

The world is now a global village in its truest sense. My daughter Sagarikka, did a web scraping project recently for a US-based company for 4 months. Her team consisted of a student from South Korea, a techie from Germany, and a Data Analyst from Italy. Welcome to the world of GIG.

McKinsey reports that 50% of the workforce will be GIG by 2025. In this scenario, shouldn’t networking be learned as a skill? Shouldn’t students excel in this art even before they step out of school?
Robert Kiyosaki, the author, mentions that – this skill is not taught in schools. Parents cannot afford to outsource networking to schools. That would be an example of bad parenting.
Vinusha is a 10-year-old girl in Chennai. She is a TEDx speaker, an entrepreneur, and highly connected. Do you think that Vinusha is a child prodigy and just absorbed it from the atmosphere due to osmosis and networked her way to success? Vinusha is a strong case for positive parenting. Her parental coach i.e. her father has deliberately worked on building the contacts and honing her networking skills.

Sharan, a 14-year-old drummer is well-connected, thanks to his father.

This is a new age of parenting. Fools work, smart people network. The new-age parents have understood this recipe for success.
So what are you doing to expand your child’s circle of contacts?
What steps are you taking to stretch beyond your comfort zone to expand your child’s field of influence?
Notice how many parents say – my child is shy and doesn’t mingle with others.
Ever noticed how many people stick to their own groups and never step out of their comfort zone, even in international conferences. Are you listening?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in building my Child’s Networking Skills – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 6: How would you rate yourself in developing your child’s Social (empathy) Quotient?

I was talking to a group of students, I mentioned the plight of the migrants who had to shift 1000 kilometers back to their homes because of the COVID crisis. I spoke about the 1000s of families who literally starved to death on this journey. They had to go without water for many days. This was the largest exodus post the Punjab partition. The students, as usual, were muted and hidden from the screen. One of them posted in the chatbox – big deal!

Also read: 3 Chicken Soup Recipes for your Heart

TED speaker, Berne Brown (made popular by her talk on ‘Vulnerability’) mentioned in an interview with Oprah, that she would not rest as long as there was suffering in the world.

She said – we are all entangled. There is no joy in living even if a single soul on this planet is in pain.

Savy and I take our students to three places in Trichy, after the completion of our LIFE workshop.
i. Pravag: it is a school for autistic children. Our students would get shell-shocked. They had never come face to face with a world of autism. Many of them are touched and continue their association with the school long after they complete the course.

Pravag School


Interacting with Autistic kids

ii. LEAD: It is an organization working towards the rehabilitation of the LGBTQ community. In a tete-a-tete conversation with this community, the students realize the pain these people endure through their lives just because of a quirk of fate.

Our students with Transgenders

iii. Shanti Vanam: This is a home for schizophrenics and bi-polar. What these youngsters had seen in the movies now becomes a reality. Their lives are now transformed forever.

Now the most interesting part – we have conducted more than 250 such workshops over the last 15 years. Each workshop would have an average of 40 students. That makes it 10000 students.

         A batch of our LIFE Workshop students

Not one of them had ever visited one of these three institutions before. Not one of them had come across terms like autism, LGBTQ, and bipolar ever before. This fact disturbed us.

What in the heck had their parents been doing so long?
Many of the parents were tech-savvy. At least a parental app or a parental magazine could have thrown some light or at the very least they could have understood the importance of this by going through websites like www.parenting.com, www.deepparenting.com, or www.verywellfamily.com. What had come upon these parents that they neither had the time nor the volition to inculcate these habits in their children.

No wonder, a migrant tragedy leaves a whole nation unmoved and is only juicy material for Whatsapp forwards.
What steps have you taken to build your child’s social (empathy) quotient?
What social work do you do to build their empathy towards the misfortunate?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in developing my child’s Social (empathy) Quotient – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 7: How would you rate yourself in giving your Child Travel Experiences?

The world is a book and if you stay in just one place, you are just reading one page of the book.

    We love to travel & have fun

We have had many people work in our organization TRICHY PLUS 

Many of them surprisingly have not visited even Chennai, a city just 300 kilometers away. When we talk to the students, a majority of them mention places like Ooty, Kodaikanal, or at times the Marina beach. Seldom would we hear a student talk about their experience about their visit to the Taj, their sojourn in the Himalayas, or boating in the Ganges?
We talk to many of our fellow Rotarians when we travel inland and overseas. Most of them travel without their families. Do we ask them as to why they leave their families at home? Bang comes to the reply – the children have to study and our wives insist on staying back home to look after the children.
Why could they not stay home and insist that their wives travel?

We feel sorry for these children as they endure their entire childhood without this exposure. We insisted that our daughter Sagarikka travels. We have allowed her to trek in Leh, go all the way to Mumbai to participate in the Model United Nations Assembly, and have taken her to 21 countries.

          Sagarikka winning at MUNA


No wonder, she writes a best-selling book – My Unskooled Year

What steps are you taking to give your child a lifetime of traveling experience?
How often do you travel together as a family?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in giving my Child Travel Experiences – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 8: Are you having Family Fun-time?

In this world of Swiggys and KFCs, it’s fun all the time.
Do you fix a particular time during the week when you sit down with your children and watch a movie on Netflix or perhaps have a pizza?

Do you listen to them chat about their friends and teachers, the ones they love and the ones they hate?

Their newfound crush in college and the fun time they have with their peers?
Remember the days where dad and mom would play rummy with us or perhaps a game of carom? Ludo and snakes and ladders were also common. Today we have upgraded to a higher version. So, do you play – Monopoly or Cash-flow games with them?
Talking about books and sharing what we learned during the day could be a good idea during family dinners.

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in giving my family fun times – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 9: How would you rate your study time with your children?

Alpha is a school started by Mr. Palani, a visionary and an educationist. He was addressing us, parents, in a parent-teacher gathering. He mentioned that conscientious Americans spent three to four hours a day with their kids learning and studying.
Till then I was of the opinion that Americans lack parenting experience, are helicopter parents, put their children in child-care centers or relegate their responsibility to High school teachers.
I was put on the back-foot; it was the other way round. We had long ago outsourced the study time of children to tuition centers. Is this the reason our children lack the concepts and become professional mug-pots?
I pondered over Mr.Palani’s statement for a long time. I now had to take action. How long could I shirk my responsibility? It was time for me to study again.

My daughter and I went meticulously through Walter Lewin’s MIT lectures. Learning Chemistry and Physics through Khan Academy, Bozeman videos and Verisatium was a real delight. For the first time in my life, I started to understand Differential equations & Calculus.

We drew it on graph paper and saw Integral of SineX unfold in front of our eyes. Now I was ready to write my 12th Board Exam. This time I was sure that I would do better. This experience gave me a chance to revisit my childhood.
I request every parent to do this for at least one hour a day. This, I would rate as the best among the 11 experiences.
How much time are you investing in learning with your kids or children?

If they are graduates or post-graduates, do you ask them what are the papers they have for their semester?
Do you ask them to apprise you of the contents in these subjects, their application, and what projects are they doing to understand this topic better?

What are the reference books they are going through and what kind of support you could offer them to grapple with the subjects?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in learning along with my child – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 10: How do you rate your child’s Experiential Learning?

What makes Marwaris excel in business? Why are most of the company promoters Gujaratis? As they say, it’s all in the air. Children in these places grow up in an atmosphere of business. They soak in that experience. We wanted our daughter Sagarikka to grow in a world of experiential learning.

These are the steps that we took:
i. Experience in the world of Finance: I made my daughter as a 15-year-old do a three-month internship in a stock trading center and introduced her to investors, technical analysts, and intraday traders. Slowly the child started imbibing this experience. Later, I made her interact with business heads, accountants who taught her balance sheets and marketing wizards who made her understand the world of branding, positioning and blue-ocean strategies. We made her attend business conferences and learn about the business model canvas.
We took her to college festivals particularly conducted by the MBA departments. Here, she understood the art of pitching for start-ups and stock market games.

          Sagarikka at a Pitch Fest

ii. Experience the functioning of companies: Sagarikka didn’t have an inclination for Math till her 10th std. During her one year sabbatical from school, the first company she visited was A G Eye Hospital, Trichy. Dr Sherin was kind enough to allow her in. For one week, Sagarikka was in the reception. Another week went by in assisting the doctors in the operation theatre and the third week she was attached to the medical shop. A kid who wasn’t interested in even multiplication, all of a sudden started enquiring about the purpose of – Queuing Theory and Inventory Control. Now it is up to you to imagine what would have happened to us, because she did her internship in a dozen companies ranging from an Ayurvedic company to a three-star hotel.

          Sagarikka worked in 15 companies during her 1-year break

iii. Connecting Books with the real world: There is a concept called Linear Expansion in the 11std Physics books. It mentions that the length of an object increases with an increase in temperature. Sagarikka was not able to get a hold of the concept. I took her to the Amman Steel factory in the outskirts of Trichy. Here she saw billets being rolled into the furnace and come out much much longer. Voila! It needed no further explanation. Obviously, the length of an object increases with the increase in temperature.
Let me cite another instance, Sagarikka this time had difficulty in understanding the Hydrogen spectrum – Lyman Balmer and Paschen were Greek and Latin to her. I took her to the Anna University Lab. The Lab attender patiently put many elements and chemicals through the spectrometer. Each element and chemical produced a unique set of lines called spectral lines. It was a fascinating experience. We understood that every chemical emits its own signature.

Children crave experiences. They are curious; they are hungry to feel the world. They are like wild animals who want to roam the jungles but we tame them and put them in cages (school) and throw peanuts at them.
What steps have you taken to get out of the box?
What steps have you taken to give your child an indelible experience which would be etched in its memory forever?


How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in giving my Child Experiential Learning – Yes / No (tick)


MISTAKE 11: How would you rate yourself on aligning your child with the Right Values?

A child was asked – what’s your name?
He replied, “Jhonny don’t”.
People laughed and said – your name is Jhonny, then why do you add don’t?
The child replied, “My parents say, Jhonny don’t sit there, Jhonny don’t eat that, Jhonny don’t talk to him, Jhonny don’t go there”.
How often have you seen ‘don’t’ parents who curtail the instincts of the child?
Honesty and integrity seem to be forbidden components in many families. Children are taught how to lie to evade a situation.


Children in many families are brought up in a hostile environment. There is complaining, criticism, and condemnation. They don’t see love and intimacy between the parents. They don’t see mom and dad hold hands, look into each other’s eyes and talk all day.
All the best parenting books and parenting styles in Psychology have failed to create bonding in families.

The best gift that a dad can give the children is to love the mother.
Children crave an atmosphere of intimacy, integrity, trust, bonding, and freedom of expression. They need constant nurturing and encouragement and not a hostile environment.
Are you using soft kind words of encouragement with your children?
Are you creating an atmosphere of trust where each one could openly express their thoughts?
Is there an air of integrity where family members do what they say and say what they think?

How would you rate yourself in this parameter?
QUESTION: I score highly as a parent in aligning my Child with the Right Values – Yes / No (tick)


PARENTS Take this Test – mark YES / NO next to these parameters

1. I score highly as a parent in the Sports Dimension …..
2. I score highly as a parent in the Book Reading Dimension …..
3. I score highly as a parent in the Financial Dimension …..
4. I score highly as a parent in the Mind Expansion Dimension …..
5. I score highly as a parent in building my child’s Networking Skills …..
6. I score highly as a parent in developing my child’s Social (empathy) Quotient …..
7. I score highly as a parent in giving my child Travel Experiences …..
8. I score highly as a parent in giving my family fun times …..
9. I score highly as a parent in learning along with my child …..
10. I score highly as a parent in giving my child experiential learning …..
11. I score highly as a parent in aligning my child with the right values …..

Total Number of YES : 

If you score:

8 or more: Congratulations! You excel as a parent. You are caring, nurturing, and showing the right kind of leadership in your family. It is people like you who build families which is the bedrock of a great civilization.
5 to 7: You are a conscientious parent. You are working hard on yourself. Through constant awareness and diligent practice, you are on the road to becoming an outstanding parent.
• 1 to 4: We appreciate you for being honest. This courage to confront yourself and self-introspect will take you a long way. Your children are fortunate to have a parent like you who’s ready to face the fact and work towards self-betterment.


Savy and I have been running TRICHY PLUS Institute in Trichy since 1998 

Based on our 23 years of interaction with parents and students, we have written the book S & S FAMILY FIRST. By God’s grace, this book was the Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon India in 6 different categories (https://amzn.to/37B1nhK)

We at S & S Family First are constantly striving to bring in a world of experience. We will constantly deliver parenting blogs, parenting quotes, parenting tips, and parenting hacks.

In conclusion:

Our vision is to see a world of happy, productive, contented, and striving children. We envisage a world where there is camaraderie, synergy, and a blissful relationship between the husband and the wife. We have a dream of seeing families healthy and financially free.
We believe that parents who work on these 11 Mistakes will be able to give their children the most beautiful experience ever.
What do you think?
We have written the blog to the best of our ability. There may be areas untouched which we may not be aware of. Please do educate us.
We promise to reply to every comment that you make.


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Siva & Savi

Shiv & Savy are entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, passionate trainers and philanthropists. Their programs have empowered the lives of over a million people across 5 states.

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