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Community & Service 26 Apr 2021

Parenting tips from a CIS dad (and published author!)

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

What is it like being the subject of your father’s book on parenting? For TK grade 6 student Shlok S, it’s an exciting experience. “Not a lot of people would do this for their kids,” Shlok told Mosaic. “It’s rare when a father shares his feelings about parenting with the whole world in a book and makes it humorous. My dad worked pretty hard for two whole months; from writing and editing to designing a book cover and publishing. My honest opinion? I’m very proud of my dad.”

So Vivek, why did you decide to write “Shlok’s Dad”, a book about parenting your son?
The idea for this book came to me sometime in 2014. Essentially, most parenting books are written from the mother’s perspective, and there is scant literature available on the father’s perspective of parenthood. The father experiences a considerable amount of emotional turmoil while trying to give a good upbringing to the child. I’ve tried to explain these highs and lows, and how fathers struggle to conform to societal expectations of a ‘father’ figure. I relate all these in my book using a funny tone of course. For example, I described fatherhood as a rollercoaster ride in my book.

Is this your first book?
Yes. While I’ve always had a penchant for writing and the germ of this book has been in my mind since 2014, my busy life as an international banker left me with scant time to pursue writing. The lull period caused by the COVID-19 lockdown gave me the opportunity to pen down the book I’ve been carrying inside me all these years.

What do you hope parents can take away from your book?
I hope this book acts as a reassurance to new parents, gives a nudge to encourage wannabe parents or those unsure whether to become parents, and for fellow parents to reminisce about their own experiences of parenthood. Furthermore, I feel this book can also guide expats moving to another country with young children, as I’ve described how we adjusted to the change of moving to a different country, and how our son so beautifully adapted to life in Singapore; with a lot of help from his school and teachers, of course! I strongly believe that CIS’s teachers helped Shlok overcome his apprehensions and integrate well, thanks to the personal attention from the teachers and principal.

If you could choose one chapter for parents to focus on, which one do you think is the most important?
This is a difficult one! How does a parent choose a favourite child amongst all their offspring? My wife, Reshma, offers her opinion that the chapter titled, “Management Tips from Kids” has a lot to offer to parents who work in the corporate world, as they can draw a parallel between their professional life and that as parents.

How did you decide on what topic each chapter should focus on?
I’ve tried to include in each chapter, a specific learning which I took away from my journey as a parent. Hence, the book often is not linear in its storytelling approach. However, I’ve tried not to make the tone of the book as pedagogic or instructional, but kept it a funny and light read. Allow me to quote from a nicely-worded review posted by a reader on Amazon.sg, “Bite-sized chapters good for quick reads. I think there are some really useful parenting tips embedded in the book, with a lot of humour peppered in, to good effect.”

What were the steps you took to self-publishing?
My approach to self-publishing was quite akin to my approach to parenting. It included a lot of research, some ‘trial and error’, which led to some important lessons! I researched a lot on the platforms available for self-publishing, tried a couple, and zeroed in on the one I found most user-friendly to navigate.

What were some challenges you encountered along the way?
Writing the first draft, while an arduous task in itself, turned out to be the easiest part. Formatting (choosing the font, trim size, paper type etc), choosing beta readers (ensuring a demographic variety and follow-ups for responses), editing (innumerable rounds of editing and re-editing), book cover (designing, formatting and adherence to platform standards); all these turned out to be much bigger challenges to contend with.

I also have a day job, so I could only devote what little time I could eke out after my professional and parental duties, to this pet project of my book. Thankfully, my wife was an immense help and provided strong support. I feel we make a great team, towards both; as parents to Shlok, and in the production of “Shlok’s Dad”!

Well said, Vivek! Good luck on your parenting journey and thank you for sharing your tips with us! “Shlok’s Dad: a Father’s Perspective on Parenting” is available to purchase on Amazon.

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