The Journey Towards a Conscious Parent

by Jelena

Do you ever get the feeling of gratitude and happiness when you read something that completely resonates with you? When every cell in your body screams “YES!” at the passages your read? That’s exactly how I felt when I was reading the book by Dr. Shefali Tsabary – The Conscious Parent. My soul was approving it. I got so excited and happy about what she was saying that I just had to share it with as many people as I can.

I am sure I’ll be writing more blog posts about this, but for now, I have this deep urge to copy her daily mantra that every parent should say. It contains defense from all the dogmas and wrong beliefs we carry into parenthood thinking we own our kids and have the right to control their lives.

If we continuously use these dogmas in our daily interaction with children, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they rebel or turn their back on us, or worse, hurt themselves or others out of their desperation.

I ask to be released from the notion that I have any power or jurisdiction over my child’s spirit.

I release my child from the need to obtain my approval, as well as from the fear of my disapproval.

I will give my approval freely as my child has earned this right.

I ask for the wisdom to appreciate the sparkle of my child’s ordinariness.

I ask for the ability not to base my child’s being on grades or milestones reached.

I ask for the grace to sit with my child each day and simply revel in my child’s presence.

I ask for a reminder of my own ordinariness and the ability to bask in its beauty.

I’m not here to determine what course my child’s life should take.

I’m here as my child’s spiritual partner.

My child’s spirit is infinitely wise and will manifest itself in exactly the way it’s meant to.

My child’s spirit will reflect the manner in which I am invited to respond to my own essence.

Can you feel it? I get goosebumps! I know that some of you are not parents so this might not feel just right for you yet. But, I have a question for you too.

Is there part of you that wishes you were raised by conscious parents? And if you were raised by one, how does this mantra feel?

My little blue notebook

I was thinking of parenthood way before I became a parent myself. I was at the university and I was writing my thoughts and observations in a little blue notebook. It was meant to be a strong reminder of things I would and wouldn’t do as a parent.

I kept seeing different kinds of people around me, each of them raised differently, and each of them had some form of “lesson” for me to take away and apply to my own life.

I remember how important it was for me to be trusted by my parents to allow me to go to study abroad when I was 18 years old. They were always so encouraging and supportive and as a parent now, I can understand that it was not as easy as it looked back then.

I was waiving to them as the bus was leaving the station in Belgrade, on my way to Milano, with so many mixed emotions. I had 10 hours to calm my fear and excitement before arriving at my new home away from home.

First few months are always the toughest ones. You are in an entirely new environment, and everything you need or want comes with a price tag. Before, when we were living with our parents, everything that was around us was up for grabs. Now, you are learning both the quantitative and emotional math.

If I buy this now, I won’t be able to get that other thing later. Do I really need it? Hmmm, not really. Ok, leave it.

Before, parents were doing the math for us. We only had to ask, and then they were working their butts off to make it happen for us. On a daily basis, they were going through emotional rollercoaster – fears, tiredness, doubts, stress.

Now, it is finally our turn.

From one extreme to another

I was quite an extreme child. Once they’ve put me on a bus, that was it from me. I didn’t feel like complaining about things that were happening before me. Throughout my childhood the most repeated sentence by my parents was

You can do everything you set your mind to.

It was such a powerful voice that I picked it up and started owning it as my own. I turned all my attention to studying, almost like a soldier, and I didn’t have time to call my parents to tell them all the details. It was a bit selfish, but that was my way.

I knew they were worried sick, especially my mom, so I didn’t feel like burdening them with my daily topics. I was always saying how everything was great and how I’m enjoying the novelties around me.

Of course, I had tons of worries and fears and insurmountable problems, but luckily, my sister went to America a year ahead of me, so she had my back on many things. I knew that no problem lasts forever and everything settles with time. Saw it from her example, so I was patient.

On the other hand, I found out that a lot of my friends and colleagues had no independence even so far away from home. They were consulting their parents on almost every decision they had to make – starting with what classes to take, to expenses and choice of friends and extracurricular activities.

Other colleagues were so relaxed that they forgot the purpose of being in Milano. They used most of their money and time to explore, party and enjoy the long-awaited freedom away from their parents.

That made me think a lot about families and different upbringings. I searched for the root of the problems we see around us. Some of us need parent’s blessing for everything we do, some of us are utterly numb to that, some feel a huge responsibility, and some feel none.

I took my little blue notebook and started writing my thoughts and observations. I made some huge decisions back then already.

Here is a note that I wrote to me – a future parent:

Never try to control your child’s decisions by rubbing up to his nose all the money, energy and time you invested in him throughout his childhood.

It made me feel quite sad to see so many of my friends break down under the pressure of expectations of their parents. They were paralyzed by fear of being the “black sheep” in the family, the “one that disappointed everyone.” They carried so many insecurities within, and they lost their identity in search of the approval of others. Their most prominent and most horrible nightmare was to hear their parents say

We’ve sacrificed everything for you so you can study at the best university and have a chance to live a better life than me, and this is how you repay me? By wasting it all with your laziness?

Have you seen this before in your environment? Have you felt this way too?

Every child is different, and every parent is different. Not everybody is ready to leave home at the same time. Somebody needs to stay at home, and somebody needs to go away to fulfill their potential.

Somebody learns to swim when they throw him in the water. Others might develop fear or even drown down.

This mantra comes to me like an all-encompassing map:

  • to never condition our child to seek our approval to walk forward with confidence
  • to never compare him with others and measure his value by his grades or diplomas
  • to never think we have the right to chose and control his future
  • to enjoy in his uniqueness and simplicity
  • to accept that our child is not here to fulfill our dreams and whims
  • to recognize that our child has his own Karma and his own lessons to learn, and it is our job to be his spiritual and not a controlling partner
  • to be conscious that parenting is the most significant spiritual journey and opportunity to grow, and our child is our Master who will test us the most.

So much wisdom in the words of Dr. Shefali and so much support for every parent if they are open to learning. I have found a lot of room for improvement on my side. I am excited for this journey towards becoming the conscious parent!

Have I convinced you to buy her books? How do you feel about this way of parenting? Shall we explore this topic further together?

You may also like


Craig Woods January 10, 2019 - 9:15 pm

Fantastic blog Jelena, thank you for sharing your insights and also the wonderful mantras from her book. Even though I don’t have any children of my own yet, I have still been a child myself and know all too well how important it is to raise them with the right mindset. I also believe that we should never lose touch with our own inner child and why Christ said that “Unless ye be converted as little children ye won’t enter into the Kingdom of God.”

Our beliefs control our lives, and many of these beliefs are unconscious to us by the time we’re fully fledged adults. Peeling away these misperceptions is the beginning of true freedom from the past so we can embody the present moment as our true, authentic selves. Our children are children of God, first and foremost. They should be raised to be whom God wants them to be, which of course is always in alignment with the callings of their own inner child. I hope I become a parent one day, I love children and see myself as a child still, even though I am 32 years old.

My own book is all about rediscovering your childhood essence. I am so happy more people are becoming conscious of these truths. Thank you Jelena for using your publicity in such an uplifting way. God bless you

─Craig Woods

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:14 pm

Craig, I enjoyed reading your wise words. You touched my heart and soul. Thank you for sharing, thank you for working on yourself. This is so beautiful and congratulations on your book!

Mary January 10, 2019 - 9:20 pm

Thank you for sharing this! I wish I had seen this 18 years ago when my first child was born. I completely agree but in the day to day living it is harder than it looks. Parents sometimes don’t have the energy to think about a situation and just react to the best of their abilities. It is very good to be aware of all this and wih time it will raise wonderful human beings….and take the pressure off that parents often put on themselves .

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:13 pm

Mary, when I’m tired, all of these “rules” go through the window and survival mode kicks in.
Luckily, I did something well because when I tell my boy lately how tired I am at his bedtime and that I cannot read him another story or two, he says “Ok mommy, how about tomorrow morning when you feel better?”
That’s what gives me extra energy! THose moments. So precious.
And it is damn hard, I know. I feel it too. I only commit to trying. And trying again.

Michela Cateni Cantini January 10, 2019 - 9:29 pm

Yes, I hope to find it in Italian, anyway you are and will be a fantastic parent. I was 19 years when I went away from my home because I expected my daughter and my parents supported me in everything and now, after 40 years of marriage, two sons and 4 grandsons, I know how beautiful they were. I’ve always supported my sons in their free choices and believe in their dreams. It will be interesting to read this book. Thank you Jelena (sorry for my english, next time I’ll write you in Italian, you know Italian very well). Ciao ?

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:10 pm

Let us know how you liked it! Much love and thank you! And yes, push me to write in Italian please, those skills need to be nurtured too! 🙂

Amela January 11, 2019 - 8:47 am

Thank You for sharing this story with us,it’s really a pleasure to read al the wise, beautiful and so true words. Very inspiring, just love iT! ?????

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:09 pm

Thank you Amela!

Goran Debelnogich January 11, 2019 - 2:07 pm

Very intriguing indeed. You are making some great points Jelena. Being a parent of two, who recently became adults, I could only say that it’s an amazing journey if you provide warm and supportive environment, spend time, talk and play a lot with your kids, help them all the way with their needs, love them, teach them about everything you care for, but don’t try to control, force or condition them with anything. Your invested time, love and support in their first 14 years of life will pay of in a wonderful relationship and trust before and after that. When I sent them at 18 and 16 years old alone to London for a week, I was fully confident that they will have the most memorable trip of their life, and surely it was proven later that this trip gave them such conference to explore the world, but also excel in their education and relationships. Open the doors for them, encourage them, listen to them, give advice when asked, don’t ignore them. They will choose their path in life based on all the experiences and environment they grow in. There is a reason behind every path, although sometimes it’s hard for parents to understand or accept when things don’t go as well. If I had another life, I would repeat every moment and enjoy it even more and now at this stage I tell my big kids, one they when you have kids, I’ll be the best grandfather, ever. 🙂
Keep it going Jelena (actually my daughter met you and Nole in Nice on one of her travels to Europe ?). Much luck and happiness with your kids and success for Nole at AO!
Love you guys!

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:09 pm

This is so beautiful and precious. Thank you so much for sharing this! Much love to you too!

Donatien Myrto January 11, 2019 - 8:54 pm

Hi Jelena,
I have four children (26, 23, 21, 11) and I think I gave them the best education as possible. It’s not always easy, but “perfect parents” don’t exist. All these rules are amazing but there is no condemnation whether we can’t practise them all.

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:08 pm

Hi Donatien,

Thank you for your comment. You are right, there is no such thing as a perfect parent in the eyes of people. Maybe in the eyes of somebody less judgemental, there is. But we are yet to master that skill… 🙂 All we are meant to do is try. That’s all.
Much love to you and your big family!

Agnieszka Dulić January 11, 2019 - 9:15 pm

Dear Jelena, how do you deal with your child’s whims such as “I don’t want to dress up because it’s more fun and nice to run naked around the house” and when you speak politely to a child trying to explain it’s not really safe to run naked around the house because you’ll catch a cold. When you say please please the 4 year old doesn’t listen because he thinks it’s the right way for him. Or another example a 4 year old child says “ I don’t want to go to the nursery because I prefer to stay at home. The nursery is boring”. What then? I’m sorry mommy needs to go to work today, you cannot stay at home. Everyone has responsibilities and you too. Everyone has to go to school or work at some point, even if you don’t like it, you won’t escape responsibilities. Then my 4 year old boy says “ I don’t want to go and that’s it” and he cries. Of course I can search for a different nursery but a child can always find something to make his life easier. So my question is, should I stop working and stay with my child at home because he wants to? Of course I won’t do that. If I wasn’t pushed by my parents to do some things (by force) I would probably end up really badly. So I think kids when they are growning up need to feel all kinds of emotions from the parents. Even pushing, sometimes shouting. Learning the rainbow of emotions from sadness, love, anger, makes us human. Of course we need to be wise in using those emotions, and know when to use them. But living a perfect life without negativity is impossible. Parents need to prepare children for that. At some point in their life, a girlfriend, friend, boss or wife or husband will show negative emotions and will try to force something . I’m not saying you need to answer with negativity but you need to be prepared for all kinds of things. Usually the predation to life starts at home. Parents should teach children that life sometimes shows love, sometimes fear, sometimes happiness and sometimes sadness. A child need to adapt, and be ready and prepare to meet the sometimes cruel or difficult or dangerous situations but the child should also be flexible and find the way through the difficulties. Therefore, putting a child under a safe umbrella and giving him always the freedom of choices is not safe. If you see your child cannot comprehend or adapt to some things and he’s weak,or lazy, you as a parent need to step in and help. Sometimes, help means pushing because the child, especially a 4, 8 or a teenager who don’t know life, need to understand that there are different situations on the way to adulthood and even more mixed situations after that. They cannot decide about everything on their own at the beginning of their life because they will hurt themselves. Constructive talks with a child always help. Being interested in what they feel and do also brings the parent and child together. But I won’t lie to my child that life is rosy and full of happy people. It’s full of surprises and you need to be flexible and wise. Thank you. I was almost inspired ?

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:04 pm

Dear Agnieszka,
Thank you for sharing your struggles. It is never easy! I am not saying that struggles with the kids will disappear with a miracle… And I am not here to “teach you” anything. I am merely sharing. And I have exactly the same struggles with my 4-year-old.

We had moments when he didn’t want to go to school. We shared with him that sometimes we feel tired and don’t feel like going to school/work. Sometimes we like to be at home and play with our toys and that’s why we don’t feel like going to school. I found it always super helpful to acknowledge his emotions and feelings and empathize with him. Show him that I also feel like that sometimes and I try to share with him how I break through that feeling… I know for a fact that he has many nice friends in school and good teachers – so I remind him how nice and good he feels when he is there. HOw much he loves their activities. That he can show his friends his toy (I allow him to carry a toy for that particular reason)… That’s how he starts to listen more. Sometimes he doesn’t want me to push him. He just wants me to understand and be ok with that. I also say to him “It is ok to feel like that. We all have those moments.” I am not trying to sugar coat anything. And if he says it is boring – then you can tell him a story about how it is much better to be bored in a group because then you can start inventing games. If you are alone at home, then you might not be able to chase each other… play hide and seek… play football…

But it what if the school where he is going is not nice and he has some mean friends there – that is something that requires different skills.

As for running naked in the house – I mean, I loved doing that as a kid. It is the ultimate freedom that you can feel in a loving and supportive environment such as a home. I let my kids run when they feel like it. If they feel cold, I’m sure they would not enjoy being cold. And when they run, they are not cold 🙂 ANd if it is cold, instead of limiting them- I turn on the heat just a tiny bit to give them that extra time to enjoy while they can. If they catch a cold, they will learn. It is a small inconvenience for lifelong lessons. Don’t you feel good being naked alone sometimes? It is so much fun!!!

Nobody said life is perfect or easy. There is so much every day to learn. Being conscious doesn’t mean being perfect – just means being present and correcting yourself along the way. And of course, you shouldn’t lie to your kids. Life IS – neither good or bad, just IS 🙂

Maybe you’ll like this book more:

Much love and keep looking for inspiration! I’m sure you’ll find it!

Agnieszka Dulić January 14, 2019 - 11:24 am

Dear Jelena,
Thank you for good adivce and for the book! I know you don’t force your opinions on anyone. I really want to know your opinions. The truth is I am struggling because my 4 year old son is attending SI therapy and I don’t know how much truth it is in the diagnosis of sensory integration problems that we recieved. I am worried because maybe the diagnosis is unfair and some kids just need time to understand things and adapt to the situation. I have mixed feelings about it. Thus, my story about Aleksander not listening to me and refusing to do my requests. I am really close with him, we have spent a lot of time together playing and discussing things, but the problem is, I think, I was too friendly with him and he does not treat me seriously. He dominates me and usually says NO to everything. I am late to work becuase he doesn’t want to dress up in the morning. He creates mess and havoc at home and he refuses to learn to put his toys in order at the end of the day. He forces me to feed him because otherwise he won’t eat. I feel I’m a failure as a mother. Maybe I am a good friend for him but definately not someone that he can obey. The question is, is it ME or is it the Sensory Integration problem. What do you know about SI? Could you share your thoughts on this?

Craig Woods January 11, 2019 - 11:29 pm

Jelena, I encourage you to read this blog of mine, which includes the intro to my own book

Thank you

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:19 pm


The key to changing the world isn’t to try and change society, but to show willing and receptive souls that change is possible by living as an example in our own truth.


Where did you start your soul search?

Craig Woods January 14, 2019 - 8:19 pm

Thank you for your responses and kind words, Jelena.

Well, I grew up in the city of Liverpool in the UK. This city has a reputation for being rough, and especially when you’re on the streets as a teenager. As a child, I was always so curious about the universe. I was obsessed with God, and the possibility of Aliens existing, somehow I knew they existed without needing anyone to tell me that they did. I would often write short stories also, as a child, I loved to be creative and express my imagination. But thanks to the influence of society, peer-pressure from my friends, everything changed…

I lost touch with who I was. I was confused, and on drugs and booze by the tender age of fourteen. I had unknowingly become like everyone else. Wearing the same clothes, harbouring the same beliefs and behaviours. My individuality was eclipsed by the illusions of the world. Two, three times a week, we’d all party, indulging in various substances which were often illegal. This lifestyle continued until January 16th 2010…

After coming home from a house party at 3am, I had a massive panic attack. I felt as if I couldn’t breathe, that I was dying. It was so terrifying. My Mother, being the sweetheart that she is, helped me calm down. When she went back to bed, I opened my curtains to behold practically every star in the night sky before me. I made a declaration with God at that moment. I didn’t beg, I didn’t ask, I raised my hand up to the heavens and told Him that I was going to take my life back. A fire had erupted inside me as I have never felt before in my life. A determination to realign with my integrity had overshadowed me. Going to sleep in that state, I think transformed me because I woke up a completely different person. I haven’t touched an illegal substance since. I also quit drinking a couple years later. Been almost 7 years booze free, and 9 years drug-free. But, this was just the beginning of my spiritual search…

I had to come to terms with all the pain, all the shadows I was avoiding with that lifestyle. Making the unconscious mind, conscious was a big step for me because until I did, the beliefs contained in it were, literally, hijacking my windows of perception.

I have practised various forms of meditations and delved in a variety of mystical traditions and sciences. My passion is to help people unravel themselves from the cocoon of lies wrapped around their consciousness, so they align with their true self and inspire others to do the same. My book is the sum total of all I have realized during these 9 years.

I regret nothing. I have made peace with and accepted every, single chapter of my life’s story thus far. All serve us with the right perspective. There is a bigger picture to all events that happen. I feel as if I have come full circle now. I am back to doing what I loved doing as a child, writing and drawing. My publishers are going to publish the Sci-fi novels I am writing too. Life is amazing. I am so thankful to God, to you, to everyone.


Jovana Biljic January 12, 2019 - 12:37 pm

Cao, Jelena! Thank you for sharing this. I’m not a parent yet, but I love reading everything that has been related with kids and parents. I’m from small town in Serbia, some parents are still using traditional way of raising their kids, and recently I started to think how I would raise my one child. My mom got me and my brother when she was 21 years old, and I can see huge difference between my 21 and mom’s. I’m taking tips from friends and cousins who already have kids, and I’m following your work as someone who lives and raises their kids abroad and who is sharing great books with us. Thank you for that!

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:20 pm

Hvala Jovana! It is wonderful to hear that you are thinking about it ahead of the time and that you are looking for answers 🙂 So nice to hear that! Wonderful!

jelena (mama 2 dece:) January 12, 2019 - 6:36 pm

Evo citam dok deca prevrcu kucu ? Predivni clanak, prelepa tema, na kojoj bi trebalo jos mnogo dodati ali vi ste to lepo uradila. Meni je uvek bilo sokantno koliko, i dalje jeste, koliko ima ljudi oko mene koji su morali da presecu za roditeljima da bi uopste mogli da zive…. zato sto uvek to pocne sa najboljom namerom i sa ciljem da selo ili grad ne govori lose… onda vreme prodje dete odraste krecu deca, muzevi, zene…. i to jednostavno predje u manipulaciju….
zato kazu :road to hell is paved with hood intention.
zato je bas lepo kako ste to lepo i jednostavno objasnili pocinjemo od rodjenja, zelim ti najbolje, ne ocekujem nista ?????

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:23 pm

Hvala Jelena! Ja sela da pišem dok klinci spavaju, a i ja polako odumirem :))) Svasta covek moze da vidi oko sebe zar ne…. ? Ali od rodjenja se dize kamen temeljac 🙂 Puno ljubavi za vas!

Ljiljana V January 12, 2019 - 7:39 pm

Draga Jelena,

so true, proved the mantra you mentioned by parenting my two girls for 20 years now. From my experience, kids will remember and carry with them emotions throughout the life. The most important for them is to have calm and supportive parents through good and bad days. Of course we all have bad days but we learn also as parents and that’s OK. We are all on the adventure called life. Also, kids are observing us as the very first “role-modes” in their lives so having our own life fulfilled is very important as much as supporting them on their paths.


Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:25 pm

calm and supportive parents =got it, thanks! taking notes always :)) I gotta work on the “calm” part though :)))

LJILJANA V January 14, 2019 - 1:15 am

Luckily kids will never stop challenging us, so there will be plenty of opportunities for practising :):):). I’m still learning it as well but it gets better when we are aware how important it is for them (and for us as well) At some point when my younger one was 3-4 years she was not willing to “co-oparate” (she went through stubborn phase) so instead of loosing my mind 10x a dayI introduced a rule to count to 3 and then I would be more strict. And it worked, by 3 she would listen to me and “co-operate”. Just few days ago we remembered those times and we laughed about it :).

Gan January 12, 2019 - 8:11 pm

Although, I’m not a parent yet- I do have moments of deep thoughts and writings about being Mom, Wife and the huge commitment of parenting my children someday. Definitely, reading your blog posts has helped me to see how broad it is, welcoming, not linear but with the choice of love, passion and open mind- a unique journey. A journey someday… to be and always be my children supporter and spiritual partner. Thank you for sharing Jelena!

Jelena January 13, 2019 - 9:24 pm

Thank YOU for having such a deep perspective on how you want to live this life. So deep and wise.

Kristina Lalova January 14, 2019 - 4:44 pm

Hi Jelena,

I can relate to you and your experience on so many levels. Just like you, I have been brought up in a family of supportive and loving parents. I moved to the United States to study Finance five years ago. I was so dedicated to studying that I was able to earn high grades and ended up continuing my education with a doctorate degree in Finance. I have always wanted to make the right decisions both in my personal and my professional life not only to make my parents proud, but also to make myself proud. And, I believe that one day I will be able to give back to my parents for the person that I am today. Additionally, I want to give back to my home country – Bulgaria, and I am hoping that I will be able to maximize my potential in the years to come.
My upbringing has allowed me to form my own opinion on what type of parent I would like to be. I want my child to grow up to be a responsible citizen of this world, to constantly learn and follow his own personal dreams. I will allow him to find his passions and encourage him to follow them. My own unrealized dreams will never reflect on him. For instance, when I was a child, I dreamt of becoming a tennis player which I wasn’t able to achieve. If my kid loves playing tennis and his dream is to become a tennis player, I will support him no matter what. If not, I will help him find his own path and dream. I think that the most important role that a woman can ever have is that of a parent, and I plan on giving it my all when this happens. Thank you and good luck with any future articles!


Hana January 14, 2019 - 6:27 pm

Jelena, prelep je tekst 🙂 ne sumnjam da si dobra majka. Ako mozes, pisi malo o odnosima dece sa bakama i dekama 🙂 veliki pozdrav za tebe i tvoju porodicu ❤️

Milena M January 14, 2019 - 11:03 pm

Draga Jelena, divno si napisala tekst. Mama sam divnog jednogodisnjaka i uzivam u toj ulozi svaki dan. Ono sto sam do sada naucila jeste da je roditeljima najvise potrebno strpljenja, mnogooo strpljenja 🙂 pored ljubavi koje svakako imaju. Ovde ima dosta recenica za moju ‘plavu beleznicu’ i hvala ti na tome da mi ulepsas vece. Zelim ti da imas jos mnogo inspiracije za ovakve divne tesktove, da i nas ‘obogatis’ recima, iskustvima… Ukoliko imas jos nekih predloga knjiga vezanih za roditeljstvo, da li bi mogla da ih predlozis? Najlepse hvala i srdacan pozdrav tebi i tvojoj porodici 😉

Jovana Biljic January 14, 2019 - 11:05 pm

Jelena, thank you for sharing! I really enjoy reading your posts.

Arun Nair January 22, 2019 - 8:46 am

Hi Jelena.

I’m Arun Nair from India. I’m almost 42 and a father of 2 boys (10 & 5). Since the birth of my second son, I have been a full-time homemaker and parent (my wife works). I have been following your husband’s (with your permission I will refer to his first name going forward) sporting pursuits over the years and have been a huge fan of his game, mindset, drive, discipline, fitness and smartness on court. I also admire the sense of lightness he brings at times to the proceedings. And yes, as a parent, I only wish he stopped thrashing racquets… I hate having to explain HIS actions to MY kids! His resurgence after the near 2 year career-trough was so inspirational that I took up the sport at 41!!

This thread though is to share my views on this book and your thoughts about it. I have spent over 10 years trying to be the best parent I could be… no books, no blogs, no essays… just taking in from my personal experiences and observing others. I try to imagine the consequences of certain actions and apply the resulting logic to my everyday life as a father.

First things first – nearly everything written by the author (also an Indian) happens to be the kind of stuff the west (America, Europe) love to read. Especially when it is said by someone from the east. By west, I mean developed countries in the western part of the world that lack the challenges faced by countries like India. India has a population of 1.3 billion – that is 16% of the world’s population in one country. Lets take a moment and soak that information in.
Ok, moving on.

As a parent to two children, it is NOT possible for me to follow most of what the author has to say. My life is not going to be about being a spiritual partner to my child. My role is that of a protector (when they are young), a motivator, an intellectual companion, a friend who they can be honest and casual, yet respectful with, a sound board for ideas and thoughts about their interests and life goals and obviously to provide them all the support to achieve those goals to the best of my ability. That also includes correcting them when I see them doing something wrong (harming themselves/ others, not being truthful, disrespecting girls/women and not being a conscious citizen). And importantly – to watch our for complacency and lack of commitment.

When you come from a country like mine, it is impossible not to set goals and expectations for and from your child. Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai didn’t just happen. And they were not raised by parents who followed even 10% of Dr. Tsabary’s theory. A casual look into the spelling bee contest on ESPN will show you the large number of Indian origin kids in it. Do you think their parents are evil for motivating them to excel?

If there are parents who have certain excess wealth and choose to send their kids for courses to foreign countries to pursue an education or their career dreams, it is only fair that the parent reminds the child once-in-a-while of their sacrifices to make their child’s dream happen. If your friends indeed broke down because of such ‘pressure’, it is a terrible shame that they chose to break down rather than stand up and be accountable for the faith bestowed in them by their folks.

To quote Steve Prefontaine (do read up on him – a great athlete who was robbed from us before he could show the world what real passion meant on the tracks)….
‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift’.
I’m sure this is something Novak will testify to.

When a parent sees potential in a child, it is his/her responsibility to bring it out in the child. The opposite also applies – there is no point putting a kid through the grinder if he/she is just not cut out for that particular field – be it sports or academics or dance or music or whatever…
If it wasn’t for a strict and focussed parent – there would be no Tiger Woods. And No. There wouldn’t be the Williams sisters either. If Mike Agassi didn’t push his son to excel (since he saw potential in him), the world would have missed out on one of the all time greats. No greatest return of serve. No flamboyance. No Golden Slam. So, Andre Agassi can say he hated tennis… but he is immortal because of tennis. When an oxymoron like this is presented to us in life, we should look at the larger picture. In this case, Mike Agassi deserves the kudos for persisting. So there you go, the mindset of an Iranian immigrant father is what gave us the All-American tennis champ son.

Not to compare one’s child to another is such a typical ‘guru’ thing to say. Our aim is to prepare the child for the competitive world. And comparisons are made in this world. Maybe not for multi-millionaires like you and Dr. Tsabary – but for us normal folks just getting by, this is no philosophical or spiritual journey. This is a daily struggle to balance the love we have for our child with the role of a parent who does not have much room for bullshit and has certain expectations from their child.

I have no shame in admitting that I expect my children to take the opportunities given to them and do the best of THEIR potential with those opportunities, because they are being given the opportunity that millions of their fellow Indian children can only dream of. For example, I don’t expect the flexibility of Novak in my son when he plays tennis. I know their genes vary significantly. But I expect him to run for the ball wherever it lands on the court – not just stand there and hit balls (presented on a platter with a red bow) that only come to his racquet.
If I don’t see commitment (not excellence, just commitment will do), I will remind him what it costs to send him for tennis coaching and how much money, time and inconvenience it takes to do this 6 days a week. If I see he is not showing commitment to his music lessons, I will remind him the same. I repeat, I am not looking for excellence – just commitment. This is something that you must be familiar with since you live with a man known for his extreme commitment to his passion/ profession.

A poor grade in school should reflect only one thing – the poor application of oneself in school. How else can one look at this? It is so easy for you to say such flowery things about letting the child discover life and not be tethered down my goals and ambitions. That applies if one’s parents have the millions. Not for people just getting by.

For most of us Jelena, it is a daily struggle. A struggle we chose (although didn’t know how hard it would be).

Keep posting. Although I don’t agree with this one, I like your passion and exuberance. And please forgive me for bringing in the ‘multi-millionaire’ argument. It wasn’t meant to be a low-blow or sour grapes from my end. I never judged success by millions anyway. I am still searching for the true definition of success.

Best Wishes,

Jelena January 22, 2019 - 11:19 am

Hi Arun!
So nice of you to join us here! And thank you for all the respect and admiration for my husband.
It is good to have your opinion and be strong about it.

It is quite difficult to observe things from just one perspective. Novak is one in a million. His father, his mother or coaches couldn’t have made him who he is if he wasn’t so special in the first place. I mean, he has younger brothers too who come from the same family and tried their luck in the same sport. If it was up to his parents, I’m sure they would all be the best tennis players in the world.

But I understand you might feel differently about it and I’m very grateful you shared your point of view with us. I don’t want to impose my opinions here, they might sound conflicting and that’s really not the point of this blog 🙂

I do admire spiritual teachings coming from your country because with such presence of lack (because you are so numerous) – you find a way to live life in abundance. That to me is one of the highest spiritual teachings one can obtain. To know that there is an abundance of everything and find joy in small things and live life fully…

What else can a person want? 🙂

Micaela January 25, 2019 - 3:26 am

hello jelena I’m from Bolivia; I still did not get the book of Dr. Shefali Tsabary; but I searched in google and found several videos of talks that she gave which opened my eyes to the mistakes that as a mother I was committing;
Thank you Jelena for writing about the book and for Dr. Tsabary; I hope to get the book soon …Being a parent is an arduous job and it is good to find people like you who give us a hand to be able to do this job as well as possible for the good of our children. Thank you so much.

rhonda l lehmann January 28, 2019 - 7:51 pm

hello jelena!!
you have a beautiful spirit!
i have not had the opportunity to read over all of this yet, for i have just discovered it!
i would like to encourage you to visit this website,, for additional resources based on our creators advice for us!
specifically for parents and children and married couples …enjoy!!


Leave a Comment

2 + 5 =

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.