I was lucky enough to meet Debmita through Super Mums. Her knowledge of children and parenting has always captivated and inspired me.
Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com. She conducts workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She is a well-known thought leader and speaker, an expert on play for the Genius of Play initiative and an expert on learning and study skills. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and she is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute. She is renowned for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting. WHAT A WOMAN!
Can you tell me about your second baby – ‘What Parents Ask’ and how it all started?
Yes. You can definitely call “What Parents Ask” my second baby and it was born out of my love for parenting.
So when my daughter was born 14 years ago – I just fell in love with parenting. Nothing I had ever done before had made me quite as happy as parenting did. Unfortunately, however, I discovered that not everyone felt the same way. Many parents were stressed all the time. And the reason for their stress I realized was because of the constant ‘decision making’ that was an inescapable part of parenting.
Parents are required to make decisions that impact the lives of another person (their child) all day and all the time. And every decision they make shakes them up and fills them with fear and guilt because they don’t know if they are making the right decisions.
I started WPA whatparentsask.com to make parenting a stress free, joyful experience by empowering them with the knowledge they needed to make decisions with confidence.
I was already helping parents understand their children through my workshops when I started WPA whatparentsask – I started doing this through my articles and videos as well.
As a doctor and an educator, what is your vision and mission for ‘What parents ask’?
I believe that parenting is very easy if you can understand your child and it is easy to understand your child – because every child is just a growing brain and a growing body.
The growing brain and body have several limitations. Understanding these limitations can help us parent with empathy and compassion and release us from the grip of disappointment and frustration that we experience every day.
My vision is to eliminate the ‘expectation mismatch’ which I believe is the main problem in parenting. You expect what your chid cannot deliver yet. And then you feel disappointed and hurt.
My mission is to empower parents with the knowledge that they need to tailor their expectations to match their child’s ability at every age, and also fulfil their needs at every stage.
What do you see as the most important issues that need tackling right now?
In parenting – I think if we work on these 5 Cs on priority – we can all be happier and more relaxed.
- Courage – We need to be brave. We need to stop overprotecting our kids. We need to stop micromanaging everything to create a perfect world for them. Children need all kinds of experiences to grow into resilient compassionate people. Accepting that can reduce our stress considerably.
- Curiosity – We need to be open and curious about our children. Instead of forcing them to fit the narrow mould of who we expect them to be – we must allow them to show us how diverse the world is and grow into more inclusive and loving human beings.
- Connection – We need to pause so that we can connect. The problem with modern day living is that we feel compelled to constantly work towards awards and accolades. And this makes us lose connection with our children. But the real reward from parenting is the relationship we build with our children. And for that we need to stop doing and start “being”.
- Communication – We need to realize that parenting is not about shutting children down and turning them into obedient puppets. We must start listening to understand. And speaking – to help them discover how to think for themselves.
- Collaboration – We need to stop thinking of parenting as a series of never-ending chores. Instead of doing everything for our children – we need to trust them and teach them to join us to share the load.
What are some valuable lessons you have learnt as an entrepreneur?
- Step into entrepreneurship only if you are passionate. Just being able to work is the only reward you must seek. If you work because you want to make money – you will give up very quickly.
- Work to contribute – not to compete – Competition saps your energy and makes you want to give up. Contribution fills you with energy.
- Use the gaps to grow – There will be times when you don’t have work or when business is slow. Use this time to learn and improve.
How do you balance work and parenting?
Parenting has never come in the way of my work or vice versa – because my daughter (14 years old now) has been my business partner and has dreamt and worked with me since she was 7 years old.
She does everything she can to ensure that I never give up. From making me coffee when I need to work at unearthly hours, to making my creatives when I can’t afford a graphic designer, to taking my pics for my social media posts, and most importantly convincing me to take on challenging work by saying – “You can do it Ma. If you get stuck – I will help you.”
What has really worked for me has been – sharing my dream with her every day, being open and vulnerable about what I find challenging and asking for her opinion on everything.
I think because I have always respected her opinion and asked for it – she has learnt to think for herself and make decisions. And that has made the task of parenting – a real breeze for me.
Of course I could never have done any of this without my husband who is an amazing parent. Much better than me – I think I should say. He has always done EVERYTHING for my daughter. And always told me – you go ahead and do what you want – don’t worry about anything on the home front.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I am most inspired by my parents. They have taught me that being able to work and contribute is the biggest reward. Nothing else comes close.
Also, they have taught me to laugh and smile through all difficulties and never consider them obstacles in my path.
What have your parents taught you that is invaluable to you as a Mother?
When my daughter was born my Dad told me – Hug her a lot – that was fantastic advice.
And from my Mum I constantly learn to tone down my expectations from my daughter. Even if I say something like have fun – She says – no – it is not right to load her with the expectation that she needs to have fun.
What are the most important lessons you want to pass onto your daughter?
Be a doer – not a talker. The world needs people who will decide and do – not keep thinking and talking about what they want to do.
Be confident, competent and compassionate. And never be afraid to start small.
You are a great inspiration to me and many others. How do you intend to keep inspiring our generation and the next?
Thank you, Moya. You are such an inspiration to me. So, coming from you, this is huge.
I would say that the only way I can inspire is by showing up and taking action every day to get to my goal.
Learning what I don’t know, admitting when I go wrong and not giving up whatever happens. I think these are the things that have helped me get to where I am. And I only inspire the next generation with this.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to touch the lives of many more parents across the world through my writing and my workshops and make parenting easy for them by empowering them with knowledge. I hope to succeed at it.
What are your hopes for the future of India?
I am a great optimist when it comes to India. I think we have come a long way despite our challenges. The people of India are extremely resilient, compassionate and intelligent. And we will soon be a ray of hope for the world.