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indra nooyi: who’s talking about her mom?

4 Jul

Indra Nooyi’s comments about women not being able to have it all have gone viral in recent days. Here is the link to the original video if you are interested. The first 25 minutes or so are her talk. 

I wrote yesterday about men having the same problem as women about not being able to have it all. You can read the blog post here.

Another aspect to this discussion is the perceived lack of support from Ms Nooyi’s mom, and I want to comment about that here. There are a lot of comments on the internet about how mothers and mothers-in-law are the most unsupportive. I beg to differ.

Ms Nooyi talked about her mom sending her back out to get milk, before hearing any of her news. What is implicit to me here is that her mom was living with her, and presumably running the household. She was living there for the sake of her daughter, not her son-in-law. And when Grandma is running the household, she is the CEO of the home. If they are out of milk, she is worried her grand daughters will not have milk for the night or the next morning, and it is her responsibility to find the best delivery person. If it happened to be Indra, then so be it. (Maybe she asked the son-in-law earlier, but he was unwilling. Ms Nooyi could just as well have called on her husband to run the errand.) Grandma is not comprising on her granddaughters’ care for any news or any reason. Who knows, the store might be closing in a few minutes or it might be close to the granddaughters’ bedtime! Any good CEO of a company would do exactly the same.

As Ms Nooyi said, we need to build or enlist “co-opts” to help us get better balance between parenting and Career progression. Even Sheryl Sandberg has mentioned having a lot of support from her sister and mother in raising their kids. But we cannot take that support for granted, or feel entitled to it. 

Grandma has already done her round of raising kids. But she is doing a second round for the sake of her daughter. And she needs all the support she can get to do an awesome job as the CEO of home!



women can’t have it all… but, can men?

3 Jul

PepsiCo’s CEO Indira Nooyi explains women can’t have it all. As a career mom myself, I am very much in agreement with her. Here is a link to her talk, the first 25 minutes or so in this video.

I will not add my views here about how much I agree with her. There are many blogs and articles everywhere doing that. What I do want to talk about is the men. Can they have it all? Don’t they face the same challenges as do women? Don’t men have to make the same choices between attending to work and attending school events? The difference is, perhaps, that they are expected to trade-off work for family time. For the few men who want to have successful careers and also be there for their families, there is very little sympathy and understanding. Men develop coping mechanisms by delegating the family tasks to the children’s mothers. That may reduce guilt, but it does not salvage the aching loss of missed opportunities, less bonding with the kids and a sense of having missed-out on the kids’ childhoods.

My comment here is simple – No one  can have it all, be it men or women. Any person who chooses to be a career parent, needs the support and backing of a network of willing caregivers. And corporations would do well to encourage their employees to have better work/life balances. Employees with less guilt and more emotionally fulfilled lives are likely to be more stable and collaborative in the work-place as well.

why i think “princeton mom” is wrong

28 Mar

independent women

Princeton Mom’s article:

So, “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton is advising young women in Ivy League Colleges to find a husband while still in College. While I agree with her premise that College has the highest density of potential eligible men, that is where my agreement with her stops.

For one, she assumes that young women in their late teens and early twenties have enough life experience to pick a good long term husband. If young women get married and have kids too early, they are doomed to a life-long relationship with men who could be life-long trouble-makers like being abusive. Very intelligent men (and women) are also likely to have higher rate of social abnormalities.

Second, having a child too early in life saddles people with high level of responsibilities that there is no escape from. You can switch careers relatively easily, but if you realize parenthood is not for you, you don’t really have many options. It is better to take time and understand yourself, and have kids when you are really ready for them.

Third, having children too early in life significantly reduces your enjoyment of life experiences like adventure-traveling, fine dining etc. You are also limited in hours and energy in building your career. It is much harder to start building your career at age 40 than it would be at age 25. You are older, have less energy, technology has moved on and you have lost a lot of your professional confidence seeing your peers get ahead while you “made other choices”.

Fourth, one parent has to take a step back in their career to raise kids. It doesn’t matter which one. Kids need their parents on-site, and cannot be raised through remote parenting. This dynamic often makes one parent “dependent” upon the other, leading to unequal relationships. If the career-parent is abusive, or suffers from some social/mental disorders, it can be hell for the on-site parent. If the marriage doesn’t work-out, the on-site parent will be under greater financial burden in trying to now take off their own career.

Fifth, with higher life expectancy, people can expect to live until their eighties or nineties. It is unreasonable to expect that most people will be happy with the same spouse they picked in their twenties. People grow and evolve, and sometimes diverge from each other. It is important to gain some life experience, and really understand your own priorities and values, before picking a life partner. Many folks are not even clear on their sexual-orientation until later in life!

Marrying young and having children early has its advantages, but only if you can control every single variable in your life. That is often NOT the case. I would advise young people to wait, and really know what they are getting into. If you meet someone special in College, date them some more. There’s no rush. The world is full of people, and you have a long life!


yes, you look fine! you really do!

6 Sep

yes, you look fine! you really do!

This picture should be posted in every teenager’s room!

It is really sad to see so many teenagers and young adults worrying needlessly about how they look. Nature has created each one of us through years of painstaking evolutionary selection. Or, God has created each of us with special attention. Either way, we are perfect as we are. There is no need to obsess or worry.

(I could not find the original credit for this picture. Please let me know if you know it.)

how do i get my son to eat healthy

29 Aug

I get asked this question very often, and all I can say is “Well, mostly, I just lucked out.”. My son is an incredibly easy-going and relaxed kid. I don’t know where he gets it from, because both his parents are quite “hyper”, in different ways 🙂

Anyhow, I read all I could about parenting, and tried-out all the ideas I liked. Here are some that worked, and my son also agrees to share.

Tough Love

When my son was little, (read: couldn’t fend for himself), I offered him healthy, nutritious food. If he ate, I praised him a lot. If he didn’t, I took the food away, and didn’t offer him anything to eat until the next meal time. Yes, he got cranky. So, I cuddled and hugged and distracted him with games/nap and did a lot of deep breathing. My mom did not approve, but I stuck with it. Next meal time, I offered him the *same* healthy food again, even the container was the same. This time, he ate it up gratefully. (At that age, meal-times were about 2 hours apart, so I knew he wasn’t going to get sick or anything).

Update: Just wanted to clarify, If he asked for food in between, he did get food. Just the same healthy food 🙂

One weekend of this, and we were set. My son learned to eat whatever was on the table. There was no special meal being cooked for him, nor for anyone else.

It’s important to have consistent rules.

No temptations

When my son got older, (read: figured out the snack drawer and the refrigerator), I simply eliminated junk food from the house. Yup, none for me or the other family members either. All we had at home was home-cooked, healthy meals in the refrigerator. The only “quick snacks” we had were fresh fruits. Fortunately, they happen to be sweet or tangy. Both are flavors my son loves!

No deprivation, either

We have all kinds of rules at home. And all of them are thrown-out when eating out – at a restaurant, a party or someone else’s house. He gets to eat absolutely anything he wants. He can even drink all the soda he wants! Feasting on food once or twice a week never hurt nobody 😉

“One bite” rule

This is the most important rule in our home. Everyone needs to eat exactly one bite of whatever is on the table. No exceptions. If people like what they sampled, they can have more. If they don’t like it, they need not take more. Of course, he tested the rules and refused to take more of the new dish after the first bite. I always thanked him for trying out the dish, and let him eat something else, from the table. And of course, all the dishes on the table were “parent-approved” 😉

Teenage Years

Yes, these are harder than any other. Since he turned 12, he has decided to become non-vegetarian (we were a vegetarian family for past several years), and has become picky about what he will or will not eat. He is free to fix himself any alternate meals if he doesn’t like what’s offered. And he does that frequently. Usually, he sticks to making smoothies and eating fruits.

Going forward

I believe from this point on, my son is exploring being an independent person. He will make his own choices about food, and other things too. I just hope I have done my job as a parent, and shown him how to eat healthy vegetarian meals as a lifestyle. I continue to have the healthy foods at home, though I do bring-in some junk food on special occasions.

I remember how I wanted to do everything the opposite of what my mom did, for several years through my teens and early twenties. Eventually, when I wanted to return to a healthy lifestyle, I remembered how my Mom did it, and returned to my roots.

And I hope, when my son is ready to return to his roots, he will remember how I did it.