By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Like most of us moms, while Mallika Chopra was pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her first child when starting thinking about becoming a mother and feeling occasional apprehension as she counted down the months before she would become a parent. She thought about her own parents’ love and support and the role her extended family and friends had played in her life growing up. She began to write her thoughts down regularly in what started as a pregnancy journal but eventually turned into her book, 100 Promises to My Baby.
“I grew up in this world of self-discovery and self help but to be honest I never had any big traumas or anything like that all,” said Chopra. “And usually when people enter this phase of self-discovery, it’s usually because of some major life change. For me becoming pregnant was such a life transformational moment and so that really began my own personal journey of self-discovery. It’s started off as a pregnancy journal and writing about becoming a mother, what I wanted to share with my baby, what influenced me in my life; that’s really where it started from. I wanted to share my life lessons that I had growing up.”
Chopra says it was her time growing up with her parents that shaped the connections she tries to make in the book as well.
“We used to meditate everyday with my dad. After we’d meditated he’d ask us to think about what we wanted in our lives and that’s when we d state our intentions for love, peace or connection. And so that’s what influenced the structure of the book. The book is broken down into different sections about connections and they’re based in hopes that I had growing up.”
She added to these pledges, writing down more promises as her daughter grew and throughout her second pregnancy. The book is structured with the idea of these 100 promises. In 100 Promises to My Baby, Chopra collects these promises as a gift that pledges her love and commitment to her daughters Tara and Leela… and to all children.
“One of the promises in the book is to teach by example,” said Chopra. “In our family meditation has such drastic effect and had a positive change on our whole family dynamic. my brother and I saw my parents meditate and we wanted to do what they were doing. It provided an anchor for everything we did in our lives. It was a tool that I could use for my own anchoring. At that time mediation wasn’t as common as it is today. We just respected and watched my dad be a pioneer in his space but most importantly we had the experiential anchoring of meditation.”
Each of the book’s ten chapters explore the bonds between a parent and a child, offering lessons to parents as they explore and travel through the often challenging journey of parenting, such as:
- Choices: How you shape your destiny
- Values: How to treat yourself and others
- Spirit: Knowing yourself and your true essence
- Purpose: Fulfilling your true purpose in life
Each chapter also is complimented by reflections, poems and stories that have inspired Chopra throughout her life and also encourage parents to think about their own life.
“The goal of the book is that people think of their own stories and creating stories of journeys with their own children.”
Chopra says her commitment to a global perspective when it comes to parenting is reflected in her decision to donate a portion of her proceeds from 100 Promises to My Baby to UNICEF programs targeted to help orphans. She says her book is for any parent, whether they’re expecting a child or a newborn and even parents who have children reaching important milestones.
“100 questions was inspired by my desire to be a conscious parent,” said Chopra. “There was a specific moment after the bombings in Spain when my husband and I were watching the news reports and my 3 and a half- year-old asked, ‘mummy what’s a bomb?’ And I realized the way in which I answered that question was going to shape her entire sense security and safety. So the goal with that book was to start thinking about how can we be more conscious of our interactions with our children including non verbal ones as well.”
Some of the other questions she was asked by her daughters were similar to ones we as mothers must answer as our children get older and more aware of the world around them: Why do I have to share? Why do I have to say thank you? Why do I have to forgive my sister? Why don’t my princess shoes fit me anymore? Why don’t girls have tails like boy do?
“My daughter was in this phase of bombarding us with questions and my child was looking at me for answers. Being able to explore those questions together was helpful.”
She says it’s important for parents to realize they may need to do some of their own soul searching for answers to the deeper questions. When it came to her own children she felt it was important to create a context for them to ask and answer questions and to then set up a framework for how they would themselves approach situations.
“The goal of the book is to say it’s ok to not have answers to all the questions. I don’t feel at all we have to be in a place to answer all the questions but in that exploration together, we connect more with our children.”
Here’s some more of our interview with Mallika Chopra: CLICK HERE FOR THE PODCAST
How do you decide how much to tell your child when it comes to certain serious situations:
We shape our children’s reality by everything we say, do and how we emote. The more we can be conscious about answering our child’s questions and leading by example rather than by strict rules, that’s the best approach to parenting I feel. Being a conscious parent is really my goal. If I can share my experience of how I try to do that in our lives maybe it will make other parents more conscious.
Why is the concept of global family important to you.
I think we have to recognize with our children that we are part of a community a society and part of something larger. I fundamentally believe we can’t be healthy or happy ourselves if a planet is hurting. I think teaching children that they are connected to others and a part of a continuum is important. It’s healthier for them as well, because they feel relevant and connected
How do you write? Is there a place you go to write?
I’m a mom like you and I write in between other things. It’s the reality of trying to juggle lots of balls in the air. I had a nanny when I was writing back then, who would come a few hours a day. I was working at home so it really helped me find the time. I just do it when I can do it. Now I do it in between trying to plan birthday parties, and play dates and classes. Sometimes I try to find an hour or two where I can go to a coffee shop that has no Internet connection to try and get some work done.
Is there a creative way you use to incorporate your culture into your own family?
I’m very fortunate, I have a close family. My brother lives in the same town, my parents come every once in awhile. We also make a conscious effort to go to India every year. My in-laws live in Delhi so we go there to spend time with them. They come here every year. We just try to have friends and family around. That’s the mechanism by which we nurture each other.
Both Mallika Chopra’s books can be purchased online at amazon.com
Mallika Chopra has spent the last ten years working in a variety of capacities in the media world. Her strengths in creating creative content combined with strategic and marketing thinking has allowed her to successfully fuel an entrepreneurial drive in a number of arenas.
Mallika recently published her first book, 100 Promises to My Baby. As part of her work with the book, she also serves as a spokesperson for UNICEF raising awareness for orphans who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. You can learn more about Mallika’s book and work with UNICEF at www.babypromises.com.
Mallika is a partner in Chopra Media where she is a co-creator in several television and feature film concepts currently in production. www.intentblog.com is a project she created with Deepak Chopra, Shekhar Kapur and Gotham Chopra. She is also a partner with Vikram Chatwal and Gotham Chopra in K Lounge in New York.
Mallika was a founder and executive at MyPotential Inc, a multi-media company focused on the self-help industry. Mallika was profiled in several publications, including Forbes, W Magazine, Femina and the LA Times, for her work with MyPotential. Mallika served as one of the first representative for the re-launch of MTV in India, and has also worked with MTV International, Go Network (Disney), and consulted for Yahoo! on marketing and strategic initiatives.
Mallika is a graduate of Brown University, and has an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She currently lives in Santa Monica, California, with her husband, Sumant Mandal, and their two daughters, Tara and Leela.
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