This post is based on an interview with Sangram. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out below.
Recently, I was invited on the Dad the Best I Can Show to discuss parenting, growing up in India, and answer some rapid-fire personal questions.
Check out this blogpost with some of the takeaways from that interview.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Sangram talks about growing up in a joint family house with 15 people,
- Life lessons he learned from his parents
- What he hopes to pass on
- His H-E-A-R-T process of learning
One of your posts about a conversation you had with your son went viral. Can you dive into that?
Sangram: It’s such a blessing to have a daughter for a guy, because you get to see the world in a different way than you might have seen going up. All of a sudden you are incredibly protective. With my son, I notice what he’s doing and how he’s treating others. I’m like, “I need to help him be a better man,” because I have a daughter, and she is going to be married to a man.
So you told him: ‘She’s not being bossy. She’s going to be a boss some day,’ right?
Sangram: Essentially. I asked my son:
“Why do you call her bossy?”
“Well, she’s a girl.”
“OK, but why is she bossy?”
He had to put two and two together. I think it just gets ingrained in people’s minds with everything around us:
When girls speak too much, they’re bossy, and when boys do it, they’re strong.
My wife and I were shopping for our daughter, and around the boys’ section, there’s Superman, Batman, hero this, super hero that. All those things change the world: math, scientists, etc. Then you go onto the girls’ section, and you have stars, unicorns, pink, fairy, the tooth fairy, and all that stuff. There’s nothing wrong with a lot of those things, but if that’s the only thing they see, then of course boys are going to think they’re going to be strong and powerful and all the things that come with it, and the girls are going to think they’re going to be Barbie dolls, because all they wear are stars and unicorns.
So, we went the extra mile to find that corner of the corner in the store with the T-shirts that say I’m courageous, I’m strong, I’m bold, and we bought those T-shirts in addition to any of the other sparkly T-shirts. I’m just recognizing it takes more effort than I thought it would.
So you actually lived with cousins. Tell us a little bit about growing up.
Sangram: So I grew up in India, and we had about 15 people in the same house. I didn’t understand until I came to the States what cousins really meant, because we all lived together and everybody was everybody’s brother and sister. I was the youngest of all, which means that I was the most rebellious of all.
I think it’s interesting to think about whether how being the youngest, oldest, or in between, relates to what you end up doing. I heard recently that the oldest kids typically become preachers because they are always taught to be good and nurturing, and often are pushed to become a teacher and supporter of their younger siblings.
For the youngest ones: They are often rebellious in nature. I was never introduced as Sangram, I was introduced as so-and-so’s brother. So you’re desperate to create your own identity, right? And then in that case we (the youngest) end up doing things nobody else would do, and we all get in trouble. Often, the younger kids become people who push through the boundaries of society in general.
So what’s it like now with your kids being raised without that experience?
Sangram: Our kids have probably missed the whole idea of having grandparents in the house and learning from them, and living with them with love and respect. For example, when I was growing up, nobody told me to respect elders. I learned because I watched. I watched my parents respecting their parents, and because we lived in the same house, it was obvious I was part of that whole thing. My parents didn’t have to tell me, “Here’s how you speak to your grandparents,” because every day, I saw them treating their parents so well, that it became ingrained.
My kids see their grandparents once a year or every two years. So there are some things you miss out on when you have a smaller family.
What’s one thing you learned from your dad or your parents growing up that you’re now seeing?
Sangram: So from my mom, I learned hard work. She was the hardest working person, keeping things together, just raising and just helping all the time. My mom is my hero from a work perspective.
Unfortunately, my dad passed away a few years ago, but he always kept the family together, no matter what. For example, every Sunday both families, even though we were living in two different levels, ate together as a whole family. All 15 people came together to eat every Sunday, no matter what. Also, when we went to a birthday party or something like that, there was only one gift from the entire house. So always show unity in how you think.
We like to do a dad tip of the week. Do you have a dad tip for other dads out there?
Sangram: One thing we have started to do is treating every weekend as a vacation as opposed to waiting for that big vacation to come once a year. Whether we want to be unplugged, we want to just go crazy, drive around, sleep late wake up early, exercise, meditate, whatever. Just figure out what you want to really do this weekend as if it’s a vacation weekend and not a work weekend.
Question sent in from Kaya Tangley on LinkedIn:
‘Sangram why do you think reading is so important today, and how can we encourage our kids to read more?’
Sangram: Reading is so, so, so, so important. And I would say a combination of reading and scribing (or writing), is equally important. What I do with my son Krish, is we have a habit of writing a daily journal, which is literally a journal of five things. And it’s easy to remember:
- H: What am I happy about?
- E: Am I embracing learning?
- A: What do I need to pay attention to?
- R: What’s the right thing to do?
- T: What am I thankful for?
It could be 1 word for each, or it could be a sentence, or it could be a paragraph, it’s his choice and it’s my choice. But you need to self-reflect, and it lets you stop and pause for a little bit in this busy world.
Same thing with reading. Reading allows you to pause in many ways, and reading allows you to reflect on it. So a lot of times we would just go to the library or we would just get books. I read with him Diary of the Wimpy Kid every night. Also, we’re Christians, so we read the Bible every night.
Rapid Fire Questions:
First car you ever owned?
Sangram: A Mazda MX3, hatchback.
Your favorite movie? Category is drama.
Sangram: Ooh, well, Rocky — the whole series.
What is your favorite comedy movie ever?
Sangram: Mrs Doubtfire? I thought that was pretty funny.