Long-term Dubai expat writes book on parenting
Rachna Buxani-Mirpuri talks about her first book, 'A Pint of Patience with a Dollop of Love - A Recipe For Parenting'.
Licensed mental health counsellor Rachna Buxani-Mirpuri, a long-term Dubai expat, credits the city she grew up in with giving her an incredible support base and professional experiences which she has channelled into her first book, A Pint of Patience with a Dollop of Love - A Recipe For Parenting.
Rachna, who studied in Dubai and the United States, then took up her first job as a counsellor at The Indian High School, recalls writing regular columns on counselling for local newspapers and she says her new book is “a product of those columns”.
She told City Times in a recent interview, “A lot of my early career journey has been with parents and kids, and now that I have my own practice, I also see clients who keep talking about their kids, so I notice that no matter where I have gone, the issues are the same.”
Rachna, who also worked as Counselling Co-ordinator with 21 schools of the Varkey Group, and later shifted to the Cayman Islands and the United States, believes that despite encountering a host of cultural differences across various countries, many parenting issues remain universal. “So, we are still talking about the same things that I was talking about over a decade ago when I was working here in Dubai. It hasn’t changed even from culture to culture and I just thought it was time to compile these articles and make a book out of them.”
A chapter per issue
Rachna describes A Pint of Patience with a Dollop of Love as a kind of “recipe book” wherein the chapters are issue-based. “You don’t read a recipe book from cover to cover, you pick out what you need. For example, there’s a section on ‘tweens’ - pre-teens - and teens; there is a section on misbehaviour - so I took all the articles I had written on those topics and compiled them into that section. But they are still individual articles. So within that concept, you’ll still have, say, stealing, lying, and other things that parents struggle with. A reader may not have an issue with everything, just something specific, so that’s the chapter you read. So the book is a resource.”
Rachna says that her book does take into account many changes in the world including the rapid advancements in technology that have occurred over the past few years and their effect on kids today. “When I was writing articles, social media was not really as big, compared to nowadays. So when I moved on in my journey, I added what I saw in those (new) settings; whether it was in the Cayman Islands or Miami, I kept adding points as needed to the articles.”
Now a mother to two kids, Rachna says her initial days as a counsellor were really about “other people’s experiences as parents”; however, the resources she put together back then have been helpful in her own journey of parenting. “I realised that some of the things I had written back then, you tend to forget when you become a parent, and you go ‘oh my, this is the way I need to navigate this situation’; so I found myself using a lot of what I had written about to parent my own children.”
She reveals that her sister Chetna has also been a big inspiration. “You’ll read a lot about her in the book; her parenting was a huge influence in some of the things that I wrote about because I looked upon it as ‘wow’. I picked up that as much as I picked up what I was doing for the other parents in terms of therapeutic interventions.”
Rachna also opened up on how mental health awareness has come more sharply into focus after the onset of the Covid pandemic and how she feels one of the age groups that’s hit the hardest is teenagers especially those who lost out on their senior year of school or first year of college. “Certain sections of the population are really struggling. Teens had a difficult time coping. They were the hardest hit in terms of what they were feeling because they really felt like they missed out on that experience.”
Time to focus on mental health
Rachna admits she also saw a lot more couples counselling, and a lot more divorces. “It was sad. As couples I don’t think we are built to spend that much time with each other. The issues that I think you could maybe cope with better because you had a life outside of your relationship, I think they became more glaring. Because you were confined to the house. So we saw a lot more couples struggling through this.”
Rachna who runs a mental health care practice, Buxani Counseling Care, in the United States, also says many people started focusing on mental health because they had more time on their hands. “There was a study done in the States on this. I was a solo practitioner and now have three therapists who work for me and we’ve really found the field of mental health itself has grown during Covid. People were able to look into themselves and figure out things like anxiety and depressive symptoms because they were confined to the house and started building that awareness and some of them took it upon themselves to say you know what, I am going to do something about this now, because I have the time.”
Rachna who now offers tele-health sessions and caters to clients from around the world through her practice, concludes our chat with a shout out to her favourite city. “I think once you live in Dubai you carry a piece of it in your heart no matter where you go. Dubai is still home and it always will be.”
Rachna’s book A Pint of Patience with a Dollop of Love - A Recipe For Parenting is available on all major book-buying platforms including amazon.ae.