I first heard her on radio followed by a face-to-face interaction at a parenting seminar a couple of days later. Not one to confirm to norms- Anisa Al Sharif, our guest on ‘What’s your story?’ today is a mother before a businesswoman. A mother who wasn’t made for conventional parenting so she went around on an extensive search to find something that ‘fit the bill’. Along the way, she realized she had an obligation towards the members of her community too.
Founder and owner of Tanshi2a, a conscious parenting educator herself, a social policy expert and all-in-all a spirited woman; lets get to know her better.
I am an Emirati, mum to a 5-year old girl and the founder/owner of a social enterprise Tanshi2a.
Personally, I am the eldest among 9 children as well as the eldest grandchild from both sides of the family. But naturally, I have seen and been part of raising several kids. Professionally, I have a Masters in Social Policy and have worked for the Government of Dubai for 13 years.
After having a child of my own was when I started looking at parenting differently. This initiated a journey of self-learning via online courses which led to the realization that resources in Arabic were seriously limited. I went along to set up Tanshi2a, a social enterprise that aims to raise awareness of child-centered approaches and conscious parenting practices in the Arab world. Our services include individual family consultation and coaching, Arabic language support groups, parenting book clubs and training.
What circumstances led to the birth of Tanshi2a?
Having worked in Social Policy for years, it became clear to me that the most significant investment a nation can make is an investment in its children. I believe that if only we parent differently, issues in later life can be fixed more easily.
Once I became a mother, I thought I knew enough to raise her well. My intuition would not allow me to settle for conventional parenting so I embarked on a journey to find an approach that was a better fit for my values.
When I discovered Conscious Parenting approaches including Parenting-by-Connection, it finally made sense. I believe this approach has the potential to change our lives and our future as human beings. I felt that I had to share this knowledge, especially with members of my community.
What is the meaning of the term Tanshi2a?
The word discipline sounds so authoritarian; we wanted a name that was soft and uncommon. Tanshi2a means ‘to nurture’ in Arabic.
Is there a difference in the way Arabs & Non-Arabs perceive their parenting struggles?
I thought there would be cultural differences but after studying and working with parents from around the world, I am convinced that the human experience is universal.
Finer details can differ from one culture to another. For example, in the UAE we live in extended family set ups that are not common in other parts of the world. This can add a layer of complexity to the family dynamics. However, feelings, triggers and emotions play the same role across all cultures.
Is Tanshi2a a 1-member team?
Yes and no. Technically it is only me, but I am blessed with amazing people around who believe in me and support me in a variety of ways. This is how Tanshi2a was born and this is how it will grow, with the power of passionate people and the spirit of the community.
As a working parent who is unable to attend workshops and study groups, what kind of support can I expect from your website?
The website is in its initial phase, but the plan is to add rich Arabic content to it due to the lack of sufficient resources otherwise. I am working on a blog and a YouTube channel as well. For working parents, we offer one-to-one coaching and mentoring services that can be availed on the weekends.
What are your plans for Tanshi2a going forward?
We want to create a supportive platform and community for positive parenting approaches. We started with parents and going forward, we will be focusing on educators – teachers/leadership teams at schools/staff/counselors and anybody associated with education. The world is moving from traditional, outcome-based systems to alternative and holistic approaches; we would like to add resources that will help educators achieve this.
The plan is to hold 2 big seminars a year. Our Parenting- by-Connection Seminar by Hand-In-Hand Parenting in January this year was our first and here’s to many more!
Being exposed to social policies by virtue of education and work experience, what are the top 3 changes you would like to see in this sector today?
- Smaller class sizes
- A later introduction to academic and structured activities, ideally not before children are seven years old
- Teacher training in emotional intelligence and positive discipline techniques
What conscious parenting tips do you swear by in your day-to-day life?
I try to be aware of my own triggers and stressors. 90% of parenting struggles have nothing to do with the kids; they have more to do with the parent. When parents are triggered or stressed, we are more likely to react and make poor decisions. This leads to feelings of guilt and the whole toxic cycle takes off.
Why do you consider yourself to be a geek?
I am a bookworm. I love reading scientific research on emotional intelligence, child well-being, brain science and positive psychology.