I stay with my parents. My wife is Bhavana. We have been married for 28 years. Our son, Abhishek, will be 18 in April. Bhavana and I have worked together for most of our married life – IndiaWorld and Netcore. Our domains are different and non-overlapping, so that makes it easy! Our “company” has been our life – as is the case with many entrepreneurs. Bhavana has been equally instrumental in building both the ventures. Her versatility and people friendliness more than make up for my narrow focus and aloofness.
What I want to discuss is my approach to building a relationship with Abhishek. In his early years, thanks to advice from Bhavana, I made sure I spent time with him. That helped lay the foundation. As he has grown, I have tried to find intersection points which enable time together and conversations. We find OTT series that we can watch together. We go to Kitab Khana, a bookstore, once every couple weeks. For the past many months, we have been taking long walks after doing our book shopping. Abhishek is always full of questions, and I do my best to answer them.
The past two pandemic years have brought him closer to understanding my life. Pre-pandemic, I was out all day. During the pandemic, with both of us at home, he wanted to know all the conversations I was having. He has full freedom to go through my inbox and WhatsApp. (I don’t yet have the equivalent right with him, but I respect his space and freedom.) So, there are plenty of conversations about my meetings and the decisions I am making. He is very good at making connections, and many times has suggested actions and replies to people that I had not immediately thought of.
Many times, as parents, we think of even our teenage or grown-up children as less than equal partners in decision-making. I think that is a mistake. While we may have more experience, they have a way of looking at things which is refreshingly different. The more we share with them, the more we get. Patience in answering their questions, however trivial it may be, is an essential element to creating an enduring, great relationship. As a friend put it, parenting is about giving roots and wings.
A happy family life is very important for an entrepreneur. Building a new business or even growing an existing one is never easy; there are plenty of daily battles to fight at work. You don’t want to be coming home to have challenges with family. At the same time, growing up children also need time else before you realise it, an unbridgeable chasm develops and then it is too late. Building a balance with being always available at work and sharing quality time with the family is very important.