Silent Love…

Silent love…. That feels so much like my dad…

My dad was not mute  – he simply hardly ever talked. I mean, hardly ever talked about things that really mattered. May be, it was only with me. Probably, it was only because of my gender. No, he did not mind my gender. I suspect he simply did not know how to talk to me, because I was of a different gender. All the gender-based stereotypes did not make it easier for him either.

He probably thought (or was told) that women knew better how to bring up daughters, that women knew better what makes girls happy – after all, they are the same gender, they are from the same planet Venus. I wondered about that sometimes. We seemed to be from very different planets with my mum. In fact, at times it felt like we were from completely different galaxies.

Mother and teenage daughterFrom http://www.sheknows.com/

Interestingly enough, it seemed to be obvious to everyone else that I was a true daddy’s daughter from the moment I was born into this world. I looked like him, I saw the world like him, I was quiet like him. Even my hot temper and tendency to over-react or get over-agitated over minor things, I bet,  came from him, as well as my rebellious free-thinking mind.

Daddy-and-DaughterFrom http://www.changeyourthoughts.com.au

 I also never behaved like a ‘typical’ girl. Things that mattered to other girls, like pretty dolls and fancy dresses, were hardly ever touched in my room. Shopping, cooking and girlish chats never interested me either.

In fact, all females in my family were puzzled and not sure what to do with me. My nanna’s announcement on my 30th birthday expressed that frustration so well: “Eureka. Finally I got it – you are simply not a girl. We thought you’ll eventually turn into one once you settle with a family and children. Alas, it only made you worse…”

I could not stop laughing: it took 30 years for the nurture to finally give up on changing my nature…

Агния Барто, Павел Барто - Девочка чумазаяFrom http://www.livelib.ru

Though my dad hardly ever talked, I could always feel a very strong invisible bond between us. Looking back I can clearly see now how much he was trying to do for me, quietly, silently, behind the scene, like a true guardian angel. I can clearly see now, how much he influenced me as a person,  shaping my nature without forcing me into a stereotypical mold. I can clearly see now how we was trying to give me choices in life – choices to ensure I’ll be happy. I can clearly feel his silent love…

From http://www.dailywaffle.co.uk

THE END

Raising Teen Daughters: Empathy vs Sympathy

From http://www.buzzle.com

Can we ever understand teenage girls if even such experienced psychologist Nigel Latta openly admitted in his Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers, that he “didn’t understand the physics of the Girl-niverse”? “If a boy goes off the rail,” continues Latta, “he generally drinks alcohol, takes some drugs, gets into some petty crime and hits a few people. When girls go off the rails, they have a capacity to create degrees of chaos that are hard to believe. When girls go off the rails, the earth shifts on its axis”.

From http://lifetoheryears.com/50rules

So how can fathers help their daughters to go through that complicated stage in life? How can fathers understand their teenage daughters, those beautiful fairy princesses who suddenly turn into demonic uncontrollable monsters?

A few days ago I came across a story that touched my heart: a story of a father, who not only made an effort to understand his teenage daughter, but possibly rescued his troubled daughter from years of despair and near suicide. This story is provided below.


From http://www.ufunk.net

“I know of a couple with three grown children. This is a good family… The father did a good deal of traveling for his work while his daughter and two boys were growing up His relationship with them was sound and safe, but he just wasn’t around very much. Everything was fine until his teenage daughter started having behavioral problems at school and then with the law.

Each time she got in trouble, her anxious, time-conscious father would sit down with her and try to talk through the problem. They would go around on the same issues every time: “I’m too fat, I’m too ugly.” “No, you are not, you’re beautiful to me.” “You have to say that, you’re my dad.” “I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.” “Yes, you would” “Do you think I’d lie to you?” And the discussion would turn to the question of the father’s honesty. Or he would tell her a story from his own youth, like the one about how he grew up with skinny arms and shoulders and everyone made fun of him. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she would say.

From http://www.dongallagherllc.com

Things would calm down, he’d leave town, and the cycle would start again. He was on a trip when his wife rang him to say their daughter had disappeared. Frantically, he caught a plane home and the family fretted for days while the search went on. At last she turned up in a runaway shelter in another city, and the parents collected her.

That night he and his wife talked things through. “I do not know what to do about her,” he confessed. His wife replied, “You might try listening to her.” “What do you mean? I listen to her constantly.”

His wife gave him a half smile. “Go and listen to her. Don’t talk. Don’t talk. Just listen.”

mate preferenceFrom http://www.huffingtonpost.com

He sat down with his daughter, who was still silent, and asked her, “Would you like to talk?” She shook her head, but he stayed where he was, silent as well. It was getting dark before she finally spoke. “I just don’t want to live anymore.”

Alarmed, he fought the urge to protest this and said softly, “You don’t want to live anymore.” This was followed by about five minutes of silence – the longest five minutes in his life, he later said.

“I’m just not happy, Dad. I don’t like anything about myself. I want it to be over.”

“You’re not happy at all,” he breathed.

The girl began to cry. In fact, she began to sob intensely, trying to talk at the same time, words flowing like a flood. It was as if a dam had burst. She talked into the early morning hours, he said hardly ten words, and the next day things looked hopeful. Where before he was giving her only sympathy, at last he had discovered empathy.

From http://www.gurl.com

This was only the first “psychological airing” of many over the next few hard adolescent years, but the young girl is now a woman, calm and confident in herself and her father’s love for her. That he would seek her out, that he would value the outpourings of her heart instead of imposing his version of reality on her, helped give her a robust foundation for life.

From http://www.sheknows.com

When tensions are high and confidence is low, when the next step doesn’t look clear at all, when a wall has gone up, try an experiment with empathy.

  • Go to the other side and say, “You see things differently. I need to listen to you.”
  • Give full attention. Don’t multitask while you’re listening. Don’t judge, evaluate, analyse, advise, toss in your footnotes, critique, or quarrel.
  • Be quiet. You don’t have to provide an answer, a verdict, a solution, or a “fix”. Free yourself from all that pressure. Just sit back and listen.
  • Speak only to keep the flow going. Say things like “Tell me more,” or “ Go on.”
  • Pay close attention to emotions. Affirm feelings.
  • Remember, you are listening to a story. When you go to a movie, you don’t interrupt and argue with the story and talk back to the screen. You’re involved, your sense of reality is suspended, you’re almost is a trance.
  • Be ready to learn. If you’re open, you’ll gain insights that will lighten up your own mind and complement your own perspective.
  • Show some gratitude. It’s a great compliment to be invited into the mind and heart of another human being…”

From “The 3rd alternative” by Stephen R Covey

Related posts:

THE END

Kalthoum

excerpt from ‘Barefoot in Baghdad’ by Manal M. Omar

Baghdad

She was hiding. Then again, everyone seemed to be hiding. It was October 2003, eight months into the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But she was practically a child. And her enemy proved to be more insidious – and heartbreaking – than the ones we read about and saw on television. Getting to her was my first hurdle…

Once inside the police building, an Iraqi police officer and a U.S. Military Policeman practically tackled me in an effort to argue their case…. Both men were right. She would be killed if she were released. But the police had no authority, under Iraqi law, to hold her…

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to make any decision. I wasn’t there to judge or referee. My sole purpose was to ensure that the girl was safe, clothed, fed, and healthy.

“I’m only here to speak with the girl. May I please see her?”…

I opened the door to a small room… The girl sat in the opposite corner, her knees pulled into her chest, her chin resting on top. She rocked back and forth, barely noticing that I’d entered… The sight of her shocked me. Her skin practically hung from her bones, and the long, thick black hair stretching down her back emphasized her frailty. She was a child trapped in an old woman’s body.

Despair

Despair

I quietly walked toward her and sat next to her. I wasn’t sure how to begin, so I said hello and introduced myself. She continued to rock, saying nothing…

She finally spoke and told me that her name was Kalthoum… When she stood, I realized why the Iraqi policeman said that he couldn’t protect her, not even against his own officers. The way she was dressed – in tight Capri jeans and a low-cut tank top – would have offended even the most liberal Iraqi men…

“I am sure they told you I am a prostitute,” she said sheepishly. “Those hypocrites out there. One of them used to be my client. That is why they are so eager to get me out.”

The man, one of the police officers, had used her for sex, and now he wanted her released and left for dead. This was not, as one might expect in the United States, because he was ashamed of having patronized a prostitute. To the contrary, in Iraq it was not uncommon for men to engage in such behaviour. They did so openly and without remorse. But the judgement of a prostitute? Death. So the very man who had slept with Kalthoum wanted her to die because of it.

IraqIraqi Prostitutes

“Kalthoum,” I said…”I need you to tell me exactly what happened. Who were the men who were shooting at you? Also, do you have a place you can go, other than here?”

She shook her head as her eyes filled with tears. The men who’d chased here were her husband and brother-in-law. Three years ago her family had forced her to marry her cousin. She was thirteen at the time. She took a photo from her wallet and showed me a picture of her in a wedding gown next to a man old enough to be her father. On her wedding night, she did not was not want to have sex. So her new husband had beaten and raped her. This, according to Kalthoum, became their normal form of intimacy. He pulled her out of school and locked her in his house. She had considered killing herself.

Iraqi Women
From Iraqi women protest against draft law to permit child marriage

Then the Americans invaded Iraq. That same week, Kalthoum ran away. An older woman found her on the steets and offered her food and shelter. The woman had nursed her back to health and gave her pills to ease her pain. Soon Kalthoum became addicted. At the time, she didn’t realize that the woman was the head of a prostitution ring.

I’d heard many similar stories. But hearing them first hand from Kalthoum, a child, made me sick.

Child

From Iraq drafts law to allow marriage of nine-year-old girls

“I want to make sure you have food, shelter, and good health care… I want you to protect yourself from disease and unwanted pregnancies“.

“You are too late for that,” she said in a barely audible whisper as tears filled her eyes. She put her hand on her stomach to indicate that she was already pregnant. I closed my eyes…

Pregnant-girl
From the Battle Against Child Marriage

The fact that Kalthoum was under eighteen placed her in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Legally, the ministry was required to provide her with a place in one of the public orphanages… Orphans in both Iraqi and Muslim Society have a special reverence. Numerous verses in the Koran and sayings from the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) called for respecting, caring for, and providing for orphans…

Orphans
From Muslims for Humanity: Helping Hand

I settled in the backseat to prepare my case for the minister… She had a compelling story, and the fact that she had been forced into marriage at such a young age solidified her status as a victim. Besides, she was only sixteen years old. The deputy minister had to take pity on her situation…

One hour later it was clear that this was not going to happen. The deputy minister was visibly insulted that I had the audacity to bring such a case to his attention… When I tried to point out that she was underage, he countered with the fact that she was a married woman, which placed her in the category of adulthood. Orphanages were for children only. I tried to argue that she had been forced into marriage at the age of thirteen, which was illegal according to Iraqi law. He shook his head, pointing out that it was a common occurrence during the years of UN sanctions.

“How else were parents to secure their daughters?” he asked.

Brides
According to a UN report in 2005, 60 million girls worldwide have been married. A startling 100 million more are expected to be forced or sold into marriage by their parents in the next 10 years.

I could not accept his response, but all my phone calls to Iraqi women’s organizations resulted in dead ends. Kalthoum was too much of an extreme case, most of them argued. We cannot help her without making ourselves vulnerable to verbal and physical attacks. I was not surprised by these responses…

I called several Iraqi women’s organisations for information, as I knew they would be the only people to tell me the truth about her situation. They all confirmed my worse fears: her return to her family would be a death sentence.

Honor

Conference to Remember Du’a Khalil and denounce Honour Killings globally!

 Yet Kalthoum was fully aware of this. In her heart of hearts, she seemed to believe it to be a reasonable sentence. Over the span of a few days, Kalthoum had developed a strong sense of the cosmic powers of Karma, and she begged me to allow her to pay her dues to her family so that her suffering would end.

She explained to me repeatedly that her life was over and that the decisions she had made had left little room for her to start over. However, she had four unmarried sisters at home. Her scandal reached the tribe… If she were to go back to her family and face her sentence, then honor would be restored. If she were to run away, then her four unmarried sisters would pay the price. They would be shunned by society and would never marry because of their sister’s tarnished reputation. Worse yet, she argued, they would be forced into unsuitable marriages as a third or fourth wife…

Kalthoum was only sixteen. That was the lone thought that went through my mind as she pleaded with me to help her get back to her family. What life was this girl talking about? What choices? Was she really given a choice when she was married off? Or tricked into prostitution? Was her family really given a choice, fighting to survive war after war and a decade of international sanctions?
I shook my head. I knew that the final decision would rest in my hands…

Family
Members of a poor family sit in their makeshift house in Baghdad August 28, 2010. 

Fortunately, I didn’t have to make this choice myself. I had met a strong Kurdish woman in a conference…She had established one of the first Iraqi women’s shelters to house women from across the country… The Asuda organization was also one of the only shelters I knew that would take ‘untouchable’ cases. Untouchable cases were almost always cases dealing with family honor…

Beyond the Asuda organization, I was captivated by Khanim Latif, the woman who led it… Khanim’s office was stacked with photo albums of abused women. Her contacts would often tip her off when they received such cases. Khanim would rush over with her camera to take photos… Entire albums were dedicated to corpses of women. When high-level government officials denied the practice of honor crimes, she would pull out numerous photos of women burned alive or with gun shots and silence her opposition immediately…

Iraq2

From http://www.lapidomedia.com

“Honor killings happen,” Khanim said. “And they happen more than we would like to admit. However, they often happen because our communities have not learned to mediate around such a sensitive topic. No father wants to kill his daughter. Give him an excuse to maintain his honor in front of his tribe, and he will grab on to it. But our community refuses to facilitate such discussions. At Asuda we do. We use religious and tribal leaders to encourage the parents to find solution other than slaying their daughters.”

i0205shr

An Iraqi man talks with his daughter

Khanim advised me to think of someone who could facilitate the discussion with her father. I could not think of anyone until Yusuf reminded me of Munther.

Munther was pleased to hear from us and to see that we were seeking reconciliation with Kalthoum’s tribe… He jumped at the opportunity to help… Munther managed to negotiate the terms of her return, successfully arranged her divorce, and had the father sign a statement that Kalthoum would not be harmed if she were to return. Munther also negotiated an agreement with the tribe that he would be able to visit every three months to confirm that Kalthoum was in good health (or to be more blunt, alive).

Honor1From the bulletin of the oppression of women

* * *

Related posts:

women-in-islam

From NotMyTribe

Instead of passing the blame, let’s focus on finding culturally appropriate solutions. 😉

THE END

THAT most empowering ONE

I usually collect other people’s writings and rarely write myself. However as Melanie, one of my dear followers and frequent visitors, indicated a few weeks ago that she enjoys my stories best of all on my blog, I decided to make her a special treat and post one of  my old little stories that was sitting on my computer for a few years. Hope you’ll have a few giggles while reading it, Melanie 🙂

* * *

( Russia, 1990s )

Sisters
from Coroflot

“Long ago in a faraway kingdom, three sisters were outside in the courtyard talking, imagining what they would do if they were married to Tsar Saltan. One said that she would prepare a great feast for the entire world. The next said that she would weave linen for the entire world. The third said that she would give the tsar “an heir, handsome and brave beyond compare.”

It did not take long for Ivan’s mum to pick up that I was totally useless in anything practical, so one day when we came to his home she greeted us with the following words:

“Hm, you won’t get any feast from that one. I doubt you’ll get any linen either. Well, from that one we’ll take heirs then,” she giggled and gave him a wink.

I don’t think I ever blushed that much in my life, while Ivan gave his mum a fierce look.

“She surely does not mean that “making heirs” is the only thing I’m good at?” I whispered to Ivan as soon as we got to his room. “And who are the other ‘ones’ she is talking about?”

“Do you think any other ‘ones’ will be hanging around with a mum like THAT ONE?”

Hanging

From Pinterest

A few days later I did point out to THAT ONE, that there were neither heirs nor wedding bells on the horizon. We were just friends with Ivan – old school friends hanging out together  – nothing more. We knew each other from the time when I started school at the age of seven.

“Oh well”, she giggled, “you’ll still make a good daughter for me, whether it is in-law or without any law”, she gave me a wink.

“I always wanted to have a daughter, you see,” she continued. “Ended having two sons instead,” she sighed. “Hope you’ll have at least one daughter. From a daughter you’ll always get a smile and a hug, while the only tender words you’ll ever hear from the sons are ‘What’s for dinner, ma?!’ “

Right at that moment the door flew open and her two sons rushed into the kitchen: “What’s for dinner, ma!?”

We both burst into laughter.

“What are you laughing about, YOU TWO?” her both sons looked at us with suspicion.

That’s how THAT ONE turned into YOU TWO.

Dinner
from Menu Monday

“That’s unfair,” pointed Ivan a few weeks later. “Every time you come to my place, it is all the giggles between YOU TWO. THAT ONE is my mum after all, but she seems to make more fuss about you than about me!”

“Come on, we can share THAT ONE,” I gave him a wink with a giggle.

 Mum
From Pinterest

Giggling with THAT ONE was like a fresh breath of air in the suffocating environment of obscure ‘cultural’ notions and norms where even at the University professors every now and then were ‘lecturing’ us, female students, about catching ‘princes’ before finishing the Uni on the grounds that there won’t be many ‘princes’ left afterwards. As one of the popular songs went, “there were only 9 boys for each 10 girls” at that time, which is not surprising taking into consideration millions of males killed during the revolution, civil war, First World War, Second World War, Stalin’s repressions, in Afghanistan and later in Chechnya. It looked like the whole purpose of girl’s existence was catching a prince – and the better the catch, more ‘worthy’ the girl was perceived.

 Cake
From http://andrfem.blogspot.co.nz

No cohabitation was ‘allowed’ before wedding bells – that ‘cultural’ notion puzzled me the most. After all, no one would be getting a new dress or a new suit before trying it first. Why were we forced to make important decisions in our lives after having just a few dates? How much can you learn about another person if all your ‘shared’ experiences are limited to a movie and a few ice-creams?

 Kino
From http://bonlady.ru/

THAT ONE fell into that trap herself with a quick marriage at the age of 19 that ended up in an even quicker divorce and a long spell of solo-parenting. No way she would fall for any of these “cultural” notions again.

“Listen to no one but yourself,” she used to say to me. “That’s your life – live it the way you want. Don’t let anyone else to write the story of your life”, she gave me a wink.

I smiled and gave a big hug to THAT MOST EMPOWERING ONE.

Family
From Adoption Services International

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Teen Daughters: Tips for Fathers

Father

From No Longer Superhero

At a time when girls are under unprecedented assault from our increasingly sexualised culture, there’s at least one very welcome change – we’re finally waking up to the vital importance of dads.

According to Steve Biddulph, today’s fathers spend three times as long with their children each day – talking, playing and teaching them – as the fathers of just one generation ago. Girls with an involved dad have been found in many studies to do better at school and have higher self-esteem. They’re also less likely to become pregnant too young or have problems with alcohol or drugs. For a girl, Dad is her personal ambassador from the Planet Male. If she has a good relationship with him, she’s unlikely to settle for less from the other males in her life, or allow herself to be manipulated.

Too many fathers however still fail their daughters, whether because they were confused about their role, or just too busy, or – worst of all – not sufficiently interested. There’s no escaping the fact, that even terrific father-daughter relationships can come under stress when girls reach 13 or 14 and start developing into young women…

These days, fathers are far more aware than they used to be of the dangers of sexual abuse. This has led to a new problem that probably affects most dads: they start backing off from their teenage daughter and neglect to give her hugs. Some fathers will even stop spending as much time with their daughter, or become irrationally angry with her.

This sends out a confusing, hurtful signal: ‘He doesn’t like me any more; he’s weird and uptight around me. Some girls react by thinking they’re at fault themselves; others try to turn themselves back into little girls again by acting cute and helpless rather than increasingly adult and confident.

Even if a father copes well with his daughter’s changing appearance, he can find that without meaning to, he’s frequently pressing all the wrong buttons and making her fly off the handle.

That’s because, somewhere around the age of 13, a girl seems to become mentally unstuck. We shouldn’t really blame her.

At this age and stage of development, her body is trying rapidly to rewire her pre-frontal cortex – the most complex part of the brain, which controls both her ability to calm herself down and to pay attention.

Meanwhile, the part of her brain called the amygdala – the centre of impulsive and emotional reactions – can take over in a flash if she’s feeling pressured, distracted or stressed.

One minute, she can be kind and caring; the next, she can be thoughtless and self-obsessed. She may make promises but forget to keep them.

She can lose all perspective, become wildly over-emotional and cave in to undesirable peer pressure. This is normal – but most fathers find this stage very trying….

First: remember that your daughter loves you and would miss you for ever if you died. Second: bear in mind that she can often find you very irritating. That’s because you tend to criticise and find fault with her, and you do it at the worst times…

The truth is that she’s searching for her own identity, and acutely sensitive at this time to any of your attempts to control her. So when you lose it, she double-loses it, and everything goes haywire.

Daughters have to be treated gently. Accept that sometimes she’s unhappy with you. Ask her what you’ve done wrong but don’t try to defend yourself when she tells you – that’s a male reflex, and it doesn’t work with girls.

Instead, see if you can work out what emotion lies behind what she’s saying. Is she sad (i.e. because you’re going away again), angry (you didn’t keep your word) or afraid (you drive too fast)? Then, even if you’ve been a faultless father thus far, try doing something radical: admit that you could actually change a little to accommodate her. If you can make changes to your behaviour, or do something that she’s asked you to do, it will make her feel less powerless and help her to realise that her feelings count.

The biggest mistake men tend to make when fighting with their teenage daughters is to use ‘you’ accusations. ‘You don’t help around the house.’ ‘You’re lazy.’ ‘You’re not going out in that dress!’

‘I’ messages work far better because they take heat out of a situation by exposing our vulnerability.

For example: ‘I was worried when you didn’t get home at the time you agreed. I need to know I can trust you.’

This is not an attack, because it starts with ‘I’ and not ‘you’. It invites a teenager to be caring, rather than to defend herself.

Even: ‘I’m angry because the kitchen was a mess, and I had just tidied it up’ is better than: ‘You messed up the kitchen!’

Note that I’m not suggesting for a moment that you let your daughter get away with slovenly, dangerous or disrespectful behaviour.

Fathers who are cash-rich but time-poor often buy expensive gifts and hand out wads of money; they may also arrange for others to do all the household chores. The end result is a grown-up girl with an emotional age of two who thinks nothing of having tantrums if they help her get what she wants. Such terminal self-obsession, is a dreadful fate for any girl because one day she’ll eventually collide painfully with reality.

The best cure is to begin imposing boundaries – softly but firmly – and to demand that she starts pulling her weight.

Finally, the father of a teenage girl must bear in mind that he’s a male role model – at least to her. That means dressing well, smelling good and refraining from telling rude jokes in front of her.

Adolescent girls have acute sensibilities: even if they swear and tell gritty jokes themselves, they don’t like to see their fathers behaving in a similar way. They’re also hyper-alert to the way you behave with other females.

So treat all women with courtesy and kindness, and you’ll help her set the bar high for the boys and men in her own life. Modern womanhood is tough: all too soon, your daughter will need to become self-reliant, clear-thinking, emotionally strong, good with people and responsible for her own life. A good dad gives her a head-start that lasts for ever.

Adapted from: Raising Girls, by Steve Biddulph

Daddy
From MotivationalTwist.com

THE END