Parenting Teenagers: Finding Sense in Nonsense

Teens
From http://www.motivationalplus.com

‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers” by Nigel Latta is one of my favourite books on parenting teenagers. I’ve read this book together with my teenager and it helped both of us to understand each other better. However there are a few points in Nigel’s book that do not feel right to me. One of them is about ‘trivializing the nonsense which comes from many kid’s mouths as they’re trying to find their own way in the world.’

I can partially share that view when it comes to emotional outbursts caused my tiredness or hormonal changes. However I would not ‘trivialize’ teenagers’ attempts to question everything around them and come up with their own way of thinking, no matter how ‘nonsensical’ it might seem. I would not be scared to get into a debate. 😉


From http://www.motivationalplus.com

As an example, if a teenage girl comes up with an idea, that running away at 16 and having a baby would make her life more ‘independent’ and ‘enjoyable’, I would not ‘trivialize’ or ‘dismiss’ that. Instead, I would attempt to have a good chat with her, trying to understand why she is feeling like that and discuss the potential consequences. If a teenager comes up with something like that, there must be a ‘trigger’ in the environment she lives in. Lack of attention or understanding at home? Too much control or complete lack of it? Anything else?


From http://www.aynla.org

Similarly,  if a teenage girl is thinking of becoming a prostitute or porno star for glamorous lifestyle or to pay her University fees, rolling eyes, dismissing or ignoring that ‘idea’ won’t help. Try to investigate why she is thinking that way. Was it the story of a Duke University Porno Star that made her think that way? Or an article in a mainstream publication describing the ‘pleasurable’ side of that trade? Or one of the many blog posts that calls for prostitutes and porno stars to be ‘respected’ for their ‘pleasurable’ trade. Why would not they be respected by the society for something they ‘absolutely love’ doing? After all, we all know by now that girls do enjoy sex and sex work is now legally recognized in some parts of the world. What’s wrong then with earning money by doing something so ‘enjoyable’ and ‘pleasurable’?


From http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/brazil-drops-prostitute-promotion/

Once we know the source of the ‘ideas’, it is time to do some research on whether that option is really ‘that glamorous’ and ‘pleasurable’ as your teenager might think.

First of all, let’s find out whether sex workers do ‘enjoy’ their trade. As Google kindly points out, we are not the only ones wondering about that. Below are a few responses from Yahoo!Answers-UK:

  • ‘Who cares about THEM?’
  • ‘No, they’re just after the money’
  • ‘Most of them are man-haters’
  • ‘Few are like ‘Belle de Jour’. Most are in highly dangerous situations on the streets selling themselves for a piitance to feed their drug habit.’
  • ‘no one enjoys HAVING to service loads of guys they don’t like, don’t find attractive, probably treat them like rubbish, and probably are too stinky/wierd/inadequate to be able to have sex with a regular woman without paying for it!’
  • ‘Most prostitutes don’t do it for the sex, but as a way of making fast money. Usually a life of abuse behind them, they lose any sense of self worth’
  • ‘You would be surprised if you knew how much prostitutes hated their clients.’

From http://www.vice.com

The majority of responses on Yahoo!Answers-international is pretty similar:

  • ‘Very few do. It’s a grind, just like any other job, except there is always the danger of running into a maniac trick. Most prostitutes just do their best to block out the act and pray the guy climaxes quickly. Think about it: would you enjoy a stinky, slobbery, drunken inebriate all over you?’
  • ‘Nope, most of them actually become numb to it. They begin to view sex as a very emotionless thing. Most prostitutes will do anything but kiss on the mouth.’

Poverty and Sin - The Prostitute #1From http://napkindad.com

OK, it looks like there is not much ‘enjoyment’ for most workers in that trade. How about respect? As reflected in some answers provided above, the majority of sex workers do not seem to get much respect either. Even their clients often treat them like  ‘rubbish’ in spite of all their ‘hard work’. Why is that?

To answer that question, let’s have a closer look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Chart
From http://timvandevall.com

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often represented as a pyramid, with the lowest or most fundamental needs at the bottom. He distinguished 5 types of needs:

  1. Physiological needs such as food, water and sleep
  2. Safety needs such as security of the body, health and property
  3. Social needs such as friendship, family, belonging and identity
  4. Esteem needs such as recognition, self-esteem, confidence, justice and respect
  5. Growth or self-actualization needs such as creativity, problem solving, art, beauty, personal fulfilment and freedom.

The assumption of the hierarchy is that the lower needs have to be met first, and are preconditions for the realization of the higher needs, although a temporary insufficiency in the lower levels will not undo the aspirations of the higher levels.

Sex is one of our basic physiological needs, like food, water, sleep, breathing and excretion. Meeting our physiological needs is important for our survival. If we are starving, can’t breath or are bursting to go to the toilet, all the other needs will be temporarily put on hold. However do we ‘respect’ the air we breath or the water we drink? Do we ‘respect’ the toilet bowl we are using? Sex trade clearly fits into that category and therefore sex workers usually get no more respect than toilet bowls.


From http://www.beachcitieshomesblog.com

However sexual intimacy with a loving partner is much higher up the hierarchy, on the same level with friendship, family, love. This level is about belonging, being accepted, loved and cared about. If we are looking for enjoyment  and respect in sex, we should be able to find it on that level. Not surprisingly, sexual intimacy with a loving and understanding partner is often rated much higher on the ‘enjoyment’ scale, then casual sex, as illustrated by a few comments from Reddit provided below:

  • ‘Over time we come to learn how to push one another’s buttons in just the right way (something that does not happen in casual relationship)’
  • ‘Being in love adds a layer of intimacy that can really intensify sex. It transforms the act from fun sweaty exercise to an expression of love, all tangled up in all the emotions inherent in a loving relationship’
  • ‘I think it’s an undeniable fact that sex is better with romantic chemistry’
  • ‘I’ve had sex with near-strangers, and it’s kind of awkward.’ While ‘Sex with someone you love is transcendent. Sometimes, in the middle I think: “Wow, this is really happening. I’m not hallucinating, this is really happening and to me.’

Angel5
From www.photosight.ru

If a teenager is still not convinced, let her read a few stories from the life of prostitutes, such as:

And get ready for many more debates to come while your young people are going through crucial teenage years 😉

Teenagers! i like to have humor cause i am raising one right now

 From http://www.pinterest.com 

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

Healing through divorce

Divorce

From Divorce

There is a poem by Jack Gilbert. The opening line is “Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.” The reference is the Greek story of Icarus whose father made him wings of wax and warned him to not fly too close to the sun or the wings would melt. In his youthful enthusiasm Icarus got too close to the sun, his wings melted and he drowned in the sea.

The rest of the poem is about Gilbert’s marriage – how people thought it would never last, his memories of times with his wife at the beach, in Paris, and that they eventually divorced. The closing lines of the poem are, “Icarus didn’t fail when he fell; he just reached the end of his triumph.”

As Robert Taibb points out, divorce can so easily feel like failure but it is also about triumph – that you both have helped each other to grow and change over the years, to be a different person than when you both started, and now you have merely reached the end. Your roads have divided. It is time for change, a new chapter.
Crossroad on Hill

From Different Paths

This post is not meant to encourage those struggling in a weakened marriage to pull the plug. If there are children in the family, personally I would do my best to maintain marriage unless it gets to a state, when divorce is unavoidable. If marriage gets to that state, divorce can not only start a new chapter in life, but can also heal ‘old’ wounds. I have experienced that with my own parents, who got divorced when I was in my teens after almost a decade of constant fights.

My parents always claimed that they stayed together for as long as they possibly could for the sake of us, their children. Too long and too late for us, as their troubled relationship with constant fights brought more damage to us than divorce. Both me and my brother felt a huge relief when it was all over.

To our surprise, our parent’s relationship improved dramatically after their divorce. First of all, they started talking to each other. And I mean talking, without shouting at the top of the lungs or blaming each other for all sorts of things. They started helping each other occasionally too. A few years later mum even dropped a few tears, remembering how wonderful my dad was when they got married. That came as a total surprise to me, as I’ve never heard her saying anything positive about him during their life together.

Heart
From The Letters

However don’t perceive divorce as an easy way out of hard-to-manage marriage. As Robert Taibb points out, the most difficult about divorce is the need to do well what was hard to do during the marriage – communicate well, consider the other person’s needs, keep your focus on what is best for the children rather than using them as battle grounds for power struggles or forums for dealing with your own grief and loss. While you may have different styles, you need to agree on the same bottom lines.

Most of all take care of yourself – like it or not you are a model for your children on taking risks, the courage of taking charge of your life, managing life changes while staying positive and well-balanced. If you are okay, so too will be your children.

Keep in mind what Gilbert said: You didn’t fail, you just reached the end of your triumph…

Teens
From TeenFictionBooks

Failing and Flying

by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph…

Icarus
From Glory of Icarus

THE END

 

Responsible Parenting: Happy Parents = Happy Children

HappyFrom Happy Parents, Happy Kids

Have you noticed that on airplanes you are always advised to put your oxygen mask first before helping your children? If you run out of oxygen yourself, you can hardly provide any help to your children. The same applies to parenting: as a responsible parent, you should take responsibility for your own happiness and well-being to be able to raise happy children.

“Making your kids the center of your life may seem child-friendly, but it can create long-term unhappiness for everyone in the family,” says David Code, the author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First“. Many couples believe their marriage is strong because they rarely argue,” he says. “But the real marriage killer is when we distance ourselves from our spouse to keep the peace: We throw ourselves into parenting or work to avoid dealing with issues that cause conflict.” And if you and your spouse become distant, it places pressure on your kids to fulfill your emotional needs.

After all, when you put your marriage on the back burner, your kids can sense the lack of closeness between you. “Kids whose parents’ relationship has cooled are more likely to have behavioral or academic problems than kids of happy couples,” says Philip Cowan, PhD, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied families for decades with his wife, psychologist Carolyn Pape Cowan, PhD. Think of your relationship as the emotional environment in which your kids live. Just as you want them to breathe clean air and drink pure water, you want them to grow up in a loving atmosphere.

Easier to say than to do, some of you might say. That’s true – not all relationships can be easily fixed. Some relationships are way too toxic and can’t be fixed at all – unfortunately, the relationship between my own parents was in that category. Sometimes I wish they never met each other – that would have been so much better for both of them. If you are caught in one of such extremely toxic cases, talk to someone you trust and seek professional help.

Otherwise see whether there is anything you can do to improve the emotional atmosphere at your home. A few tips and hints are provided below to get you started (my dear visitors and followers, feel free to add to this list via comments):

ParentsFrom How to Become a Peaceful Parent

THE END