Monthly Archives: May 2007

What is effective parenting?

What is effective parenting for us? How does it relate to us?

This is another topic where our Iranian culture lacks in!

We are good parents, we love our children, and everything we do is for our children! How do these statements sound to you?

How do we explain things to our children, how do we share our strengths and weaknesses as a parent or as parents?

Again I talk about US! Some people may say, No, I am the best parent in the world and this is not a fit category for me.

I say: we are very different people, but, when I talk about us, it is about the general Iranian culture of parenting, the traditions that have been raised with and some of us have been able to change and modify them in their own style of parenting!

Our general cultural understanding of parenting deepens on what family system we were raised in:

* democratic family system; parents ask children about their opinions and listen to them

* Authoritarian family system: parents (both of them or one of them) think that children have to obey, conform, and do what they say no matter what
* submissive family system: parents agree with everything children do and have no control over situations
* critical and judgmental family system: parents are critical of everything children do, no encouragement
* rigid family system: parents expect children to have same faith and force children to practice laws accordingly
* violent family system: one parent is abusive toward the other and as a result children wittiness violence, aggressive behavior, resentment, and abuse
* enmeshed family system: there is no rules and boundaries whatsoever, everyone get involved in the other’s life and many conflict happens because of that

These are just some of those forms of family system we have within our culture.

Of course, within our culture, parents are always parents for the children even in their adulthood.

Our adult children move out of family system when they marry (exception for the new trend within more wealthy & secular families), and personal boundaries are many time lose and not existing.

What can we do? We should learn, we should examine our old believes and new habits, in order to be the best parents we want to be.

We live in a world today, we can not hide anything from our children, as our parents did, they thought we were sleeping and we were not! We were listening!…………

Our children know if we are depressed or poor or lonely, they see other kids, compare their family system and wish they could have this and that family relationship!

Ask for help when you do no know what to do!

www.middlepeace.com

May 5, 2007

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Health

Health (Salamati)

What is Health ?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as:

“The extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to cope with a changing environment, being healthy in all aspects of living as a necessary resource for every day life…”

Now I ask you: What is health?

Most people would say health is when we are not sick (a physical or bodily referral).

But what is health, really? Health should be defined as the WHO defines it: the summary of all the important aspects of our lives, the physical, mental, psychological (including self-esteem), and spiritual (be it a relationship with God or a higher power).

If one aspect is sick, the others are in pain as well. Research indicates that stress, anxiety, and depression cause all kinds of physical problems.

In that case, if we agree, we must find what is in our existence that is not working!
www.middlepeace.com

May 9, 2007

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Healthy Relationship

How do we know that our relationship is healthy?

What do I mean by a healthy Relationship?

Now, we say, oh, we have healthy relationships, we love each other!

I say; love is an abstract concept, we have to define love based on many cultural and other factors.
Check points:

honesty and accountability
non threatening behavior
negotiation and fairness
communication
shared responsibility
respect
support
independence and autonomy
having affection or each other
trusting each other
communicating openly
listening to the other
considering the other person’s needs
letting the other be first sometimes
willing to lose sometimes
not trying to win all the conversations
it is okay to not get all attentions
taking care of self as well as the relationship
feeling comfortable
wanting to be with the other person
feeling valued by the other person
accepting and valuing the differences between each other
being able to disagree
sharing some common interests, activities or beliefs with the other person exchanging physical affection consistent with the relationship and commitment
supporting the other person in difficult times
remembering what is important to your partner
respecting and treating the other with dignity
With OTHER I mean our partner; husband or wife
do we have all these?

How does our relationship look like?

What does respect, love, affection, trust, honesty mean in our culture?
We have to explore them, for sure.

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Resilient People

We are a resilient people. Yes, we do not give up! We are raised to not accept NO and we indeed can not say NO. Sometimes we let our negative experiences become learning opportunities and we move on! Not giving up is a positive attitude, however, sometimes, not letting go of old habits, thoughts, and behaviors become unhealthy!

Are we all resilient? Yes. Do we use our abilities in a healthy way? No, for sure not! We are different people, with various levels of resiliency or “mogavemant” in Persian language, because we come from various background with various support systems.

Our Iranian women are the real survivors; women around the world are real survivors. Men are also survivors—do not get me wrong! We all, women and men, want to survive; however, sometimes this strong drive lets us think we have permission to violate someone else rights.

An example from our community: A man, who does not want to accept divorce becoming a fact in his life, tries to survive by making the life of the woman who left him as bitter as possible. He tries to manipulate, uses all sorts of threats, calls her names, tries to portray her as a prostitute, and he puts her family under pressure. (This example is in fact an example of the testimony of hundreds of women that this writer has met.)

Why can’t this man let go of his failed marriage and why does he force his children to hate their mother?

It is because he will survive; because he is sick and he feels lonely. He is not used to being rejected, because his mother raised him to be in control and to have power. Now that a woman (not his mom) is rejecting him, saying no to him, he is most definitely hurt. He conveys this message all the time: “You’re either with me, or you’re no one without me.”

In Iran, men like this one can force women to remain in a marriage far longer than here in Western cultures. This is why many Iranian couples divorce soon after they arrive here!

In Stockholm University, Sweden, there was a PhD. level research project by Mehrdad Darvishpour (1996-98) about reasons for the high number of divorces among Iranian couples. There are numerous other studies about what divorce is about,yet this one was interesting since the researcher looked at migration along with challenges of adjustment in the new home country as some factors contributing to divorce among Iranian.

What could be the reasons? Here are some of my speculations without trying to be controversial:

· There was no real healthy foundation for the marriage in first place.

· Extended families forced the couple to marry and have babies, so that their ancestors’ name would be carried on.

· Marriage occurs in the first place, because allowing any relationships between sexes is taboo. In fact many men in Iran, though not all of them, see women as a sexual objects.

· Many other culturally enforced elements.

What is the solution?

· Don’t get married because your parents want you to.

· Do get married when you are ready to love someone and share your life with him/her.

· Do care for your partner’s emotional needs.

· Do get help if you feel stuck.

· Do learn how to calm down when discussions are heated.

· Do find support services to place around yourself.

· Do let go of your egos about who you are, and be humble enough to learn from others!

Is there anything wrong with thinking this way?

Resiliency is an innate ability a child is born with, yet, in the light of life situations this ability becomes a survival skill if we let it. The main goal is for us not to get hurt, not to hurt others, and to be safe.

May 4, 2007

www.middlepeace.com

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Our Basic Needs

Human Development

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), an American psychologist, proposed a hierarchy of human needs. He theorized that there are five basic and most important needs that are essential for human survival. These are: [1

* Biological and Physiological needs (basic life needs such as air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep)—anything for our physical survival.

* Safety needs (protection, security, law, stability)—“psychological needs”—our need to feel safe, to know that our families are safe and that we can live our lives away from dangers; to have jobs, resources, good health, and access to services.

* Belongingness and Love needs (family, affection, relationship)—“emotional needs”—to love and be loved, to feel being important for others, to be valued, to be seen and heard, to have family, friends, and relationships.

* Esteem needs (achievement, status, responsibility, reputation)—to have self-esteem, self-confidence, and belief in oneself; to have opportunities in life; to be able to succeed in the tasks of life; to have recognition from others who are close to us, which results in feelings of prestige, acceptance, and status. All this means that we learn to have belief in ourselves and are able to do things independently and successfully. The lack of any opportunity to feel being believed and to feel being acknowledged by others may lead to insecurity and discouragement.

* Self-Actualization needs (personal growth and fulfillment)—including spiritual needs—the need to be articulate, to create art and beauty, to have a moral centre, and to be spontaneous; the need to be close to a higher power, may we call it god or spirituality.

Now the question is, “What happens when some or all of these needs are not met?” I will explore these needs more based on our Iranian culture!

How we fare in each need category is based totally on the opportunities we have and also the lifestyles we live. We may have all our physical needs met, yet have no self-actualization or esteem needs in place. What happens then?

In our Iranian style of life, unmet needs within the traditional upbringing that many of us have experienced came from the cultural bans on self-actualization or esteem needs. Class, gender, race, ethnicity, education, and all the aspects of having traditional or secular parents, are still the main factors in determining whether we are raised to be the independent, happy, and healthy persons that we want to be or what our parents want us to be.

Many families raise their children to be good, obedient, and caring children who have ONLY to focus on studies, because education has such high values. Children and teenagers who for any reason cannot do well in school and do not cope well with their parents’ expectations for their becoming engineers and doctors are in trouble many times. They may feel like failures for not being able to live up to their parents’ expectations, or because they want to work on self-actualization, meaning on becoming the persons they want to become!

What is the best we as parents can do?

We need to encourage our children to become healthy and independent individuals who have the confidence to take care of their tasks in life in a healthy way.

What are your needs? Which of these five categories of needs is most important to you? Which one of these categories, has been taken care of most, and in what way?

May 3, 2007

www.middlepeace.com

[i] Refer to http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm for Maslow’s original five-stage model


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Sexual Abuse

Not only we do not know about the issue of sexual abuse, we have no idea that boys could also be sexually abused.
Since 2004, I’ve worked for the BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse. This is a non-profit organization that provides victim-services and counseling programs for males who have been sexually abused.

Prior to this position, I had no real idea about male victimization. I always believed sexual abuse was a women’s issue only.

I have learned in the past three years of working with men who are survivors of sexual abuse that men suffer as much as women do. They show their emotions differently.

I have learned that sexual abuse occurs in all races and ethnical groups, all nations, all religions, and that it is a pervasive problem in every society.

As a victim-services worker and a counselor, I have come to the conclusion that sexual abuse can be prevented if human agencies raise the awareness, if we educate our children and teach them how to NOT BECOME VICTIMS!

How do we educate our children about this difficult topic?

· From an early age, we teach them that there is a difference between a good touch and a bad touch.

· We NEVER assume boys are not being victimized; THEY ARE.

· We teach them their private parts are THEIR private parts.

· We teach them that NO ONE ELSE can touch, look at, or play with THEIR private parts.

· We teach them that as their parents we are able to protect them.

It is our role to know who is caring for our children and what our children are exposed to in terms of magazines, movies, and so on, and that we have the ability to speak to an expert if we feel something is wrong.

Being open minded and thinking preventative is better than being sorry and hurt!

May 2, 2007

www.middlepeace.com

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Politic

“Politics are bad”; we have been told this for centuries.

We are not supposed to know or to talk about politics.

What is politic?  Are you political?

I was asked earlier today if my website was political.

I have to clarify this: this website is an independent, individual work by this writer, with no political, religious, or ideological agenda.

I will discuss further this issue of being political or not, and of my hopes for this website!

I am not interested in being political; I do not think there is any politics in the world that would help our Iranian nation more, than the politics of peace!

If I were asked to form a political party, I would create the Peace Development Party, which would focus on individual, family, community, and collective awareness-building around how we as human beings can live beside one another while preserving all of our differences, cultures, religions, and personal ideas.

We need to learn how to keep the peace, to respect each other, to help our human nature, to focus on our positive abilities instead of our weaknesses, and to talk about how to agree to disagree!

Politics is about rules, regulations, and laws by which we can help to create a healthy life together on this planet, within each geographical border, and in our own homes.

I would like to clarify something: politics was not presented to us in a healthy way. It is not what it seems to have become now!

We all live by our own politics, by the ways in which we govern our homes. We are the presidents, kings, and queens of our homes. Our partners and spouses share in the responsibilities and the protective measures in keeping our homes safe, healthy, and happy. The pursuit of happiness is in fact written into the Constitution of the United States of America.

Politics is not a bad thing, not a harmful concept, but it becomes unhealthy when we abuse the power it bestows. Politics becomes harmful when we consider our own rights only and ignore or violate the rights of our neighbors.

Now, I am not a politician but I work for the politics of peace, love, and happiness.

My laws and rules are being governed by my taking responsibility to love my neighbors as I love myself, to respect others as I wish to be respected, and to help my community so that I and everyone has a place to belong to!

Are these bad politics or good?

May 2, 2007

www.middlepeace.com


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