In the Persian poetry, human development has an analogy with seed plants, which with care, will grow to trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, and vines.
Flower life is considered short; yet, the beauty creates a deep impact and it depends on a good soil. To raise this tall, stable and flowering tree, it needs a nurturing soil and a caring gardener while nature has to provide for the sufficient amount of sun shine and water.
In raising an independent, happy, and healthy child, we do follow the same concept. However, there are always exceptions depending on the existence of that “good soil.”
Considering human development, our child needs a sense of belonging to their communities, plenty of love, attention, and hope that comes with sun shine of good parenting.
It is obvious that our children need stable adults too. With combination of many factors our children will be able to cope with the constant changes in any given environment. We are hopeful that our children will become responsible adults that will help their communities in their unique ways.
The comparison between human life and the green life tells us about the role of the parent and the gardener.
However this beautiful formulation does not match our Iranian reality. Our families are on the run all the time. We are immigrating. We are moving, searching, seeking, reaching out, hiding, fleeing, changing, asking, and arguing all the time. We are dealing with huge number of issues concerning our home country, our identity, our hopes and dreams for a safe future, and the human right issues back home. We are connected and disconnected. Stability, safety, and connection to the nurturing soil are out of reach for many of our families. Immigration has become an integral part of our Iranian life. Our families back home are constantly worked against to raise those hopeful and creative children that they dream for. For newcomers sake, it is important to realize the cultural baggage that each family carry with.
Our children and youth see all this ambiguity, anxiety, and rapid changes. Our children and youth are with us when we are doing all these things and when all these things happening to us. Immigration hit us hard at times, without knowing.
Despite all the odds, our Iranian families are resilient, strong, and brave to offer their best in helping their children become something they never were.
When it comes to parenting, it is clear that our children are impacted by our Iranian life that is constantly influenced by horrible situation we are facing right now.
For that reason we have to appreciate our children more and let them find their ways in life more independently. We have to remember that our immigration, although it is being done for the sake of children, still we parents are making the decisions. Do not put that on your children shoulder saying that it was because of them you made all these sacrifices. You had a say and children did not, in most cases at least.
For that reason we should be concerned of our thousands of young children who are leaving our home country Iran, that nurturing soil that is for now contaminated, with the reasons that are unknown to them, yet known to us as adults.
With the recent wave of families fleeing Iran, because of the worsening human conditions, there is this huge concern about the broken attachments that will lead to much pain and suffering.
Children deserve and need explanations in everything that is happening around them. Knowing will alleviate unnecessary pain.
Note: This article was also published in EzineArticles May 12, 2010 by this author.
A vast majority of our young generation who is 30 years of age or under are extremely smart, intellectual, peaceful, and different. May be we ask the question, different from who and what?
Our young generation is different because they have the ability to view the world from a broad perspective. Our young generation are mostly unbiased and secular compare to their parents who might still living with dysfunctional coping mechanisms in dealing with recent diverse life.
Our young generation is the most intelligent members of our communities while these young souls are at times stuck between several oppressive forces.
First of all, our younger generation has to fight the layers of physical, psychological, and spiritual barriers. What are those? The many barriers that our current senior groups of Iranian have created, the black and white dichotomy that has turned to green which manifests change.
Young people living back home report how scary it is to always be on their guard since they are struggling to stand up against a government who continuously works to force our young people into submission and silence.
On the other hand, young generation who is part of the diaspora, they are challenging the self and their families who have internalized those oppressive forces and behave in the same way.
This generation of young people are mostly secular, modern, transnational, multicultural, multilingual, and communicative group of individuals who like to move beyond ideology and politics.
How this younger generation is tackling the problems, it is completely distanced from previous generations used methods.
Still, this young generation needs support. Our young generation suffers due to the mixed massages that turn into disappointments all the time.
It seems that some parents force their adult children’s to become what they have not been able to.
For some families, children follow the parent’s path, in others young people get tired and lose hope for ever being able to be the person they are.
Our younger generation dream of a new peaceful world, away from ideological biases and distant from violence, they are seeking choice and option in dealing with life.
In this path of finding their true self, our younger generation is fed up with their senior generations nagging attitude about how they were motivated to attend universities and to be the ambitious people that they were.
Our advise giving habits, our pampering of adult sons and daughters, our comparing behavior to the aunties son or daughter who do better, the conditioning of love for good grades, and many other manipulative ways that we Iranian parents use in manipulating our children, are all dysfunctional behaviors that only discourage our children.
We need to understand that our younger generation needs unconditional love, the type that is accepting and respectful. This generation has the potential for saving the world, if and when their voices are heard. Our younger generation needs all the support and empathy for becoming who they want to become.
Despite all the odds, our younger generation have the willingness to fight, to resist, to compromise, to negotiate, and to to establish the conditions of worth and independence
These days; Youth and the new wave of request for freedom is making news.
It is most exhilarating to watch the new wave of grass root movements demanding freedom and democracy. I believe it is stunning to witness the the level of integrity shown by those brave young people who are only asking for their rights to live a life free of oppression and suppression. Young people are leading these new movements while learning from one another through the Social Media. What these young people are looking for is peace, human rights, freedom, and a better life.
Despite of all the crackdowns, it seems that no military actions by those dictatorships who struggle to stay in power, would scare this new brave young men and women for continuing their peaceful protests.
Clearly we have a young generation who have nothing more to lose. Majority of them grew up and experienced the taste of lacking most basic human rights, the right to be counted for and the right to be part of a larger society. This young generation watched their fathers struggling because the power were never shared with masses. When you grow up in countries that either religious or ideological fascism keeping people from pursing what they deserve, then you learn how to fight the system when it is the right time.
These people are from all over the place who will be our future leaders and future policy makers obviously, People who have lived with loss of personal integrity by never being part of the decision making, they will rebel and now they do it peacefully.
We are witnessing history unfold and re-written by men and women who for decades have been oppressed, violated, and hurt.
Current movements in the Arab world are unquestionably impacting what else is occurring in those countries, ever since people act on their rights for standing up for themselves, without having external forces leading them.
It seems that an entire generation of young people in the Middle East are coming forward to clean up the imposed culture of oppression that had restrained them forever. This young generation are stirring the powers while challenging the governments whose existence depends on hypocrisy, suppression, and intimidation. It sounds like this young and open-minded generation are fed up with their old men nonsense. Now what is making sense to them? This young generation demonstrate what make sense to them: To gather their strengths for the real action and to scream for freedom hardest the longest they are able to.
The call for freedom and democracy are most certainly impacting people’s health, sense of community feeling (Adlerian terminology), and hope for a better life. Our mental health without a doubt is intertwined with our physical, social, political, and environmental realities. On this note, we could hope for a brighter future for our citizens of the world.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC
The other day I attended a Youth Symposium in celebration of Black History Month. This was the second annual Symposium that originally was the idea of a young man who believes in helping African-Canadian youth to learn about their identity embedded in race, culture, and history. Listening to the speakers you could realize how much this debate and acknowledgment of race and history is important.
One speaker was a teacher who had done a very interesting research. She had gone through history books being taught in schools here in British Columbia. These history books from grades 8-12 had very little almost to the point of zero information about the history of African-American or black-Canadian people. This teacher made a point that should be brought to the attention of policy makers or school boards. Teaching history should be about history, meaning what has happened to our ancestors whether white, black, yellow, red, and any other color. This teacher had gone through all these story books from the content to the index to realize there was no information about black history, slavery, racism, or the challenges that black people face. According to her, the African-Canadian students are not recognized at all and in general students do not learn about the impact of race on their identity. The following speakers all emphasized how much racial identity and knowing about history is significant for children to develop a healthy sense of self-perception. Listening to a young black poet was an epiphany for me. He spoke eloquently and performed his poems beautifully, to the point you had to hold your breath to not miss his words. Another speaker illustrated a picture about how black history month is a human history month. Other speakers empowered youth in their work to find their identity and to create the life path they deserve.
Listening to all these important talks, I was thinking how youth from every culture and from every community need to work on their cultural-racial identity. I was also thinking how our Iranian youth would need to discuss their identity as the notion of diaspora hits our youth more than ever. I guess the amount of topics that needed to be discussed among us Iranian is still covered in the dust and confusion of a very unpleasant mixture; delusional ideology and exaggerated culture.
We should keep up the hope in any case.
Febrauary, 22, 2009
How much do we know about Iranian Youth perspective?
In year 2000 I attended a meeting for Iranian parents and youth. This meeting was arranged and held by Public Law School. The meeting was an effort to start a dialogue where parents and youth could sit together and articulate their feelings about the new life in migration and the culture shock for both of parties.
This workshop was about dealing with youth from a “youth perspective” undefined in our Iranian culture. Many of the attending parents had concerns about the challenges of handling their youth requests and expectations. Both mothers and fathers expressed their emotions about their youth who are:
“Not listening”, “not following the rules at home”, “acting angry”, and “not talking to parents with respect!”
I was there and observing some youth who were shaking their heads, raising their eyebrows, and showing their frustration of the “adult world” that did not understood them.
After some heated discussions, an 18 years old brave young man started to talk:
“Our parents brought us here to Canada and they always say we came because of you, my family do not accept me as I am and at this point they ask me to move out. Where can I go? I have no money, no jobs, noting, because my father have always said I should only study and become an engineer or something, now…”
This young man was obviously frustrated was telling the group that his parents complain about everything. He said that his father gives him lots of stress with putting pressure on him about how he does at school, peer contacts, and everyday life. This young man did not know that his dad also was in the meeting. The father had hide in a corner away from the son’s view. Eventually the son did see the father and he left the meeting.
Now it was father’s turn to talk about his concerns and complaints. The story unfolding from the father’s point of view pictured a chaotic life, daily anxiety, loneliness, regrets, avoidance, hate, resentment, and also love for one another. The father started crying after he finished his talk. It was not clear what role the mother had, if there was any mother in the picture!
Some one continued the discussion by saying that:
“Young people need respect and attention in a healthy way. We sometimes give excessive attention and try to “fix” everything for our children, while not teaching them being independent and experience life.”
Another father insisted that:
“We as adults know better and we have to ask our children to listen to us, because we have at least “torn a couple of shirts more than them” and we are more experienced than our kids (young children he meant)!”
These Iranian parents were trying hard to learn how to deal with their young children. However we were missing one point, one important factor. We do not try to understand our teenagers mind and way of thinking.
Youth and children today are under pressure. Adding to this, our Iranian youth has to deal with the cultural differences both at home and out there, at the same time that they are dealing their own physical and psychological development.
We miss seeing the fact that the more advice we give our children, the less they become independent.
We miss the point that coming to Canada may have been for a better future for our children; yet, it has not been their choice.
We miss the reality that our children and youth have to deal with many contrasts; parents bringing them here for a better future and at the same time giving them hard time for having brought them here.
Why not start distinguishing between our world view and our youth’s perspective. Time has changed and the way we were brought up can not compare to today. We culturally use a “back door policy” in order to discipline our children; we make them fearful. Fear of being punished by god, go to hell, fail in school, not be loved by us and be a bad person.
Our children have different needs, they are stressed out due to the negative impact of media, migration, dislocation, parent’s unemployment, and all other issues parents are dealing with. Our children deal with uncertainty of their physical body which creates many emotional challenges.
Our children (if they are older at the time of our migration) suffer a great deal in the first years of our migrant life, they may be excited about the new opportunities, yet they have feelings for the lost friends and hobbies back home.
Please let go of the blame and seek help if you are unsure how to deal with your children, particularly your youth.
July 24, 2007
Why our Youth are often forgotten? Am I serious? Yes.
We tend to forget our youth!
A baby is cute, and a teenager is difficult, why? Is that because a baby does not talk, but a teenager talks!
Some parents tend to forget their teenagers. They say; our children are grown up now and these children are supposed to take care of themselves!
A couple of years ago I heard of a teenager who was suicidal. When I talked to him, he said, that his parents came here, bought a big house, put him and his sister in that house, gave them the car-keys and visa card, told them this is Canada and here is the college you want to go to and there is university after that……….. and parents disappeared. This young man, who was 20 at the time, had lived here in B.C. many years by himself along with a younger sister. Both of them had taken good care of studies and else, yet, both suffered from depression and loneliness.
Their teen age years had gone to responsibility for a big house, government contacts, the car insurance, bills, taxes and more, while parents calling them every other day. What did this son miss: The love of his parents, the close connection to a caring mother and a father figure, having a sense of family and belonging?
When I asked this young man if he worked, he answered: no, we have enough money to live with. I wondered what about enough love! But, I did not say anything.
I am not suggesting that the parents of this young man were bad or irresponsible; they probably thought this is the best for their children. However, the question is whether we need to be more involved in our teenager,s life.
May 7, 2007