Category Archives: Parenting

Basic for healthier world.

Iranian Parenting

Academic education is valued highly in our Iranian culture. The notion of being someone with university degrees is a yearning that involves many factors such as status, position, opportunities, labels, and power.

The education systems that we Iranians come from is strictly competition and ranked based while there are no focus on the applicability of that knowledge in the real world.

As a clinical counsellor, I see number of young Iranians who have gone through all the steps of getting to the top mountain of education, while they have forgotten the self. In some cases, choice of education has been equal to survival of parental nagging about future, comparisons to other’s children, and the risk for losing family status. In many cases, my young clients are telling me how much they have lost motivation even though they have tried to satisfy family’s expectations of them. Usually,this is the message most Iranian parents give their youth; you study and we pay. In this common scenario, individuals sense of identity, feelings, perceptions, and choice are out of question.

Number of of these young clients tell me how much their families did everything in their power to provide for their secondary and post secondary educations.

Now these individuals being in their 30’s they have reached the point where they realize their life has been sacrificed for a dream. The question is whose dream?

To be fair, let’s admit, we know that, most parents in our communities are willing to do anything to get their children become Doctor, Mohandas, or lawyers. Most Iranian families struggle for the sake of educating their children. Families in Iran, they are willing to sell their homes and use their life time savings to send their children to best universities in Europe or here in North America.

Families force their children badly to enter programs that are not really on the list of these young fellows. I used the word “badly” because it is visible that families do not consider the effect of this push and pull game they are in. These families work hard to get their youth to attend universities and colleges, while they forget to teach their youth self-dependence and social skills.

Education has become a discourse that impacts people life in a multifaceted way.

Sadly, most of the times we Iranian parents direct our children to fulfill a lost dream that is basically ours and not necessary theirs. Families who come to report that their young child wants to become a “doctor”, i always wonder about the emotional health in that family.

Families who come to tell me how many doctors they have in their extended group and how much they fear failure to procure another Doctor now that they are here in Canada.

There is no doubt that our Iranian life has turned upside down during past 30 years, obviously no one lives in their own skin.

Now maybe you ask what is wrong with being ambitious? What is wrong with educating our children?

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with helping our children to attend post secondary education. There is nothing wrong with being an ambitious parent. Indeed pursuing academic education is valued highly in all communities and we should continue using all means to empower ourselves.

However what happens to the need for knowledge and wisdom before any academic work?

What happens to the social skills that involves basic relationship and interaction in the world?

What about teaching our children to have a dream first and then encourage them to pursue their dreams?

Most of us are unaware of how much we negatively impact our children’s health and how much we cause emotional distress in a young body, when we forced them to follow a certain pattern.

How do we know what is right and wrong for our children?

How much do we differ between raising happy, independent, and healthy children compare to raising educated, discouraged, and spoiled children?

These are all the questions that have to be answered before talking to our young children about what they should and should not do.

Honesty comes first.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles May 12th, 2010 by this author.


Abscent Fathers

Absent fathers in our communities is not a new phenomenon.  Absent fathers in migration time is however a new concept.  Past thirty years we Iranians have lost the notion of nuclear families forever.  As much as the forceful migration is a factor, still we have no idea how much our parenting style has changed to the better and worse perhaps.
Migration and Diaspora among us Iranians impact not only our individual lives, but also our parenting duties.    There are a huge number of our Iranian children and youth living out of Iran, who have an absent father.  If back in those old days a few men would live elsewhere because of jobs, today thousands of families separate by choice or due to many societal problems.   Today many Iranian families are separated across continents, countries, and cities.  As much as absent fathers have excuses for not being with their children, yet single parenting for Iranian mothers create multiple problems.
There are fathers who are living and working in Iran. They come and visit their families wherever they are and they pay the costs of living for their families. Some others send their families abroad first hoping to join the family in a better time.
However, what about the fathering as a present, active, and interactive role?  Iranian men who for some reason are not available to support their growing youth, have less to say when it comes to the choice these youth make.  Sending money and encouraging children to attend universities may seem an ideal hard work for Iranian men, however their lack of understanding of these young children’s need are outstanding.  Money and universities are not doing what a parent can do. We miss the concept of giving our children a good start.  Migration has really caused us huge challenges, in all areas of life.  What is the solution? Hard to say.
May 4, 2009


That Man

The other day I was in the recreation center in my neighborhood here on the North Shore.  Just about the time I was leaving, I heard one woman talking to her seven or eight year old daughter.
She was talking to her daughter (in Persian) in a silent mood once she was passing me by in that long and narrow corridor.  Just crossing one another in few seconds, I heard her saying: “Do not be noisy, that man will be mad at you.”
Hearing this statement although by accident made me freeze for a short while.  I knew instantly what she meant.  I was close to the exit and I came to wonder why we (some of us Iranian) use this old and fear-based method for disciplining our children.
I can only imagine that daughter was asking questions or just trying to be the child that she was. I left that place feeling bad for that young child that had to be scared of a man who is typically expressed in the third person, unknown, and creepy.  Symbolically this man is a control figure, someone who is scary enough that referring to them will make our children behave.  Why I did react to this statement, well it reminded me of a deeper remark in our Iranian parenting style.
In our Iranian culture we have many of those symbolic figures to be scared of.  Basically we have to fear many things, from early morning to late night, from birth to death, from young to old, and from poor to rich. In our Iranian culture there are many scary figures that are out there to punish us for everything we do, every little joy, every move, and every single opinion.
Remember how many times in our childhood we were told that if we are noisy, meaning being just like a child, then someone will be mad on us?
Remember how in our own childhood, we were discouraged to be who we wanted to be just because adults did not know how to deal with us.  If the figure of the man did not scare of enough, there was always threat of a punishing teacher, principal, police, or even thieves on the street that would follow the noisy child.

The threat that either fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, or someone else could be mad on us, would force us to shut up and stop being a child for at least a short while.  A  simple example of this behaviour is how we control our small babies; we scare them of ghosts, devils, bad men, policemen or a man who is out there ready to snatch them.  I have seen some parents using some or all of these figures to redirect children’s attention once they are misbehaving.  Although redirecting children is positive, however scaring kids of someone out there does not work.  Once our children are not obeying our controlling attitudes or instructions, then we use our horrible methods of scaring our children.

The use of that man or one man, or someone else is to ask for submission, passivity, conformity and obedience.  This is a method deep rooted in a culture that does not accept being noisy.  We scare our children from others who always are mad on them for one or another. This phrase may not make sense for a non-Iranian person, yet we Iranian are familiar to this statement, aren’t we?
This was how we were raised.   How many time our mothers told us” if you do this again, I will tell your dad kill you.”  This was a threat that no one took seriously, however it meant to scare us enough to the level of fearing our life.
How many times did our mothers not scare us of our fathers coming home and literally killing us?   We remember having been told frequently:  “wait until your father comes home and kill you.”   This was a way for our mothers to control us and leave the punishment to our fathers.  Not that always we were punished, yet worrying what would happen when our fathers came home, was worse than anything in the world.
And this story still goes on today.  We make our children to fear someone or be ashamed of something or simply feel guilty for their behaviour.  Now the question is not how our children act or behave; the point is how we as adult let our children live with fear of a punishing figure somewhere.  I guess using worry based threat is culturally embedded that we have to always be scared of punishment, because encouragement in our culture considers wrong and spoiling.
It is very unfortunate that, this is how we try to raise our children, even though we love our children to death.
I guess the purpose of this article is to raise awareness and make us think twice.  Many of us may be the best parents in the world, however, cultural way of attending to our children needs are many times wrong, mean, and damaging. It is time to know better.

Poran Poregbal
February 16, 2009


Gender Identity

Gender Identity is a concept we have misunderstood.

Even in today’s world, we have many families who literally die to have a baby boy! We have families who believe only a baby boy can carry on the family name and make the generation run!

We still have women who are being blamed for giving birth to girls. This happens even though science has shown that the power imbalance between the male XY chromosomes and the female XX chromosomes is where a baby’s gender is determined. A woman can only ever contribute an X (female); it is the man that can contribute and X (female) or a Y (male). So men are to be blamed for the female babies, not women!

Now, once we have children, of either sex, it is important to raise them properly.

The universal problem is, boys are raised to fight, and girls are raised to care for the fighters. We have to let our girls as well as our boys learn about their gender roles and those of the opposite sex in a fair and respectful manner.

If you want to raise healthy minded human beings, be careful about how you define the gender roles. Confusion in gender identity causes massive psychological problems later on!

· Let both your sons and daughters express their emotions! Boys who are silenced in order to be manly and who do not show emotions, learn that being tough is suppressing emotions and not paying attention to their inner feelings.

· Reverse the roles sometimes: let your sons play with dolls and your daughters play with cars.

* Ask your sons to wash the dishes while your daughters are cleaning the car!

Remember that children act upon their gender roles, if you want to avoid having an angry boy and a submissive girl, teach them both how to be proud of their gender identities! Raise human beings; boys and girls!

April 24, 2007


What qualities?!


What qualities do we intend to model for our children?

What qualities do we teach our children and which ones do we want them to value most? Why do we do that? What are the cultural values we wish to modify or change for the next generation?

Too many times, we advise our children to be kind, to listen to us as parents, to be nice to their friends, to be generous to their siblings, and so on. What about the intra personal qualities, for instance, being kind to themselves and valuing their own sense of belonging?

Many parents wonder which are the appropriate qualities we can teach our children. I think we have to provide them with a balanced weight of qualities and values including some of the following:

Friendliness, Cautiousness, Openness, Discretion, Generosity, Frugality, Warmth, Rationality

Experiencing excitement, A sense of calmness, Strength of character, Self-assurance/Self-esteem/Self-confidence

Dependability, Independence, Honesty, Integrity, Sincerity, Trustworthiness

Orderliness, Dealing with rejection, Reliability, Developing their own ideals

And Self-control.

Now, back to the original question: which one of these qualities do we teach our children? I think we need to define each quality based on our children’s personalities and abilities.

It is good to have it all, but it is not easy to balance all these things, and having balance in every aspect of life means having a healthy mind!

So, where do we go from here?

May 10, 2007


Mirrors For Our Children

We are mirrors for our children.

We know that our way of communication affect a child and influence what he or she will become. Children are our mirrors, they look into these mirrors and they see the self into your way of being, they do precisely as we do, so if we want them different, we have to be aware of how we do as parents.
Our Iranian way of talking to a child has many colors, indeed a rainbow of hidden words, gestures, metaphors. We talk to our children in verbal and non- verbal terms.  We teach them from day one how to act, what values to hold on to, what to think, and how to be. Children do what we do and think what we think. I am not suggesting that we are different than any other parents in the world, yet our cultural way of parenting is the topic we want to discuss.

Some of us are more encouraging than others, some more blaming and shaming the child more than others. There is nothing more hurtful to a child than make him or her feel guilty for not doing things that we ask them to do.  We gave them birth, but we cannot force them to let go of their free will. However at times we Iranian parent do blame our children for what a big job we did to give them birth! It was not their choice to be born, we have to understand.

We have to know that raising a child is the most difficult job in the world.  We cannot bring children into this world and then make them feel guilty for having done that.
Many Iranian parents who are immigrating, they blame children for being the reason for coming to Canada:  I came here because of you, so now you have to do what I say to do  Children cannot carry this heavy load, they did not choose to come here, we dragged them elsewhere with us and we promised them a better life.

Now, if you as parent fail in your personal or interpersonal relationships (divorce, unemployment, financial problems or more):

Children learn to learn from us. If you wish to give your child a healthy, happy, and positive childhood with lots of learning opportunities, this is the way to go:
Exchange of appropriate information about your life situation, let your child know what is happening.

If you have problem do not hide it, say you have hard time right now, but you will be able to figure things out as you are an adult.

Create meaning for your child; family life, school work and positive rituals at home would give successful learning opportunities.

Reward your child for every little positive work.

Give your child self-confidence and self-esteem.

Be part of your child life, tell your child about your feelings for the child, your life, and others.

Many of our fellow Iranian people, may think that if we tell our children how much we love them they may become spoiled or porru, while we tend to show the children what
we do not like about them.

Many family problems are because of poor communication style among family members:

Lack of information giving to our children about changes or events that our happening in our life No shared meaning, or shared value

Child is upset about something and we do not ask why

Negative rewards for a child who is seen as failure

Name calling, blaming, making child to feel guilty, making the child to be scared of devil or other scary figures

Lying to a child to make him or her do what we want

Giving a child mix messages; dad says yes- mom says no

Not being able to explain things properly

Allowing a child be pressed in the middle of divorce and all the adult problems

Letting the child be witness violence, inappropriate language, and anger

Referring the child to others and much more¦

These points are only a few examples of how we do collectively and individually.  There is of course much more to this……………….
May 7, 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!

May 5, 2007