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