Our Discussions

Our Kids Sexual Awareness, Parents Relationship, Gintal Names, Minstuaration, ...

1 (a pedar)
Now, as some of you remember from beginning of "Madar-Pedar" Mlist creation, my understanding and desire have been to have a supportive, empowering, sharing, and fun group, so we could tell each other that We are not alone, and It's not easy to raise children, being good parents, happy and charged-up all the time and maintain and flourished relationship with our partners.
I'm so glad that we are getting much closer to these matters and feelings. Our last gathering was the most productive so far, and I believe it's up to all of us to cultivate more on its' productive path.
Well, I don't know that I should feel bad or good, on being a little direct, or as some of you have identify me "the pedar with specific issues". I would like to address one "issue" here:
Please, let's have a dialog and understanding of our situation and where we 're standing, I have no "specific issues", I'm a parent and trying to be a good one just like all of you. So let's talk about what brings us together not those which possibly drifting us apart.
I would like to continue our discussion on matters like:
- Our kids sexual awareness, (including masturbation)
- Better communication with our loved-one. I should point out anouther pedar's valid point on:
letting and giving this assurance to children that we are always ready to listen them no matter what's on their mind. Create this feeling for them that they are HEARD regardless of our judgment, and without making them wrong for sharing their feeling with us, thus next time they come back to be heard again. I think we need to expand discussion on this one further, since kids are growing up fast, so we need to sharpen our skills in this area fast enough.
- How to manage anger when you are late in the morning to go to office and your 3 year old attitude toward time conception is correctly meaningless. I don't think getting up much earlier do you any good. Some interesting sharing on some other situations were popped-up last Sunday.
- Staying partner and lovers while we are "Madar-Pedar" and It's direct effect on our kids.
- Letting our kids have and feel the happiness and joyful parents and receiving a gift as such while growing up.
And ... Please don't be overwhelmed , remember that's why we need ALL of YOU.
Thanks for your time,
2 (a pedar)
You again pinpointed another issue that is very crucial in our effort of raising healthy children and that is the relationship that we have with our partner who most of the time (thank god) happens to be the mother or the father. I strongly believe in our integrity. our children are watching us. we can not treat our kids with dignity and respect if we treat our spouse differently. I firmly believe that the same rights that we want to enjoy is exactly the same that should be respected when dealing with our kids or any other persons. We as parents can easily abuse our power. There is virtually nothing that can stop us from exercising our power as a mother or father.we can say "don't do that because...because I say so!" or have a different approach. What really bothers me is the very fact that we are all victims of the traditions and undemoctratic relationships. Dictatorship has never worked for anyone: look at Iran, look at our past: did we have more tendency to do the "right thing", when we were ordered to do so or when we had a choice. I hate to get involved in politics, but lets face it: who are the kings and presidents and ministers and ...they are us. it 's me and you that occupy those positions. If we are not able to behave ourselves and do not abuse our power when dealing with our children, do you think we can be a president and act with integrity and dignity? We need to watch ourselves all the time because there are poeple (namely our children) that are watching our every single move and word. The bottom line is that we can not afford to be double-standard and expect our children to have integrity and respect for others when they grow up.We have to have full respect for our partner, no matter how we feel about her/him. some times it's like a job environment.
3 (a madar)
>I would like to continue our discussion on matters like:
>- Our kids sexual awareness, (including masturbation)
This is currently an important issue for me: how to talk to my children about these isseus. more specifically, how to answer their questions. (I know that some of us talked about this, but I missed the talk around this and appreciate if you share your viewpoints again.)
I have talked to our pediatrician and he mentioned that if your child is asking you something it means that she is ready to get an idea on this subject and if you do not provide her the right answer, she will find the answer(who knows what type of answer!) from somewhere else... he also mentioned that I shouldn't actively try to educate them, but if they have a question when something comes up, I should not avoid answering.
I talked to some Amercian parents who beleived that talking to children about sexuality is taking their innocense away. they mentioned that we should only talk to them up to the point that they want to hear and are ready to absorb and understand. some are very much against showing them even children books on the subject.
my main problem, however, is that I don't feel ready talking about these kind of things! I was not brought up to talk about sexuality to anybody! my parents did not talk to us. I find that my children are growing at a faster rate than I am learning my parenting skills. I feel like I have started falling behind. Help!
one interesting point: I have a close American freind who was riased up in mid-west America and mentions to me that in this regard, mid-west is very much like middle-east! her parents did not talk to her about these issues, either, and now she is in the same learning process of parenthood that I am.
If you have thoughts about this, or have older children and more experience on this, please share your experience and thoughts.

4 (a pedar)
Sexual being is part of total being of any Human, whether adult or children. Like any other dimension, we need to understand and respect it. I can speak for my experience, that environment which I grown up in, lacked any capability to teach me or provide a healthy way of discovery on my childhood journey on this dimension. But luckily for our kids and us, Now we have the awareness and opportunity to advocate healthy approach. One thing I believe is to make a DISTINCTION between providing information And Encouragement.
There are a number of good books on the subject for our discussion which I will share title and author, next week as soon as I compile their list. We need to reach out for any reliable and beneficial resource that we could find. It's very difficult for all of us whom probably(my apology in advance if it's N/A to you) sharing the same background, fears, and helplessness when it comes to confront sexuality. I'm thinking of even inviting an expert(therapist,...) to one of our gathering or some other setting, in order to educate and receive professional guidness on this matter. (This is a suggestion!)
Meanwhile I think we need to acknowledge the fact and CELEBRATE and welcome this part of our children's being.
Thanks for your time,

5 (a pedar)
From my reading and talking to my daugther's school teachers, they are strongly against the naming of organ other than their true name. For boys, penis and for girl vulva, which include vagina. They argue that for example, you do not name child's neck with something different why any other part should be different? "Why deceive a child with such derogatory terms as pee-pee, ding-a-ling, poo-poo, number one or number two while it's just as easy to say penis, vagina, bowel movement, urinate, or simply"go to bathroom"? Imagine the bedlament in a kindergarten class where every child arrives with a different nonsense word for using the toilet! I'm sometimes amused by the embarrassed recollection of a patient of mine who said that until he was ten he had a tinkler, while everybody else had a penis. The situation was not so funny for this young boy growing up." (from the book "Let's make sex a household word: a guide for parents and children; by Sol Gordon)
- celebrating their "becoming women" (excellent idea)
6 (a madar)
The reason I chose a name is because I know of no name in Farsi that refers to the girl's genital area without it being used as a swear word. Is there one?
Also, I have heard this argument many times. It also holds true for saying "dog" instead of "hapoo" etc. I do not agree with it. All languages have baby talk , and then baby words and eventually real words. I don't think "hapoo" is deragatory, neither is poopoo. It's just an easier, or more rythmical word and they are not nonsense words. They mean definite things. When I "ghorban-sadagheh" my kids I use different words than I would an adult. I find it a natural human way of endearment and gently bringing kids up to adulthood. The fact that all cultures in the world have such words, to me shows how natural they are. And to have some specialist put a red line across it all,... well I find the theory nonsense!
7 (a pedar)
hope other parents express their view on these matters, so we have a broader perspective.
The fact that there is no name in Farsi language(except those which I don't know could be called "name") for genital organs, shows how taboo and repressing, our culture(Iranian culture) attitude has been toward sexual being aspect of people. I think the critical issue here, is to be comfortable with our sexual being and making the process of growing up for our children in terms of their sexual being, very natural and free of SHAME and GUILT.
-Will the message they get from us, enable them to be free and with high self-esteem?
-Proud to be sexual being as well as other being? Although I don't agree with argument of "Hapoo" and "vagina" to be the same, but I can understand related concerns.
What I don't understand is, why we are very quick to dismiss another perspective as "nonsense". It may be true that most cultures around the world have "baby talk or language", nevertheless it does not mean that is healthy towards one's sexual understanding and being. Besides, which cultures we are talking about? our own, Victorian or it's residues, India, Chinese, Arab world(specially Egypt!), they all have one thing in common when it comes to human sexual being.
Thanks for your time,
8 (a madar)
Can you be more specific and tell me what Farsi word you have in mind as the equivalent of "vagina" or "vulva"? Actually in English the problem is also the same except the have these more medical terms. But the problem is that with these terms they break it down to the different portions and none really refers to the whole. Neither vulva nor vagina. Penis is much more clear.
What do you use for your children?
I do not think that the word "Naz" is deragotory in any way (unlike what your original post suggested) and unless you give me a real example, I believe that I am using it as a step towards being comfortable with our sexual being. Having a name and referring to it is a very important step towards that.
Also, why do you think I was "quick" to disagree? I have thought of this issue long many years ago. The reason I called it "nonsense" was because in the original post the author called all the baby words "nonsense" even though they do have specific meanings.
I am also against using any deragotary terms to refer to anything. Many times in Iran they would use the word "sharm" to mean the girls genital area. But I think the worse was growing up with no name for it at all, as if did not exist, until one would read it as a swear word on the bathroom walls!
thanks for taking the time to discuss this.

9 (a madar)
very interesting subjects: genital name and menstuaration.
I very much like having a term for girl's genitals, because it is a part of body and should be addressed. I talked to my children's teacher before and they said that they don't name them since they don't want to interfere with parents' naming and cultural approach. I asked my mom about it, she said that they called female's genital's "leelee", but I never heard it until I asked her last year! we used the pointer: "oonjA".
I agree with one madar that the real name should not be used, simply to convey that this is a private part and we do not talk in public about praviate matters. as much as sexuality and feeling comfortable with it is important, I think having respect for physical privacy is important, too. isn't it the main reason why all cutlures have made up baby names for those parts? just to respect privacy of sexuality? only in anatomy the direct terms may be used, and I even still don't know the term that Iranian ob. & gyn. would use for female genital? I have only heard the "reproductive organ".
about celeberating a girls puberty, interesting idea. as much I know, ALL religions put a woman down for having reproductive organ and bleeding. we are "najess" when we have our period. I think that is a very important factor in making us not feel comfortalbe with who we are. It would be wonderful not to pass it on to our daugthers, but let them be proud of who they are, regardless of gender.
However, I don't want to go to the other exterem. I appreciate it if you could fax me the San Jose Mercury's article on this. are we going to celeberate our son's puberty, too? I heard that Jewish culture does actually celeberate puberty for both genders, but I don't know much of the details. so, I would like to know of specific reasons for doing it for girls only.
I appreciate it if others would share what names they use for female genital since now that Parnian brings it up, I think I should pick one and would like to see my options. you can send it to me directly if you want.

10 (a pedar)
I would like to mention that; probably the best word for girl's genital name in Farsi can be " RAHEM"( Please be aware not to say "Raheem" as a guy's name). However this is an adult and maybe medical type word. And for men's part can be "Dool" (Don't say Dole as ex runner-up for U.S. presidency).
As matter of the fact we chose two different nick name at two different daughter to talk about that part of body. First we called it 'Ghoncheh" then on second girl we called it " Pach Pach". It did worked out Okay! Thank you.
11 (a pedar)
I am not against celebrating boys puberty. don't you think girls are different. celebrating girls menstruation has many messages, one of which is against the message that they get from the society: that they haven't reached an age to give boys pleasure! that they are ready to be moms, and...
and how to we want figure out when to celebrate boys puberty. and besides that the society is worshiping boys anyway. they definitely celebrate it at school!
for some obvious reasons girls feel weaker when they reach that period of their lives (unlike boys, in a way). Is the state of mind that we are trying to build, and that is why we have to emphasize on girls to counterattack the massive bad messages that the whole society is bombarding our daughters. Don't you think so?
12 (a pedar)
I don't think calling a name is the main issue. the more important thing is our attitude. we can give it a name of use an anatomical term and yet make children feel uncomfortable. about the term uncomfortable: how do we define it? we certainly don't encourage children to discover themselves or the opposite. the point is that the society will tell them that their genital is very very special.and this comes along with their adolescence. I think all we can do is not to be too sensitive about it and viceversa. We certainly don't want to call it or point to it as a thing. I personally use "googool"(for my daughter) and "doodool" for my nefew. and I am planing to call it Vazen(academical French (Persian)word) as soon as she asks a question about the term vagina, or when it is brought up at school. So I think we shouldn't really worry about naming it differently as long as they know that we are comfortable with it, which has a direct reflect on our attitude.
13 (a pedar)
I think naming is very important, otherwise children can not begin to understand about sex if they don't have words to think with. I'm not against using for example "family names, or words" if we're more comfortable, but I think at the same time we need to teach them correct terms. If "vagina" is a medical/technical/anatomical or what have you...(as some people argued against), but nevertheless is the term that everyone will understand. We sometime seems to be forgetting where we are living, and what language our kids speak with at playgrounds, daycare's, schools, and..., Yes, in Farsi I believe we DO NOT have("Alate Tanasoly") proper terms, to teach our kids, we at home using "private" and trying to teach them correct terms so they could think about and ask questions. I think it will make sex proper and acceptable topics to talk about. I don't want my children to be laughed at by their friends for using different words or simply turn their head down for not knowing any proper words for their own body sexual parts and for the sexual parts of the opposite sex. At the same time, I think it's very important for them to know their function of these words. Are we teaching them that eyes are for seeing and penis or vulva for urinate. And finally, I believe it makes the path of learning easy, when you don't have a feeling that, sex is something that shouldn't be talking about.
14 (a pedar)
I agree with you 100%. I think the point that I tried to make is that, and now I definitely have a clearer picture of how I should address it is that the problem is not with names; it's us. we don't feel comfortable with it therefore we pass it on to our children. I think we have to seriously look at our own thoughts and examin it. By comfortable I mean we consider our genitals as an integrant part of our body. Actually may be even more, because of their triple roles: as a means for urination,reproduction and enjoyment.
the question that we ought to ask ourselves is if we are naming it diferently because we don't want to deal with it(we are not comfortable), or because it's just a cute way of metioning something(baby talk) to our kids. of course, the lack of a proper term in our language is another parameter that interfers with all this confusion. so I don't have any problem with baby talking up to certaiun age (although, based on my own experience talking to kids like adults helps them a lot in their vocabulary). if someone wants to talk with a baby differently is ok as long as that language grows as our kids grow up. Certainly calling each part of our body properly helps them master the language and bypasses a potential problem that might some hoe someway create discomfort and uneasiness. however, the main thing to me is a proper feeling and behavior by parents. I give this a toop priority. last but not least: I personally don't like giving it names like "ghoncheh", or of this kind. we don't want to worship anything or get ramantic about it. we want to give it a name( if any)? that's ok, but don't try to send any messages. I used (still using it. I am in a transition period) googool for girls because it is just a name with no meanings, and because it's like doodool that is very often and publically used by everybody for boys.

15 (a pedar)
I have found a wonderful educational web site on menstruation that I thought I should let you know about after all the discussions that we had about menstruation. check it out:
and you will find many interesting things about why it has been such a handicap for women, how we still have to pay the price by our health for not openly talking about the issue, how the shame factor is used to make money by companies, etc. I had heard about women getting in synch (having their periods at the same time) when they live together, but saw the research article here for the first time. human pheromones are so natural, and then you see that women had to use "Lysol" to get rid of the odor! such a natural phenomenon, and companies make money by making us beleive that we should hide it! I very much enjoyed discovering this site not only as the parent of a future woman, but as a woman myself I learned a lot. I strongly remmend visiting the site.
16 (a madar)
I realized that I couldn't be even an active reader of the alias, because all the time I was involving with different thoughts and feelings inside myself! Thanks for inviting me to the alias. At least now I know where I'm standing and how much I need to work on myself to get ready for such discussions.
17 (a mother)
Salom, I was surprised today when I opened an envelope my daughter brought from school, addressed to my husband and I, it was sealed and contained a letter from her Grade 1 teacher. We have to signed it and send it back tomorrow, acknowledging receipt of it. The attachments are for us "parents" to discuss with our kids. The subject: "genital external organs". This is material that the school has sent to the parents to address the issue of the difference between boys and girls private parts, the "normal" names: vulva, penis and scrotum and as the letter states "in order to help the child to learn to know him/herself, his/her image and to appreciate him/herself as God's creation".
I remembered right away I had seen this subject here with you, but I hadn't thinked about my two cents, till now. Anyways, I took "the pan by the handle" right there after I finished reading the letter and the contents of the attachments. I started having a conversation with my two kids (a boy and a girl) about it. I personally have always addressed to their "private parts" by their name, vulva and penis (which in spanish go by almost the same wordings). My Iranian husband has never really address the subject with them, but he only refers to them as "private parts" without getting into specific parts. And, this material we got today, specifically mentioned the names as "vulva, penis "and" scrotum" -- Gee, I hadn't even think about this last one, but I thought of mentioned it in front of my son, so that he's also aware of it.
I am very glad that we don't have to "start from the beginning" in making my daughter and son understand that the "real" name for boys and girls private parts are "penis and vulva", oh! and "scrotum" (as I had to read a story in which those terms are being used).
But I recently had an issue regarding "breast and chest" with my son. I wrongly was calling "chest" to what really is "breast" in women. So, one day that my son had pain in his "chest" he jumped when I called it like that. He related it to "women's parts" so we discussed the matter further (he's 5), then I acknowledged to him that I had wrongly used the term before. That it is really called CHEST for both, men and women but women are the only ones that have BREAST. He just laughed everytime the heard the wording about him having pain in his chest but now, he understands the difference now. So he has accepted the idea that he and all the other boys and girls in his class have a CHEST and that when girls growth older they'll get to have BREAST, just like mommy, the teacher, grandma, etc. I think that it's easier to address a group of executives to accept a very challenging business plan that having your child accept a wording that was wrongly used.
I am glad that we addressed it then and that they can ask me questions and eventhough this Q&A's are more complicated to address than any other ones in an adult discussion, but they're much more important.
The school material was amazing, in a family story the issue is properly addressed and I considered it a really "good start" to directly talk with our children about their sexuality and as "more material" will eventually come as the letter states.
By for now, and all the best!
18 (a madar)
Thank you (#17) very much for bringing this up and sharing you experiences with all of us! I have been procrastinating to address this subject and now my two ( boy & a girl) are getting curious and asking questions here and there!
What you wrote gave me plenty of ideas and I'll be sure to use them. Best..
19 (a pedar)
I wanted to say thanks (#17), for your note and make a "small" comment if I may, About 1-1/2 year ago, we started a discussion on this subject and remembered caused a lot of discomfort, (naturally!) to extend in which, some people got their names off the "Madar-Pedar", some even stopped showing up in our monthly gathering!, Today your note revalidate the same point(s) and arguments about it. Thank you, and I can understand as to why your husband "only refers to them as 'private parts'without getting into specific parts", the reason are most likely the very subject and lack of names in Farsi, for "Private Parts", if you don't believe me, please ask him!
I just hope that we really deal with our discomfort and shame and what have you..., and try to educate ourselves, getting outside help, and ..., but not ignore or escape from it. Soon or later,Who knows, we might get "sealed envelope" one of these days!
And I'm sure it will NOT be about whether your kids know how to speak Farsi. Thanks for your time,
20 (a mother)
The other day, as I read a book about teenagers experience regarding their bodies, I realize how some points that make a difference between boys and girls, as well as the type of approach taken and level of "understanding" to their needs that we "parents" take, makes us not only the closest available and more reliable source to them, but will always be the one that can "make the difference". I really like the book and eventhough my kids aren't teenagers, I liked the title when I bought it (I don't remember exactly the title but is something like "When your kids say YES in the 90's and you say NO in the 60's". And as I always have done and believe, "I take the best and boot the rest". The book's perspective from baby-boomer parents might not necessarily be my 100% of upbringing but some communal experiences that the book describes are for sure useful to me.
..Just trying to get ready for the coming years and visualizing the approach that might benefitiate my kids. Since, I would also want them to always feel "proud" and "confident" of their bodies, without also forgetting that they ought to respect their "Temple" (body).
Isn't it a really exciting and challenging task the one we are on....... Being a Parent is not only the greatest challenge I've experience in my life but the greatest GIFT that God ever gave me.
21 (a mother)
My experience on this matter is just starting, as the kids are in their early "aware" stages of discovering their body's differences between boys and girls. Personally, I would always encourage my kids to discuss anything related to this, since I DO want to make myself available for them when the HARDEST part of their differences between boys and girls develop further. Instead of them going to the wrong sources.
Believe it or not Iranian's sensitiveness to this subject was??/is?? the same to Salvadorean's. But for us, living in these North American countries in societies so "permissive" like the ones we live these days, it's a great deal and deserves to take it more serious than our counterparts backhome. Without offense, if we cannot change the entire country live it alone, but we can change "our mentalities", can make a difference in our own homes and that to me is what counts. Why to cry over spilled milk if you cannot do nothing about it. If in case any personal experience is just to hard to handle, I agree with you aga Reza on approaching professional help, but we are only the owners of our lifes and we can do with it what we want, what's in the past, is past. The present and future are in our hands, and depends on us what we want to do about it.
On the other hand, and whether we like it or not, sooner or later, our kids will "wake up" to this matter and will try to find the answers to their questions. If they don't seem to find the answer at home, they'll always go somewhere else to satisfy their sometimes "curiosity", sometimes eagerness to know (depending on how much we've limited them to) and sometimes "just because". Promotion from the media to more "openess" to sexual matters at any level of it, it's only on the increase. And that is sometimes scary.
To tell you the truth, I don't even want to think about when my kids get to those years. Right now, I enjoy them as they are now, little 5 and 6 year olds and with so much innocence. But with the trust they have on us, parents, I also try to prepare the road, on some subjects that they'll "need" to know and "we ought to prepare them for".
I actually wanted my husband to get involve on this, and when I approached him I just did it with a question myself. I asked: "Aziz, what's googool and what's doodool"???? Ohhhhhhhh! He looked at me! And just imagine his very wide opened eyes. He said: Where did you hear that? (can you imagine that instead of me that could have been one of our kids?) I told him about this question being raised in the madar-pedar forum. Then he told me that those were the words for boys and girls "private parts". Then I said to him, that it would be better if he used these names for our kids. He agreed. If the limited vocabulary that exist in Persian is the only vocabulary, I wouldn't mind he use it. If the kids have hear a "name" for it in English, Spanish and French, well eventhough the name might be similar in the three languages because of the latin root, there must be a name for it in Persian. And my lovely and alert daughter already asked me, but I told her that we'll ask daddy, as I didn't (pretend) know that one.
To take a family approach, we don't need to seat around the table and have the kids sat in front of us to discuss this. It has to be at the right time, at the right place. The reason why I make a point on US (my husband and I) being ready for this subject, is that when the right time happens, we are ready to openly talk to the kids, without hesitations and trying to cover and answer questions they might have. That we commonly be at the same level of knowledge and with the "proper" tone of voice, discretion but straight-forward (tough one eh?). Making the atmosphere very relaxing so that the kids can confide on us.
I love reading and I also got another book that addresses this subject: "How to raise your kids conservatively in a sexually permissive society". Hope that can tell you all of what my concerns are about.
I want the best for my kids, and that is for ALL of their areas in their lives. From cultural respect and pride, love to the neighbour, to themselves, in school, in all the interests/hobbies they have/do, to what actually should have been the first one to mention: THEM, as human beings, with everything they got in: corporal, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual areas and with that,.... love, respect and pride of each of those areas of their lives. Each and every of this areas weights the same to me, neither of them is more important than the other, as if I want my kids to be "well balance" in their lives, neither of them will take over the other one. That's what I think, that's how I feel about this matter.
22 (a madar)
about our discomfort and shame w.r.t. sex: I think that even though I am not wearing "hejab" anymore, but I still have many layers of mental "hejab" on my mind that keeps me from "thinking" about some issues, leave alone discussing them.
sex is an issue that I do not discuss with my mother, sisters, or even my husband. it is not the shame, but maybe discomfort that comes with our culture and I think is natural. Also, I am not sure if there is a need for it. Americans push people to be "sexy" and to be sexually active. their culture is pointed at sex! I am not buying this culture, and I don't want my children to buy it, either.
back to the issue:
why don't I talk to my children openly? because if I talk to them in a normal tone about it, they think it is okay, and will allow themselves to talk to others about it normally, and god knows what it may lead to. if I talk to them about it with caution, they will know there is some taboo around the issue, and will try to figure out what it is. so, what is the solution: avoid the issue all together as much as you can. this is what I do. if they ask, I will give them the minimal answer.
23 (a madar)
Thank you (#22) for you sincere sharing, I feel I want and I have a lot to share with you about "hejab" as an Iranian woman. You are absolutely right and we have many layers of "hejab" dictated and imposed on us (especially to women) in different shapes and forms from different sources (culture, religious, society, communities, families, ...) however, I feel they all share the same characteristic and have the same impact as the appearance "hejab" (Chador), they all force us to cover up and hide instead of acknowledging and dealing with phenomena. I am convinced that as difficult as it is, I need to deal with this issue not only to free myself from the limitations, but also control the damages that I may pass on to my daughters as they have been passed on to me from my mother's generation!
What is natural, feeling discomfort about something so natural as sexual being that we are (or we are capable of being if the conditions are removed!)?
If we can for just a few short minutes forget the role of media and the overall system in this country in regard to SEX, and try not to react to it and compare it to our original culture and up bringing, we may gain the clarity to realize that ignoring and keeping it rigidly as private as possible is not the solution, and is not the option we like to pass on to next generation. Our Iranian-American generation will have to deal with this issue, whether we make them ready or not, I want to be one of the sources my children will go to when they deal with their sexuality and sex in general. I consider this on going struggle for myself to be open about this issue, I've learned that it is not an easy task and what we have learned and conditioned ourselves as little kids have long lasting effect on us.
Compare this to our body and the health issue, do you talk to your children with caution about blood Cancer when explaining the blood stream in our body and how it works? I think regardless of with which tone we talk to our Children about sex, we have to gain their trust by answering their questions and concerns honestly, by validating their feelings, and by recognizing their being (sexuality as part of it) and needs. There are so many negative sequences of ignoring and not dealing with this issue that we suffer from, why should we not be able to discuss this and share our feelings about it? Do not You think this affects our self-esteem and self-acceptance and our ability as accepting ourselves as whole, rather than separating the sexual section out! What is our source of education and training on this subject? and where do we go when we are hurt?
I can talk and share a lot about this, I have to remind and limit myself to the part related to parenting. That is all for now and thanks for listening
24 (a mother)
I think, your respond (#24) is a good example of how in my opinion we (Iranian and American females) are looking at and approaching this issue from different angles. With much respect to all women, Iranian and non-Iranian, covered and uncovered, I believe that each person should handle this subject of sex or sexual awareness, in the way they find most suitable for themselves and their child, while keeping in keen consideration the effect such a decision will have on their child's health and experiences.
I find absolutely no correlation between hijab and denial of reality, between dealing with issues and dealing with Self. I have always addressed my childrens' concerns and curiousity with forthright answers, and addressed topics of sexuality and behavior I felt appropraite for each age before egregious information could be received and incorrectly interpretted. My children each have a healthy understanding of all related issues, and upon entering high school, this, in fact became an focal point. When my first daughter brought home the sexual information class (health) permission sheet, I did not sign my approval. She, instead, wrote a paper on a reproductive topic of her choice. Her instructor phoned me adamant that she be allowed to take the class. When I said we had already redressed all necessary issues, she insisted that could not be. I told her I felt, and we, as a family felt, that this was a private not public discussion, and asked her if this was a mixed gender class. She said it was. I asked her if in her opinion, she thought these young adults took the class seriously. I came to school, talked to several students and they all told me that it was a series of whistles, cat calls and lame jokes everyone endured as a rite of passage.
Not one, felt they paid significant attention to learn more than they already knew, but, most girls felt they had endured at least a modicum of discomfort and embarrassment over lewd remarks made.
Why if a person's body and its functions is a private and personal issue, should a public address be necessary? Only because many parents choose not to address this issue, and society is left to carry the burden.
None of this, in my opinion, has anything to do with covering or not covering...and everything to do with responsibility and lack thereof.
Each of us must do what is comfortable for us with consideration as to how the means will be justified by the ends.
I respect your opinion and understand how you arrived at what you did, and I believe it is discourse such as this that allows growth.
25 (a mother)
Dear Parents,
With all my respect, I do appreciate very much your input.
Whether I know you personally or not, I see you all as my brothers and sisters, that are commonly concerned and dealing with the same issues: trying to raised our kids in a conservative way, keeping our cultural respect and mainly, addressing the issues regarding their upbringing in these north-american cultures.
For all of the information I have gotten from all and each of you I thank you very much. I definitely appreciate the time you take to answer me when you've done so. When you've shared Iranian cultural and traditional issues, I ignored and helped me to understand better my husband and teach others to the kids, I thank you. When you've expressed some issues I've not dealt yet, thank you for preparing me for those coming ones. When you've shared thoughts and articles that make me portrait myself and how I've been dealing with that and more possible and better ways, thank you. Thank you very much, just for being there and try to help me when you've expressed your views. Thank you for all of your good intentions when sharing with me.
I love you all. Have a great one!
25 (an Iranian-American daughter)
Hi! I'm an unmarried, professional 26 year old female. I was born in Iran and moved here at the age of six. I am very much a product of both cultures. I have two young sisters, 14 and 10, and am trying to make sure that they don't have to go through the same "first-generation" cultural hardships as I and my friends did.
Regarding Sexuality:
Just let the kids know that they can ask you anything, even if the topic seems shameful or embarrassing.
Whatever you do, don't make it a no-no or shameful, or say as little as possible. I have seen so many kids rebel with sexuality (especially Iranian girls) just out of shame and sheer ignorance.
It's not easy to say this, but let's also stop pretending that women don't enjoy and/or want to have sex upon reaching puberty. That is the time when, in most patriarchal houselholds, they are repressed the most - and whether or not you see it, it will affect their lives in a negative way. There is a difference between abstaining through self-respect, and abstaining through shame, fear, and ignorance.
Regarding Menstruation:
When I began menstruating, my mother and grandmother prepared a special dish just for me, after they wiped the tears away from their eyes, and explained that they always made it for "new women", to give them strength.
It was made of eggs, dates, and sugar, and was delicious - like a sweeet omlette - and the best part was that I felt so wonderful - it was one of the most special moments in my life. I can't begin to describe how important a right of passage is - I just thank God that I had one.
(second email from the same sender:)
Hello again - I have received numerous e-mails asking for the name of the dish that I mentioned (above), so I asked my mother what it was. It's called Kachi, and you beat eggs with a good amount of sugar, and add some peices of dates if you like, and pour into a pan and flip like an American-style omlette. The other food that people often make at this time is a very yellow version of halva, because you add a lot of saffron. Both are sweet and give "govat" (strength). You can find recipes for Halva on the PersianWeb site, but that's probably a little too sweet for most Americanized taste buds.
By the way, I would definitely not involve the men of the household in this. That could be pretty embarrassing for the young girl (it's a little embarassing even with women around), and then it wouldn't really be a feminine rite of passage either.
26 (a pedar)
Dear #25: I'm so proud of YOU for sharing this with us, and really excited when I see young people like you, talk to us and share their thought. I've two lovely daughters(~8 and 4+ years old) and I can not wait to celebrate and be there for them when they begin menstruating.
We as Irananin-American parents, need to acknowlege and take pride for this event in our kids life, along with open mind and ...
Thanks so much, and I hope read more from you.
Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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