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My kids are growing up... ( a pedar)
My kids are growing up. My son is almost 14 and my daughter is 10. I can see the changes in my son. His behavior has changed. Next year he will enter high school. Like any other caring parent I am concerned. This concern has opened up new alleys in my thoughts that I think is worth sharing it with you.
Recently me and 4 other friends decided to make a series of short movies. We figured it would be a good idea to invite everyone we know and come up with cast and the story for our first movie. Something interesting happened. About 25 people from ages 10 to 35 showed up. We explained that the story should be related to problems of Iranians living in USA. All of a sudden the meeting turned out to be a discussion group talking about their problems with other Iranians. You could easily see people are opening up and talking about their personal difficulties without knowing it. Now I think an idea like making a movie is great for having teenagers indirectly opening up and talking about their problems in open. One young girl in her early 20s brought up a point that made me really think. She said why her parents constantly say that we are Iranian and we do things this way and that way. Why can't they say we have higher values in life and because of that our life style is different. What do we really mean when we tell our kids that we are Iranian.
For a moment lets travel to a young kid's mind. Most likely they are born out side of Iran or perhaps left the country at very early age. What comes to their mind when they hear "we are from Iran". It is very difficult for us to see that clearly because of our past experiences in Iran and the kind of emotional ties that we still have with our home land. I believe what comes to their mind is close to what comes to an American kid. An out law terrorist country that has no value for human rights, people living in stone age, a dangerous country to live in, women have no rights and on and on... A very negative picture. Now lets move to our own mind and see what do we mean by Iranian. People with very old civilization that have very high moral standards and care about each other.
Are we racist? Is this the message we are trying to implant in our kids mind. Shouldn't we tell them that being a good human being that is content, is life all about. Race or anything in that nature does not matter. Don't you think if we practice what we preach is good enough and our kids make the Iranian connection themselves? I guess the next question is what kind of values are we trying to transfer to our kids. For example what comes first, material or spiritual life. Do we practice what we preach? Are there unsolved conflicts within us that will be transferred to them?
1 (a madar)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I also have a preteen daughter and just like yourself, I am very concerned. My daughter is 12 years old and I see the changes are starting to come. I agree, us Iranians have the tendency to take the short cut by saying we are Iranian and that is how it is. This is a very easy and short answer and end of discussion and probably end of communication with our children. After they turn 15 or 16 and don't want to talk to us any more then we ask the question of what did I do wrong? My whole life is devoted to my kids and now this is my reward? Not being able to communicate with my own children. The same way I was when I was a teenager and never talked to my parents about my feelings because I was afraid of not getting approval from them or being blamed for being a nutty child. My question is: We know what is wrong to do, but what is the right way of doing it. Not all the Iranian values are acceptable to me. How do I separate the good from bad and then try to transfer the good moral values to my kid without forcing them to accept not what I believe but what is right to believe. I guess, Us first generation have a big responsibility to smooth the path way for the second generation and what ever mistakes we make will stay with us for generations to come.
2 (a madar)
Ba salam
Our children are 3 & 1 but we have already talked about later on and we have the same concerns thank you for bringing this issue up

3 (a madar)
I am one of those parents that tell my children you should do this and that because you are Iranian. BUT I do it because my children are very young and I am not sure how I should change as they grow up! (...Help!!!) I am not racist, and this is not racism, but it is "diversity", I think. This is not contradictory to being a good human being, but just adding an Iranian flavor to it. I am not fanatic to claim that our values are better, but different. I need some values to live with and raise my children and ...and this is what I have as my culture! I think a problem for our children arises when our cultural traits are not valued enough because we are in minority. But just because the majority does not value them, it does NOT mean that they are not values. on the other hand, just because this is in our culture, this does NOT mean that this is a value, either! I think the most important issue is that culture, of any kind, is very very important for people. We must have something to pass to our children, and we can best give what we really have and strongly believe in. So we must find and believe in the real cultural values and filter the bad traditions. I agree that we should start discussing: what are the cultural traits that we value? and the question of materialistic versus spiritual values is one of the critical ones that often occupies my mind and I hope the future discussions will point to it.

4 (pedar # 1 )
I am a caring parent like all of you out there that is wondering and confused about right and wrong. We all want the best for our kids. How do we know what is the best for our kids or for that matter for ourselves? How many times have we made decisions believing that it would improve the quality of our life and it turned out otherwise. Where do we start? We all need each other's experiences. So lets share our ideas. Part 2: What are we trying to teach to our children.
"Chon ayeneh naghshe toe benmod rast khod shekan ayeneh shekastan khatast"
If the mirror showed your true face, break yourself, not the mirror
Since our children are a reflection of us, to ensure a good reflection we first have to examine the source which is us. We are made of both conscious and unconscious mind, therefore our actions are both concise and unconscious. 3 years ago if some one would ask me if I am conscious about my actions or not, I would most likely say YES. But since exercising meditation I have discovered that most of my thoughts and therefore my actions are unconscious. For example, are you aware of your foot work while you are driving. Has it happened that all of a sudden you notice a tree, house or scenery on a road that you have been traveling all along and not noticing.
To get a better feeling on what I am trying to say exercise meditation for few days. Find a quite place, sit down and close your eyes. Try to focus on your breathing and free yourself from any thoughts. Do this for 5 minutes or longer. You will see your mind wondering around like a monkey jumping from one thought to another without your control. At some point you are drown into thoughts so deeply that you completely loose time altogether. How could we be aware of ourselves when we are actually within the thought process?
This has been the greatest discovery of my life. When I am not aware of most of my actions how could I know myself. People close to us know us better that ourselves. They see the real us while we see only small part of us which is our awareness. What do I mean? When I am aware, I am aware of my ideas. Since most of the time I am not aware of my actions, I am under the control of my unconscious mind. Since our unconscious mind is mostly unknown to us, our conscious could easily say things that contradicts our actions. Since most lessons we give to our children comes from our conscious mind, we expect them to behave accordingly while our actions says something else. To our kids it seems like we are telling them "do as I say, not as I do". We could be criticizing our kids for behaving like us. We are aware of what they do which is us and that is not acceptable. My wife tends to raise her voice when she is upset. Of course when she is drown in emotion she becomes unaware of her actions. My kids talk to her in the same manner and she gets upset and wonders why they are behaving like that. The situation could get worse if we punish them for what we have taught them unconsciously. A lot of kids get labeled for things that is not their fault. Knowing that I am not who I always thought I am has been the beginning of my journey. Thanks to my kids...

5 (a madar)
My 3 years old does what I do and not what I tell him to do you are right.
I have told him whenever you are angry you go to your room and you come back when you have calmed down. the other day he was not listening to me so I said now I am really getting angry so he said then you need to go to your room!
6 (a madar)
Why do you need to say "because we are Iranian".

Don't label yourself, try different words like "this is our family's rule".

And yes we do think we are better than any body else.

we live in US and referee to American as foreigners.

(My personal favor is ha ha!) when one of my Iranian friend is introducing me to someone else they will always say, yes her husband is American but he is a very nice man (I know they mean well but that boils my blood every single time)

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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