Parents, Take Care of your Kids!

Parents parents parents!

Please!

I beg you to stop for a moment and think of what the F you are doing!

For the past few months I have been seeing the most horrid things done by parents to their kids (babies and toddlers). I swear if there were social services here witnessing such scenes they’d have the whole family not only deported but permanently exported out of this planet.

Case A: I live in cozy neighborhood that has a notrious reputation for heavy traffic at certain hours. There is a roundabout in the middle of the road. One day my friend picked me up and we were doing a “u-turn” on the roundabout when a stupid father (who was on the phone) was pushing the baby stroller/pram/buggy thing ON THE STREET against traffic! And was attempting to CROSS the damn roundabout PUSHING THE BABY FIRST (while still talking on the phone). My friend (who was driving) went around the roundabout again and we waved for the cars to stop so the imbecile can cross… and his hand DIDN’T LEAVE THE EFFING PHONE!

Case B: I was with my sister and a friend of ours waiting outside Chilis for our table to be cleaned up. There was a woman sitting with a stroller and a baby inside. Upon inspection it was pretty obvious that the baby isn’t hers… and that she is a caretaker (who wasn’t paying attention to the stroller by the way but was doing other stuff). Where are the parents? They were both inside, eating. There are many things wrong in this scenario, on many different levels!

Case C: In the mall I was going up an escalator when, on the other side (escalator going down) I see a dad trying to be funny, who has the stroller on the escalator (which is a felony in itself) and is tilting it up and down so that the baby could “see” his death (and making scary noises). The kid was just too bewildered to scream!

I could go on forever… like people who are feeding a pizza to a toddler, like parents who bring their babies to an effing shisha place (enclosed, not open), like people who take their babies to a rock concert (hellooooooooo eardrums!) and the list goes on…

So if you have a baby, take a minute and reconsider how the heck you’re treating him/her!

Attention Seeking Syndrome: The Early Experiences

Warning: Long post ahead!
but I tried my best to make it human friendly…

Attention Seeking Syndrome isn’t a classified syndrome, but rather what I would call a collection of issues that can lead to the phenomena we encounter / suffer from every now and then. I will break up the argument into two posts: Early experience (not too early), self consciousness and self monitoring.

EARLY EXPERIENCES

 

People’s early experiences in life (whether or not they are recalled) have a deep impact on the person’s character. I won’t go as far as early childhood but focus on some specific period where you’d most likely encounter people with this issue. The three age groups are School Age (7-12 years), Adolescence (12-19) and Young Adulthood (19-34). Note that the age range is hypothetical; the adolescence period can go into the early 20s and so on.

School Age: This age group basically struggles with proving themselves to the world. Obviously, as they are always bombarded by demanding parents to do well, tough exams, peer pressure and a sense of responsibility.

During these school years (as you may possibly remember) there is always a competition in class on who does well and/or better than their peers. Maintaining a balanced challenge is a healthy for development. However, this is a thin edge of a large coin with devastating extremes: One is always defeated and one always wins.

What this translates to is that school kids who are constantly failing at what they do and don’t always get their family support, couple with the fact the results of peer pressure (ridicule, low grades, not being the teacher’s favorite) end up feeling incompetent and more inferior. If the child in question is aspiring (versus nonchalant), then the child will more likely develop lower self esteem, lower self efficacy and lower confidence. An unhealthy result of this is that the child will start engaging in other things to gain superiority – and attention.

Equally unhealthy is the A-student. Constantly studying and aiming to meet the demands of parents and life will make the child more industrialized and less of a child (check my 80’s post for more). All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Constantly studying means that the child has less time for other activities that develop other cognitive skills, which may make the child feel inferior later on.

Adolescence: This is probably the age group where the phenomena is most pronounced. The major factor dominating people in this group is basically their identity and how it is perceived by others.

Peer pressure plays a different role here than the School Age. Whereas in the School Age peer pressure acts as an obstacle to one’s performance with the self, in adolescence it acts as an obstacle to one’s performance being accepted by others; ie the struggle between keeping one’s identity and pleasing others.

This forms the essence of attention seeking syndrome, which is the “me-too” symptom. You don’t like to smoke, but other people are smoking. If you don’t smoke you can’t hang out with “the cool guys”. But it is also against your own values. So what do you do?

Adolescents will make mistakes and they are destined to. If they don’t make their own decisions they could end up relying on other people constantly for decision makings. If they do make the wrong decisions (wrong relative to them) they need to learn how to recover from it and develop their own identity.

The key factor here is to differentiate what actually matters in the real world when it comes to social life and future career prospects and what doesn’t. If the person keeps “not knowing what to do” and trying many different things to conform to many different ideas and life styles, then the adolescent can very well lose contact with who they are, who they want to be, and always seek to belong somewhere. Which other people will perceive as attention seeking.

Young Adulthood: This stage can be catastrophic based on the outcome of the previous age group. The attention seeking changes in form but is still present, if it appeared in the previous age group. If it didn’t, it can possibly appear in this age group but it will be in milder form.

Anyway, what is critical in this period is drawing the line between being intimate, being social, and being alone. Intimacy is a natural process of trying to find a loved one or partner in life, and people in this group still often blend in their identities with their loved ones or with the other social group. The blending isn’t quite as pronounced or major as the previous group. Rather, the blending becomes more of sharing or supporting/adding some tweaks, bells and whistles to your stem character. Of course, complete external character changes can still happen, but the core should more or less be stable (usually what you’d get for an answer to “what kind of person is s/he?“).

Forming these lines to separate your intimate time, social time and solitude time is important because focusing on any one of them will form dependencies or total isolation. Investing all your time with a loved one will alienate you from friends and lets you form an identity dependent on the loved one. If the relationship fails, you will have little support from people around you and you’d feel completely lost because you haven’t developed “me-time”. Therefore you may end up “clinging”, either to lovers or to social groups, which could be perceived as attention seeking.

Alright, I talked a lot for now; I will leave the other two for later posts. Remember, this is just my opinion on the subject matter, nothing professional.

A Maslow to Reconsider: Expectancy-Response

Following up from my previous post, I got some really interesting answers on whether or not you guys are happy despite having what the woman in the image appears to not have.What you should ask yourself however is this: Have you answered that you are not happy, to whatever extent, because you are genuinely unhappy or because this is what you thought I expected you to say?

An old funny fellow by the name of Abraham Maslow came up with a “hierarchy of needs”, a system by which people would climb up the ladder on their road to ultimate happiness. Without lots of psychology lingo, you have to fulfill the requirements of the lower levels to proceed to the upper levels. However, if something in the lower level has not been met, it doesn’t mean you cannot progress, but rather, the “deficiency” will disturb you enough for you to reprioritize your goals temporarily.

While the hierarchy of needs is more or less satisfactory, given the fact it isn’t entirely rigid, what we are seeing in this day and age is a shift in paradigms. Although the physiological and security are always critical, in this day and age, a good portion of the Earth’s population don’t really have to worry about those needs – especially if we are ones who live in a consumer based society.

Now that some of the needs are automatically covered, more or less, we tend to immediately focus on the upper-level needs. While in theory this is a good thing, it doesn’t usually pass on as a good idea because the automation process of securing the lower levels means that whatever dependencies you would have otherwise gained from them won’t evolve to help you with the higher ones.

For instance, those of us who live in bigger cities always face a social identity crisis. Either us being expats or just seemingly alienated from the rest, we seek to “belong” to some other group and conform to their ideas and norms.

When this happens, you fulfill the need of belonging by sacrificing the need of individual independence – in other words your desperation to belong somewhere turns you into a no-body.

The problem here is that the highest levels of self-actualization require you to be YOU – that is, it needs you to be spontaneous, creative, self-accepting, accepting of others and of life, moral and ethical independently, and appreciating of yourself, people, life, family, friends, spouse etc.

With our fast paced ways of life, for those of us in the bigger cities anyway, the focal point is always on a bigger piece than we can chew. We tend to achieve the higher levels without thinking about the fulfillment of the lower levels – and then we complain about it.

We focus so much on the high-cognitive abilities and invest so much time “to get rid of everything”, and in the process you get rid of friends, loved ones, social relationships and meaningful sexual intimacies.

So, what does this all mean? Changing your expectations changes your responses. Although I am not saying you should not be ambitious, but you should be accepting of the facts around you – the unchangeable ones and the currently-unchangeable ones – and focus on fulfilling your other lower needs.

Focus on friends, focus on families, focus on building intimacies. If, in some way possible, you are to become the best creative thinker and philosopher in the universe and the wealthiest person alive, how sad will it be if you have no one to share all of this with?

Simplicity and a step-by-step approach are the keys here. The woman in the image is happy because she has what she needs. She has a house, some clothes, married with kids and has lots of friends and supporting family. Why shouldn’t she be happy? She doesn’t have to drive a Maybach to be happy.

The only thing you ultimately take with you to your grave is your smile, and the only thing you leave for the living is a good memory.

PS: I didn’t want to over-elaborate and make this longer than it already is. If you want, I can write up more posts on the topic, you can vote on (check the poll on the right sidebar).

Cultural Upgrade

The other day I was engaged in some conversations about what “typical traditional Arabs” do with their lives and how they treat each other.I heard several stories about some families here in the UAE that have put an end to the lives of some of their children simply because “shame” has been brought into the family in the form of sex or drinking. A very well known UAE family has killed off one of their male children because he has been drinking, and this has brought shame to the family.

There are many similar stories, but most of them involve sex. For example, many families in Jordan, Syria and Palestine are ready to kill their daughters if they had sex. While understandably it is a big issue, my main point is that why are the families selfish enough that they would cheapen the price tag on their daughters to the extent that they would kill them for having sex?

Personally I think that families should accept the responsibility of having such a son or daughter and try to solve the issue internally and publicly. Simply killing the person in question off would not alleviate the shame, in my opinion, simply because the act is already done and the issue can be solved in a marriage cover-up.

I am not saying that I support all the sex and drinking in the universe, but things DO happen, accidentally or otherwise, and if the solution is killing off people, there wouldn’t really be a lot of people left in the world. Plus, it really is not to the family’s credit to kill of people for misbehaving.

So what do you think?