By Mira Khatib
This is me pressing the panic button and admitting that in this day and age I am not skilled enough to guide my teenagers through these challenging times and provide them with the sagacity needed to grow up balanced, and skillful to navigate the harsh terrains of life.
With the abundance of social networks taking over the very essence of entertainment, google providing responses to any and all questions, and the media feeding them information that they approve of, I feel helpless and confused. I believe that social networks are depriving my teenagers of having the needed social skills, google confining their reading and their curiosity to dig for answers, and the media from limiting their creativity and instead focusing on music, fashion and real life shows that add no value. So have we relinquished significant part of parenting to complete strangers?
Well one may argue that parents can still play a significant role in the lives of their teenagers so does schools and universities. The truth and matter is parents these days feel more and more helpless and in a battle with social networks and it seems that many parents are losing the fight.
As an Arab family, our values are at odds with most of what our teenagers read off of these social networks and what they see on TV. Frankly, more and more my husband and I see ourselves trying to be “politically correct” to be able to communicate with our teenagers in a language they understand and accept, yet not necessarily in a language that we are convinced with. My husband and I are western educated; have lived and traveled around the world and consider ourselves open minded. We’d like to believe that we openly communicate with our teenagers, befriend them and give them the space they need to grow and discover who they are, and above all give them the assurance that we trust them and we are always close should they need our advice and support.
With the social networks invading every facet of our lives, instilling our Middle Eastern values and culture is becoming more and more difficult. Teaching values that are essential to preserving our culture and way of living is becoming a figment of imagination. What is even more troubling is that our Arabic language is also taking a back seat and with that our civilization may very well be on a path of extension.
Consciously, we are encouraging our teenagers to be more social and have more human contact and not just computer contact; we continue to try to speak to them in a language they understand without seeming too old fashioned trying to show the value in our values. We are slowly re-introducing Arabic as part of our everyday communication, we try and try; an uphill battle indeed, but one that needs to be fought for the sake of our children, don’t you agree?