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  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  EDUCATIONAL
 
Small word, big problem
 
  By William Grimm  
  PEOPLE who have studied English as a second language tell me that three of the biggest challenges they encount  
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  COUNSELING  
     
 
   
Tips for teens
  By Tisy Jose, UMI  
  HAPPY birthday to you, happy birthday dear Nidhi, May you have many, many, boyfriends, happy birthday to you... , went the refrain of a birthday greetings at a birthday party recently thrown by Nidhi's parents at their residence in Kanpur. Never mind if little Nidhi was celebrating her fifth birthday surrounded by her peer group. Although all of them were familiar with the word 'boy friend', none of them could differentiate a boyfriend from a girlfriend. Nidhi's teacher-mother Supriya who was proudly recording the song could not stop her head from spinning at such a shocking numbers raised to its crescendo by a group of cherubs!

On the following day a desperate Supriya rushed to the school and told me, "Sister, Nidhi is an adult at five. She talks and behaves like a grown up. It is hard for me to take that birthday song her friends sang for her the other day. Doesn't all this stuff look abnormal? I calmed her down and decided to listen myself to that angel-choir at a recess. Eliciting from them the source of their greeting song, they answered in one voice, "Our college- going didies (elder sisters) near our houses hang out with their boyfriends. We too want many boyfriends". "What for", I queried. "For sex", came the reply. "What is sex?", probed I. "Oh, sex is all about chocolate, designer clothes, lipsticks, high-heel shoes, mobile phones, perfumes, pubs, movies, soft drinks, dancing..." the list went endless.

Now it is that time of the year when droves of teens fresh out of their schools flock to colleges for higher studies. As admission fever runs high, those teens who are forced to sacrifice their favorite streams on the altar of parental pressure take to the gang of nocturnal creatures. The whole night they revel in merriment and sleep the day out. They form an alternate generation least interested in studies and most interested in its own lexicon of strange language, expression, symbols and rituals all suggestive of sex. They live in a world of glitter, fashion, parties and 'chilling out'. The time spending outside home progressively lengthens. Pubs, eateries, parks and multiplexes are their favorite resorts. Things are 'no big deal' for them and one only has to 'cool it'. If you are not on the 'same page' you are regarded rustic.

Hailing from the upper crust of the society with peer group of snob values their irresponsible sexual behaviour set norms for the younger ones in society. Parallel to their invented lexicon 'chill pill' (unwind), 'Babes' (girls), 'shake and swing' 'kick ass' etc, an unprecedented flood of snazzy motorbikes, luxury sedans and entertainment centres thrive around flowing malls.

It is more distressing than shocking to note that this very alternate generation creates a corresponding increase of rape and social brigandage, break-ins, betrayals of love, suicides and vengeance-driven murders in the society. The uncontrolled sexual energy of our teens leads to tragic incidents that ruin their lives. The rate of teenage-pregnancies is rising higher day by day causing millions of abortions. "No one told us what to do", they complain when questioned about the blunders they make in fatuous relationships. A big chunk of our teens are vocal about their confusion in sexual matters. "We should have someone to talk to who can penetrate our minds, says a sweet sixteen Nina of class XI. "How can we talk about this with our mothers? How to frame questions about our doubts about sexual matters to our teachers"?, wonders Anuradha of Ist year B.Com.

In the tidal waves of the present sociological transformation, taboos disappear putting in place a permissive kind of dissipation in the lives of our youth. Our media-saturated age is also a sex-saturated age. This three-letter word in the air, everything else revolves around it as though the whole human person is nothing else but 'sex'. This 'indulgence' culture that thrives on consumerism, market and media make the youth prepared to pitch everything else for the sake of pleasure. The juvenile period of adolescence and teenage are steamy years of youth when they are swept off their feet by the waves of sexual revolution. They are bombarded by alluring visuals and overload of information via TV, Internet, pornography, market, mobile pones and other electronic gadgets. And their friends help experiment all what they view and learn from these mediums.

When a five-year old in the class thus blurts out, " Meera didi and Manoj bhayya are doing sex", the teacher silences him saying, "sex is not a bad word". But obviously our teens need guidance from A to Z of sex and sexuality, love and romance, responsible sexual behaviour and committed marital bond etc if we are to tackle the enormity of the tragic incidents happening in young India. But the million dollar question is 'Who will bell the cat?' Neither state nor religion, neither schools nor homes make serious and systematic effort to impart sex education to our younger generation. They are left to pick it up from street corners and through other destructives mediums.

Youth is precious to us. They are the hope of the nation. If they perish we as a people perish. Around half of our nation is currently under 20 years without imparting sex education where do our youth land up?

A concerted effort of the parents and teachers are urgent to disseminate a holistic knowledge on sexuality to our teens. Not the kind of that over-sexed exercise where only the sexual urge, reproduction, use of condom and experimental sex etc, were initiated a few years back in a Delhi School Health Camp under the pretext of sex education!

The umbrella word 'Sex Education' or Sexuality Education embraces the whole gamut of a person's physical, mental and spiritual life. It explores the broader aspects of human relationship consisting of love, trust, attraction, sympathy, romance et al that make up human sexuality. Drawing a clear distinction between sex in animals which is based on mere instincts and sex in a human being rooted in reason and communication of the whole person to the other, true sex education is to help realize the sacredness and importance of human sexuality. Positive parenting and a sound schooling coupled with well informed counseling can save our teens from the perils of a permissive society.

However, it is equally important that the teens themselves take interest in acquiring thorough knowledge about their sexuality. Teens are a lot who put all their trust in their 'best friend'. If so who actually can be the best of their best friends except their dear parents who gave them life and love, care for them and are concerned about them more than anyone else in the world? There can be no best friend to a girl better than her own dear mother who knows and loves her the most in life. Similarly for a guy there can be no better best friend than his own dear dad even though his love may not always be understood by his children.

No one can give right tips for teens better than their parents who although may not be trained counselors or sexologists, are well equipped with native wisdom, practical knowledge and on the top of it all a thorough knowledge of their own dear clients. A mother of tender love and an understanding father can be the best teachers of sexuality education. And there can be no venue better conducive than ones own home where love and sex basically originate and belong.

Dear teens, sit in the loving company of your dear parents, trust them, choose them as your best friends, hold open chat with them all about your doubts and troubles, success and failure in the adventure of growing up. They will teach you when to say 'no' and how to do it. They will teach you how to detect your manipulators and treat them squarely. They will show you the futility of your day-dreaming and fantasies. Learn from them with love and gratitude.

As Alexander Pope puts succinctly, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". Neither was Aristotle wrong when he said, "The wisest woman is the one who recognizes his/her ignorance. Therefore, grow in the 'humility of the wise and the wisdom of the humble'. Take the world in your stride; make your family and nation proud. Bravo. (Courtesy: www.indiancurrents.org)
 
   
   
Child Adoption -- Are you ready for it?
  By Shaheen Chander  
  IT didn't take us long to be friends with this family which had recently shifted near our place. Their only son and his wife, a young couple in their mid-thirties, were planning to adopt a child. Owing to the complexities and problems involved, the decision was crucial. On their visit to our place, the discussion revolved around the issue and invited several feedbacks in the form of experiences and advice.

Some positive experiences were shared, about couples who diplomatically handled the situation and tactfully unveiled the truth to their children. The adopted children were brought up in a congenial environment and mentally prepared to face the challenges ahead.

Contrary to this, a case was discussed that shed light on the bitter realities and some unpleasant consequences of not handling the situation well. Here the parents had never divulged this fact to the child that he was adopted. But one day, one of the family members, in a fit of anger over some minor dispute, revealed it. This left the child completely shattered.

So each case unveiled a new story accompanied by a new set of experiences, consequences and problems. Thus, owing to the challenges involved, the process of child adoption has always been an interesting and intriguing issue.

Adoption and the problems involved

For understanding the process and the problems associated with it, let's take a closer look at the meaning of the very word 'adoption'.

The word is closer in meaning to the following words: acceptance, confinement, support, foster and befriend. These are the words that depict the reactions of the childless families who eagerly wait to foster the young one(s) joining the family. For them, the ties based on adoption hold much value in their lives, maybe equivalent to their so-called blood ties. They show acceptance for the child and are determined to support and encourage the young one(s) at every step.

On the other hand, words such as repudiation, rejection and denial are opposite in meaning to the word 'adoption'. Thus the words that go against the meaning of adoption also go against the beauty of the process. In fact, these antonyms portray the problems and complications that make the process so intricate.

Parents may face situations whereby there is rejection from the child. This happens in cases where the child is either a grown up who understands that he has to face a new set of people or when parents hide the fact from the child.

Rejection can be from other family members, too, who may not treat the child equally. Besides this, several psychological problems may arise such as denial on the part of the child. Problems may also be associated with the age of the child as well as the circumstances under which adoption took place. The child may also develop feelings of hatred for his parents when he comes to know about it. This hatred may be either for the real parents or the ones who adopted him/her. This leaves the child depressed and helpless.

Coping with the situation

Guidelines for parents

Provide the child a congenial environment. Deal with the child sensitively and avoid hiding the fact. The case mentioned in the beginning is a good example of the after-effects of concealing the fact. A leading magazine in an interview with actress Sushmita Sen beautifully described the way she raised her adopted child.

One striking feature was her way of telling the child that she was not her biological parent. She told the little girl that the child comes from 'mama's heart'. Nothing else could so beautifully express the relationship that the two share. The child should be raised normally. Avoid pampering the child. Treat the child equivalent to other normal children. Don't let adoption be a handicap in your normal relationship and the child's upbringing.

Guidelines for children

Depending on the circumstances, your problems would vary. Whatever be the situation, share everything openly. Do not jump to any conclusions. There may be cases where you have been told the truth and you have accepted the family as yours. So your problems might be different.

In other cases, you might have been traumatized just because you came to know about your adoption much later. Do not panic or over-react. The situation might demand adverse reactions, but calm down and think rationally. Just one bitter reality that your parents adopted you does not mean that you start ignoring other things. Look back and analyze everything.

Thus sensible parenting coupled with right attitude of parents and children can help in making adoption a smooth and pleasant process.
---
The writer is a Chandigarh-based psychologist
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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