Global Youth Relationship Issues
Relationships are top priority for youth, hanging out with their family and friends.
Young people consistently search for fulfillment in relationships, drugs, alcohol and anything else that makes them feel special. We need to concentrate on what really matters. Allie, 17, f, Ohio
I would change parents’ attitude to children. Because attention to a child is the most important thing for us. Many parents do not pay much attention to their children because they are ALWAYS busy!!! Why do adults want to have children if they don’t have enough time to play a game, to talk about everyday problems or to walk with a child? Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan
Contents: Change About Adults, Dating, Love, Family, Gender, Irritating People, Marriage, Parents, Peers, Sexual Preference, Siblings
In a 70-year study of Harvard University male graduates, Dr. George Vaillant reported, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” [i] Teens know this: When Elissa Moses asked global teens about the principles of highest importance, relationships are top of the list:
1. Relationship with family, 56%. About 44% enjoy spending time with their families. Most (79%) trust their parents more than anyone else, more than their friends, girl or boyfriend, teachers, and religious or political leaders.
2. Accomplishing as much as I can, 46%
3. Relationships with friends, 42%
4. Having fun, 34%
5. Having the power to get what I want in life, 29%
6. Being accepted as an individual, 28%
7. Making the world a better place, 26%
8. Never being bored, 25%
9. Fitting into society, 22%. Most agreed with the statement “It’s up to me to get what I want our of life.”
10. Upholding traditions, 12%[ii]
Change about Adults (their bad habits, lack of understanding and judgmentalness, bossy, disrespectful, and materialistic
I want them to stop smoking in the house. Gamabunta, 8, m, Japan
I don’t them to drink so much beer. Laiziemon, 8, m, Japan
Most of them drink (alcohol), and I’d like to stop it. Joaquin, 9, m, Brazil
I would change their bad ways of drinking beer and smoking dagga [marijuana].
Mulenga, 10, m, Zambia
I wish they would not fight a lot and have less evil hearts. In Seong, 13, m, Korea
The fact that people in the world do things that they know are bad for themselves and the environment, like smoking and wars. Sam, 14, m, New Zealand
I would have them stop cheating on their wives or husbands.
DeeDee, 15, f, California
They have to stop drinking alcohol much because it isn’t going to benefit anything. Editha, 15, f, Tanzania
They always think that they know everything when us kids get in trouble or do drugs and get caught. They talk to us like they’ve never done drugs before.
Mac, 16, m, California
The things I’d like to change about adults are their loaning behavior, greed, lust for sex, and the behavior to make kids stupid (and themselves of course).
Nara, 15, m, Indonesia
Adults think that taking drugs, smoking, dancing in the clubs etc. is the most important thing that they need to live, even more than the breath they take. Usama, 16, f, Pakistan
Shehroz points out, “Alcohol and Clubs are illegal in Pakistan. Alcohol is prohibited in Islam. And so is clubbing,” but it still occurs.
If there was one thing I could change about adults, it would be their pessimism as it is a thing that will get them nowhere. Dessislava, 17, f, India
The bad habits of my parents because they are drunkards. Flari, 17, m, Nepal
How they use too much of a drug. Lillian, 18, f, California
Their bad habits: gamble, smoke, and so on. Jin, 18, m, China
I would try to stop bad behavior like rape, unnecessary drunks, and all illegal business like selling drug abuse. Sarrwatt, 19, m, Tanzania
To make adults do not smoke and they should keep studying until they pass away. He Ran, 19, m, China
Their bad habits like sleeping late in the morning. Sova, 19, f, Nepal
Listen, Be More Understanding and Less Judgmental
So they would understand first, then judge and punish. Sasha, 11, m, Russia
Adults cut us off before knowing the whole story and don’t see it from your shoes. Madlen, 11, f, British Columbia
I would like adults to allow us not to listen to them. Sometimes we do not know why we always have to listen to adults. Certainly their advice, suggestions, or ideas are good, but why don’t they listen to us or let us do what we think is also possible in their eyes? Enoch, 11, m, Hong Kong
I would want them to listen us a lot. Bahar, 12, f, Turkey
I would want them not to watch TV. Feyzanur, 12, f, Turkey
I want them to listen to children’s opinion more because they don’t listen to me at all. Taro, 12, m, Japan
Many adults underestimate children completely, or they pretend to understand them when they sometimes don’t and they make “wise” statements about it. Enya, 12, f, Germany
Adults should break the rules more. They should be willing to stand up for what they believe in. Also, they shouldn’t judge anyone, especially teenagers.
Meg, 13, f, Quebec
I wish they’d have an off switch. Tom, 14, m, New Zealand
They have to understand that it is the present; it’s harder than the past when it was easier. Shay, 14, m, Lanai, Hawaii
They always have to make a comment about what you do, what you wear or how you act; they can never keep a negative comment to themselves.
Lindsey, 14, f, Belize
Sometimes they really underestimate the younger ones and sometimes do not understand what we try to say. I would like to change them by making them think they we can do much more than what they think and they should try to understand our viewpoint. Zamina, 14, f, Tanzania
Adults automatically assume that they know everything, and children still believe that they do. Adults should try and listen to what we, as teenagers, are saying. They shouldn’t jump in or cut us off. Teenagers like me tend to speak in metaphors, and adults should understand that. Didn’t they go through the same thing and vow never to be like adults when they were young?
Verena, 14, f, California
I’d like to change their outlook. I want them to understand me. I can’t tell them everything, I can’t relieve my feelings, and they won’t get me. Vera, 15, f, Ukraine
They are so close-minded. I just want everyone to be heard, and listened to, cause we all have something to say. Anabel, 15, f, California
Adults think that they have lived so many years and they know everything and we youngsters don’t know as much they know. But the real fact is the problems we face to in our day-to-day life and the way we manage differ a lot from those they have faced in their life. We are maturing and we have all potential to face our own problems. Alexander, 15, m, Romania
Listen to the problem first before yelling at someone. Mukta, 15, f, India
Be less anal and more open. Deanna, 15, f, Quebec
I would change their blithe attitudes. Sometimes I need some one to console me over something petty, and I don’t want to hear the “When I was your age” stuff. I just want to hear an, “I’m here for you, things will be okay.” It’s nice to hear that every once and a while. Sara, 15, f, North Carolina
I feel like adults aren’t as empathetic as they could be. Yeah, we all know that you guys were kids once, you did the same things as us, but can you guys remember how you felt when your parents talked to you, and why you did the things you did? Shauna, 15, f, New York
I wish they’d understand and wouldn’t be so damn confused or shocked by us! Vienna, 15, f, New Zealand
I would change their attitude to the hobbies of modern teenagers, like listening to music that seems strange to them. Sometimes adults judge teenagers because they still live in the past. Alexander, 15, m, Romania
They should listen to you more and do things our way.
Yojta, 16, m, Czech Republic
They think just because I did, you will too. We’re not all alike, or they think if one kid made this mistake, we all will. Danit, 16, f, British Columbia
I would give them back all the insights they’ve forgotten since childhood–all those feelings that they no longer understand because they’ve grown up. This would be the best gift/change that I could give to the adult world, because it would lead to a better understanding of younger people, and better relations between people in general. Bethany, 16, f, Washington
I would make adults more understandable and would like them to be more attentive to their children. Gregori, 16, m, Ukraine
Sometimes adults seem to be really judgmental towards teenagers’ looks and I think if some adults were more open-minded, they’d learn that the teens are actually really nice people. Devon, 16, f, British Columbia
I would change their need to always know what’s going on in their children’s lives. Sometimes kids don’t want to talk to their parents; maybe they’d rather talk to their friends. Most parents don’t understand this and they need to let their kids be kids! Kristian, 16, f, Manitoba
I would like adults to understand young people’s taste in music.
Tatiana, 16, f, Ukraine
They decide something important without saying to us. Tomomi, 16, f, Japan
The sole quality about adults that really irks me is an arrogant nature. The haughty claim that they are always in control, always correct, when in fact most are so insecure that they will never admit to a mistake. Austin, 17, m, California
How do you keep an open mind and the magic of the world as you grow older? Sarah Louise, 17, f, British Columbia
Adults don’t treat children the way they should be treated. There is no equality and everyone ignores them. Small children are not given much freedom to decide what they want to do. Thus adults become a hurdle between success and individuality of youngsters. Raza, 17, m, Pakistan
Adults think that they have lived so many years and they know everything and we youngsters don’t know as much they know. But the real fact is the problems we face to in our day-to-day life and the way we manage differ a lot from those they have faced in their life. We are maturing and we have all potential to face our own problems. Edith, 17, f, India
Take time in a day, to put you in the mind of us (kids/teenager). Imagine what will you feel when things that happened to us happened to you. Things that happened to you back then are different than what happened to us now. Seriously, when something happens to us, please don’t judge us. Even though you are dying wanting to say, ” I told you so,” just don’t. Those bad experiences are the one that will teach us the most about life. Melinda, 17, f, Indonesia
They think they know anything. Ariel, 17, m, Israel
I wish they would stop talking to us like we don’t know what we’re doing, or we don’t know what is in store for us in the future. They think that just because they went through the same thing that they are an expert on the issues of the “real world.” Yes, they have gone through it, but they should leave those experiences and difficulties that may come with it for us to see and discover for ourselves and stop trying to tell us what will happen and what we should do. Everyone has to live with the consequences of actions, including the next generation of America. Jess, 17, f, Georgia
To change their attitude towards traditional Chinese culture–they don’t pay attention to it. Luefeng, 17, m, rural China
To make them believe science, not superstition, and change their education model. Jixuehai, 18, m, rural China
Every adult should have more understanding of kids’ behavior and humor.
Carea, 18, f, Germany.
I would like more adults to be able to remember what it was like being a teenager—identity crisis, etc., so they can understand better.
Willo, 18, f, British Columbia
Communication is the secret to success in any relationship. I’d ask the adults in your life about their experiences as teenagers so you demonstrate and teach understanding for them. Part of communication is asking for a specific solution to something that bothers you, putting it on the table for negotiation, and letting the other person know you understand what he or she is feeling and why. You don’t have to agree; just understanding each other goes a long way. So does humor.
To get adults to listen, use active listening skills where you let the person know what you understand her to be saying and feeling. Also, set aside regular time to talk as a family. The meeting rules are to really listen, repeat what you think you heard, and stay positive, letting family members know what you appreciate about each other. End the meeting with a fun activity so people want to continue having them. Useful books are listed in the endnote.[iii]
Less Bossy and Rigid, More Fun
I would make it so that they have a child inside them, so they would be more interesting. Alexa, 10, Sudan
They control our time. Eartha, 11, f, British Columbia
I want my mom to be gentle. ?, 11, f, Japan
Adults are too serious and never have any fun. Kylee, 12, f, New Mexico
I would want them to do whatever I want. Deniz, 12, f, Turkey
We should enjoy our childhood as much as we can because when we become adults we can’t have as much fun. Augusto, 13, m, Brazil
They should not be so uptight and just slow down to see the beautiful things in life. Corey, 13, m, Australia
[I think that] you can decide when you want to get a piercing done or when you want to smoke; it is your own life. Roos, 13, f, Netherlands
All adults want to control us all the time and everywhere! Our grandparents and parents, teachers and neighbors want to make our lives like they have planned! They push us to work the same way like THEY do, to achieve what THEY want for us! This thing bothers me very much! I want to make my own mistakes, to build my dreams and make my life myself!!! Yaroslav, 13, m, Uzbekistan
We started out as dependent, helpless babies. Parents get used to taking care of little kids. It’s not easy to get used to your children growing up. It helps if you talk things over with them and gradually ask for more freedom as you prove your good sense.
I would make them more pure, as in make them more of who they are, not who they are forced to be. Also, I would make them more imaginative and creative. Sally, 14, f, New Zealand
I don’t like the way most stop dreaming when they get older, losing sight of their own personal goals. Not everyone stops, but those who do, well, most feel lost somehow. Namine, 14, f, Australia
When they get old, they become stubborn like a mule. Simone, 14, f, Switzerland
They need to look at the little things more, the flowers growing in sidewalk cracks, dew on spider webs in the morning, saying good morning to strangers, and walking barefoot in the grass. To stop worrying about money, materials, jobs, and themselves. I wish adults weren’t so afraid to be children. People always say teenagers are bad, or create trouble; this is what people have created. We are told we have no wisdom and that we have nothing to say. If people would just let us speak, they would find the optimism and love we all carry. We want to be heard. Let us. Chauncey, 15, f, Oregon
They should retain some wonder and respect for the world and for life.
Caroline, 15, f, United Kingdom
I want adults not to ask everything carefully before I am going to do something. I want them give me more freedom. Annabel, 15, f, China
Discuss this with them, suggesting some areas you’d like to have control over so you can learn responsibility and decision-making.
They should stop being so serious and telling us to grow up. Why should we when you’re grumpy for being old! I don’t want to grow up; I want my childhood forever. Brooke, 16, f, United Kingdom
If there were one thing I could change about the adults it would be their psychology. It drives me crazy when they always worry about such things like the mess in the flat or grades in school. Diana, 16, f, Ukraine
Intolerance, and a lot of adults can’t see the elephant in the room.
Casper, 16, m, California
They always say they’re adults, they always let me do this, but not do this.
Weik, 16, f, China
I would like to stay up as long as I want at night, sleep as long as I want in the mornings, play my computer games as long as I want and eat whatever I want . (I have to have a diet because I was sick.) Fateyev, teen, m, Turkmenistan
Just because they pay for us they tend to get too bossy at time. I would really want them to stop ordering kids about what to do all the time.
Samana, 16, f, Pakistan
Adults should realize what teenagers go through and should not impose their decisions on them. Instead they should let the teenagers make their point and look for a solution that is the most desirable one. Sadif, 17, f, Pakistan
They always want to have the last word; they always want to be right.
Charles, 17, m, France
They are too serious, should get weird sometimes. Staebel, 17, m, France
If I could change adults, it would be their constant quest of projecting their insecurities into their children and having them suffer because of it.
Arias, 18, m, California
Their feeling of being superior and dominant due to wanting their juniors to do what, when and how they want. ?, 19, f, Nepal
I wish that after 30 they don’t die inside. Bill, 18, m, British Columbia
I’d like it if adults could get out from marriage and enjoy life as they did before marrying. Wen Zhen, m, 19, Chin
I wish that they didn’t lose their passion and individuality and willingness for change and difference. Kara, 18, f, Northern Ireland
Hypocrisy levels–if an adult does something in their past they always forbid their kid to do it. You should let them experience things for themselves. Like I got a piercing this weekend and I love it, while my dad got one when he was a kid and he hated it. It doesn’t mean it will be the same for me and he should let me do what I want and learn for myself. Amanda, 18, f, South Dakota
When I am an adult, I want to keep a child heart, so I will feel happy everyday. I like childhood. I like playing with my friends. That is wonderful.
Zheng, 20, m, China
I would ask my father, and if he was busy, I would ask my mother, “I would like to know why bigger kids or adults sometimes mistreat kids by being rude, ignoring them etc. Also, why are kids sometimes disrespectful to adults, for example if an adult says “hello” they do not reply. Mohammad, 9, m, Saudi Arabia
I know the saying “respect your elders,” but what about “respect your youngsters?” Vilma, 9, f, Belize
I’d change that they see me just as a kid and thought of me as just the same as them, only they’re a little farther down the road. Bunny, 12, f, California
I don’t like to be called a kid. I’m 14. You can call me a young person. Don’t call me a kid. I, personally, find it degrading. Maybe that’s just me, though.
Cherry, 14, f, North Carolina
Society barely gives teens a voice. They doubt our ability to actually understand something and constantly use our age as a reason to keep stuff from us. What they don’t realize is that if they just gave us the opportunity we could actually accomplish a lot. Kirby, 15, f, Rhode Island
Sometimes I ask an adult if I can do something with them, and more than half the time, the answer is “No, you’re too young.” I think adults use that as an excuse and think we’re stupid enough to believe it. I don’t know why but they think it’s okay to lie, but it hurts. Does it mean we can lie too? Aren’t they supposed to be the role models? Maybe it’s time for the youth to be heard for a change.
Anabel, 15, f, California
I wish they would think more about what they did when they were young and don’t lie, saying they never did things we do now. Lea, 15, f, Germany
They always think of teenagers as rotten kids. We aren’t all disrespectful and we aren’t here to cause trouble. It’d be nice if they could treat us like normal human beings instead of as if we were always below them. Michelle, 15, f, Washington
For them to take you seriously instead of just anything you say they think it’s a joke, cause you’re a kid. Talia, 15, f, Australia.
Their idea of being always right and never bothering or concentrating a lot on what the young have to say. Also I don’t like it when they interfere with kids’ businesses. Bright gal, 16, f, Tanzania
The way they lie to kids because they think they won’t understand. Ami, 16, f, United Kingdom
All adults think that we teenagers, 16-years-old, are very small children. I want they change their opinion. Evgeniy, 16, m, Uzbekistan
Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you’re better than I am. Although you’ve seen more and have experienced more, I am the same as you and I deserve to be treated like a human, not some freak in a circus.
Rachel-Claire, 17, f, Scotland
I actually like the majority of adults. But, there are always the few adults who tend to treat kids like children without giving them a chance to show their worth. I hate adults who talk to me as if I were still eight-years-old. I believe all people should be treated the way they act, and it’s wrong to just assume every teen acts like… a teen. Jessica, 17, f, New Mexico
I think our generation gets a bad rap for being “wild.” The excessive partying that is supposedly a new and horrifying trend has been around since (at least) the 60s. It’s completely unfair and illogical for some adults to act like the youth of America’s morals are disintegrating. Laurel, 17, f, California
I’d make all adults more laid back, act like kids again, not all stuck up, and not to look down on us. Scott, 17, m, British Columbia
Don’t be too up to themselves just because they are older than us!!
Chi, 18, f, New Zealand
Adults cannot believe youthful persons enough. So I would make them believe us enough so that can find our first jobs easily. Xiaotang, 19, m, China
The constant arrogance that if you aren’t old, then you do not know anything about life. Experience can come at any age, and adults often forget that. Some kids are quite mature, and even if not, everyone has powerful personal experience. Usually adults forget about this until they run into someone who can surprise them enough. Marine, 20, f, France
I want them to be kind to me. Tomo, 9, m, Japan
I’m happy during the Spring Festival, because adults won’t lose their temper easily at that time and they try to be very nice. Manqi, 9, f, China
I hope that adults should stop giving exams to us and stop shouting us so that we (children) could be happy all the time. We do not want to have too many exams because exams are great pressure to us. We are also unhappy about adults shouting at us. We would like to be happy all the time and live happily.
Winnie, 11, f, Hong Kong
Don’t shout back. Be a good example by speaking in a normal voice and ask if the adult will sit down and talk with you about what is bothering him or her. You can’t do anything about the exams but change how you think of them, like scoring on a video game. Read the section on how to do well in school in the school chapter.
I would change all the terrible adults into babies. Some adults are good but some adults are bad. In order to stop bad adults doing bad things, it would be nice to change them into babies. Then no more bad things happen any more.
Kieran, 11, m, Hong Kong
That they wouldn’t get annoyed when kids do some things and that they would be interested (like, really interested) in lots of things kids do (not 3-year-olds of course). Elisa, 11, f, Canadian in Belize
Adults cut us off before knowing the whole story and don’t see it from your shoes. Madlen, 11, f, British Columbia
I would tell adults not to shout at their kids because shouting at their kids is not a good way of teaching them to be good and also it scares them and even affects their personality and emotional development. Jonathan, 11, m, Hong Kong
I would change the adults to be more gentle. They are rude in my eyes and they don’t listen to children’s words attentively and closely. Henry, 11, m, Hong Kong
The bad moods and the vulgar vocabulary some adults have.
Christian, 12, m, Columbia
That they would not fight a lot and have lesser evil hearts. Shen, 13, m, Korea
I want them to like us. Ebru, 13, f, Turkey
Don’t be mean to children oralways think they are wrong. Ko-Yun, 15, f, Taiwan
[I wish they would care more about the children than money, sex, and drinking. Dan, 15, m, Florida
I feel the only time I can make them happy is if I am ranked the best in class, then both parents definitely are happy. It is not the only time my parents take pity on me, but I felt in the heart that is the only time that I can feel [their love].
Febri, 17, f, Indonesia
Adults have anger issues I think. They get angry and rule the kids just because they ARE ADULTS and they think by talking to them in a loud voice and don’t giving them a chance to speak will earn them respect in the kid’s hearts, as well as some fear which will make them the real TYPICAL ADULTS. This is wrong. They should have a healthy and strong relationship with kids. I know the kids are in their learning stages and they need to study and learn the social standards of life, but by bursting your anger at them so they lose all their confidence and boldness, is definitely wrong and unfair.
I believe one of the issue adults get angry about is their life. Sometimes they don’t have enough money to pay the tuition fees for their kids. And they feel their kids as a burden. So they yell at their kids for none of a reason. Thus, the kids grow in such kind of circumstances and have the same attitude as their parents did and the same amount of anger. I am not blaming parents or anyone. Anger is a part of nature. We should control on it because the person who can control his anger is brave in true sense. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan
I would like adults to take more care of the old. Yuan, 20, m, China
Most religions teach the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We all would like to be taken care of if we’re old and weak, but some elders are neglected and abused. It’s difficult to care for an infirm elder who needs their diapers changed, because unlike babies they don’t usually get better, and may complain rather than being thankful. This problem is going to get more common as people live longer, and fewer babies are being born to grow up to be workers who pay into social programs to help the elderly. The elderly will outnumber children for the first time in 2045 (22%), increasing the burden on working people, according to A United Nations report in 2010. Governments need to provide programs to care for impoverished elderly.
Shehroz tells us: I think the Older/Younger relationship is a more of a cultural factor. Through my observations, I have seen that Kids in USA respect elders a lot less than kids in Pakistan on a general basis. For example, we would never call anyone older than us by their name. We would always use words like ‘mister’ or ‘uncle’ (even though he is not out real uncle) or some words in our language which show a sign of respect. For example, in schools and colleges, the student would always call his teacher by SIR or MADAM and never by name. In Pakistan, a kid would get up and leave his chair when an elder enters the room. We are taught to do that. Pakistani lifestyle is all about raising the kids in such a way that when the parents get older, the kids would take care of them financially as well as practically. Most people in Pakistan will never let their parents live alone in their old age.
Why do women date/marry men with a lot of money (not all women)?
Jon, 14, m, California
Remember that most of the 130,000 years of homo sapien history we’ve been nomadic hunters and gathers. We settled down to do agriculture only about 10,000 years ago. If you were pregnant, or nursing and protecting a baby, as women were most of their short lives, you’d want a successful mate to help protect and provide protein for you and your kids. You can think of many other influences from our past, as in men liking football (fighting over and hunting the game/ball) and women liking to gather (shop). But with technology, birth control, and living much longer, we’re moving towards equality. Today about 25% of wives in US dual-earner families earn more than their husbands. Gender roles are changing as women become independent and men are allowed to be more sensitive.
When I actually like someone, I’m afraid to be myself. Tasha, 15, f, Quebec
Focus on learning about the other person, rather than on yourself.
My dream is to live as a bachelor so what bothers me is falling in love. I don’t want to end up in a relationship except for commitment in my work.
Anas, 15, m, Pakistan
How do I get girls? Smokey, 16, m, California
The same ways as you get guy friends. Look for people with similar interests, show interest and concern, and get to know them as people. The main misconception I see with men is the belief they should monologue about themselves to try to impress a woman. Lack of dialogue–showing interest in learning about her–comes across as self-centered. Instead of being a standup comedian, imagine you’re a reporter interviewing her for a story, finding out what she likes and values, enjoys doing for fun, thinks about current issues, her background, etc. Focus on what she is saying rather than how you’re reacting. Let her know what you appreciate about her. Smile and make eye contact and enjoy getting to know a new human being. Practice on women you’re not attracted to romantically, but might find interesting. Men I talked with regard this practice as “working my way up.” (Friends of my son.)
Think about your positive qualities before an encounter with the other sex so you come across as confidant, the trait that my male informants view as most important. Why should she like you if you don’t like yourself? The men suggested being aware of your nonverbal body language (50-80% of the way we communicate), making eye contact, smiling, and leaning forward towards her to show you’re interested and at ease.
It also takes confidence to take risks like asking a woman you’re attracted to out for lunch. The worst that can happen is that she could say no. My guys suggested thinking of this as batting a baseball; you probably strike out many times before batting a homerun, but you don’t stop playing. Also, ask yourself, “What’s going to change in my life if she turns me down?”
In Between Days is a 2006 film directed by So Yong Kim about a young girl from Korea, a recent immigrant to Canada, and her friendship with a guy named Tran. Their relationship is a good example of what not to do: They don’t communicate directly, lie to each other, expect the other to know what they’re thinking, then punish the other with passive aggression such as flirting with someone else. As a result, they drift apart and Aimie is very lonely.
Shehroz says, “My friends always ask me that why I am so easily able to talk to girls and make friends. My answer is that I NEVER THINK OF THEM AS GIRLS WHILE CHATTING. I always talk to them the way I talk to my guy friends. Plus, one thing that I have learned is that girls like to be “listened.”
My boyfriend is the best person I know, who knows me better than anyone, and he can take me as I am, no matter what I do; he’s just like my giant spotlight! Avina, 16, f, Indonesia
I’m dealing with a breakup amongst other things right now. I think it’s such a cliché, but I miss my boyfriend and I hope that me and him can eventually work things out. Felicia, 16, f, Wisconsin
Breakups are hard, even if we outgrow each other. We build emotional connections to people we’re close to and it’s painful to sever them. Instead, think of connecting to nature, the sun, moon, and beauty around you. Think of romantic relations as boy/girl school. We learn from experience in grade 1, 2, 3. . . and partner 1, 2, 3, like moving from freshman, to sophomore, to junior to senior. It’s hard to leave elementary school, to go to middle school and so on, just as it’s difficult to end a relationship. But it can be a graduation to a better relationship based on what we’ve learned.
Few of us in the West are mature enough to grow together with our first love, although many arranged marriages between young people (as in India) do succeed. Shehroz observed: Arrange marriages are a cultural element of Pakistan too. And I must say that there is something about it that divorce rate in Pakistan is far far far less than that of USA or European countries. I think that maybe parents understand their kids better and thus find a girl perfect for him. Or maybe the cultural pressure as well as peer pressure stops a couple from getting divorced. Moreover, in Pakistan, families are so closely knit that whenever a couple is in a serious fight, the family would try to patch them up and finish their fight. If things are not working out at all then divorce is inevitable.
Most of us in the West will not stay with our first loves, which is wise because people who marry when they’re young are more likely to divorce. So, think of each relationship as an opportunity to expand your horizons, to learn about another human being and his or her family. Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, observed that relationships are one of the best ways to become aware of our unconscious issues, our shadow self, jealousy, fear of being controlled or abandoned, etc. When you suffer from a breakup, remind yourself it’s a graduation to the next boy/girl, one door shutting so the other can open.
Next “boy or girl school” event, hold a little of your heart in reserve at first as the half-life of romantic love is 90 days. After that, the real people start to come into view past the projections onto the blank screen of the new person. It’s also very important to analyze your parents’ patterns, as we tend to repeat them or react against them.
There are a lot of things that bother me–meeting new people at school and my love life (oh, it so embarrassing to me), like how my crush feels about me.
Febri, 17, f, Indonesia
I asked Hassan to comment on the Islamic view of dating:
Dating in Islam is NOT allowed in any case. Quran never allows a man or a woman to meet each other before marriage. It’s considered bad. Women have certain rules to follow in Islam like purdah, etc. They have to follow those regulations strictly when they go out to public places. Now for men, there are some orders from Quran as well, because it will be unfair with women if Quran implements rules on women and not men, and Islam is a fair religion. Quran says, “Oh men, save your eyesight for goodness.” It means that men should not walk around and stalk at the women. They should keep their eyes down once they see a woman or walking by them. That’s even more respectful and considered the best thing to do in Islam. So, there is no concept of dating in Islam. Men and women should not be in ANY physical contact before marriage.
Humans are very weak and we have Satan (devil) with us all the time as well. He makes us do bad things. So in the case, the person should pray and ask for forgiveness. Allah will definitely forgive him/her. But Islam has a straightforward rule about dating—NO DATING!
It’s true that boys and girls do not interact so openly here in most parts of the Middle East due to the religious restrictions on us. Also, we have separated schools as well. However, this concept is erased now after youth getting attracted so much to the modern technology. Almost every teen has cell phone and access to Internet. So boys and girls do talk and they interact. Dating is not allowed, but still teens do. Boys and girls actually do talk freely in Pakistan now. A few days earlier, I went out of town to see my friends. Those friends include girls as well. We hung out, ate at a restaurant, had a dance party, had fun. And our parents were all good with it. They trust their kids and they know their kids very well. So they have given their kids some sort of freedom considering the interaction of boys and girls in Pakistan just for friendship! Teens might convert this friendship into relationships, and it is possible.
I met my girlfriend like this. We were good friends and then we converted this into a relationship, a commitment. It’s not that we have forgot our values and traditions. No, we do remember everything. I never touched that girl. We used to talk on the phone and I saw her, but never touched her. We respect our values and traditions, but we are developing as an open-minded state now. We want to erase that concept of girls considered unequal to boys and being harassed and under estimated. We want them to be equal to us and give all sorts of opportunities to them.
Teens in rural areas have access to cell phones and Internet, but they are under more restrictions by their parents because villagers are not so open minded. They are simple and decent people and they stick to their traditions no matter what. They do what they are told and that’s it. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan
Another Muslim point of view about dating:
Free gender mixing has long since been discouraged by people on the name of Islam! Islam discourages looking at a girl with an evil eye or with sexual intentions. But when you grow up with no barrier between male and female genders, this is less common. In Pakistan for example, if a boy meets a girl, he will definitely see her with a different intention than a boy in America meeting a girl. My point here is that if you keep something away and hidden from a human, his curiosity for that thing is way higher than if that thing is openly made available to that human. In America, it is normal for girls and boys to hug each other and no bad intentions are formed there. But if the same thing happened in Pakistan, bad intentions will kick in immediately because this was not something common for them since the beginning.
Moreover, to compete on a global level, free mixing between girls and boys is necessary. Just imagine that a Pakistani is given a job offer in a multi-national company but his boss is a female. How the heck would he be able to talk to her if he has never had much interaction with females? Islam is not about girls and boys; it is about getting successful in the world and making a name for Muslims. Work for the greater good. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan
My first real love just dumped me. I thought we were going to get married and live happily ever after. How can I cope with this pain? Anna, 18, f, California
The idea of the passive girl marrying the Prince on a white horse who rescues her is a fairy tale kept alive by Hollywood movies like “Pretty Woman” and “Ever After” (although the heroines do some rescuing of the prince in these modern stories). Marrying your first love worked when people died at age 50 in 1900, but now we have more time to go to “boy school” or “girl school.” It’s a rare Western person who can make it work forever with the first love. Think about what you learned about your partner and yourself and what habits you’d like to change in your next boy school. Set goals and be active in working towards them.
Here’s what a girl your age responds:
Being as young as I am, I do not possess a large amount of relationship experience. I’ve only been in two serious relationships, one I am currently in. My ex boyfriend was my first real boyfriend, first love, and a plethora of other “firsts.” We were only together for six months, and now have been broken up longer than we were together, but I am still upset about that breakup to this day. So I know how hard it is to be heart broken. The only advice I feel qualified to give to those who have had similar experiences is do not give up hope. Initially, a breakup can be the single most excruciatingly painful experience. But, if you hold on and persevere, the pain will subside to a manageable amount. And eventually it diminishes to a point where it is virtually nonexistent. Also, you might discover that the breakup was for the best, and you may meet someone new who is altogether better for you, as I did. Kim, 18, f, California
Because there are exceptions to every rule, I interviewed a happily married couple who met in high school and have been married almost 40 years. Joe and Terry are the only married couple in his medical school class that didn’t get divorced, despite the challenges of long hours at work, raising three kids, moving 12 times in 14 years, and two bouts of cancer. They’re also unusual in that they’ve been a couple since high school who married when they were Seniors at UC Berkeley 39 years ago. Why did they stay happily married when others succumbed to stress? The words they used most frequently in our interview were commitment, flexibility and being in love; not a love of lust, but deep love, says Joe. Like other couples I interviewed for my book 50/50 Marriage, they married their best friend.
Joe admired the smart pretty girl who sat up front in his Sophomore math class but didn’t think she’d like a guy like him who fooled around in class. A friend invited both of them to go to a presentation on careers in medicine in a two-seater Thunderbird, so Terry had to sit on Joe’s lap. That’s how they met, but Terry was the one to ask Joe out to a TWERP dance because he was so attractive and smart. They both majored in zoology in college, but complemented each other with Terry’s knowledge of the humanities. “I could never be as smart as she was,” Joe noted.
The need for flexibility came up while Joe was in medical school. They agreed they’d have a 50/50 marriage, sharing the chores and child care, but that had to change because Joe didn’t get home till 7:30 or 8:00 PM. Terry would sit down with him and talk without TV for about 20 minutes as he ate dinner, then Joe would play with the kids. Joe made a point to be at the kids’ special events, such as a birthday parties and performances. If he had to work on Thanksgiving, they’d celebrate as a family on the weekend. In a letter to her daughter-in-law, Terry said it’s important to be your own person, to do the things that are meaningful to you, to not just be Mrs. Dr. Doug (he’s a surgeon like his dad). To her son, she wrote, “No one else can be the dad, but someone else can be the doctor for your patients.”
A turning point for their marriage was when they honed communication skills on a Marriage Encounter workshop for couples after their first son was born. They believe in being honest with each other, and figuring out how to apologize in difficult times when they are frustrated with each other—often around time problems. As Joe said, “I have a wife plus a mistress in my medical practice.” He cut way back on his leadership roles and took a year off from being a trauma surgeon when Terry was diagnosed with cancer 15-years-ago. It turned out to be the happiest year of her life because of the time they made to focus on each other, a new beginning. She understood her illness as a message to cut back on her stress level, to schedule in time for exercise, leisure, and ballroom dancing. She thanks God for her unexpected recovery.
How can I be happy with myself or how do I trust a person again, if they've already broken my trust before? Justine, 17, f, Australia
In terms of trust, as long as you’re centered in your own strength, what someone else does can’t rock your boat very much. Expectations are the key; know that no one is perfect. If you’ve learned someone can’t keep a secret, then yes, I wouldn’t tell him or her a secret again. Wait until he or she earns back your trust.
As much as I hate to admit it, I cheated on my boyfriend once, and regret it whole-heartedly, and wish I could take it all back. I came to realize that he is the one I really care about and that he didn’t deserve that to be done to him. I made a mistake and I learned from it. Chelsea, 17, f, New York
I recently decided to breakup with my girlfriend but I’m painfully jealous about her dating other men. I see guy’s cars at her house when I drive by.
Jack, 18, m, California
Intellectually you know why the romance couldn’t work, so now I’d clean out the emotional and chemical ties and attachments. Love triggers brain chemicals. Prairie voles are rodents who form pair bonds of loyalty. The brain maintains these bonds with brain chemicals including CRF (coricotropin-releasing factor) in both humans and voles. When researchers separated the prairie voles they became depressed after four days apart.[iv]
One way to be more objective is to write about what you’ve learned from the romance, what you’d like to do differently next time, and what you’re missing about the highs and lows. Tear up the note and burn it. You can think about ending your attachment, using a rock as a symbol, conduct a ceremonial funeral by throwing the rock into a creek and saying goodbye. What kind of relationship do you want to create now? And don’t drive by her house; take another route. Stay involved in school and other activities.
I know many girls are loving me all the time. Although they imply [it to] me all the time, I don’t want to admit it. After all, I’m a student and studying is my commission. Dong, 19, m, China
I hurt a boy’s heart deeply, but I can’t do anything except feel sorry. I don’t expect he will forgive me, I just want him to be more happy from his inner world. I want to know how to rebuild the friendship between us. Jing, 19, f, China
All you can do is let him know how you feel and that you care about him. It may be difficult for him to be around you if he still is in love with you. Be patient.
The average, nice guy like me who is sincere, having being rejected for being too nice, knows that to a lot of women the “bad boy” is more exciting. One reason men do not open up to women is fear of being thought of as weak, fear of being boring. Fear of rejection is the number 1# reason why men do not open up to women and show their feelings. So why do women say they want sensitive men but prefer bad boys to nice guys? Howie, 19, m, California
That’s the most common complaint I’ve heard from men in US workshops I’ve co-led with a man. We’re bombarded with media tough guys: the Marlboro Man, James Bond, Rambo, Hulk, Russell Crowe, Eminem. You can add a multitude of other examples of film stars, musicians, and advertising images. In the same way, men are brainwashed into finding airbrushed Playboy Bunnies sexy. Let’s hope your comment reminds female readers to be conscious of media programming and to focus on the human qualities of the men in their lives rather than an unhealthy image of masculinity. Ben adds, “My experience is if I am a bad boy, I get a bad girl. It may be fun in the short run but it’s going to be pain eventually. If only 10% of women like you, that’s still more than you can deal with.” So, be yourself and look for a smart girl.
Shehroz comments, This is so true. I once asked a female friend of mine that what kind of guys does she prefer and her words were: Hot, Wild, Crazy, Macho. Therefore, a guy friend of mine transformed himself from the nerdy top student to the stylish crazy macho and failed his 10th grade. He used to be the highest achiever of the school but then his consciousness for girls ruined him. Girls like him now but he doesn’t realize the consequences he will face in the future.
We’ve been together around a year, but I’m not sure I want to stay with my boyfriend. Amber, 18, f, California
Your childhood issues may be surfacing now with some discomfort. Harville Hendrix explains in How to Get the Love You Want that we’re attracted to a “soul mate” because of the similarity of our childhood family patterns. We know how to relate to each other, and it feels comfortable, even if unhealthy. In the second stage of relationships, romantic love and sexual excitement wear off and we feel disappointment as reality surfaces past fantasy. At that point, we can go off and start stage one again with someone else, although stage two will pop up with the daily realities of roommate hassles.
The third stage is to become conscious of our unconscious behavior habits and sub-personalities (such as the inner child or inner critic) and work through them with the beloved. Hendrix provides useful exercises in his book. I suggest doing the work before you give up because you care about each other. You will need to do the emotional exploration in order to have a consciousness relationship with anyone.
My boyfriend hasn’t called for a week and I’m worried. Miko, 19, f, Japan
It makes it easier for someone to think clearly and take action if you pull your energy out of his space. If someone invades your personal space by standing too close to you, your natural tendency is to move away. If someone moves away from you, you’re likely to step towards her. The same is true of obsessive thoughts about someone. Marilyn Schultz, Ph.D., showed in her lab studies that a person whose vital signs are monitored reacts when someone in another room thinks about him or her.[v] (This and other research is reported on in my Essential Energy Tools book.)
Keep your focus in your own space so he’ll have room to move towards you. Focus on enjoying your time together, not what he’s feeling about you. If you find yourself obsessing about him, think of something else to obsess about; such as, “I’m an independent woman, enjoying my daily progress.” So the best plan is to focus on enjoying your own life and on achieving your goals.
I’m a single woman interested in finding a guy and want to know what men want. Erica, 19, f, California
Men want to feel appreciated and successful in pleasing their partners, according to John Grey, therapist and author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. If a woman comments, “I’d love to live in a mansion like that,” the man personalizes it and figures since he can’t fulfill her dreams, he’d better find another woman.
Illustrating Grey’s point, a teenager told me, “I want to feel like her existence would be much more difficult if it weren’t for me, that other guys don’t measure up, that I’m smarter, kinder, and more handsome. I would want to feel that whatever I provided her with was enough, and that despite our need for a separate time from each other, she would relish our time the most.” I asked Mike Peavy, Chico bike storeowner, who is as likely to have people come in for relationship advice as for bikes, what he’s looking for in a woman. “Play (fun and laughter), compatibility (the small things), communication (deep and often) and passion” are his top priorities and love is the glue that pulls it all together, he concludes. A professor said, “It boils down to feeling supported; we want someone to get on our rocket ship and support our dreams, hopes and desires. If someone can love someone for their flaws I think that is a winner too.”
How a person can know the good girl to get marriaged with? What are criteria you have to look when choosing a good wife? Sarrwatt, 19, m, Tanzania
She should be like a best friend, someone you respect and with whom you share similar values and goals. It should be enjoyable and easy to talk with her. Get to know her parents and their relationship, as we often repeat our family patterns.
My boyfriend is very logical and I’m very emotional so sometimes we drive each other nuts. Anna, 19, f, California
Understanding an issue is half the solution. He’s not trying to irritate you; emotions seem messy and uncomfortable to him. I’d work out a plan to use when you have a conflict. Maybe he could agree to listen to you without feeling any pressure to solve your problem. Then when you’ve discharged your upset, you can discuss the issue rationally. Understand that his thought process is linear; he needs one thought to follow from the other in a sequence, A to B to C. Together you can teach each other a lot; he can be encouraged to explore his feelings little by little without fearing they’ll submerge him. You can think through what bothers you, analyze it so it makes sense to both of you and he has a handle on what to do or not do in response to a clearly defined problem.
I can’t find a guy who can make a commitment. Petra, 20, f, California
Only three percent of mammals pair bond for life, so humans aren’t hard wired for lifelong monogamy. It requires a conscious commitment to be faithful. The problem is not men as a group, as there are many loyal and committed men. The issue is your selection process, the way your antenna is tuned to men who fit your pattern. If there’s any pattern in your relationships, it’s a teaching device, a mirror to your unresolved unconscious issues. Take some time to explore your childhood, your parents’ relationship(s), what level of intimacy you’re comfortable with, what you believe you deserve. Analyzing your dreams helps understand the motivation for your choices in men. We usually need a therapist to help with this awareness. As you change your awareness, the men you’re attracted to will improve. It’s you who must change first. Also, don’t expect to be able to change someone else. If a guy says he’s a playboy, believe him.
Every moment I feel loved by my family, but from someone else, still not. I’m hoping to feel love soon. First, I should meet my dream guy. Sanee, 20, f, Nepal
I don’t have a girlfriend, so I feel lonely. Xiang, 21, m, China
Eric Fromm, in The Art of Loving, observed that humans seek oneness and unity in ecstatic and mystical experiences, creativity, falling in love, and other ways to not feel lonely. Personally, I never feel alone if I get centered and ask for guidance. I’m also never bored; I think boredom feeds loneliness, so make sure you’re learning daily. Cultivate friends with similar interests. If you want to meet girls, got to university activity groups, join the ballroom dance group, chat online, and let your friends and family know what you’re looking for in a girlfriend.
Family is a big deal for today’s youth. Don Tapscott. Grown Up Digital. “Spending time with family is more important for Gen Y, except in Central Europe and Japan where family and friend are about equal.”[vi]
Why do people get married? Probably because they’re in love and the girl is pregnant and she wants it to keep her safe. She might also want a lot of money if the boy has a lot. Julie, 10, f, California
I adore my parents and uncles and aunts they way they are and someday I’ll be like them. Tiago, 12, m, Brazil
My family has got many interesting traditional celebrations on the New Year’s day. All our family decorate our house and the New Year tree. Grown-ups and the children dress up and wear masks and costumes. On December 31 we make presents ready for our relatives and friends. Usually we give sweets or souvenirs as presents. Until 5:00 pm we cook New Year supper. The traditional New Year dish is chicken grilled with potatoes. Then I go to my friend’s place and come home at 9:00 p.m. Until 12:00 pm we celebrate at home and give presents. Then we go to a “snow city,” a little town made of ice. There is a New Year tree, icy attractions, a skating rink in the snow town. We have fun, go skating and tobogganing and then we all go to our friend’s place. The New Year’s Day is the most popular celebration in Russia and I think New Year celebration with my family is great!
Anastasia, f, teen, Russia /www.iearn.org.au/kindred/highkb/sdb/indexfla.htm
Whether it is an Indian, Pakistani or American teenager, youth of the same age group have similar traits, like peer pressure, look conscious. They have the same problems such as misunderstandings with parents where parents aren’t understanding the new trends and cultures. Most teenagers want the same things by high school like cell phones, iPods or maybe cars. These desires, problems and feelings may vary according to the child’s social status.
Maham, 13, m, Pakistan
I would want adults to stop the regulation of divorce. It changes children’s lives if their parents are divorced. Muhammad, 13, m, Tanzania
The problem of divorce of parents are hurts me very much. I have a friend–her name is Lola. Some months ago there was a big quarrel between her parents. As the result they go apart. Lola was a girl who always got only 5 marks. But after this she became calm girl, she is not talking and smiling. Even if somebody says jokes she is not smiling but only thinking about something. Everybody sorry her, but nobody could help her. The problem of divorce troubles me very much. She wants her parents to love each other, to live friendly together, but it is impossible .I think she gives everything for this. I want to help her, but how? I know that thousands of such kinds of children in the all parts of the world are suffering from this problem. Nigina, 14, f, Tajikistan
I would make it so everyone thought marriage over more. Adults get divorced all the time, and most of them have children. If you’re not sure about it, don’t do it, and DON’T bring kids into the picture if you’re not always going to be there for them. Cherry, 14, f, North Carolina
You’re giving good advice; couples should wait until they have a solid foundation. No one should have a baby to try to hold a problematic marriage together.
[I wish] that my parents didn’t get a divorce. Micah, m, 14, Lanai, Hawaii
Kids are not responsible for their parents’ divorce, although sometimes they blame themselves. Youth I surveyed for my book Kids’ Advice to Kids: How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce reported that they do fine if they maintain contact with both parents and the parents don’t argue in front of their kids. Some studies show children of divorce have lower emotional well-being than other children but would develop the same even if their parents had stayed married.[vii] High conflict parents who stay married produce the kids with the most behavior problems. Kids who regularly eat meals with their families get better grades in school and have lower rates of drug use and depression, according to a 2004 study published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Reading together is very important for school success and language skills, so single parents must schedule in family time, despite their busy schedules.
How can you prevent divorce in your own future? What factors lead to a successful marriage of mutual happiness and fulfillment? University of Washington researcher John Gottman developed a 95% accuracy rate in predicting whether a couple will stay together, after only an hour interview. Couples with at least a ratio of 5 to 1 positive supportive comments such as “uh huh” and “you’re right,” are likely to stay together. Contempt–feeling superior, is the single most significant sign of disaster, followed by defensiveness, criticism, and stonewalling (holding back your feelings). These negative interactions are also associated with frequency of colds. Gottman didn’t find a gender difference in who was likely to express contempt, but women are more likely to be critical and men to stonewall. If you want to stay together in your future marriage, focus on the positive. In my interviews for 50/50 Marriage and 50/50 Parenting, couples often said they married their best friend and they enjoy talking with each other.
The Pew Research Center asked a sample of 2,020 adults what makes a good marriage (in 2009). In this order they replied: faithfulness, a happy sex life, sharing household chores, an adequate income, good housing, shared religious beliefs, shared tastes and interests, and children. A helpful bibliography is www.stayhitched.com/books.htm. I’d add my 50/50 Marriage.
All the members of my family play a big role in my life because they love me. We live a happy and joyful life. My mom is the best in the world. My dad is good too, but very strict. My younger brother likes playing jokes to everybody.
Dunya, 15, f, Turmenistan
I’m not sure what I would tell a fellow adoptee. It doesn’t bother me, I’m perfectly happy with being adopted because I know that the life I have now is way better than any orphanage. Naturally I wonder what my biological parents were like in China, but I really couldn’t have asked for better parents, that is until they annoy me to death (just kidding). It does sometimes bother me that someone may not have wanted me, but I think compared to a lot of people, I’ve been very lucky in life.
Brodie, 14, f, Alabama
If an American comes to Pakistan and lives with my family, there would be a lot of adjustments and shocks he would need to take and experience. TRADITION and VALUES: Normally we give a lot of respect to our elders and don’t talk to them in a louder voice, which I never experienced when I was in US. Even we don’t sit in our chairs while our elders are standing. Same is in the public transport busses and trains. So this would be a shock he’ll experience.
The traffic system will also be very surprising to the new kid. People don’t follow the traffic rules so correctly and this is very concerning. The most adjustment he would need to take is LANGUAGE. Language is very important in order to be interactive and social. There are a lot of languages spoken in Pakistan. So he would need to learn at least 2-3 of them in order to adjust well to the new environment.
Dress won’t be that big shock. It depends upon each city and their values. In Peshawar, he would need to wear SHALWAR QAMEEZ, but normal jeans works as well. Attending religious seminaries, activities, and going to mosque–these would be the places he would need to wear the dress strictly and he will have to get used to the idea of wearing what kind of dress to which kind of activity. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan
The Pakistani family system is somewhat like what you would have observed in the Mexican family system. Our families are really close to each other and would step in to help and support any time required whether financially or morally. We remain in touch with all our blood relations. When the parents get old, one of the sons would take them in his own house or move in with them to take care of them. While in my USA family I saw that the grandparents lived alone. Most often the children of the parents would try to settle down in a house nearby so as to be near their parents mostly. That is why most part of my extended family is in Peshawar and some are around it. I mean to say that the whole family including cousins and uncles and all members of extended family are near to each other in the same city. When someone gets seriously sick a lot of people would come to pay him/her a visit. If someone dies, a lot of people would come to pray. And by a lot I mean in hundreds.
When there is a marriage, all the family people as well as all the friends are invited–including neighbors, which often raise the number to more than 200. Weddings go on for three days, with different ceremonies on each day and a complete feast after that. Each day about 200 or 300 people would come. My cousin’s wedding had 400 people coming on one day and 300 on the other and 200 on the other. Imagine a full-fledged dinner to feed 200 people.
We are very social, and that means we visit our friends and family quite frequently. In USA, my family did not even know their own neighbors and except for their immediate family members, they rarely met their extended family members unless there is a huge reunion. There are many families here who still live in a “joint family system” which means all the uncles and aunts and cousins live together in one big house. I have four friends living like that and it is a different experience. This used to be very common long ago before I was born but as the society got modern, people chose to move out after their marriages.
Families here are really informal and really inter-connected with each other. If someone paid you a visit, we have to show generous hospitality especially in my province, the “Land of Hospitality,” and it is due to the Pashtun code of conduct of treating your guests well (Pakhtunwali). After their visit, we have to return them the favor by paying them a visit some time later on. Kids here don’t move out of the house after. The parents would make sure that their child has completed his education. Then often the son would get married and live in his parents house (unless he has a job in a different city) with his wife till they are financially strong enough to afford a house of their own. Even then they would try to stay close to the area. It’s just that friends and family are really involved with one’s personal life. They mean a lot here. In Peshawar, everyone knows everyone. Even if someone doesn’t, it is not difficult to make a connection and get acquainted. There is also a lot of interference of family members in one’s personal life, which is quite useful and often annoying. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan
I hope parents can understand their children, because divorce is a big hurt to the kids. Guan, 18, m, rural China
I feel like I was raised in the perfect family. Not perfect because of any material items, but moral items. I was raised going to church and being very, very loved. We don’t have a lot of money and we aren’t church-freaks. My family is very loving and very supportive and I wish that everyone could experience this. Even if you can’t, you need to make the most of your life and enjoy every moment given to you. I like to look through my old photos and photos of my family. Sometimes these photos make me remember some funny events in my early childhood. I feel happy to remember the nice things I did if they are funny.
Serr, 18, f, Pennsylvania
It’s important to have a good relationship/marriage with respect, no jealousy, responsible. It’s common in Brazil for non-traditional people to have many marriages. Joao, 19, m, Brazil
It’s the world’s most common form of marriage, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Nujood Ali Mohammed Hassan Al Akhtar lives in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Although the law says a girl must be 17 to marry, many girls are married by age 15. Nujood was surprised to find herself married at age nine. She left her 30-year-old husband’s home and went back to her parents’ house and told them she wanted to finish school and not be married. Her father said no, but her stepmother told her about divorce court. She took a bus and a taxi to the court to tell the judge her story in 2009. He put her husband and father in jail and gave her a divorce. She’s back in school and hopes to go to university, assisted by aid groups who learned about her story.
Hassan tells us about marriage in Pakistan. Normally dating is not considered a good thing here in Pakistan. And you are not allowed to date a girl before you get married. It’s for the betterment of the kids. Here, 90% of the marriages are arranged One of the usual questions against an arranged marriage is that how can you marry somebody you don’t know? They claim that knowing somebody before marriage allows partners to have better respect and understanding for each other’s needs and desires. Thus, with such perceptions, they have cursed arranged marriages all the way and have made a demon out of it.
In Pakistan, an arranged marriage does not mean that someone else has to make a decision for the life of others. An arranged marriage is different from a forced marriage. Arranged marriages mean bringing everyone on board, including the boy and the girl who are getting married. Their consultation is an important part of the marriage decision. The usual custom is that the boy’s parents ask for the girl’s hand that they and their son finds suitable. If the girl’s family finds the boy fulfilling all the important considerations for their daughter, such as earning potential, behavior, background etc., then they will ask for the daughter’s opinion. If she agrees, the decision is made. Yet if she vetoes, it is time to consider someone else for her. Thus the marriage is not imposed in any way. [Shehroz adds, “Often there would be many “suitors” for the girl and the girls’ family as well as the girl have a choice.”]
I believe that there are more chances of a happy life in an arranged marriage. If a couple in arranged marriage face problems, there would be many people (their families) who will stand by them and support them. But if they are on their own, then perhaps at difficult times, they may not find someone in times of need. There are also higher chances of a mature and a long lasting relation as parents play an important part in the decision-making. They have seen the world more than their children and they can make much better decisions.
When it comes to marriages, many eastern families go for arranged marriages. Everyone is more supportive and caring of each other whereas love marriages are more focused towards individualism, where self-interest is more important than caring about what others have to say. Marriage is not just a contract between two individuals, but between two families. If a couple is happy after getting married, their parents are also happy. But if they are sad, so are their parents. So how can only a boy and a girl make such an important decision that affects the life of so many different family members? For sure an informed and a collective decision is a good choice. Hassan, 17, m, Pakistan
Shehroz adds, “It is important to remember that in Pakistani social system, families are really close together and each individual is really “connected” with his other family members. Arranged marriage doesn’t mean that the guy and girl have no say in their marriage. For example, one of my cousins got married to a girl he had been dating for a long time. He informed his parents and then the parents looked into the matter, did their research and agreed to it. Then they went to the girl’s family and asked for the “girl’s hand” and the girl told her parents that she wants to get married with his guy. Thus, it was an “arranged love marriage.” But it is important to not forget that in rural areas, there are still marriages which can be called as “forced marriages.””
[I asked Hassan how young people get to know the other gender, other than their siblings.]
Well, it’s not that we get to know our sisters only. We have schools that contain co-education and parents send their kids to it. I studied at a school that had co-education till 6th grade, but then we got separated. I never lost any contact with my friends (girls). And we hang out in groups all the time. Dating, hanging out alone and all that kind of stuff is not acceptable. [Shehroz points out, “Dating and hanging out is getting more common in bigger and urbanized cities. The province of N.W.F.P. is more conservative in this regard.”]
Let’s talk about my relatives. I have a cousin who got married to a girl he loved. Their parents were alright with it. Now they are living a happy life with a cute little son. This is one side of the story. On the other hand, my uncle also had love marriage, but his parents were not fine with it. They didn’t think that the girl was good for my uncle and had all the qualities a good wife should have. But instead, my uncle married her anyways. Now, they are divorced. It didn’t work out at all for any of them because the families from both sides were not supporting them. Let me make a point here. I HAVE’NT SEEN ANY ARRANGED MARRIAGE THAT GOT BROKEN IN MY LIFE! NONE! I have observed both sides of the story. It’s all about trust you need to have and respect you need to show to your parents.
I will definitely want an arranged marriage. I don’t think they are that bad and my parents will definitely make the right choice for me. But don’t forget, agreement from both me as well as that girl is a MUST. There is no force. That girl should be beautiful, intelligent, very nice, respectful, trustworthy, honest and well brought up. If I find a girl like that, then she is the one!
Fact is arranged marriages from India are way more successful than the love marriages. Divorcing is something that is considered evil thing to do, and if such scenario arises all the close ones won’t hesitate to intervene to settle down the issue. Second, a high percentage of the lifetime earning is spent in Indian marriages. Lol: this could be the one of the reason, that no one is willing to spend the same again. Its not that arranged marriages don’t see extra marital affairs. They do, but still divorcing doesn’t come into the picture for some strange reason. Personally me, I had many love affairs, but I know I would get married, arranged style. ?, 24, m, India, /www.worldnewsforum.net/speak-out-heard/3489-arranged-marriage-vs-love-marriage.html
Many educated Indian young adults are using the Internet to find marriage partners, since it’s not easy to meet singles in public places. Check out a popular site, www.bharatmatrimony.com. You’ll see people look for caste, religion, mother tongue, occupation, education, and location.
I want to be a girl tomboy. Julia, 6, f, North Carolina
Now girls can do whatever boys can do, so enjoy being a girl who might grow up to be like Angela Merkel (Chancellor of Germany) or US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai (a professor and environmentalist who leads a movement to plant trees in Africa) or tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, or the first Australian Supreme Court Judge—Rona Mitchell.
There’s more opposition to a boy acting like a girl than a girl being a tomboy. Bruno, is a film made in 2000 about an 8-year-old boy who has a dream about an angel and concluded that like angels, he should wear dresses. He calls his dresses holy vestments, and wears them even in spelling bees. There’s lots of resistance from the nuns at his Catholic school and from his police officer father, but his mother and grandmother back him up and he wins the national bee wearing a skirt. The movie shows how upset people get when a boy does something considered feminine.
Boys, we love ‘em we hate ‘em, but hey we just can’t live without ‘em.
Katie, 12, f, Idaho
[What bugs me] are my friends who are boys. They never stop making jokes! Also, when girls pretend to be your friend when they’re really not.
Kristen, 12, f, New Jersey
My gender bothers me. I cannot jump around or run around the class. I can’t even play soccer well, due to my body build. Fatemazahra, 13, f, Tanzania
What do women want? Natalie, 15, f, California
The same thing as men, except some want to give birth.
I want to become a boy. I have three reasons. Firstly, I think boys always live in happiness. Secondly, they usually are very tall. They can reach the top of the bookshelf in the library. That’s very cool. And they can play almost every kind of sports. Last, they are very brave. Sometimes they are brave enough to fall in love and express their love. “Sissi,” 17, f, China
The biggest gender gap is in China, which will have 30 million more men of marriage-age than women in the future; in 2005 the gap increased to 120 boy babies for every 100 girl babies. A 2009 study reported 32 million more boys under the age of 20 than girls, creating “an imminent generation of excess men,” The Chinese government is openly concerned “about the consequences of large numbers of excess men for social stability and security,” the researchers said.[viii]
I am a boy. I think I’m not a tough guy now but in the future I must.
Sheng Hua, 19, m, China
Why do boys think so differently from girls? Summer, 20, f, Northern Ireland
Some is different hormones and brains, most is how we’re socialized y family, school, peers, and media. A study of language use by American men and women found they talk about the same amount, but women are more likely to talk about their feelings and men to talk about sports and technology .[ix]
To research The Secret Lives of Boys, Malina Saval talked with 30 boys over a period of time from 4 months to two years. She reported,
Despite the various media outlets available to teens to air their feelings, many of the boys I spoke with felt steeped in loneliness. When the boys expressed how lonely they felt at times, it was because they didn’t believe there was anybody out there who understood them. They felt “different” from everyone else and lacked soul mate figures with whom they could share their innermost thoughts. They didn’t always feel like they had close friends to talk to, and their parents, they told me, didn’t always want to know the truth — about their children or about themselves. They weren’t intentionally elusive when it came to what they told their parents; rather, their parents just weren’t ready to hear what they had to say. They want you to hear what they have to say, and they are inviting responsive conversation.[x]
This is a good time to be alive because women are gaining more equality and men are encouraged to spend time with their children, not just work. The spirit or soul isn’t male or female, just like God isn’t limited by gender. US males, aged 18-21, report that 60% of their friends are female and 49% from a different racial or ethnic background.[xi] P. 33 Boys and girls, men and women, are much more alike than different. Some boys and young chimps are more likely than females to engage in rough and tumble play and be directly aggressive. Look at the gender differences in the next section and in Women’s Issues section in Chapter 3.
I surveyed children and teens for two previous books. You might want to guess the top issues before reading the answers.
Elementary School Students
Elementary school kids surveyed or interviewed for How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce were asked what bugged them the most. Hundreds of surveys were distributed around northern California by my college students and by teachers I knew. The most common responses were, in order of frequency:
*Brothers and sisters tease, pick on me, get into my things, and do annoying things.
*Friends tease me, fight, are mean, and won’t let me play with them.
*Parents won’t let me do what I want, make me do chores.
Other things that bugged kids were not doing well in school and their dogs.
Teens (US and Canadian) surveyed and interviewed for The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide (1,289 teens) reported their main problems (in order of frequency):
*getting along with parents
*getting along with peers
*getting along with parents
When you think you could be in a better place or when someone is doing what you want to do but you can’t. Maxwell, 12, m, Belize
Rude people, irritating people, people who pick at me, people who cheat on examinations, people who are proud, people who swear, and people who are not playful. Fatemazahra, 13, f, Tanzania
How can I live a life without being bothered by anyone?
Yong Gook, 13, m, Korea
People who try to fit stereotypes to be cool. And those icons that people have about cutting. And the fact that after school, I have to become part of the work force. Stupid people. Shallow people. People who don’t appreciate great things like art because it’s not “cool” to do so. Cherry, 14, f, North Carolina
What bugs me the most is everyone who always starts drama with me [when] I didn’t do anything. Morgan, 15, f, North Carolina
What bugs me? Staying organized, school, work, rugby, friends, and understanding girls. Kyle, m, 15, Nova Scotia
I get upset with even the slightest criticism from my boyfriend. How can I relax and enjoy him? Diane, 16, f, California
Notice where you react in your body; probably you feel it in your gut. Shift to your intellect, your forebrain, by simply asking yourself each time, “What can I learn from this?” Change the habitual response from pain to intellectual curiosity.
When people think that the whole world evolves around them and also how they are blind to things that are really simple. I also hate when people have to think up things to get mad at you about. And when people don’t say ‘hi’ to you, ignore you, or hang up on you. My most-biggest pet peeve is when people don’t give you respect. Ashley, 16, f, Alberta
People who walk slow, chew gum loudly, lack humility, degrade others, and ugly people. I also do not like hearing my brother play his guitar because he sucks. Laura, 16, f, Massachusetts
People with bad manners, fast food, fat people, people who let their children become obese, people who don’t try to achieve anything with their lives, arrogant people, meeting new people, guys who really don’t care about you, fizzy drinks, child abusers, rapists, drinking whiskey on its own, when the sun gets in my eyes and really cold biting wind. Careen, 17, f, United Kingdom
Skirts over top of pants, girls with short hair, my car, and Vancouver Canucks.
G. R., 17, m, British Columbia
People who think the world should just hand something over to them and grammar mutilation and ‘ganstas’ with their jeans off their arse.
Rachel-Claire, 17, f, Scotland
I think the thing that bothers me the most is how little people actually care for people other than themselves. It’s all about them, even if a friend is in need and they don’t bother to give out a helping hand. Jess, 17, f, Georgia
Sometimes people irritate us because we have similar characteristics. See if you have traits in common and use your irritation to light up a problem area of your own to clean out. As Shakespeare said, we’re all actors on a stage: We attract people into our lives to learn and teach. For example, I may be irritated by people who interrupt me but my impatience leads me to do the same thing.
My mother and I fight a lot. She seems to try to irritate me. What can I do? Vickie, 19, f, California
Focus on changing your expectations and reactions rather than changing her. When she’s tense and starts to vent, breathe from your diaphragm, and ground yourself by imagining a deep taproot from the base of your spine, descending deep in the earth supporting you. Imagine being behind your eyes in a peaceful room in the center of your head, sitting in a throne where you’re in charge of your reactions. You can also ground her, but keep your energy out of her space. Intend that she ground with her own energy. Think about what you love about her, rather than matching her tension, so she can feel calm around her. Direct the conversation to what’s really bothering her so she can vent about the source rather than dump on you. You may need to leave the room until she gets herself together. Do you need to do your share of family work so she doesn’t feel irritated about doing an unfair share of necessary tasks?
Amusement helps diffuse many problematic situations, because it keeps us centered. You can think of a game where you silently rank her ability to push one of your buttons: “Excellent job, that was an 80. I felt shame and anger in my heart,” or “That was only a 10, you’re slipping.” Also use this as an opportunity to become more aware of your emotional sore spots so you can bring them to the surface and clean them out. Instead of retaliating, tell her in a calm moment that you don’t want to fight with her, and that you’ll make the Time Out sign when you feel you’re loosing control of your temper and take a time out. Shehroz uses this smile technique: Whenever someone is taking out all their anger dump on me, I look at the person and think “this person looks so cute when angry.” Then I simply give a plain smile which makes the angry person forget all the anger or just relax and calm down.
Also, use “I feel ___ because ___ when you yell at me” rather than any blaming “You always yell at me” communication. The same communication principles apply to any personal conflict. Use effective communication, “I feel ___ because ___ and would like to suggest __as a solution.” For example, “I feel sad when we fight. What do you think about us going to a counselor to learn how to resolve our differences?” Listen to her perspective and repeat it to make sure you do understand. Ask her what she needs from you in order to live together peacefully. Spend some enjoyable time together doing what you both enjoy so you can bond as friends.
Feel Most Loved
I felt most loved at night when my mom tucks me in (don’t laugh).
Vilma, 9, f, Belize
I felt the same way when my mom sat on my bed and gave me a backrub as she sang old songs.
When my teacher took me in her arms last year when I passed my exams. Golden, 10, m, Liberia
Shehoz adds, “Small acts of kindness are enough to make the world beautiful for others. All I want to know is that there are people who care about me.”
I feel more loved by someone when they buy me something, because then I don’t feel invisible. Kyla, 10, f, Belize
I felt most loved by my mom and dad when they cried for me. You know someone loves you a lot when they cry for you or about you.
Elisa, 11, f, Canadian in Belize
When I had a girlfriend in kindergarten. Lewis, 12, m, Sweden
To have a really good/powerful feeling for someone, to care for someone.
Qin Yin, 12, m, Singapore
I always feel loved. Mostly I feel most loved when someone in my family says, “I love you” at random times, like when I’m going to bed and they say “I love you.” Storm, 12, f, Belize
When my little sister was sad and wanted only me. Angela, 12, f, Switzerland
When I got a bad grade on a test and I thought my dad would be disappointed in me. Instead he told me that it was okay and he could never be disappointed in me. Bryana, 13, f, Belize
When my parents hugged me and made me eat when I was disappointed and was crying for something they didn’t give me. In fact I came to realize later that what they did was the best for me. Sarah, 13, f, Tanzania
When that person comforts me in my sorrows and tries to put herself into my shoes and realizes what I’m going through. Rabia, 13, f, Tanzania
This adult in a supermarket paid for my stuff and wished me to have a good life. Jeremy, 14, m, California
When I talk to my imaginary friend, Roxas. He’s a good buddy, my conscience, with heaps of advice. Namine, 14, f, Tennant Creek
When someone said, “I love you,” and I could see that in that person’s eyes.
Yae Ram, 14, f, Korea
I felt most loved when my mother still worried about my fever even when I was very rude to her. I felt most love when I was preparing a surprise anniversary party for my parents. Chacha, 14, f, Korea
When I know that I have made him or her proud of me. Before I would try to get people’s attention by doing bad things because in a way I would see that they cared. But as I grew older I realized that I didn’t have to do negative things. I could actually do things that help the community and people would really appreciate it. Many people at my age confuse the two. They think that doing bad things will get people’s attention but as much as it does, it makes them look bad. Kirby, 15, f, Rhode Island
When someone else sacrificed something just for my benefit and has showed me that they truly care. Casey, 15, f, South Carolina
When I had both my parents together. When my best friend told me I was so great and she couldn’t imagine life without me. Talia, 15, f, Australia.
After a bad day, having my mom be right with me and talk to me.
Athena, 15, f, Michigan
When I really feel that they mean it when they say they love me.
Alex, 15, f, Sweden
When I walk alone in the rain, while other children go home by bus, my mother picked me up with an umbrella though her clothes were wet, and she persisted in walking me home. Chunsun, 16, f, rural China
When someone said to me “you are my friend“ or “I love you“ or “I need you“… and even friends or my family don’t say that… I see it from their eyes… when they are with me… I can feel it…Rita, 16, f, Columbia
I have felt most loved when I was in junior high school, someone (boy) had very care for me, and he always was asking my condition and then me and him are falling in love and then we are in relationship. He’s very kind boy and nice and stylish; well, in my eyes he’s perfect. Annisa, 16, f, Indonesia
I have always felt most loved by my only sister and best friend because she always seems to be there for me whether times are good, bad, happy or sad. Alesia, 16, f, South Carolina
When my dad said, “Wherever you are in the world, if you are in trouble, I will come and get you.” ?, 16, f, UK
I felt most loved by my brother when he came home from college. He is one of my best friends and he walked in the door, dropped everything, and gave me a huge hug. It’s great that he didn’t forget me. Cassady, 16, f, North Carolina
Sometimes when I become unsuccessful in my path, my parents give me support. That time I feel like I am loved by my parents. Susmita, 16, f, Nepal
When I am with my family around a table, sharing a good meal, speaking and laughing. Steph, 16, f, France
When I was gifted a rose flower from my girlfriend. James, 17, m, Tanzania
When I am feeling extremely low and my boyfriend comforts me and tells me that even though I am facing a difficult situation he loves me more than life itself. Nancy, 17, f, South Africa
When I passed my grade nine exam, everybody was so happy and I felt to be loved. Belita, 17, f, Zambia
If I get ranked the best in class, both parents are definitely happy with my results. It is not the only time my parents take pity on me, but I felt in the heart that is the only time that I can feel it. Febri, 17, f, Indonesia
I was in a serious relationship with a boy who was a grade above me for about two years. There wasn’t a particular moment that I felt the “most” loved by him but when we were together it felt like a whole day could go by in a blink of an eye. I felt loved because he always devoted all of his attention to me when we were together. Becky, 17, f, California
When I do work for other person. Flari, 17, m, Nepal
As the age increased, the younger ones felt loved mostly by their parents, but as they grew older, the felt loved mostly by their friends or girlfriends/boyfriends or people around them. Shehroz, 17, m, Pakistan
When I got sex with my girlfriend for my first time. Bwalya, 18, m, Zambia
I’m a very sad person; I didn’t love by any one. Shantosh, 18, m, Nepal
When I was with someone who I believed truly understood me.
Andrew, 18, m, California
When someone gives me some help and treats me like a brother.
Jun, 18, m, China
When I drank a lot, I recalled many sad things in my life. I was feeling worse, but my best friends are around me forever, they never forget me.
He Ran, 19, m, China
When I have been able to have a true and candid conversation about me and my feelings, knowing full well that I was being understood and listened to without prejudice. I feel loved when I feel I can talk about anything, or similarly that they feel they can talk about anything with me. Michael, 19, m, England
My heart was hurt, the friend and my parents all looked for me. I was comforted and I felt most loved by them. HePeng, 20, m, China
Definitions of Love
Love has been written about since the Indian Vedas 6,000 BC. Supposedly Sanskrit has almost 100 words for different kinds of love. The Old Testament Song of Solomon described romantic love and sexual attraction 1000 BC. Jesus taught to love your neighbor as yourself. St. Francis prayed, “Grant that I not so much seek to be loved, as to love.” And the Beatles sang, “All you need is love.”
Love is when you unconditionally care about someone. You stand up them if someone insulted them and you always take their side. Of course, it can cause the worst feeling in the world—rejection, or give you the best day of you life. It’s strong when you’re going through a rough time and need some comfort, but it’s fragile if you say something hurtful to someone you really care about. I felt most loved when my dad said how much he loved me while we both cried. Bunny, 12, f, California
Someone who would sacrifice for someone is true love. In Seong, 13, m, Korea
If I love someone, it means that I want to give something and I think they’re more important than my life. Shin, 14, f, Korea
Why is it when you love someone, and no matter how much they hurt you, you will always love them, and run back to them? Dan, 15, m, Florida
There’s a difference between addictive attachment and true caring. Love is healthy, but always returning to pain doesn’t sound wise.
What does it really mean to be in love? Tessa, 15, f, Alberta
Is there such love on Earth that has no tests and no lies? Is there sincere love from the side of a man and of a woman? Gregori, 16, m, Ukraine
We’re all imperfect so there’s no perfect love. We have tests throughout our lives, just like a school, so we can learn. A big test for a married couple is having a baby, because a baby is selfish and doesn’t care if it wakes up the parents every three hours and so on. Even if love is sincere, people make mistakes and aren’t always totally honest about their feelings. Couples can be sincere but they still will have tests because we’re imperfect. We can work at being a good partner by being introspective and practicing effective communication. See The Art of Loving by Eric Fromm.
The abstract concept of love is something I don’t understand at all.
Matthew, m, 16, Nova Scotia
How can we be sure we have found the love of our life? GG, 16, m, France
About happiness, about love, passion, devotion, friendship–what is it? Does love really exist? How can I find it? How should I live and what should I do for not making mistakes? Nargiza, 16, f, Uzbekistan
What is love? X, 16, m, Germany
If I meet my fate (my husband) will he accompany me my whole life?
Ksenia, 16, f, Ukraine
Love people and show kindness; you never know you may be an epitome for others and start a chain reaction which will change the world one day!
Raza, 17, m, Pakistan
How do you know if you’re in love? Ruth, 17, f, United Kingdom
Why is love so difficult? Jessica, 17, f, Georgia
It’s because we’re not perfect and two sets of imperfections coming together in an emotionally charged relationship brings up unconscious complexes we need to work through.
Can love truly overcome everything. Do soul mates exist? Julie, 18, f, Texas
What’s the connection between love and sex, how people fall in love, what’s the difference between love and lust? Jay, 18, m, Quebec
[Romantic love] is like a game. I don’t have free time for such games. I believe in other kinds of love when somebody says, “I love my mother,” or “I love flowers.” Maybe I will fall in love in the future and it will be the first time and forever. But now I have to build my own career. Shahnozai, 18, f, Tajikistan
Is love a real thing, or is it just chemical, just something to get us through life? Willo, 18, f, British Columbia
Love is deep caring, joy in being around who you love, warm feelings. It’s complicated because we use the one word for such a variety of meanings, like “I love to eat rice and beans,” or “I love my parents or God or my dog or swimming,” or “I’m in love.” Love is about heart warmth and feels good. Love for people usually includes respect and similar values and interests. Our hearts expand and feel bigger. We care so much about the person we love, we may put their needs above our own, as when a parent puts his or her own body in the way of danger to protect a child.
Sometimes we fall in lust, because of a strong sexual chemistry with a person, even if we don’t like him or her. Notice the difference between (1) lasting love—which we can feel for a family member or friend or pet, (2) falling in love/infatuation that includes sexual attraction, and (3) sexual attraction without love. It’s easy to confuse the intensity of the chemistry or of being uncertain and anxious about whether the other person likes you as deep caring, but it’s just sex or anxiety. Love lasts over time, while the half-life of romantic love is often 90 days. It takes a while before who the beloved really is gets past our fantasies, projections and ideals. That’s why it’s wise to not hurry into becoming physically intimate or getting married.
What makes us fall in love? Scientists discovered we’re attracted to individuals who are like our parents and ourselves, but whose pheromones (smells) are least like our own. Different immune systems ensure healthy offspring.[xii] Oxytocin is the hormone of monogamy leading to bonding between mother and baby and lifelong pair bonding in prairie voles.
When we fall in love, therapist and author John Bradshaw explains we repeat the stages of child development. In the baby stage–cupid is a baby, we baby talk, and lovers gaze at each other like a baby at its mother. In the toddler stages, lovers engage in power struggles, express anger, and ask for what they want. It is partly hormonal and chemical. Helen Fisher, author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, explains we have three different brain systems for mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love with elation and obsessive thinking, and then attachment with calm and security. Kissing exchanges testosterone that can help trigger the sex drive. If it’s exciting and new, it’s likely to stimulate dopamine associated with romantic love. In long-term partners, it stimulates oxytocin that leads to attachment. Kissing drops cortisol stress levels. More than 90% of human societies kiss. (About two-thirds of humans tilt their heads to the right when kissing.) Chimps kiss and makeup after a fight.
Combining love and marriage is a new idea, as historically marriage was arranged by parents for the good of the family, not the couple. The majority of marriages in the world are arranged, especially in India. When I was there, I talked with two brothers who were conducting the search for husbands for their sister, a US educated doctor. They developed a point system to rate the candidates who came for interviews, such as points for a nice smile, or minus points for new shoes—looking too eager. Their sister had the last say on the finalists of course.
Indian families also advertise in newspapers, often including education, earnings, caste (I think that’s what high status refers to in the ad below), and skin color. Reading the ads, I couldn’t understand why a young woman would describe herself as “homely,” until I found out this word means domestic to Indians, rather than not pretty to an American. Here’s an example of an ad: “very handsome, tall, fair, engineer son” with an MBA, a Masters in Business Administration. Girl must be tall, beautiful engineer or doctor, not more than 28-years-old, from status family.”[xiii]
It’s worth noting that the Indian divorce rate is very low; since divorce is frowned upon, people stay together in unhappy marriages. Shehroz asks, In Pakistan rarely have I heard people say they are unhappy with their marriage. When things get bad, they couple automatically learns to change and adjust to keep the marriage going. Don’t you think it’s a better system for the greater good of the society? Our perception of “love” is strongly molded by famous stories like Romeo and Juliet? Teenagers therefore idealize that love which is sometimes far from reality.
The Western idea that love should be the motive for marriage is only around 200 years old and only 150 years ago did wives have equal property rights over their own money. English common law said, “Husband and wife are one, and that one is the husband.” As late as the 1970s, many states had “head and master” laws that gave husbands the right to control property and where the family lived. Author Stephanie Coontz points out that today 49% of parents say they share childcare equally; an improvement since 25% in 1985, but still the majority doesn’t share family work equally as women are still seen as the homemaker despite working outside the home. Marriage roles in the West are slowly becoming more equal. The Scandinavian governments provide a social framework for this to happen, as by providing both parents with parental leave.
A survey of parents in the San Francisco Bay Area asked what issues affecting their teens were they most concerned about: stress (mostly about school but also family problems), weight, depression, use of drugs and alcohol and school discipline problems were the top of the list.
[I wish] that they were mostly at home. Maximilian, 8, m, Singapore
Ask for regular time with your parents, such as a relaxed dinner together, reading together before bedtime, and having a fun family outing every weekend such as a hike or picnic.
My mom hits me every time and it is not polite. Toola, 10, m, Tanzania
Don’t let mothers and fathers fight with each other.
Mohammed, m, 10, Saudi Arabia.
Fighting between them is their responsibility, not yours. In any close relationship between two imperfect people, conflict exists. If people work through conflict in a fair and healthy way, it’s good. Some people feel better if they yell, but if it bothers you, leave the room. Can you go in your room when they fight?
Also, realize that you are not responsible for your parents’ relationship. If something about the way they argue bothers you, let them know. You can watch to see what starts off the fights so you can learn what not to do in your own relationships.
That they really paid more attention to what you said to them.
K-J, 11, m, Belgium
A 2007 survey of European countries by UNESCO found the percentage of parents who spend time just talking with kids several times a week ranges from about 90% in Hungary and Italy to less than half in Canada and Germany.[xiv]
I would change their saying “I experienced this when I was your age.”
Zachary, 11, m, Belize
When I come home and I finally want to tell a story and they don’t listen to me. Janine, 11, f, Switzerland
Some adults work like 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. This is bad for kids because the adults can’t spend time with their kids. Ramon, 12, m, Belize
When they’re mad at you, they yell and spank you. I just think it’s not fun. Elizabeth, 12, f, Belize
My parents can never agree and are always fighting. Kylee, 12, New Mexico
Why do parents think they have so much control over their child, making them think they have the final word on every argument/quarrel? There are many restrictions within the house and what I can do. I would reduce the number of times they would say ‘NO’ to something you wanted to have or do.
Ping, 13, m, Singapore
Rules [bother me], because I can’t play, fight, or bounce the ball on the wall in my house. Validmar, 13, m, Belize
Parents have to punish their children because punishment is the way of learning. Mwanaima, 13, f, Tanzania
Adults should not beat their juniors. Azharul, 13, m, Bangladesh
To plan their life, especially family planning, or to bear children by planning according to their ability. Nisembia, 14, f, Tanzania
To be more relaxed because some parents scream at their kids for really small reasons. Mark, 14, m, Quebec
How to get rid of the quarrel and fighting between my parents.
Dong Mei, 14, f, rural China
Do not ignore children! Ha Rim, 14, m, Korea
I wish they could remember more about when they were young and don’t make so many rules. I believe it’s better to take each thing as it comes.
Brigit, 15, f, Sweden
I wish they would understand teenagers’ feelings more and not tell us our dreams are farfetched and that we should just get a nice business degree.
Morgan, 15, f, North Carolina
If your children do wrong bad things, what will you do to teach them?
Yin Ming, 16, f, Shanghai, China
Instead of yelling or hitting, discuss the problem with them to figure out why the child made the wrong choice. As many youth have said in this book, adults need to listen to young people. People learn best from consequences, rather than nagging or hitting. If the family rule is that dirty clothes are put Iaundry baskets in order to be washed, the consequence of leaving clothes in your room is they don’t get washed. If dinnertime is at 6:00 PM and the child is late, dinner is cold. It’s also important to reward and reinforce good behavior, giving children daily praise and appreciation. Behavior modification psychology teaches the importance of reinforcing good behavior and not giving much attention to bad behavior.
I would change their seriousness. My mom loves to be serious and scream. I wish sometime she’d be a little more carefree. AmyMarie, 16, f, Illinois
Their carelessness about what their children are doing and who they are friends with. Kat, 17, f, Indiana
Their ability to fully listen to what their children have to say. Sometimes they have selective hearing and don’t truly understand us kids, but if they listened then they would know. Erin, 17, f, Michigan
I would change the fact that some adults do not take the time to talk to their kids. I believe firmly that if a child is showed affection and understanding from an adult, then they can prosper with that love later on in life. Felice, 17, f, Illinois
Parents are very busy or working, so they often neglect the growth of their kids. “John,” 19, m, China
My father is a good father, but he is easy to anger. I hope he doesn’t angry every day and is happy. Zhu, 20, m, China
I really don’t like my family. I live with my mum and I think my grandparents don’t like me. I feel very sad about my family, so I don’t want to live in this family. Sometimes I want a boyfriend, but when I decide to get a boyfriend, I am afraid of a lot of things. Yao, 20, f, China
It is very difficult to not feel comfortable with your family. Friends of both genders can provide some of the acceptance all of us need.
When I ask a person if they want to sleepover and they say ‘no’, but sleep over with another person. Eli, 8, m, North Carolina
The way my friends act like I am not even there sometimes. Katie, 12, f, Idaho
Gossip HURTS and everybody DOES it. Even adults do it. And even your friends do it too maybe the talk about YOU. And you don’t know it, and you may get the feeling to do it back to them, but just remember what comes around goes around. And it’s called karma. SO DON’T DO IT! Mikayla, 12, f, California
I would change my decision-making so I wouldn’t go through so many problems with making friends. Karli, 12, New Mexico
Take time to get to know new friends. Focus on how you feel about them rather than if others consider them popular. Bring them home to have dinner with your family so your parents can give you their feedback. Arrange for one-on-one sleepovers and outings like going skating together. Joe, 17, adds, “It is always better to have only a few friends you can rely on and trust, than to be popular and know everyone not very well. Try and use bonds you have already with your friends and try to build on them. Also don’t be willing to rule out anyone as a friend just because they may be quite or unpopular with other people.”
People tease you because you are so little for your age. Johana, 13, f, Belize
You can’t control other people, but you can control your own behavior. You can be a model of kindness to others; your example may create gradual change. Teasers like getting a reaction, knowing that they have the power to bother you. The secret is to not react and ignore them or to be positive, like saying “it’s quality that counts, not quantity. Luckily, I have a big brain,” or “good things come in small packages.” You can just smile and say “thanks” or “thanks for noticing,” or “good eyes.”
I live on a small island called Lana’i where everyone knows each other. I wake up each day and wonder if any rumors have spread about me. Leina, 14, f, Hawaii
Why are there conflicts between friends? Why cannot there be pure friendship? Zhouhai, 14, m, rural China
To have perfect friends would require perfect people and none of us are. We can grow better by learning from our conflicts about our personal “hot button” issues that need to be brought up to the conscious mind to resolve. Know that disagreements will surface in any close relationship and look at them as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your friend.
I do not like communication with others, so I have a bad relationship. The classmates didn’t elect me as class leader, but I really want to be a leader, but had no chance. Hey, how can I do it? Yunsheng, 14, m, rural China
To be a leader, sit with various students at lunch and ask them about their interests and concerns. Listen and let them know you understand. When you find a popular issue, develop a plan for how to deal with it. Let’s say students don’t like the cafeteria food. Get together a group of students to figure out better food choices.
Each day I wonder if any rumors have spread about me. Leina, 14, f, Hawaii
How do you tell if people are lying to you? Kelly, 15, f, North Carolina
Look at their eyes when they’re talking, trust your intuition, and wait for the truth to come out. It usually does.
Why do people make fun of people who are different, why do they pick on beautiful girls and handsome guys and make them feel fat and ugly just because they like to walk to the beat of their own drum? Morgan, 15, f, North Carolina
Jealousy can be a powerful emotion. I’d consider it a complement if people want to try to put you down. People who stand out or take a visible stand often get fired on. It’s good practice to learn how to deal with it by not responding, being amused at immature behavior, and realizing that the attacks are about the attacker, not you. Whenever someone makes fun of me, Shehroz reports, I just smile or laugh and say to myself that these people are so immature and so childish. Or just say to myself, I have a greater purpose in life than to worry about these unimportant and false remarks.
How to deal with people who don’t make you happy, but you feel you need. Life always feels held back by people, and people always hold back situations in life. At least I think so. Shauna, 15, f, New York
As to how to deal with unpleasant people, have realistic expectations. Don’t expect to get needs met by someone who should be but is not helpful. Think about how to create your own fulfillment. Sometimes we expect that because someone is an adult they should behave like one, when in fact emotionally they’re 12 or so. We’ll continue to be disappointed until we change our expectations to be more realistic. You may need to look for new friends and re-think your “needs.”
People usually do backbiting and create uproar situations, and don’t care about their words. I try my level best to stay calm by being proactive and trying to give a sweet smile or spend time in nature. Azba, 16, f, Pakistan
Empathy is key. If you plan on finding the real problem with anybody, you have to relate with them on some kind of level. Mouse, 16, f, California
How can we keep friendship? Rafeef, 16, f, Palestine
Don’t talk about someone behind her or his back or share their secrets, so friends can trust you. Do fun and helpful activities together. Do “active listening” where you let your friend know you understand what she is feeling and why. Tell your friends what you appreciate about them.
I don’t want to be so trustful, because I don’t like to be tricked and fraud. Konstyantyn, 16, m, Ukraine
Should I be myself or the one everyone likes? Sally, 16, f, China
Sometimes our inner child-self may feel grumpy, critical, selfish and unkind, so we don’t want to “be myself” if it means being unkind. If the popular group likes people for the way they dress and look, there’s no satisfaction in being liked by everyone. Look for friends who have similar interests and values and like you for deep reasons; probably there are only a few friends like this, which is OK.
I like to go places with my friends. Those times that I am with them are always my most fondest and happiest. Brittany, 16, f, Massachusetts
When I talk to my friends, it helps me a lot to calm down. Akib, 17, m, India
It bugs me when people change their opinion or their personality to fit the person or group they are with at that particular moment because they are uncomfortable in their own shoes. Enzi, 18, f, Minnesota
Adolescence is the time when you’re most like to feel alienated, because you’re not a child nor are you an adult. During this stage we form our identity with the help of cliques and subcultures; clothes and music are a central way of identifying your group,[xv] i.e., reggae, hip hop, pop rock. People explore their identity with their peers as they separate from their parents. I don’t know of any other time when people are so identified by their group: athletes, brains, drama, Goth, or whatever cliques are in your school.
US students fear being labeled gay, “the ultimate insult” and “a powerful tool to control you” say students filmed in “Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied UP,” by Debra Chasnoff. Resources for youths include www.plag.org and http://www.the trevorproject.org.
I’m gay. I told a girl and she spread it around to the whole school. Some people pick on me, actually a lot of people do. And some people defend me from them, God bless them! My mother knows and she’s OK with it. But I have not a single gay friend. I want a gay male friend who I can hang around with and talk about what guys are cute and relationships. Abel, 13, m, California hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions
I don’t know if I should come out to any more friends at school because I already almost got killed because someone found out I am bi [-sexual]. I live in a town filled with gangs. I am looking for GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered] youth groups in my area that won’t concern my parents because they’re irresponsible and too close-minded. Trevor, 13, m, California in hbofamily.com/about_hbofamily/ Middle School Confessions
What really bugs me is all racial and discrimination like gays because I think that every one should be happy whether they’re gay or straight. Also, what really bugs me is all the animal cruelty and how a lot of animals do not have homes.
Katie, 14, f, Pennsylvania
Why do people turn gay? Tyler, 14, m, Hawaii
Scientists think we’re born with our sexual preference, just like which hand is dominant.
I don’t think that people should discriminate against others just because of their belief system. It’s just prejudice, no different than religious, race, and social intolerance. Some argue that it’s against their religion, and take more offense from homosexuals than people who adhere to a totally different religion. I don’t understand why homosexuals are not allowed the same rights as every one else in the United States (like marriage). They are people and they live in The United States of America, what other qualifications are there? It says in the constitution that all men are equal and have certain “unalienable rights;” wouldn’t committing to the person you love be one of them?
Even though it’s a lifestyle that I wouldn’t choose, I wouldn’t hold it against someone just because they are different. The thing is, people always talk about how much we’ve advanced, but it seems as though some prejudices are considered horrible, while others are accepted, encouraged. One quote I like is “Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” ~Ernest Gaines Brodie, 14, f, Alabama
[I’d wish for] the acceptance of difference—complete equality—gays and women, etc. Also, put an end to animal testing and farm breeding cruelty.
Kara, 18, f, Northern Ireland
Some homophobes are insecure about their own sexuality. Some people have religious beliefs about homosexuality being sinful, although research suggests that we’re born with our sexual preference, with some difference in brain patterns. The sex researcher Alfred Kinsey said there’s a continuum of sexual preference, with some people at the extremes of homosexuality or heterosexuality and some in the middle, like a bell curve. Most gays don’t choose to be attracted to the same sex. Middle School Confessions reported that 26% of 12-year-olds are unsure of their sexual identity.
MRI—magnetic resonance imaging of the brain–found that gay men tend to have brains more like those of heterosexual women than straight men, while gay women and straight men tend to have a slightly larger right side of the brain. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of a brain part called the amygdala that’s involved with emotions, found that gay men and straight women have a stronger link between the amygdala and other regions involved in emotions, while gay women and straight men have stronger connections to motor functions of the brain. These findings suggest that sexual orientation is something we’re born with.[xvi] Some European countries permit gay marriages, including Sweden, The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Spain. Iceland’s first female prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir is also the world’s first openly gay prime minister.
My brother bothers me because he’s a tattle teller. He messes up the room and tells my mother that I did it and it’s annoying. Haya, 8, f, Sudan
My brother beats me all the time. Joaquin, 9, m, Brazil ` Read the section about how to deal with a bully in the school chapter. Your parents might want to set up rules with consequences for breaking them, such as “Use your words, not your fists. If you hit, you’re grounded and can’t leave home for a day to play, or no TV.” You can suggest family meetings where you can all brainstorm about how to get along better.
My brother and I fought growing up, but now I’m very happy to have him as a special friend. When my dad called to tell me my mother was very sick, the first thing I did was call my brother to get on a plane. Also, I really enjoy his daughters, my nieces. Holidays are more meaningful with family traditions and my brother. So, please try to remember that you will become good friends with your siblings when you grow up.
My teenage sister yells at me and complains a lot—I get so ticked off. What can I do? Devjon, 10, m, California
Separate yourself by imagining the words coming out of her mouth turning into duck quacks, butterflies, or fish swimming away. This will keep you amused and less reactive. Try listening to her for 10 minutes or so and letting her vent as your good deed for the day. Also imagine putting up a protective force field around you as if you were in a science fiction movie, so you don’t match her negativity.
Shehroz says, Whenever my younger brother annoyed me I would complain to my mom who would say JUST IGNORE HIM AND IT WILL AUTOMATICALLY GET LESS. I did exactly that and then my brother wouldn’t annoy me further. I have two brothers. One is older and the other is younger. You can imagine what would be happening if we all three fight with each other. We would get so aggressive that we would start fighting each other physically, throwing things at each other and even threatening to kill each other or break each other’s limbs. But that was long ago. Now we are older and more sensible and we love each other so much that we would sacrifice our life for each other. We do have our occasional skirmishes but that is inevitable. We love each other and that is what makes my family stronger. We are wild and we are smart and we lack the feminine touch since the only female in my family is my mom. Once kids grow up, they get mature and fight less, but parents’ involvement and upbringing is also an important factor in creating love between siblings. Parents should avoid comparison or discrimination.
My sister bothers me almost every two seconds. Zachary, 11, m, Belize
My brother bothers me in my daily life as he is always naughty and plays naughty tricks; certainly I have to bear the duty to take care of him.
Tiffany, 11, f, Hong Kong
Younger siblings may bother older ones to get attention. Try to figure out what your little sister or brother really wants. It helps if they know they’ll have regular time with you where you give them your total attention, playing a board game, reading a story, taking a bike ride, or just sitting and talking over the day.
My elder sister seems to have a problem in everything I do, in every view I put forward. It seems like she wished I never existed. I would like to be someone else but with the same parents, because some people make my life a living hell. Sakina, 12, f, Tanzania
I get compared to my sister all the time and I’m treated as if I’m not good enough to be related to her. Morgan, 15, f, North Carolina
Don’t expect fairness and you won’t be disappointed for the next three years you’ll be at home. Focus on creating and defining who you are as an individual. Don’t compare apples and oranges; they’re both fruit but they taste really different. Talk to your school counselor because she can ask your teachers not to compare siblings.
I like to play with my smallest sister. She is very talented. Once she played with my hair and made a huge house on my head. Ksenia, 16, f, Ukraine
My little brother doesn’t know how to express his feelings, so he gets very frustrated. Annie, 16, f, California
Mirror feelings for him, as in,” It seems you’re feeling frustrated now because ___. Is that right?” Think of communication as a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. Also be an example of the behavior you want by talking about what you’re feeling and why.
Getting along with siblings is the most common problem kids report in my surveys for How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce and The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide, and a big issue for younger kids in this book. Like chimpanzees, we struggle for power. Chimps fight and do favors and build groups of friends to get to be the bosses of their group. Some kids also try to be the bosses using the same techniques, which isn’t fun for the younger and smaller ones who get picked on. Chimps get help or run away if a stronger one attacks them. You can do the same thing by getting help from a teacher, a parent, or an older friend and trying not to be around a bully. We have something chimps don’t have, which is the ability to talk and think through problems.
Try using your intelligence to solve conflicts. You can suggest weekly family meetings where you can all brainstorm about how to get along better.
Our teens are interested in spiritual questions such as what happens after death and the meaning of life, to be discussed in the last chapter.
[ii] [ii] Elissa Moses New World Teen Study. John Wiley & Sons, 2000. A survey of 34,000 teens in 44 countries. The respondents were mainly middle class high school students in urban and suburban areas.
[iii] A useful book by a teen is The Teen Code: How to Talk to Us About Sex, Drugs, and Everything Else—Teenagers Reveal what Works Best by teen author Rhett Godfrey. How to Talk So Children Will Listen and Listen So Children Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish and How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk.
[iv] neuroscientist Larry Young, Emory University, 2008
[vi] Don Tapscott. Grown Up Digital. McGrawHill, 2009, p. 33, p. 314
[vii] Analysis of data from the “Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth” by Jui-Chung Allen Li in 2007.
[ix] Richard Slatcher and other researchers, also see books by Deborah Tannen.
[x] Malina Saval.The Secret Lives of Boys. Basic Books, 2009.
[xi] Don Tapscott. Op. Cit, p. 33.
[xv] Johanthon Epstein, ed. Youth Culture: Identity in a Postmodern World. Blackwell, 1989, p. 4.
[xvi] Research by Simon LeVay and later Ivanka Savic and Per Lindstrom
PFLAG: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: www.pflag.org
Trevor Helpline, crisis phone line for youth: www.thetrevorproject.org