This is part II of the two-part interview with Victor Kannan. Part I is also on World Moms Network’s blog, and some of Mr. Kannan’s own written work can be found HereandHere.
S: When you observe today’s youth, from a child of about 8 years to early 20s, what are some of the traits you’ve noticed that seem ‘new school’ that are good and different from traditions we have had before? I know that’s a wide spectrum, but based on your own experience, what are some of the new traits you’ve seen that are good and some that seem to be detrimental to spiritual growth?
V: You know, they have to be looked at in the context of their environment. If I take a broad stroke, I’d say that on average families are smaller. On average the continuity of flow between grandparents, parents and children is getting weak, if you think of it as a river, where the water flows, where the whole thing has the flow of love and life, of knowledge, of caring relationships. There would be four grandparents present for every grandkid and maybe 15 grandchildren for every grandparent. That kind of a breadth of continuity is becoming thinner and thinner.
If you take this river as the flow of energy, of love, of knowledge from grandparents to grandchildren, that river contains less water today than it did before. And naturally what happens is the children have to look externally for their emotional fulfillment. Both of the parents work these days, and many of them are single parents; it’s like a river with very little water.
So somewhere this generational flow of the river of knowledge and love seems to have dwindled. No single person can take the blame, but it is ,unfortunately, the generation that is evolving, because of our value system and because of our excessive materialistic orientation. So, I think that these children are really starved for love and togetherness with their grandparents, and if the parents are both working, the quality of their time with the children is also limited.
Naturally, they are looking for external things and, unfortunately, or fortunately, there are plenty of them. Now, what does that mean? They get lured by the things that gave them company when parents were not available.
The children are with their parents because they are dependent. They can be from a wealthy family, where they may be hanging around for inheritance or expanding the family business. However, if they are born in a poor family, the modern generation will leave the house. There is nothing in the house for them to hang on to. So, under the circumstances, children are struggling to find their groove.
Suppose you take the so-called typical middle-class family: the children go to school, both parents work, and there is not much time, right? The time spent with the children is also compartmentalized with vacation and programs and schedules. There is no free time singing in the garden together on a Tuesday evening. So, I think the children are becoming more and more isolated. Their behavior is not rooted in some kind of value system, whether of a material ambition, or a family where they have given and taken and sacrificed; look at parents having sacrificed, the grandparents sacrificed, the wealth of upbringing, the richness of upbringing… If the children do not see these sacrifices, they take life for granted and become more materialistic in their orientation.
I am thinking that even though today’s children are isolated and feel lonely, and they are more responsive to the senses and the world around them, the situation can be changed around, by parents and schools adopting a value-oriented education system and a value-oriented relationship system, where you begin with spiritual values. You highlight the spiritual values, and not the material success as what you talk about at the dinner table. Then it will slowly change. So the children can be reoriented and possibilities exist because the 30/ 40/ 50-year-old parents today are more exposed to the science and spirituality combination. Not the religious dogmatic type of thing, or rituals without meaning.
In the modern era, due to stress in life, more and more people are adopting meditation. More and more people are beginning to realize that there is neuroplasticity; that it is never too late to grow. It is never too late to change. These kinds of established new scientific facts are giving hope to people. And again, many of these processes are trans-generational in nature, so it will take 20, 30 years before it changes the society.
So the trend for the youth today, is, that they go after what satisfies them sensorily. They lack a depth in their goals that they want to achieve for themselves. There is also a lack of a properly meshed fabric of love, care, duty, responsibility, and relationship in their lives. They are in a very nebulous, tricky situation, But the families that have spiritual values and can inculcate them into the children should be able to quickly reverse course and become stronger individuals in the future.
S: The analogy of the river was quite impressive, I must say. It helped to visualize what you were saying in a very tangible way. Thank you for putting it that way.
V: I do feel worried and anxious for them. They need direction and inspiration to sustain them. Love and care are the roots of such inspiration from parents, teachers, and role models. So when moms embrace spiritual values and spiritualized material existence, including putting meaning behind activities, and have one or two aspirational goals to shoot for and a few practical positive values they can adopt, they will create a solid foundation for their future and hence the future of any society.
S: You said you have a daughter. Does she practice heartfulness meditation?
V: Yes she does. She is also a trainer. We never forced anything on her, but she was part of what we did. When she didn’t like it, we didn’t force her, and fortunately she came back with a lot of interest, and she has expressed some of her thought and experience in articles on meditation.
S: Where could we find them?
V: If you go to heartfulness magazine, you can look for Dr. Swati Kannan. She has written two articles for the Heartfulness Magazine. So, we are quite happy. But again, I take everything with gratitude. Not with expectation. See, the other thing in our association with any type of meditation system is that expecting an outcome is a seed for disappointment. Especially when it is not rational. What I mean by that is if I go to the gym and if I have a trainer, and if I do the routine I am supposed to do, I will see results in myself. That is the correct expectation. But if I go to the gym and do exercise, and then think that I am going to find a star to marry, or that I will swim across the Amazon, that is not a realistic expectation. So in many systems, including the heartfulness system, you will come across people who say that thanks to the meditation system, or the teacher, or their blessings, “my child became a valedictorian” or similar things. I cringe when I hear that. I cringe when I hear that, because we also know that tragedies happen. In any association or group of people. Things we don’t like happen. Right? If we don’t take these things as milestones in our journey, then we have a wrong understanding of life.
Let’s think about the day. The day starts cool, it gets hot, then it becomes cool again. It starts dark, it becomes light and it gets dark again. But if we don’t accept the seasonality of a day, seasonality of life, the ups and downs, we have a wrong understanding of life, a wrong understanding of the systems that we follow to expand our consciousness. So, I don’t know which question I have answered right now, but it’s very important that we don’t have dogmatic, religious overtones to our expectations from a meditation system. In some way, as our consciousness expands we shoot ourselves in the foot less often, and that is a tangible benefit. As our consciousness expands we develop a 360 degree–vision – a wider view of life in its wholeness. This makes us less volatile and reactive and calmer and better responsive. And this alone will make for growth, progress, happiness and joy in life.
S: I can see how what you just said also translates in how we raise our kids or however we live our lives, whatever practices we have and our expectations in what we want our children to do.
V: It’s like saying that if you go to temple, or a church, or a synagogue, you are a better person. But if you make that statement to the children, and they take it seriously, they will either look at others who are not doing that as bad, or they will look at parents and say, “Hey, it doesn’t work.” So it’s a problem.
S: Switching gears a bit, again: Being that you are in finance, what are three things you would tell a child, that could help a child be financially aware, or money aware. For instance, I wasn’t told anything about money. I was given a piggy bank but didn’t know about managing money.
V: Sure. Money is a means of exchange. Exchange things. Sometimes time is measured in money, and the value of products and services is measured in money. So a child needs to know that the things that they use cost money, and that to make money, one has to put in energy. If they waste things, they waste money, and they waste energy. And suppose you say that if the parents go out and put in the energy to make the money to bring in the things that they enjoy, then if they waste that money, they are wasting their parents’ energy. Then you can say that if you don’t waste, the parent can save that energy, spend that energy with the child, going out for a football game, or you know, going out to a movie, or otherwise spend time together. This is how some level of appreciation of what the parents do is inculcated in them that will, in turn, help them when they grow up. The child can tell the parents to spend more time with them and make less money for both require energy to be spent! Energy spent with the children is the greatest investment parents can make. So automatically everything gets balanced with that perspective. So saying money is energy. Save money, save energy. Spend it wisely where it is needed.
S: If you could tell your younger self, anything, what would it be?
V: I don’t know. I am quite content today as I am where I am. But if I were to go back and tell myself anything, I’d say “just think twice before doing anything”. It’s not that I have wasted a lot of time doing this, that, or the other, but I think that would be a general statement that I could make to myself. I could have avoided a few mistakes, and I could have definitely saved time, money, and energy, and that could have been put for my own personal growth, my family’s happiness as well. So that’s what I would tell myself. Think twice before doing anything. Not to procrastinate, but to pause; have a reasonable awareness of the decision that we are making. After doing the best, we accept what comes afterward.
End of Interview.
This is a post for World Moms Network by Sophi at ThinkSayBe. Photo used with permission from Victor Kannan.
I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!
My children are part of the first generation for whom social media has always existed. When I was a child, the term “email” hadn’t even been invented yet. For my children, Facebook has always existed and email is regarded as old-fashioned. This has all kinds of implications for kids, of course. We’ve all seen the multitude of reports and studies about what screen time is doing to our kids, how the obesity epidemic is being linked to the explosion of computer-based gaming, and how computers are making new skills emerge as old skills decline.
Something that is not talked about as frequently is the impact of social media on parents.
When my mother was raising me and my brother, the only people she could call on for advice or opinions were people she actually knew in person.
If she needed help, she had to either pick up the phone and ask, or go and visit someone. In the event of a child getting sick or injured, she would take us to the doctor, trust whatever the doctor said and get whatever medication was prescribed.
My parenting experience has been vastly different. I have the same supports that my mother had – friends, family members, and especially my mother herself – but I also have the Internet. When my older son was born, I joined a parenting group on Yahoo, and developed a friendship with fellow members that endures to this day (the only difference is that the Yahoo group is now a Facebook group). When my son was diagnosed with autism, I joined an autism parenting group, with the same results.
Both groups are about requesting and receiving advice, sharing funny stories about our kids, and having a safe place to vent on our bad days. Through these groups – and through World Moms Blog – I have developed online friendships that are every bit as real as “traditional” friendships. We rally around each other in bad times, and we celebrate together in good times.
No matter what is going on with my kids or with myself as a mother, I always know that there is someone out there who understands. And if I can’t find someone who has the answers I need, there’s always Google.
There are downsides to parenting in the age of social media, of course. Sometimes I go searching for understanding and find judgment instead. I find stark divisions in the parenting community. I have been criticized for vaccinating my kids. I have seen homeschooling moms viciously attack those who send their kids to school, and vice versa. I was once an uncomfortable online witness to a discussion in which a breastfeeding advocate smugly told a breast cancer survivor that she would be able to breastfeed her newborn child if she “tried harder”.
So yes, ugliness is as pervasive on the Internet as it is in the physical world. But we respond to it in the same way: by trying to counteract the bad with the good, by being supportive of one another and by leaving the ugliness behind.
At the end of the day, I am thankful to have the world of social media at my fingertips as I navigate the mysterious world of parenting. And I am even more thankful that at any time, I can pick up the phone and call the person who muddled through it all without the Internet: my mother.
What differences have you noticed between your mother’s era of parenting and your own? Does social media play an important role in your journey as a mother?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada.
Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny).
Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels.
When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum.
Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world.
Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!
Because of this, I’ve decided to declare to the world (fittingly, through this post, because, well, this blog represents people from all over the world, yes?) that I am going to do my best to be a more intentional mom…specifically when it comes to my use of Facebook.
Here are three things that I plan to do:
1. More Facetime, less Facebook.
I will have more “facetime” with my kids — more looking in their eyes when they speak to me, more kisses on their cheeks, more playtime and reading time. Basically, more “face-to-face” communication. 🙂
2. Limit access to my phone.
This may be a bit challenging to do, since I also use my phone for work, but I think I really need to do it. I plan to place my phone in a bag or closet during the times when I should be focused on the kids, like during mealtime, “learning time” or playtime. I will resist the urge to check my Facebook notifications, because they usually are not about anything urgent anyway.
3. Be more intentional with Facebook posts.
These tips on how to defeat a Facebook addiction reminded me again that, like many other things, Facebook is not necessarily an “evil” — it’s how we use it that leads to problems. So I think I’ll revisit my “One Word” for this year, and use Facebook less for “socializing” and more for inspiring and helping others.
For starters, I think I’ll focus more on sharing encouraging and inspirational posts on my Facebook page, rather than checking my personal Facebook feed all the time.
So this is what I plan to do. I hope that these action steps will truly help me to be a more intentional mom! (If you can relate to this post, I hope you found it useful — here’s to being more intentional with our kids!)
Do you have more tips for beating a Facebook addiction and being a more intentional mother to your children? Please share them in the comments!
Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed
physical therapist by education and currently the managing editor of Mustard, a
Catholic children's magazine published by Shepherd's Voice
Publications in the Philippines, by profession. She has been writing
passionately since her primary school years in Brunei, and contributes
regularly to several Philippine and foreign-based online and print publications. She also does sideline editing and scriptwriting jobs, when she has the time. Find out more about Tina through her personal
blogs: Truly Rich Mom and Teacher Mama Tina.
Outside Amman, the capital city of my new home, life continues to unfold much as it has for centuries. Or so it seems at first glance.
Recently, during a trip to Wadi Rum and Petra, we met and dined with many local Bedouin people. For dinner, they invited us to share the meat of a sheep which had been freshly slaughtered for our visit. Our hosts had different histories and journeys that brought them around the fire pit, but they all shared a wonderful pride for their country, their renowned hospitality, and their treasured historical and geological landmarks.
Mubarak, a man about my age, with a weathered face and kind, soft eyes, talked to me for hours around the fire. He told me of his family’s history, the way he grew up moving from one part of the desert to another during different parts of the year, herding sheep and searching for firewood. He talked of the Bedouin people’s common ancestry and desire to keep traditions alive, and about his favorite sand dune in the whole desert–his eyes clouded over as he recalled memories of the spot and described how the sand is as fine as flour. Then, without even a second thought, he grabbed his mobile phone out of his flowing, white shirt and asked if I would like to Skype with his friends Robert and Dee in Mexico.
To me, two worlds collided.
I couldn’t help but fall back on my elbows and laugh.
My children, like yours, are growing up in an ever-changing world. Preserving unique cultures, traditions and practices is becoming more difficult as we connect digitally through Skype, Facebook, What’sApp and other technology.
I see technology as a great equalizer, an incredible tool for those in the developing world–but also as something to treated with great care if we are to preserve the traditional practices in the world.
What do you do with your children to preserve family or cultural traditions? Does technology help or hinder your efforts?
Photo credit to the author. This is an original post to World Moms Blog.
We are a few months into our new 'home of our heart' location in Amman, Jordan. Originally from Canada, I have been moving around the globe for more than twenty years as my husband works for UNICEF. While we were a carefree couple in Uganda, Lesotho and Bangladesh, Meghan joined our family in 2000, while we were living in Myanmar. She was joined in 2005, while we were posted in India by Charlie, her energetic younger brother! Since then we have lived in Mozambique and New York. I am an educator and have been incredibly fortunate to have found rewarding jobs in international schools wherever we have been posted. Most recently I was the Elementary School Principal at the United Nations International School in Manhattan. Since arriving in Jordan, I have been a stay at home Mum, exploring, photographing and learning about the incredible history of the region and the issues facing not only the Jordan population but the incredible number of Syrian refugees currently residing in the country. While I speak English and French, I have not yet started to learn Arabic; a big goal for our time here.
I write to record and process this incredible journey we are on as a family. Time passes so incredibly quickly and without a recording of events, it's hard to remember the small moments and wonderings from each posting. Being a mother in this transient lifestyle means being the key cheerleader for our family, it means setting up and taking down a house with six weeks notice, it means creating close friendships and then saying goodbye. All this, while telling yourself that the opportunities your children have make the goodbyes and new hellos worthwhile. Raising a child in this lifestyle has incredible challenges and rewards. The challenges include culture shock every single time, even when you feel the move will be an easy one. It means coaching yourself, in your dark moments to be present and supportive to your children, who have not chosen to move but are trusting you to show them the world and the meaningfulness of the lifestyle we have committed to as a UNICEF family. The upsides to this lifestyle are incredible; the ability to have our children interact and learn about cultures, languages, food, and religions firsthand, the development of tolerance and empathy through relationships with many types of different people and the travel, they have been to more places before the age of ten than some people do in a lifetime! My commitment to raising children who believe in peace and feel responsible for making a difference in creating a better world is at the core of everything I do.
On Saturday night, I had the privilege of hosting three of my 13 year-old son’s friends for a sleep-over. They are lovely boys, and all I have to do is feed them and ignore them. I don’t mention things like showers or teeth-brushing, and in return they pretty much keep to themselves and don’t expect me to converse about Minecraft, Clash of Clans or Team Fortress II.
I teased them a little about not letting girls in while I drove my 9 year-old to a birthday party. I didn’t make a big deal of things when one of them smuggled in cola. I laughed with them, when on my return from the party drop-off, they were trying to stuff MacDonalds packaging into my kitchen rubbish bin. They pushed their limits with bedtime, of course. And they declined the offer of mattresses to sleep on (too much work for them to get them into our lounge) and slept on the carpet…. because, they’re 13 and their bodies still bend in ways mine don’t.
It was both innocent and, I felt, an appropriate mix of mischief and compliance.
Then, on Sunday, I heard of other 13 year-olds who had been in online chat rooms, talking about anal-sex and rape. Not in general terms, but in…. I shall be doing this to you terms…. These are kids who come from great homes and who have very loving families. I immediately thought: there but the Grace of God go I.
Children easily get caught up with what their friends are doing, or those who they emulate. My 13 year-old could have easily been one of those involved and I have no doubt all three of my boys will make stupid mistakes as they move from childhood to adulthood. Just not this time. Thank goodness.
The biggest worry, for me, was that there was at least one unidentified person in the chat-group who could, quite literally, have been anyone. It’s probably another 13 year-old, a friend or acquaintance but it could just as easily be a predator who was scoping for a target. And that makes it all the more scary.
The same is true of a local man who is hanging around liquor stores offering to buy alcohol and cigarettes for underage kids, 14 and 15 year-olds. He does this for a while. Then he offers drugs. Then it’s parties at his house. This is a whole different scenario from the stranger-danger I taught my boys when they were small.
We’re talking about people who are consciously befriending those kids who want to seem older than they are, and who are ready to break rules. They are grooming relationships before they pounce. They are feeding the teenage need to belong and the teenage need to experiment and do things that their parents may not approve of.
So we hit the teenage years, and now I find parenting is not so black and white.
No, I don’t want my kids drinking alcohol or smoking but do I buy them a few beers to take to a party, so that creeps don’t target them and they go behind my back? No, I don’t want my kids smoking pot but if they choose to, should I allow it when they know who grew it, rather than have them turn to those who lace it with P?
No, I don’t want my kids to be suggesting they will rape someone or perform anal sex on them, but I also don’t want them to be excluded from other things their peers are doing.
Suddenly, a conversation about Minecraft seems pretty appealing afterall.
What do you do or have you done to deal with these aspects of parenting?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of three, rapidly growing boys in New Zealand, Karyn Willis.
The image used in this post is attributed to JD Hancock and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
“Are you okay?” The emails and Facebook queries began pouring in even before I knew what had happened. “Were you there?” One particularly dramatic friend asked if “what happened” made me think about moving home.
Their queries followed the terrible news that had gone viral almost as soon as it happened: in a mall bathroom in Abu Dhabi, where I live, a veiled woman had killed a Western woman—-an American teacher-—with a long kitchen knife. Adding to the horror of the attack was the fact that the victim’s children, eleven-year old twins, were apparently hanging out in the mall waiting for their mother to come back from the bathroom.
I didn’t hear the news until I got home from work that day and opened Facebook. I suppose that people were particularly worried because I am also an American teacher, and about a month ago, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported that anonymous threats against American teachers had been made on a jihadi website. For a day or two after the attack, news reports tossed around the possibility that the veiled woman was somehow in league with ISIL, or some other terrorist organization.
As it happens, however, the murderer had no discernible terrorist allegiances, and what happened in that mall bathroom was just an appalling act of violence. Some of us who live here speculated about the difference between what happens in the US when an unstable person finds a weapon and what happened here:
a butcher knife is a brutal instrument, it’s true, but it creates far less mayhem than, say, a semi-automatic rifle.
According to a 2007 survey, the US ranks first in the list of number of guns owned by civilians (90 guns per 100 residents); the UAE ranks 24th (22 guns per 100).
Violent crime is incredibly rare in Abu Dhabi. Yet, despite the rarity of violence here, and despite the stability of the Gulf States, there was the chatter on Facebook; there were the emails; there were the questions about whether this attack would cause me to move home. “Home” is a bit complicated for me: I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for almost four years, but had been in Manhattan for almost twenty years before that. So “home” is here. . . and there.
Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, my family and friends were worried about other things. “Are you going to have to, you know,” they’d ask, swirling their hands around their head as if describing the world’s biggest beehive hairdo. Their swirl implied “covering”: would I have to wear a headscarf or an abaya when I went out in public? The answer is no. I feel free to walk around alone wherever I please, dressed much the same way I would be in New York. There are no laws governing how people dress here; women are free to cover or not cover, and on the beaches you see burqas and bikinis with equal frequency.
In fact, I feel as safe walking alone in Abu Dhabi as I ever did in New York. It’s the kind of place where I leave the car doors unlocked when I run into the grocery store, and where more than once I’ve forgotten my phone in some public place, only to run back ten minutes later to find it exactly where I left it.
I share the sentiments of my local friend, Ken. In response to the news, he posted the following message on his Facebook page: “Thank you for your e-mails and messages about the American woman who was killed here on December 1st. I appreciate your concern. But please be assured that I don’t feel in any greater danger being a Westerner in Abu Dhabi than I felt being a gay man in New York City. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m used to danger.
The only way to protect oneself completely from acts of terror or random violence is by not participating in the world. I won’t do that.”
The expressions of worry that came from my family and friends in the aftermath of this attack were real, I know. And there is no doubt that what happened is appalling and has ripped apart the lives of this woman’s family. But I can’t help but suspect that this story got as much coverage as it did (there are more than thirteen pages of hits for “American teacher slain Abu Dhabi) because the attacker is so visibly Other: a veiled woman, an exotic symbol of “the Middle East,” which to much of the West is still an undifferentiated blur of veils, oil rigs, and jihadis.
Here’s the teaser from CNBC when the story about the knife attack first broke:
I wonder about the leap: that an attack in a mall bathroom by a woman with a knife might have implications for “foreigners” living anywhere in the Middle East.
It’s a strange twist, isn’t it, to think that had the Western media simply assumed that the attack was an isolated, horrifying incident—the work of one crazy woman—it might have represented a step forward?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Deborah Quinn.
After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.