Apr 21, 2012
Marrying out of your culture is different from marrying someone from another faith. That would be religion. Marrying out of your culture is about your environment, what you are used to, where you were born and grew up, the way language is spoken, the way food is made, the kind of spices people are used to, on and on. The comic Trevor Noah talks about culture in one of his comedic performances and how people cannot differentiate between culture and faith. He went on to say that he is colored, but grew up in Durban, and did not speak and sound the same as a Cape Town colored; nuances, lingo and so on. Yet, the culture is firmly embedded in all of us whether from Durban or the Western Cape.
The familiarity of culture
For people who want to broaden their horizons and live overseas and find a partner in Australia, New Zealand or England it might seem a breeze at first when you meet someone you like and everything is working between you. Eventually, however, when you are over the novelty and things go wrong, you want to go back to your roots. It is not religion that separates you in this case; it is the warmth and beauty of the oceans and mountains versus the freezing cold of a British winter. Humans want comfort. Still, a South African would be more at ease with New Zealand and Australia as they have something huge in common: a rugby culture. They can unite through a sport. They speak the same language when they speak of tackles, rucks and mauls. South African rugby fans are in awe of the All Blacks and the Wallabees, and likewise the boys from the Pacific are in awe of them. Even though one rugby player might live in the others country, they will always have a connection through sport.
Which is the harder then to live without? Live without the familiarity of your culture or live without the person you couldn’t marry because she is a Muslim and you are a Jew? I don’t know; they both seem equally hard. I would hate to have to make such a decision. For survival on earth I would choose culture; for life after death I would choose God.
This is a parent’s worst fear, and it is no use shouting and berating your child. Labeling won’t help. Dealing calmly with the situation is your best approach. Tell her that you are disappointed and thought that she would have known better than to have sex with a boy at her age. Then push on to the talk you have avoided having with her which is now too late. Tell her that while it is fashionable to be a young mother, she is ill equipped to handle a pregnancy and will not finish her education. Your first approach is to sit down with her and discuss the following:
• Take an authoritative approach and tell her you will help her make the best decision for her and the child. If she is impressed by her peers she might not do what you want which means that she wants to keep the child. Speak to her and decide if she will listen to you and do what is best.
• Take your daughter to the hospital and have tests done for Aids and STDs.
• Take her to a pregnancy ward and show her the pain of birth. If you have a pregnant relative you might get permission for her to watch the birth.
• You might also get her to babysit your pregnant relative’s baby for a whole day to see what is in store for her; she would have to feed the baby at irregular hours, diaper and wash the child, and her free time will be over.
• Advise her or give her an option as to whether she wants to put the child up for adoption or keep it and not finish her studies. Tell her that there are very good women out there who cannot have children and who would love to have a baby and provide the child with everything it needs.
• Make an appointment with the child’s father and speak to him and his parents. Speak to them both together and on their own so that you can determine the best interests for everyone.
• Don’t slack off because while your talk might have jolted your daughter it does not mean that she will stop having sex. Sometimes it is necessary to be harsh to jolt someone back to reality; tell her that it will be a very stupid thing to do if she falls pregnant again.
• Her father will be very disturbed and disappointed, but tell him nevertheless to get more involved in his child’s life and help her make the right decision.
• Hard as it might be for you to do this, give her literature on pregnancy and books on raising a child and add a box of condoms. Your disappointment is not going to make things better; work with her in a patient and productive way.
Of the four kinds of parenting styles – authoritarian – authoritative – permissive – uninvolved – the authoritative parenting style is the favored choice. In my own estimation, authoritarian parenting is a fire and brimstone kind of approach where instilling fear is part of the pattern and children are under an umbrella of rules and regulations to behave. They are not allowed to be children and express themselves and while punishment for doing wrong may not be abusive, it is strong enough that children may suppress their inner feelings and grow up tight and afraid. Their playtime is restricted, they are not allowed to go out with their friends, they can’t be themselves, and burn with resentment.
Setting rules for your children
• Don’t expect that when you tell a two year old not to throw her bottle and toys out of the cot, that she will listen. Shouting at the child does not help. Instead, talk in an even and calm manner to the toddler and show her instead where the toys belong. Always invite the child to participate in clean up rather than shouting and ordering. You want a happy toddler; one who wants to help.
• Tailor your parenting style as the child grows up. He or she has a greater understanding of the rules then and can have some light duties such as sweeping the porch or drying the dishes. He understands the consequences when a parent asks him to do something and he does not. He understands timeout. He understands that if he does not do his homework that he will not be allowed to watch his television program. There is no shouting.
• As your child grows up and starts to be interested in the opposite sex, the parenting style too has to pony up and not shy away from that first birds and bees conversation. Talk to your children about puberty and about sex. You don’t want them experimenting. A teenager goes through a lot of changes, hormonal and otherwise, and many teens need their parents to talk to them about the consequences if they have sex. Push on and mention the hardship of pregnant teens. If you suspect that your thirteen year old daughter is already experimenting, don’t be afraid to burst her bubble and tell her that she is too young and that you would like her to wait until she is older and knows more about life. This is a delicate conversation; don’t be afraid to have it.