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Vijay Mehta
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xx Parents - this may be our fault
« Thread started on: Mar 25th, 2010, 3:49pm »

Here is a recent article from Wall Street Journal.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904574527441787130018.html?mod=WSJ_hps_RIGHTTopCarousel

Among all my endeavors as a parent of teenagers, understanding their affairs of the heart has been the most baffling. Mostly, my approach has been, "Hands off."

New research suggests I might do better by meddling a bit.

Long dismissed by researchers as trivial and fleeting, teen romance is emerging as a powerful factor in kids' development—one in which parents have a major role to play, new studies show. The romantic ties kids form between middle school and college are important markers of progress toward adulthood; their choice of partners as early as middle school actually shapes their development to a surprising degree.

And while parents' dating advice may seem about as welcomed by teens as the swine flu, the research suggests the opposite—that young people not only value parental input, but tend to have healthier relationships when they receive parental advice.

The studies serve as bedrock for parents in an era of dizzying changes in youthful romance. Many adults see little that is familiar in today's teen dating relationships, which may seem to live and die entirely on Facebook, or through texting, sexting or—to parents' dismay—casual "hookups," or brief sexual liaisons.

"It is an area where parents aren't quite sure what to do," says Stephanie Madsen, an associate professor of psychology at McDaniel College, Westminster, Md. Now, emerging research "can offer some solid information on what is helpful, and what's not."

Young people whose parents make themselves available to talk with them or give advice about dating tend to have warmer, closer, more positive romantic relationships, with less fighting and tension, reveals a study by Dr. Madsen and others of 225 young adults ages 22 to 29. If parents don't offer help, however, and keep out of offsprings' love lives altogether, that is linked in their offspring to poorer-quality relationships, including less affection and support and more conflict.

Young people like it best when parents take a consulting or coaching role, listening—and offering advice only when asked, Dr. Madsen says.

When Jim Garrett's son, a college student, came to him last summer to say he was considering breaking up with his girlfriend, "I mostly just listened and asked a few questions so I would understand," says Mr. Garrett, San Diego. "But I agreed with his decision to break up."

Soon, in what Mr. Garrett regarded as a sign of maturity, his son ended the relationship, and took up with another girl—one whom Mr. Garrett knew and already liked and respected.

Even when parents think a relationship is unhealthy, it is best to avoid handing down judgments or giving orders; young people may regard that as encroaching on their independence. Rather than saying, "you have to break up with this person," try reflecting on "what you're seeing that seems unhealthy, or that worries you," Dr. Madsen says.

In talking with her three children about romantic matters, Paula Thomas, Murfreesboro, Tenn., has found that "how well the message is heard greatly depends on how I deliver it. If I speak 'off the cuff' or in anger, my children aren't apt to listen. I see that wall of defensiveness go up," she says. But if she uses restraint, speaking up only about serious issues, then simply expresses concern, saying, "Here's what I see," her children tend to heed her advice.

Watching her son's longtime teenage romance begin to break down, "I struggled greatly with how much advice to provide," Ms. Thomas says. "But I became increasingly vocal as the situation deteriorated." Although her son was trying to hang onto the relationship to avoid the pain of a breakup, Ms. Thomas was able, during a relaxed, low-key conversation in a restaurant, "to help him see that he was already in pain" and would be hurting either way, she says. He soon made the tough decision to break up and "gained some maturity along the way," she says.

Connecting with a teen in this way can take a lot of relaxed down-time together, so you're available when he or she is in the mood to talk. When Mark Nagelsmith noticed that his 16-year-old son seemed to communicate with girls exclusively on Facebook or via text message, he pondered how to help him "work up the courage to actually to go up to a real girl and start talking" face-to-face.

Mr. Nagelsmith makes a point of spending lots of time practicing baseball with his son; "he really opens up to talk when we're just out fooling around, tossing the ball," says the Glens Falls, N.Y., father. During one of these sessions he raised the question, "Do you ever actually talk to these girls?" Although his son said he did, Mr. Nagelsmith has since seen him inviting girls to their house and really "making an effort to keep the conversation going," he says.

"He would never admit to me that he's listening, because as you know, dads don't know anything," Mr. Nagelsmith says. But his son's behavior makes Mr. Nagelsmith think "maybe he is."

Starting healthy new dating relationships also serves as a signal of kids' overall readiness to launch from the parental nest. Young people whose romantic relationships are nurturing and close also tend to have reached more milestones of adult development, including a stronger sense of personal identity and an ability to care for other family members, says a study of 710 people ages 18 to 26 led by Carolyn M. Barry, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland.

That is how Kathy Raborn read the tea leaves when her teenage son launched into a new dating relationship last year. The romance coincided with applying to college and getting his driver's license, signalling "he was moving on to a new phase of his life," says the New Jersey mother.

Finally, in a finding termed "striking" by researchers, romantic relationships as early as middle school seem to have a formative influence on teens' social and emotional health. In a study of 78 middle-school students published last year in Child Development, researchers rated teens and their boyfriends or girlfriends on depressive symptoms, and on peer reports of popularity, aggression, fighting and victimization via bullying or teasing; 11 months later, they rated the teens and their partners again.

Teens who had more problems at the first rating, but who picked healthier boyfriends or girlfriends, became mentally and socially healthier themselves by the second rating. However, low-functioning teens who picked partners who also had a lot of problems tended to stay stuck. The findings, says the study by Valerie Simon, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Wayne State University, Detroit, and others, suggest "romantic partners are unique and significant" influences in kids' lives.

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com

Continued:
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xx Parents - this may be our fault
« Reply #1 on: Mar 25th, 2010, 3:49pm »

My comments"

I can not agree more with Sue. Having listened to countless history of romance here is the pattern.

For Desi girl the first so called relationship starts in teens. Parents are usually in dark. The relationship lasts for a year of two. The driving force for relationship is not the romance but more to get attention. When they move to college, there is ample time and opportunity to enjoy it. Being in the relationship it so important that she will put up with emotional, verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Parents being completely out of the loop there is no support structure. Usual counsel of friends is no substitute for mature objective advise of some trusted adult. The friend are also sailing in the same boat. If the Desi parents knew how often their daughter fell for the guys they would never approve as Jamai they would have a heart attack. The guys from different caste, different part of India, different religion (muslim boy friend for Hindu girl), white, mexican or black are quite common. In many cases it seems that daughter is subconsciously picking the guy who will give the biggest shock to the parents.

As time passes by the amount of energy and time needed to maintain relationship keep escalating. The more she tries more it fells apart. A dozen times she decides 'it is simply not worth it' and wants to break up. However like an addicted person who can not do without the drug she is not capable of breaking up on her own. Finally she is hurt very badly and breaks up with the guy! But this is not the end. Few weeks later in the early morning hours she suddenly misses him so much that they get back to gather. The process repeats on an average three times before she finally comes to the senses and breaks up with him for good.

For few who are lucky to find a boy friend who treats them nicely, they manage to sabotage the relationship themselves. So many of them are attracted to bad boys that it is difficult to explain the phenomenon.

Here is the story of Desi boys. While in high school they had to work hard to get the attention of females specially with Desi parents guarding their angles. The situation changes when they go to college. Suddenly there are too many to choose from. The guys need a girl friend to have hook up with. Or they may have a trophy girl friend they feel so proud to show of with. In case of a trophy girl friend the interest in the girl is very little when they are all by themselves.They are not into a long term relationship. Some how, bad boys do get lot more attention from girls while those who are simple and straight forward get left behind. The guys and gals end up having different agenda. One being too focused on long term commitment while the other one just having a good time.

Arguments and fights start early on and escalate. Vast majority of fights are for trivial reasons. They fight about topics rather than important issues. Eventually one of the two decides it is time to call it off.

The cycle repeats every two to three years. Each successive relationship leave a scar on both of them. Unfortunately, instead of learning as to how I can change my self for future the energy is spent on how the other person was jerk. As time passes by they learn to enjoy the company of opposite gender to meet their needs. As long as the topic of commitment does not spring up there is a sense of harmony.

While this may not apply to some of them. Basic story of many of our young men and women is so predictable that there is a definite pattern.

Now, I am not an expert and I have not done any research, but I strongly believe that we Desi parents took our selves out of the equation when we refused to accept the fact that our kids are normal - they have hormones - they do have relationship - they do date and mate. Had we been more realistic and be able to discuss these issues with our kids many of the so called mistakes could have been avoided or minimized. And just as the article suggests, "teen romance is a powerful thing and parents who are plugged in come out on the top." The families in which the conversation about romance and sex takes place openly have lower incidence of abusive relationship - low self esteem and dysfunctional relationships.


To all Desi parents, time has come for us to accept that sex and romance does exist. It is time we sit down with our teenage daughters or grand daughter and talk about relationship - romance and sex! Time to talk about the birds and bees!
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