Child death, Culture, death, emotions, grief, parenting, Personal Growth, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

The Club I Never Wanted to Join

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There are those clubs in life that we join with enthusiasm, that is within our control and decision, that we decide to engage because it coincides with our interests, our hobbies, passions, joys, and identity.  Although life’s path indoctrinates us into other clubs or groups that we never sought membership for, but we received a lifetime membership that usually involves emotional fees instead of monetary fees.  Almost one  year ago, I received one of those unsolicited lifetime memberships to the Mother of Dead Children when I delivered my full term 38 week old stillborn son, Mr. Baby (aka Mohammad Hatem Mominah).   A membership card I have tried to burn, to throw away, and return to sender, but the damn gold status membership card keeps finding its way back into my hand of cards.  This unsolicited club membership likes me to invest my emotions, my cognitive energy, my time, my sleep, my lack of sleep, and at times, my sanity.   While the members of this club experience some of the same initiations, each club member also gets specialized individualized treatment dependent on their own story, their personal characteristics of the card member, but most of us get to pay the yearly premium of guilt, blame, and sadness.

There are no rules and regulations of expected behavior of carrying this card from the membership itself, but people that have not gained membership to this club have developed stereotypes of how you should “be” and what is acceptable to say to you or not say to you.  I have perfected the art of listening, and composing a smile, or at least a blank expression, but I also have a ticker tape that silently runs through my mind, that if ever was exposed, could unleash a nasty sarcastic spew of my inner coping.  As a member of this club, I have gathered support and understanding from other gold card carrying members, but those outside that club, that have never experienced what it means to lose a child, will offer their own advice of how you can be a gold star performing card carrying member.  While every parent that has lost a child has a different way of coping, my own inner dialogue, which I long ago nicknamed as my “ticker tape” has at times ran rampant in my mind in response to messages  to what others have said to me in the past year.

  1. You should be grateful that you have other children.  Yes I am selfish and ungrateful…. (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  2. You need to get over it and move on.   I am weak and sorry I have those days that I secretly wish that I could have crawled into the grave with my child….(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  3. God never gives you more than you can handle.  Really?  Ummmm….because I am about one second away of letting you see on display what falling apart looks like.….(guilt)What  is wrong with me?
  4. Far worse things have happened to other people, you  should be grateful.  Yes far worse things have happened….I did not gain membership to compare my experience with tragedies of the rest of the world.  Yeah I get that far more horrible things have happened in the world, but thank you  for your insight and wisdom, but it still doesn’t change how I feel….(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  5. Say “Thanks God” or “Al Humdallah”. I have never been one to do or say things unless I really feel that way, and  maybe I am an ungrateful,  selfish person, because I am not grateful for carrying a child for 9.5 months to hand that child over to be buried in the desert’s sand.  I am not grateful to get this unsolicited membership card……Sorry if this upsets your world view, and doesn’t coincide with your perceptions….I will not say something that I do not mean, because I do not view this as a will of God…this was because of medical human error,  my own screwed up body, my own inability to deal with stress, and because I was too physically and mentally exhausted to stand up to the voices that said a C-section could wait for a couple more days,  even though I knew it couldn’t.   I am not in the mood to make you feel better…because I feel like shit.   If it makes you feel better, please say it, but do not say it to me, and do not expect me to say it.  Special note to medical professionals….please shut up and do not even have the audacity to mention this to me…. (guilt) What  is wrong with me?
  6. At least you are still alive and here.  Really?  That could be questionable on a moment by moment basis…..(guilt) What is wrong with me?
  7. Maybe it was for the best, maybe there was something wrong with him. A doctor examined him, there was nothing wrong with him visibly, although I would not allow the hospital to dissect his little body.  Even if there was something wrong with him.  I just wanted the chance to look into his eyes…even for just a little bit.  I wanted that baby,  even if there had been issues…. (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  8. You are not the only person to lose a child.  I know that, and do you think that I don’t’ realize already that I am not handling this with grace …Do you really think that if I could I wouldn’t stand up  and be this fortress of strength? (guilt)  What is wrong with me?
  9. At least you never had the chance to get emotionally attached…it is better that he died before you had the chance to know him. Please fuck off because I did know him.  I carried him for 38 weeks… you have no idea…… (guilt) What is wrong with me?
  10. You gave yourself black eyes/ bad luck because you were so happy to have the baby.  Your statements are more of a reflection of your black  heart and how you view others as well as how you view yourself… Please…could you just please shoot me and get your freaking torture over with.  I was happy to be expecting a child…and you stand before me and say that it is my fault that I made other’s jealous……really….this is just too much….while you may think it, and that is your right….really shut the fuck up.  Trust me….I have enough guilt for not standing up to doctors, changing physicians, or dealing with stress effectively…I don’t need your negative energy to add to my black world right now.  Bad things happen in life, and death is one of the inevitable truths of our existence.   (guilt) What is wrong with me?

The only real benefit that I believe I have gained from my membership, is the right to say “Please consider what you say to someone that has lost their child”.  I know the intentions are there to try to comfort the person, but each person deals with loss and grief in their own way.  I apologize in advance to anyone that I have offended by my honesty and language, that is not my intention, but to provide an insight into the grief of one mother on a year long journey of coming to terms with the death of her child.   Entering the private thoughts of another is one way to understand a situation and have some empathy.  I am sure that in the past that I have unintentionally made statement in regards to someone’s life events that were not helpful.  This experience has taught me that sometimes words unspoken are best.  No one can tell a the person what they should feel, or how they should behave when faced with death.   Sometimes the well intentioned comments only add to feelings of guilt, sadness, selfishness, and unfairness experienced by those grieving.  What you can do…sit quietly, listen, and understand that person will never be the same in some ways.  Yes they will learn to smile again, they will learn how to live again, they will learn to breathe….but it is in their time, and in their way.  Grief is a path that each person travels differently and it is not a path that can be magically fixed.

Happy Birthday Mr. Baby.  You earned  your angel wings  before you ever had to  breathe  in the experiences of the harsh realities of life on earth. One of my favorite messages sent was “The angel opened the book of life, and  said “This one is too perfect for this world…and closed the book”.  For this, I can honestly  say “Alhumdallah” or “Thank God”.  Until we meet again my little baby.

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Betrayal, Emotional abuse, Midlife, Relationships, Women

The Lie in Believe

Believe
Believe? An interesting word in both meaning as well as the composition of letters that compose this word. Marriam-Webster (2014c) defines believe as “to accept or regard (something) as true” or “to accept the truth of what is said by (someone)”. As I have studied the word believe, I find it ironic that the word “belie” are the letters that I write down to spell out “believe”. Marriam Webster (2014b) defines “belie” as “to give a false idea of (something)” or “to show (something) to be false or wrong”. The word belie has a dual meaning depending on the context of how it is used. Belie can be the act of trying to deceive another individual, or refers to the act of trying to refute what another has said, hence showing their deception. As I further try to decode the composition of the word “believe”, I have noticed the word “lie” is the middle of the word “believe”, and composes the end of the word “belie”. Marriam-Webster (2014a) defines lie as “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” or “to create a false or misleading impression”.

I find it painful and agonizing that I have wasted so much energy in not only trying to understand the symbolic morphology of these three words, but even more so painful that I have spent so much of my energy in living out my life with regards to these three words: Believe, belie, and lie. These three concepts have pervaded the past years of my life in my attempts to escape reality. I have wasted energy trying to believe the lies. I have wasted energy trying to belie the lies I have been told. I have engaged in a vicious and self-destructive pattern of trying to believe these lies, while my intuition has engaged me in the counter process of showing the belie of the lies. This process has done nothing more than taking me on a roller coaster of emotions. There are those brief momentary highs of believing the lie, only to send me into a downward spiral filled with hurt, pain, and betrayal as my acts to belie (to show something to be false or wrong) have shown the belie (to give a false idea of something) of others around me.

While I consider myself a moderately intelligent person, my stupidity is my failure to learn to quit purchasing the tickets on this roller coaster ride of believe, belie, and lie. The individuals that have been the operators of this ride, and who I have continuously bought the tickets to the roller coaster of agony, are the greatest salesmen because they know of my most inner weaknesses. Their ability to keep selling me another ticket comes from their knowledge on my own insecurities and inner weaknesses, which the art of sales and marketing are based on feeding on the insecurities and needs of individuals. In all honesty, how can I blame the salesmen? For in every sale there has to be a willing customer ready to snatch up the next deal. Why is it that I continue to buy this ticket, even though I know the ride will leave me nauseated and leave me wrenching a stream of vomit of my own soul? Perhaps it is time that I exit the amusement park to take away the temptation of purchasing another ticket on the “roller coaster of believe, belie, and lie”, in not only its symbolic composition, but the emotions that come with the process of believing. I no longer choose to believe the salesman.

References
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014a). Lie. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lie
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014b). Belie. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/belie
Marriam-Webster Online. (2014c). Believe. Last accessed May 20, 2014 at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/believe

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Betrayal, Culture, Feminism, Islam, Misyar, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Misyar Marriage: The Prostitution and Betrayal of the Female Gender

abaya half face
For those living outside of the Arab world, the concept of “misyar marriage” is a foreign concept, although the equivalency of misyar in the Western world is that of having an extra-marital affair. A relationship that is often based on meeting the sexual needs and conquest of men, and perhaps women, with no strings attached as far as responsibility on the part of the male. Misyar marriage is a secret marriage contract entered in by a woman and a man, in which they engage in sexual relations, in which the man has no responsibility to provide financial support, no responsibility of any children that may be born out of the sexual unions, as well as there is typically a “time span” in which this secret marriage is valid for. The women that engage in these marriages, may temporarily benefit in terms of materialistic gifts, vacations, love nests that are temporarily erected to carry out the acts of sexual relations, as well as meeting their own sexual desires. Perhaps these women also may have secret aspirations that the misyar marriage will transform into a traditional marriage through time. These types of marriages are not registered with any type of government agency or authority, and they occur in secret, often away from the knowledge of legitimate wives, family members, or recognizing the temporary union to the public. The Islamic religion strictly forbids sexual relations outside the boundaries of marriage, hence the human creation of the misyar marriage, which allows people to fornicate, perhaps only once or numerous times, while avoiding the worldly consequences or responsibilities of engaging in sexual relations.

In these situations, it would be easy to buy into the worldview of the evil temptress whore, that uses her sexual energy to lure away the family man into lurid sexual activities, but to be completely honest, the only individuals that benefit at the end of day from these situations, are those that advocate the social acceptance of misyar, and the men that engage in the secret “affairs”. I am going to call it an affair, and not refer to it as a marriage for the rest of this piece, because calling it a “marriage” degrades the sanctity of what marriage stands for in terms of respect, honesty, and authentic pure intentions. In addition, in terms of the Islamic principles of honesty, truth, and compassion, this practice is devoid of any of the aforementioned virtues. Misyar is built on the intentions of secrecy, deception, and in all reality, a lie. A lie not only to the legitimate wives and children of the men that choose to engage in this practice, but also to the women that agree to enter into the practice, as well as the risk of children being born out of these unions that have no legal and social rights of having two parents with the benefits of being recognized as a child of both parents. The women that are affected by this practice either by choice or by being legally married to a male that practices this way of life are victims. The children born out of these sexualized temporary unions, as well as the children of legitimate marriages in which their father engages in these practice are victims, forever being scarred by the father’s lust, selfishness, and disrespect of the female gender.

Most men and women enter into a legal traditional marriage, with the expectation that love, trust, honesty, respect, and honor will be the pervading values of the union. It is often viewed as a lifetime commitment in which the two people merge their lives in their efforts to form a family, grow together through the different developmental life stages, as well as often have offspring to continue their own legacies into the future. While indeed Islam does have practices that provide routes for men engaging in polygamy, in which they are permitted to have up to four wives, in reality even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) did not advocate the practice of polygamy by the conditions in which were set by the act of taking more than one wife. One of the conditions is the man must treat the wives equally in terms of his affection, and material provisions and gifts. Perhaps a man can give equality by the material possessions and gifts that are given, but the equality in terms of affection is almost humanly impossible. In other words, it is permitted, but do not do it because even Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) could not equate his affections equally among wives. In addition, the first wife must agree to the husband taking another wife and if she does not, she is permitted to divorce the husband.

This case scenario illustrates traditional marriages, but the practice of misyar does not even inform the wife of her husband engaging with sexual relations with another woman. The practice of misyar is not only a form of deception and lies to the legally sanctified traditional wife of a man practicing this form of deception, but it also puts the wife’s very health and life in jeopardy. Many countries require testing prior to traditional legal marriage of both the man and woman undergoing testing for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Two of these STD diseases such as AIDS or hepatitis most often are fatal to those who are infected in the long-term. In addition, other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia can cause infertility, or genital warts, which increases a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancers, and least of all the embarrassment and humiliation of being diagnosed with the social stigma of an STD. The practice of misyar, because it does not require the marriage to be legally registered and is engaged in deceptively, does not entail the male or female to engage in testing of STDs. This is a lethal way to spread the transmission of STD’s not only between the two people that are engaging in the deceitful practice of misyar, but also to the innocent unsuspecting wife who believes she is in a mutually sexually exclusive relationship with her husband. In all honesty, neither the men, nor the women who engage in the misyar marriage are virgins who have abstained from sexual relations in the past, and are most likely to have the highest risk of carrying an STD. In fact, some of the women who engage in misyar relationships have a history of engaging in “secret sexual liaisons”, or misyar, one after another, to finance their style of living. For those of you from Western cultures who may be reading this article, we do have slang terms for these women such as “sluts”, “prostitutes”, or “whores” in all honesty.

The traditional legal wife is also an innocent victim in terms of dealing with the emotional and financial drains of her husband engaging in this type of deceitful relationship. As the husband sneaks off to engage in his sexual liaisons with the “secret woman”, this robs not only the wife, but also any children of time and support in the family household that should be available from the husband/father. In addition, the husband is spending the financial resources and future inheritance of the children as he engages in arranging vacations, apartments, as well as gifts to be given to the “other woman”. Perhaps the most painful of all of this experience, is to the wife that finds out about the “secret relationship” and the emotional of feeling betrayed, belittled, and the feelings of inadequacy of worthlessness that accompanies many individuals that have experienced their partner engaging in an affair. Infidelity and the long-lasting scars can cut to the very soul and perception of one’s self as they question why their spouse has engaged in this type of relationship, that is if the wife ever discovers her husband’s extra sexual activities. It not only damages a woman’s perceptions of herself, but can also affect her ability in other roles in life, such as a mother, friend, or employee as she tries to work through the negative emotions that are often associated with this type of betrayal.

Although the women who engage in misyar are often portrayed as evil women with the intentions of gaining financial means, or the plots to secure a future legitimate legal marriage, they are also victimized through this practice. These women are typically never acknowledged as a legal wife, nor do they reap the benefits of inheritance from their sexual liaisons, or the security of a legal marriage. They are often used as a temporary escape from the reality of family life, in which men are able to fulfill their sexual desires outside the traditional boundaries of a public marriage with no future obligations to the woman. In addition, the social stigma involved to the woman that engages in such a type of relationship is often that she is “damaged goods”, either because of divorce, social status, nationality, social economic status (SES) that has been relegated to the role of servicing the sexual needs of a male without the benefits of a legitimate marriage. While some advocate the misyar also is a benefit to these women, examining this practice in regards to these women, they are marginalized, used for sexual pleasure, and are not viewed as worthy enough to legitimize their presence publicly. Their motivation to engage in this type of arrangements may be done in part for momentary financial gains, but I am sure that some of them have the secret hopes that the relationship will develop into a long-term lasting eventual legal marriage, which typically does not happen. The hope of the man acknowledging this “secret women” in the future is bleak, because he has engaged in this type of relationship out of his own sexual lust, but most often will not risk the social condemnation, his legal wife, children, or reputation to have a long-term committed relationship. While he may eagerly profess his love to this woman, you have to question whether he truly has authentic love for anyone to engage in this type of relationship to manipulate and risk his legal wife and children, as well as the “secret woman”. He engaged in a misyar relationship through using deceit and lies, and rest assured this is a character of the individual that carries through in other relationships, including the misyar relationship.

The concept of misyar is built on the concept of “secrecy”. Often when we speak of secrecy, someone is being deceived, lied to, and betrayed. While the women, who engage in these types of relationships with men are often portrayed as the temptress set out to destroy the sanctity of marriage, in reality, the real transgressors in these types of arrangements are the men that are not only betraying their legitimate legal wife and children through their egotistical actions to satisfy their sexual urges, they also are manipulating and using the very women that they engage with in these secret sexual liaisons behind the closed doors of deception and secrecy. The difference is one woman has chosen to engage in the practice, while the legitimate wife is often kept in the dark of the fraudulent behavior of her husband. The women in these types of arrangements may be marginalized by some type of socially constructed grouping in which they have been categorized either by life experiences, or by birth, but they too are humans with aspirations, dreams, and needs. Those that advocate and practice this type of secretive behaviors are the lone transgressors and oppressors of women and children, as well as illustrating the treachery and sham of dishonesty that humans can choose to engage in by their animalistic sexual urges that rob them of values, virtues, and honesty in relationships. The practice of misyar is not a practice of Islam, because Islam advocates truth, honesty, humbleness, and respect. The practice of misyar is a creation of patriarchal men, who happen to be associated with the faith of Islam, but have bent the rules to satisfy their own selfish carnal needs, and have disregarded the female gender as human beings worthy of respect. For those who have limited understanding of the Islamic faith, this is not Islam, but is a construction of a practice by humans that seeks to circumnavigate the rules of Islam to quench sexual desires, while avoiding responsibility, honesty, and respect for the female gender.

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Betrayal, Feminism, Personal Growth, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Women

Living in the Shadows of the Cloak of Darkness

shadows
I have been living in the shadows, the shadows of sorrow, pain, and broken trust that have kept me out from my own inner light. You helped me create those shadows, by blocking the light with your words, you actions, and the images of betrayal that left me in darkness. You cloaked me in black to cover my inner light, expecting me to thrive out of the spotlight, while I slowly withered away into a state of the breathing dead.

Objects of reality only create shadows, and you do not represent reality, or an object that is solid and real, but a hollow figure that is nothing more than an illusion of deception. Just as I moved into the flimsy shadows by my own free will, I am stepping out of the shadows and casting away the cloak of black, back into my light to take my place among the living, escaping the shadows of doubt. I will leave you to your own drama, with all of your fellow actors to play on your stage in your shadows of deception. Shadows possess no depth, dimension, or color, but are superficial images cast on walls perhaps to spark one’s imagination of creating stories and tales. Shadows cannot exist without light, and no longer will I allow you to steal my light for your shadowy manipulations, but I am reclaiming my light to see my world as it is.

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Emotional abuse, Humanistic Psychology, parenting, Personal Growth, Psychology, Relationships

Love: The Difference Between Unconditional Love versus Conditioned Love

Mom and me
I have heard and even used myself the expression “love can heal the world”. Lately I have been questioning the concept of love; we throw the word love around, which in reality has different meanings for different people, as well as the context of how we use the word. For example, I might say, “I love your dress”, “I love you”, “I love my children”, “I loved that movie”, “I love my spouse”, or “I love my parents”. In the context of this article, I am speaking about the love we have for other living and breathing creatures, and more specifically human beings. Even narrowing down the term love and using it in context about people, the way we use the word “love “ and what it means is ambiguous. Love can be defined as an action, expression, or emotion. Love can be expressed as a thing by using it as a noun, or an action by using it as a verb.

Although we may have different ways to use the word love, there are types of “love” that we need to question as to whether or not they actually meet the criteria of love: Unconditional love vs. conditional love. Unconditional love involves both a genuine care and concern about an individual, which involves both recognizing that individual as a unique individual with both strengths and weaknesses. We express our affection for that individual, which does not necessarily mean that we condone or support their negative behavior, but we still have positive regard for them as a person and human being. We set limits of what is acceptable behavior in the relationship that is healthy for both individuals, balanced with respect for both individuals. This type of love is mature, respectful, and may transition through time according to the developmental stages of each person in the relationship, and what constitutes appropriate roles for these individuals. For example, I think of unconditional love I have towards my children. My oldest daughter is almost 23 years old and I have experienced as a mother our relationship from her being an infant to entering the world as a young adult. As an infant, all of her needs were met through me and she needed different levels of guidance through each stages. Through each stage of her development, her independence grew, as she became a unique individual. Both of us through these different stages made mistakes, but my love for her and I believe her love for me is not conditional. I recognize she has both strength and weaknesses, as I am sure she realizes I too as a person have strength and weaknesses. I will love and respect her as a person, regardless of the mistakes she makes, or if she has different ideas and values than my own because she is my child that came from my womb. Although I may not support her behavior through either financial means, as well as I may voice my concerns, at the end of the day, I still love her. I experienced this same type of unconditional love from my parents, who often disagreed with my life choices, but have provided emotional support (and yes even financial support) through different periods in my life. My family of origin is not perfect, and yes, we have dysfunction that flows through our relationships, but conditional love was never a part of those relationships.

Conditional love involves only showing affection for an individual when they behave or act in accordance with one’s wishes, commands, wants, or desires. Conditional love damages an individual in that they only believe that through their appearances, achievements, materialistic offers, and yes even handing over their own control will win them the love of another person. Conditional love is often used as a form of emotional abuse in which one individual places conditions of giving their affection to another person; it is a form of being selfish, narcissistic, shallow, manipulating, and controlling another person. We have all seen this type of love, from the parent that expects their child to follow all of their commands and the parent showing love is conditional upon the child meeting those demands. We have seen this through spouses that expect their mate unquestioningly to obey their authority, and meet all of their needs. We have seen this through friends who stand with us through our bright times, but mysteriously disappear during our down periods in life. Conditional love places restrictions on individuals, and never allows them to develop to their full potential. This is not “love”, and when we come to fully recognize this as a species, we may realize that “unconditional love can heal the world”.

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Adlerian Psychology, Memories, Relationships

Haunting Memories

Il Duomo
I wish I had the ability to edit my memories like a filmmaker has the ability to edit, cut, and throw out certain scenes of a movie. Recalling our memories, both positive memories and negative memories can freeze us into place, refusing to let ourselves experience our life in our current place. Difficult memories can throw us into the despair of guilt and questioning why has this happened to me. Even positive memories of the past where aspects of our life have changed can send us into questioning, “Where did it all go wrong? How did it change?”.

As a therapist, I was trained in Adlerian psychology, one of the techniques I often used with clients was recollection of memories, as a way to gauge the mindset and emotional frame of a client as they progressed through therapy. The basis is that the memories we are able to recall are an avenue of discovering how this person is functioning emotionally and psychologically. For the first time in my career in psychology, I personally question the effectiveness of this technique. The memories that are flooding my own mind right now are of times when my life appeared to be blissful. Those memories are not an account of my emotional state, but a painful memory of how some people change through time into something that does not match our memories of the past.

I want to banish those memories from my recollection. They haunt me like a ghost creeping through the recesses of not only my conscious states, but also my dreams. The memories send me into a despair of wishing to try to turn the clock back to a time in which the ghost of my memories was the person I see standing before me. The ghost that lives in my memories is dead, although the bodily form still exists. The essence of who they were, or at least who I thought they were in my memories has been banished from the living, leaving both my thoughts and soul haunted by a phantom that lives in human form, but the soul I thought I knew is now is just a memory of the past.

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parenting, Personal Growth, Psychology, Relationships, Saudi Arabia

Perspective: The Gift vs. the Sacrifice of Children

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We have all been in situations in which we talk about the “sacrifices” we make in life.  We often hear parents speak of the sacrifices they make for the sake of their children.  Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (2014) defines sacrifice as “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone”.  Whenever we speak of sacrifices made for someone, especially our children, we are inducting that child into a world of feeling guilty for their own existence (Ausubel, 1955).  When I hear parents say “Look at the sacrifices I made for you” to their children, I always cringe at the  feelings of shame and guilt the child is having imposed on them for the event of being born, which was an action brought about by the parents, and not the innocent child.   

An individual recently commented to me on their perceptions of the many “sacrifices” I had made to stay with my children.  I sat and thought about their comments for a moment, and as I thought about it, I realized I had not made personal sacrifices for my children.  I am not going to lie and admit that there have not been times when I have had the thoughts that I sacrificed my life goals for my children.  I put off pursuing a PhD for 10 years because of the age of my children.  I have moved away from my family and friends of my childhood to be with my children and husband in Saudi Arabia.  One could see these as sacrifices, but in fact, not choosing to stay with my children would be a personal sacrifice for me.  Children are gifts, although I will be the first to admit that during the toddler temper tantrums, the mood swings of pre-adolescence, and the rebelliousness of the teenage years, it is hard sometimes to keep this point of view in perspective. 

Children come into the world by the choices their parents make.  If a parent believes that they have made “sacrifices” to have children, perhaps they should reconsider the purpose of having children.  The concept of “responsibility” becomes a crucial component of this concept of “sacrifices” and “guilt” versus our “values” and “responsibilities”.  If an individual sees the sacrifice of raising children with emotional support, love, caring, and teaching them responsibility as a sacrifice, perhaps their values as well as concept of parenting needs to be re-evaluated.   

As I sat and carefully pondered this person’s perception of my sacrifice, it came to me I had made no personal sacrifices, except for the time I sent my 15 year old daughter back to the United States from Saudi Arabia to finish her education.  That was a sacrifice, because I had to let someone l loved dearly leave me, versus keeping her in a country that was not her own.  I choose to stay with my three younger children, and have her go back to the United States:  This was a personal sacrifice; I had to give up someone that I wanted with me on a daily basis, and chose my three younger children in Saudi Arabia.  Who has really sacrificed are my children because of the past choices I have made.  I looked at the person who said this comment to me and told them “Staying with my children is not a sacrifice, because my children are my gifts”.    

 

References

Ausubel, D. P. (1955). Relationships between shame and guilt in the socializing process. Psychological review, 62(5), 378.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary.  (2014).  Sacrifice.  Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice

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