55-FACING SOCIETY

At 21 years of age, as planned, our imaginary young couple has decided to commit to marriage and have children. At this time, they are both in the final year of their respective bachelor’s degree. She has been accepted at a veterinary school, and he is to start his internship with a local architectural firm the following year.

Since the architectural firm and the veterinary school happen to be in the city where both their parents live, and since all four parents are anxious to have grandchildren, they will go ahead and have their first child in the summer months prior to her entering veterinary school. With so many available and willing babysitters, having her first child at that time will not interfere with her studies.

The first child turned out to be a boy, and the next few years were pure bliss as they got more involved in their individual fields of study and worked at making the third member of the family team feel welcome. Four years later, just before launching their professional careers, they had a girl, and the family team was getting ready to face the world.

The boy was about to start school, and they quickly realized how awesome a challenge that was. The traditional Judeo-Christian education system was not in sync with what he was being taught at home, and it had to be countered in three main areas: religion, evolution and reproduction. After meeting with the school principal, they were satisfied that he did not believe in nor promote creationism, and therefore, the child would be able to hold his own in the classroom and the schoolyard.

The 5-year-old has been introduced to Charles Darwin’s laws of natural selection and knows that all living things on earth come from a common life source that split up into different families. He knows that all living things like trees, fish, birds, and bears, and natural inanimate things like prairies, mountains and rivers are interconnected, and if all thrive, people thrive. He also knows that because humans are the only intelligent beings, they have the responsibility of protecting all the other living things along with their habitats.

He knows that when humans broke the time barrier and became intelligent a very long time ago, they became aware of their mortality. Overcome with fear, they tried to appease the spirits that surrounded them by invoking them in thousands of ways. When loved ones died, in order to show respect and make sure the spirit of the deceased was given time to leave the body and reach the world of spirits safely, they were interred. However, when writing came along some 5000 years ago, religious myths and doctrine started being put to paper in order to deal more effectively with the fears relating to death and afterlife. Judaism was the first monotheistic religion to be set to paper. Christianity followed around 4000 years later, and Islam 700 years after that. Though these three religions lay claim to one God, each group has a different prophet, namely Abraham, Jesus-Christ and Mohammed, to interpret His will. And because each group thinks its prophet knows best and is willing to fight the others to prove it, the boy has been told that it’s wise not to join these groups, and instead, to live at peace with the spirits of the natural world by respecting and protecting their habitats. Like his parents, he has a deep respect for Mother Nature, the giver of life, and like them, he believes that all matter is part of a whole. Like his parents he believes there is no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical world, and that ‘soul’ is not limited to humans. All living things, all the mountains and rivers, all the seasons and forests, and all the natural entities have essence, and their presence affects our lives as we affect theirs.

He also knows that all living things are forced to eat, drink, breathe and reproduce. He knows how plants, bees and salmons reproduce, and although he knows he comes from his mom’s belly, he doesn’t yet know how that happens. In time, he will be told how his body will be transformed and forced to reproduce just like all other living things. For now, his parents are dreading the moment he will start asking pointed questions, but when he does, he will get precise answers. He will be told that giving life is the most awesome thing one can do. He’s been told that though many people abuse that privilege, those who understand and respect it are certain of having a fulfilled life.

Like his parents, he will speak softly and carry a big stick when challenged on those questions. He’ll never refute one’s belief in a creator or a god, but if asked, he will clearly state that he believes that Mother Nature is all powerful, and though he doesn’t understand that force, he can easily observe it, and he respects it. He will never put down those who speak to god through prayer, and he will not take sides regarding the different prophets. That should keep him out of trouble in the school yard.

He has been told time and time again by both parents that he was always wanted, that he is loved and that he is an indispensable part of the family. He has always been told that he may not know as many things as his parents, but he is surely as quick witted as they are, and perhaps even more so. So, he is to make his own choices in life, and his parents will always be there to help him and defend him no matter what he does. If they disagree with the path he follows or the decisions he makes, they will tell him so, and why. If and when they give their advice on a given matter, he knows it will be with his well-being in mind. They want to have him around for a very long time, and later, when he decides to create his own family, they want him to be doing what he loves to do for a living and have someone intimate to share his life with. If he has a good life, it will make them happy, especially if he has children and doesn’t live far away.

Advertisements

53-THE ART OF INTIMACY

Meaningful rewarding relationships, whether sex is involved or not, are impossible unless one learns to be intimate. I choose to replace the word love with intimacy because love is used in all sorts of concoctions, like in ‘making love’, a totally absurd expression. Though sexual attraction can morph into love over time, sex is not love. Sex lasts an instant, sexual attraction can last a few years, but  love like the one felt for a parent lasts a lifetime.

Intimacy is the cornerstone of our happiness, for if we don’t learn how to be intimate as a child, we are condemned to having lame relationships throughout our whole life. Intimacy requires the ability to open and commit, that is, to trust to the point of being vulnerable, and that’s not the easiest thing to do. It requires suspending control, while merging emotionally. We have an innate need to experience physical and emotional closeness with another human being in order to grow emotionally, and that need for connection is with us from the day we’re born. If we are to have a chance at a fulfilling life, we have to be taught to connect at that time.

Historically, tribes were a critical part of our human experience, for we needed the group in order to survive. If one was banished from his tribe that was as good as a death sentence. In the global village, that is no longer the case, but if a child does not experience intimacy, it’s akin to being banished by the larger tribe, for establishing meaningful future relationships will be impossible. From day one, the child must be treated as a full member of the family team, he must be shown intimacy, valorized and supported on an ongoing basis, or else he will spend his whole life unconnected in a great but sad virtual world. The secret to a good life is to belong to a family where children are intimately connected to parents and siblings, which in turn allows the child to later repeat the process by creating his own family.

The following is a summary of what the American Psychological Association says on how parents can connect with their children. ‘Parents must be available for their children at bedtime, before dinner, and in the car, in order to let them know they care about what’s happening in their lives. Conversations should be initiated by sharing what they have been thinking about. They have to make sure they let their kids know they’re listening by stopping whatever they’re doing. They should respect their privacy by treating matters one on one, and express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive. Letting them complete their point before responding and repeating to make sure they know that the parent understands them correctly is highly recommended. Parents should soften strong reactions; kids will tune them out if they appear angry or defensive. Parents should express their opinion without putting down theirs, while acknowledging that it’s okay to disagree. Letting them know that nobody is necessarily right or wrong, that circumstances have to be weighed in, while focusing on the child’s feelings is a wise modus operandi.

Parents should ask their children what they may want or need from them in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help solving a problem. Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow the parents’ lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings. Because kids also learn from their own choices, parents shouldn’t feel they have to step in as long as the consequences are not dangerous. Realizing their children may test them by telling them only a small part of what is bothering them, parents can encourage them to talk and may even get them to share the rest of the story if they listen carefully to what they say.

Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between parents and children. To the small child, a mother’s or father’s words are important, comforting, and soothing. Parents should use this to their advantage, for communicating thoughts and ideas is not a skill they or their children are born with. They shouldn’t just love them, they should tell them they love them. If parents create a trusting intimate relationship from the day their child is born, it’ll naturally carry on into the very difficult teen years and beyond.’

If a child is to have the best quality of life in the best of all possible worlds, he or she has to be familiar with intimacy. As for the parents who have never been connected, the cycle can be broken and their kids spared if they know why they have difficulty being intimate and if they don’t stop trying to do something about it.

Because too many of us have never known intimacy, the 100-year-old sexual revolution that we’re undergoing is a social disaster. Since I am an enlightened victim, I intend to shed light on the subject, and since it’s an almost impossible task, all I can do is acquaint as many people as possible with my findings. So far, in previous postings, although not exhaustive in nature, I have given what I think is a plausible account of how we got to this wonderful world of credit. That was the easy part. Now, I have to show to those who accept my synopsis of history, ways to take advantage of that great world. With that in mind, I decided to depict the life of two imaginary horny teens who both have been taught intimacy by their parents, and who are both intent on finding the key to having a family that’ll defy the passage of time. By showing how they go about planning for a permanent family dream team, and especially how they intend to deal with the sexual minefield that lies before them, it should create a mood for fruitful reflection.