Parenting Styles in Arab Societies. JOURNAL OF CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 37 No. 3, May 2006 1-18

The Arab language version of the Parental Authority Questionnaire was administered to 2,893 Arab
adolescents in eight Arab societies. Results show that all parenting styles differed across Arab societies.
Cluster analysis revealed three combined parenting patterns: inconsistent (permissive and authoritarian),
controlling (authoritarian and authoritative), and flexible (authoritative and permissive). The mean score of
the authoritarian style was higher among males, whereas the mean score of the authoritative style was higher
among females. First-born adolescents reported higher level permissive parenting than other adolescents.
The effects of urbanization, parents’ education, and the family economic level on parenting were minor.



2014 and My Family

It’s been a year since we moved back to Saudi and I am happy to say I have been able to maintain my positive outlook all year, even though its been a rough transition.

I pray that 2014 will be easier and a lot more fun for all of us. I will make a conscious effort to keep my positive outlook and channel good vibes at home and anywhere I go. I will smile more, make faces with my kids more and laugh more. We love to take well-known tunes and make up nonsense words to go with it, we’re going to have fun more. I’ll plan more activities for us to do to minimize the kids screen time and increase the quality time they have with us. I will read more, for myself and with my kids. We’ll try to eat rainbows of fruit and vegetables everyday, and walk and run more. We’ll explore our city and find out what it has to offer as extracurricular activities for us to engage in. We’ll keep in touch with our friends more and encourage the kids to be more social. I’ll lead by example and show them how to be nice to each other and other people too, and do things to make them happy just for the sake of a thank you or an appreciative smile.

Copyright Archie Comics

Copyright Archie Comics

2014 here we go, please be nice to us too!

Bringing Up Baby

Typically, when you begin to think about buying a house, you start saving money. When you know you’re having a baby, you start setting up the nursery. When you begin to think about getting married, you start telling all your old flames that you’re off the market. When you’re launching a war, you make sure your guns and munitions are ready, and your borders are fortified.

So why is it that most women walk into pregnancy unprepared?

As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. When you begin to think about getting pregnant, you should set up the environment where your baby is going to live for those nine months (your body). Now while it is understood that not every baby is planned ahead of time, it’s definitely common sense to think about this if you are planning to conceive a child within the next year.

A good friend of mine in Jeddah recently confided that after three years of marriage, she and her husband had started seriously thinking about having their first child. She wanted to go off the pill but wasn’t sure how or when to do it. She was due to switch positions at work, and had a choice of two, and thinking smart, she opted for the one with fewer hours. She asked me if there was anything else they hadn’t thought of, and I told her that for starters, going off the pill was best done under the supervision of a doctor; because he would be able to tell her at what point during the cycle to stop, and what to expect in terms of delays in conception. I also told her that she needed to evaluate their lifestyle as a couple and hers as an individual, and make informed choices.

Opting for the less time intensive job was brilliant, because it would minimize the strain on her before, during pregnancy and after having the baby.  Less job stress when attempting to conceive was a good idea in any case, she could eat better, sleep better, make love better.

The late nights and fast food they decided to dramatically cut back on, and they also initiated the process for employing a live-in maid and driver.  They decided to start a new baby fund, pooling from their incomes at the beginning of each month. They of course, kept these thoughts to themselves, to deny people around them the pleasure of pressuring them with questions and mounting expectations.

Technically speaking, having a baby necessitates a contribution from both mother and father. So it’s not just the mother who needs to shape up, as dad contributes half of the genetic material. So if his contribution is lacking, well…

I told her that physically speaking, as a woman she already had all the eggs she would ever have in her ovaries (females are born that way) and that a man’s sperm develops during a four-month cycle. Lifestyle changes couldn’t change her eggs for the better, but they could drastically improve the quality of husband’s wrigglers. Experts advise that any lifestyle changes should be introduced around 4-6 months prior to conception, to enable the body to adjust.

Here is some of what I suggested to my friend:

  • If you or your husband smokes, stop. If you feel you can’t do that on your own, join a smoking cessation service, there are several around you, just ask.
  • Try to limit caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, energy drinks) and chocolate.
  • Try to eat healthier; more variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Try to eat at least one kind of oily fish per week (Salmon, Tuna, Cod); experts have linked seafood with higher levels of infant and child intelligence.
  • Start taking a Folic Acid supplement; 400 mcg of Folic Acid per day for 3 months prior to conception and 3 months into pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of spinal abnormalities in babies.
  • Drink more fluids; keep a bottle of water in your handbag, or invest in a juicer to try out new combinations at home. Getting into the habit of keeping yourself hydrated will lessen the risk of stretch marks and tearing, this is especially important if you live in a warm climate.
  • If you’re overweight or underweight, try to work your way to a reasonable BMI; this aids conception and will make you feel better too.
  • If you aren’t physically active, join a class or be more active at home (jump rope, swim, buy a yoga DVD, and take the stairs instead of the elevator). The more physically active and therefore healthy you are, the less difficulty you will have conceiving, carrying and giving birth to your baby. (Haven’t you heard what an easy time Gisele had when she had her baby?)

Think of it as stocking up (nutrients) in your body for winter (in this case incubating a baby). This thinking smart and especially eating well before conception will stand you in good stead as well if you suffer morning sickness the first few weeks and can’t keep anything down; there will be a nutrient store for the embryo to draw from.

Research has proven that preparing your body to carry a baby significantly improves the quality of pregnancy, the experience of delivery and postpartum recovery, and positively impacts the health of your newborn and your child’s health throughout life. The suggestions I gave to my friend were those my husband and I used ourselves, and she now is a proud mom of two healthy twin 2 year old boys.


Money Makes the World Go ‘Round…

Oh God. How on earth am I supposed to teach my 5-year old to handle money? Money Makes the  World Go ‘Round…

I don’t want him to end up a fool, a loose spender or otherwise just out for material self-gratification or even just a suspicious and mistrustful individual when it comes to money…I would like him to become a smart shopper, a cautious and practical spender, to make sound judgments on when and what to indulge himself –in something that’s worthy of his intelligence and hard-earned cash.

At his school this week they are holding a book fair, displayed in the school hall over a number of days. I am obviously not there with him during the day, and I only had some vague information as to when and how the teachers would let the children browse/buy if they wanted to. The leaflet said vouchers were available for purchase if desired but I decided to give him cash to start him on the road to understanding the value of money (we also give him a weekly allowance: 10 pence for every year of age every week until age 5, then it becomes £1 a week for every year of age until age 10, etc…).

On the morning of the start of the bookfair, knowing full well the enthusiasm Mr. Tooks has for children’s literature (which I avidly encourage), I sat down with him, and showed him the leaflet with the list of titles, some with pictures, and we looked through it together. He expressed interest, so I took out my wallet and pulled out a £5 note. (I wondered briefly if £5 was too much to give a 5-year old, or too little. How am I supposed to know? I don’t have any previous experience, other than the fact that I was five once. I’m trying all this out anyway right? He’s my tester!)

I took that and gave it to him, and told him it was £5 and showed him the number on the note, and explained that it was like 5 coins but instead of 5 coins it becomes a paper. I told him to put it in his jacket pocket where it would be safe, and that he had to take care of it and not lose it, because if he did then I wouldn’t be there to give him more. I also told him not to let any of his friends take it from him, and if he had any questions he could ask the class teacher.

I told him that he could have a look at the tables in the hall and see if there was anything he liked, and to look at the numbers on the stickers on the books- which were called prices- and see if there was anything with a 1, 2, 3, 4 written there (which corresponds to £1.99, £2.99, £3.99, £4.99), and if there was one of those that he liked, he could buy it with the £5 note he had. I also smiled and said that he might even be lucky enough to buy more than one book or just one book and still have some change left over! (To which he looked at me sideways and broke into a grin, somewhat like the one in Tom and Jerry, when Jerry gets a sneaky idea?)

I asked him to choose carefully and not just get anything just for the sake of getting. I asked him to think before buying, and if there was nothing he liked particularly, then he and I could go the bookstore in the city and he could choose something there instead.

It could be that I gave him too much information, or that he would surprise me…

How would you handle this?Image

It’s All Relative…

ImageFar be it from me to tell anyone what to do or how to use their Facebook accounts, though more and more recently I’ve been noticing that the cerebral level of the items posted has gone down.

The Feed consists mostly of people collecting friends (Come on. Over 600 Friends is pushing it, unless your definition of a “Friend” is anyone you’ve ever met, or you’re a D-Lister pretending to be an A-List celebrity…) otherwise the postings are who’s just fed his pet goldfish or scrubbed algae in Fishville, or moving up in Farmville, or who’s taken a quiz to find out what kind of shoe they are, or an invitation to race car rallies or mafia wars, etc…

Rarely do we see a truly thought-provoking post or comment. If and when that happens, that person is showered with sarcasm or ridicule, or even ignored. Do you notice when someone does that? What do you look for when you log on?

What is it that makes it so? Do we refuse to read anything longer than a sentence? Have we become a dumb society, just out for token gratification? Do we only now have the ability to find pleasure in silly games, and idiot actions? Do we shy away from thinking, withdraw from discussions, and refuse to delve deep inside our brains for answers? Are we afraid of what we might find? Have our brains atrophied from neglect?

How many people on your list would you consider to be truly intelligent? Who is the most intelligent person on your list of “Friends”? I would estimate about 15% of my list, and that’s just because I’m trying to be nice. I like to play games just about as much as anyone else, but I also try to use my brain once in a while, not just carry around dead weight.

And then there’s this. Is it only a Facebook phenomenon, or are we dumb in real life too? What do you talk about when you’re with your family or friends? Who in your life do you think is the most intelligent, or the most learned or useful?

ظاهرة الانصراف المبكر من المدارس في الأسابيع الأخيرة من الفصل الدراسي، الغياب و الأثار العامة

لا أعلم الأسباب ورائها و لا أستطيع أن أجد لها مبرر. و لكن نجد كل مرة ظاهرة أن الأسبوع الأخير في الفصل الدراسي لا وزن له عند إدارات المدارس و التعليم، المدرسين و الأهالي و الطلاب…فإن نص التقويم الرسمي على أن الإجازة تبدأ بنهاية دوام الخميس 2 ربيع الأول أجد أبنائي يقولون بأن “المدرس” أخبرهم بأنه لا يوجد دراسة الأسبوع الذي يسبقه كاملاً، و يتفاقم الموضوع عندما يعود ثانية ليقول أنه لم يكن هناك بالفصل إلا ثلاثة طلاب و زملائهم أغلبهم في حالة غياب مفرطة! و يزداد الوضع سوءاً حيث تهاتفنا المدرسة لتقول أنه لا يوجد الإ ابني و علينا العودة لإستلامه مبكراً…باقي على الفصل الدراسي 3 أو 4 أيام (حسب التقويم الرسمي) فمن الذي يقر بهذا الانسحاب التدريجي المبكر؟ و أين يذهب الأطفال الذين يعمل آبائهم و أمهاتهم؟

نعي تماماً بأن الكثير من هؤلاء الأطفال يعودوا و يبقوا بالمنازل وحدهم، و إن كانت له أماً لا تعمل فذلك شيء جيد بالنسبة له، و لكن الأدهى و الأمر من هم أبناء الأمهات العاملات، اللاتي لا إجازة لهن تصادف إجازة أبنائها المدرسية، فتوضع العائلة في وضع صعب للغاية، يضطر الأب و الأم محاولة توفيق جداول دوامهم و توزيع الأيام لرعاية الطفل في أيام الإجازة، و غالباً ما يجبرهم ذلك على الإستئذان أو الغياب، مما يقلل من الإنتاجية و الإنجاز في العمل، و إن لم يجدوا فيوضع الطفل عند الأقارب أو عند صديق، و إن لم يجدوا ذلك أجبروا على ما هو أشد منه حيث وجدت أماً اتفقت مع مديرة مدرسة ابنها أن تجلبه لها في بيتها أيام الإجازة ترعاه هناك! أو الأخرى التي أجبرت على ترك ابنتها ذات الخمس سنوات وحدها في المنزل، أمام التلفاز و بجانبها طبق به بعض المأكولات يكفيها عدد الساعات اللازمة! ما الذي أحوجنا لهذا كله؟ حتى نزيد العبء النفسي و المادي و البدني على المجتمع؟ أتخيل المصائب المحتملة جراء الورطة التي يوضع فيها الأهل جراء هذه الظاهرة…

ما هو الدافع و المسبب الذي أدى إلى تفشي هذه الظاهرة في مجتمعنا؟ من الذي أشاع فكرة الانصراف مبكراً أخر أسبوع؟ و كيف تتوقع إدارات المدارس و التعليم أن يوفق الأهالي ذلك مع فترات الدوام الرسمي (سواء الجهات الخاصة أو الحكومية؟) الواجب على إدارات التعليم التشديد على التزام المدارس، المدرسين، الطلاب و الأهالي على عدم التسيب و الغياب في فترة نهاية الفصل الدراسي و ضع ضوابط صارمة لذلك.



“Few parents of newborns are taught how to prevent choking and what to do if it occurs. Yet infants and toddlers routinely explore the world with their mouths, and anything they may find lying about can become a choking hazard.”


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