Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Remarkable Teen

My thinking has been consumed over the last two days with Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old girl from Pakistan who was shot by the talaban and is in critical condition for flaunting her very controversial belief that, are you ready for this....girls should be educated!!

Malala was raised by a family that not only believed that girls should have the same rights as boys, but modeled this in the most powerful way. Malala's father was the director of a school for girls, but with the talaban running his region, his school was forced to close. Malala was spurned by the injustice of this to speak out. But in a country where freedom of speech is not rewarded, Malala was considered a threat to the talaban's need for control of everything and everybody. Imagine the power they thought this young girl wielded. So in retaliation the talaban sought her out and attempted to silence her by death.

This is a powerful story. A story you should share with your children, and especially your teenagers. Not in the "see how lucky you are, you better not complain anymore when we won't let you have an IPAD"kind of way, but showing them the power of education, and what it must feel like for a child to have to fight for something that we do take for granted. As I have said many times, teens are naturally self-centered, and sometimes it is important to give them a window into the suffering of others, especially teens like themselves. Teens are a caring lot, just look at the relationships they have with their friends. Their world is often very small, and it is the adults in their lives responsibility to broaden it.

 I have attached a New York Times article about Malala. How wonderful it would be if you printed it out and read it at the dinner table one night, and let your teen's ponder what it would be like to have to fight for something that for them often seems more like a pain in the neck. Also an amazing documentary on PBS, Half The Sky is another must see. Not always easy to watch it follows 6 celebrity woman who visit countries where girls are sold into sexual slavery as young as 10, and where women and girls have few rights. There are inspiring stories about woman who also risk their own lives for the protection and emancipation of others. I am a firm believer that teens minds are open and waiting for inspiration. Be part of that inspiring process by exposing them to stories that challenge their own belief system. This is how people grow.

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