The incredibles, self esteem and raising smart kids

incredibles.jpgI subscribe to a wonderful podcast called ThePsychFiles by Michael Britt a psychology professor, he talks about everyday topics with a psychological twist. In his episode titled “How Do You Really Raise Self-Esteem? The Incredibles vs. American Idol” he touches on the subject of praising children on talent versus effort and how it really affects them. Another article by the Scientific American, The secret to raising smart kids, also talks about the same issue.

I watched The Incredibles a while back and really enjoyed it but I had never thought about it deeply or about what underlying message it might be trying to convey. This review points out lots of points which I had previously missed such as recognizing the stay at home mom who left behind a life of super heroism and the dad who leaves the limelight to work in a miserable cubicle. Perhaps I never gave it second thought because at the time I was single and watched it for the entertainment value (which was super) and today I am married and expecting my first child and already trying to figure out what are the kind of movies I want my kid to watch and which I want to filter to make sure she is only exposed to positive influences.

In search of Islamic feminism

I just finished reading In Search of Islamic Feminism by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea. The author visits Muslim countries in search of what she is calling Islamic Feminism, interestingly she encounters a very vocal and active group of women working real hard to improve women’s lives yet do not want to be called feminists. Partly because “feminists” as seen by these women is associated with the Western type of feminism which is quite different than what is happening in these countries. Perhaps in Muslim countries, women already know what their rights are, the Quran is very clear on it. Islam has very clear laws and rules and they are all in favor of protecting and respecting women. The problem is that they are either misinterpreted or not followed, and this is what womens movements are mainly trying to accomplish, to bring these laws into the light and make sure they are followed correctly.

The book is fun to read, because it is more like a story of B.J.’s (as her friends call her in the book) journey to these countries.  She has been to most of them before and is revisiting and also tells of how things have changed.  She is neither judgmental of the culture nor completely unbiased which makes the reading even more fun and relaxed.

Reviews of the book:

Middle East Policy Council journal

Mascunilism blog

I used to be different

I am a focused, well balanced and very dependable career girl.  No wait, I was all of that until I got pregnant.  My hormones have rendered by brain into a lump of mushy marshmallows with lots of chocolate sauce and cherries on top.  I will be fair as I usually am ( thankfully my ability to rationalize is not fully gone yet ) and say that not all of it is because of being pregnant.  I am in a strange country, still don’t have a driving license, work at home and don’t get to socialize at all, so I tend to spend most of my time working at home and surfing the internet.  I am bored and when I get bored I usually loose interest in real life.  But then again, I love reading but my reading capacity has gone down from 800 page books in a week to 8 words on the back of microwave dinner packs.

I spend most of the day trying to pick out the perfect nursery,  taking into consideration that I am not going to have a nursery at all, just a baby crib which which will probably end up in our room for the first year.  I dream of lovely pink polka dot wallpaper ( for the record, I don’t even like pink that much, and polka dots were never my thing).  I also have a thing for baby clothes, although in comparison my husband is much worse off, I practically have to drag him away from the baby girl section to stop him from buying more stuff than she could possibly wear in the beginning, and every time he gives me a nasty look which makes me feel like I am the evil step mother or the wicked witch of the west.  He also talks to the baby which I find so cute and tells her all of the wonderful things he is planning to do with her, like teach her how to build Lego towers.

Did I mention I also dream of having my pre-baby body back?  I am 30 weeks pregnant and I miss being able to roll around in bed when I want to instead of having to get up and roll to my other side, and I also miss sleeping on my back.  I also miss my waist, is was a nice feature.  I was never really “thin”, but I was ok and I was happy with my body and comfortable with it, now we are not very comfortable with each other, my body wants to go to the bathroom every 3 minutes and my legs don’t want to carry me there.  My shoes don’t fit anymore either, part of it is because my feet are bigger and part because I used to buy shoes that fit with no room to spare for even a pair of thicker socks, so I guess I deserve that one.  My sister will be very happy because I guess she might as well have them, including a pair that was only worn twice and cost an arm and a leg.

The funny thing in all of this is that I am euphoric, I don’t really care about all of these things, I want to get to my due date and end up with a cute and slightly naughty little baby girl whom I hope will be my friend forever.