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Parents vs. Teens: The ceaseless conflict

Sania*, a 16 year old , rolls her eyes and complains about how "annoying" and "intrusive" her parents can be. She attempts to affirm her claim by elaborating on an incident that took place the night before: "I don't think I arrived home that late last night. I don't see why they had to interrogate me so much- its not like I'm doing drugs or anything. I was just hanging out with my friends. Anyway, it's really none of their business. I wish they would give me some personal space." Sania, just like many teenagers, feels her parents are far too oppressive; she feels that their actions are driven by the goal to deprive her of her freedom.

Her mother, on the other hand, objects. She defends herself by saying that as a mother, she is entitled to the knowledge of the whereabouts of her daughter, that she has every right to be concerned. It is easy to see that both parties are genuinely hurt by the other's attitude.

The relationship that Sania shares with her parents bears quite some similarity to what most teenagers share with their parents. It's quite obvious that there is a perpetual conflict between most parents and their teens. Mis-communication is ever present with the teen yearning for absolute freedom and the parent's need to be assured of their child's safety. In such cases, it is very easy to feel vexed, neglected or distrusted.

It is true that most teens do want to share more intimate relationships with their parents and want their parents to understand and trust them more, while at the same time, having sufficient amounts of personal space.

Parents expect teens to approach them with their problems. Teenagers agree that parents are entitled to know their children, " I just think that parents intrude into the wrong issues, I really, really want them to understand me better because I do know that they went through the same stuff that I'm going through now. I don't like it when my parents are suspicious of me because they should know me better, they should make it a priority to know me better." says a very frustrated Raisa*.

There are a variety of factors in that have contributed to the widening of the communication gap in recent times. What instantly pops into mind is the media. Nobody can doubt the role the media plays in manipulating the parent-child relationship.

Firstly, the media's infamous portrayal of the typical teen. This stereotyped image has highly influenced the mind-set of innumerable teenagers, leading them to behave in ways they feel they should behave, regardless whether it's immoral or harmful to oneself. Though drugs, partying, smoking, fashion is practically the epitome of the contemporary teen, it is not necessarily that all of us are like this.

This image that is constantly being held up in the media, however, has quite an impact on the ways that adults perceive us. The indulgence of some teens in unethical means of living causes the entire teen population to be generalized. " I know there are many kids out there who do stuff they shouldn't, but that doesn't mean we are all like that" Nafees* complains lugubriously.

Dwelling in the back of the minds of many adults will always be a notion of the depiction presented by the media of what teens do and how they behave. This image is a cause for concern, and parents are forced to enforce restrictions. In addition to portraying the prototypical teen, the media also depicts how the typical teen behaves with his/her parents. Not unlikely that we see in TV programs children showing cheek to their parents. In a way, TV is indirectly okaying this behaviour by implying that it's normal, expected and how it should be. There are no escaping stereotyped representations. We accept these notions unconsciously, and perpetuate them.

Other than the media, people offer other explanations for the communication gap between parents and children and why teens behave the way they do, Mrs Haque*, a mother of two, says, " In nuclear families, it is very common to see both parents working, children do not get enough attention and parents try to compensate for a lack of time and communication by spoiling the kids with material gifts. In this way, family values are degraded. I also think that children behaving impudently and defiantly is an unconscious way of crying out for attention."

She adds, " Of course, its not totally the parents' fault; kids nowadays are more exposed to contemporary happenings, they have more access to knowledge and compared to the generations before them. They are more argumentative, very defensive, and quite disappointingly, their depth of knowledge is very
shallow and they have become very superficial. These factors, and more have made it very difficult for a mother to communicate with her child."

Mrs Chowdhury*, another mother, says that most teens seem very ungrateful and
dissatisfied and are very demanding. "Though they are very vocal, and are constantly in search of freedom, when it comes to parents, teens seem to put up walls." she says.

Nasser*, however, disagrees with this. He says, "communication would be so much better if parents admitted their own faults: so many parents don't want to discuss stuff with us that they think is taboo, discussion about these taboo matters is essential, or else we end up making mistakes involving such matters. Its unfair that we get the blame for everything. It not like they don't understand us, its just that they don't attempt to understand us."
" I think the attitudes of teenagers are the most important factor contributing to the communication gap." says Sarah, "There is peer pressure, and always the want to follow trend setters, etc. At present times we disrespect our parents and display very bad attitudes towards them. We should not misunderstand adults, they were our age once, so they do know us better than we think."

Undoubtedly, both parents and teens are mutually hurt by the other's attitude, and both parties want to share a better relationship with the other. Despite the fact that it is essential for parents and teens to communicate properly, misunderstanding, pride, confusion and a lack of cooperation stand as obstacles. Children should never doubt that their parents want the best for them and parents should trust their children, as even with the best intentions, it is very easy to be misconstrued. It is also very easy to take the most deserving people for granted, we should never give up on trying to make our loved ones feel as appreciated as they deserve to feel.
*names have been changed

By Bushra Sameeha Anwar

Applying for financial aid in US

What is perhaps more difficult than getting into a uni is paying for it. For many Bengalis who are applying abroad, money is a major factor… and believe me, that cuts down our 'good' university choices to les than a hundred. Why? Simple. Most universities don't have financial aid programs for international students. They might have 'merit' scholarships- but as the name suggests- you have to compete for it, which means it is difficult to obtain. Before we go further, let me distinguish between the various scholarships available:

1) Merit Based Scholarships- Scholarships awarded on the basis of your academic and extra-curricular performance. Keep in mind, this implies that you have to compete not only against other international students, but also their local students. Merit based scholarships are usually few in number- which means again competition for it is intense. Furthermore, merit based aids are not usually given in small amount- but check out the uni website for exact details on the amount and number of scholarships given.

2) Need Based Scholarships- Scholarships awarded based on demonstrated financial need.

3) Special Scholarships- These scholarships are given based on fulfilling certain criterias- like if you are a National Debater- you will get a scholarship in Emory U. There are also scholarships for excelling in various performing arts. Keep in mind again, that these vary from unis to unis- so Check the website for details.

Most of us can hope for financial aids - few can actually gain “merit scholarships”- unless you apply to a terrible uni, with terrible students, where even your 4 B's appear like a fantastic result…The difficult part is finding it. Check out again, www.collegeboard.com for details…

Ahh…ok lets get back,
Applying for aid is a hassle in many ways. You have to get quite a few documents and detailed calculations done, so keep them done beforehand and you will need your parent's cooperation in this. One major problem in our country is that we don't discuss our parents' income, and other monetary issues with our parent's… you will need details of those. And whatever you state, you better have supporting government/employer approved supporting documents backing hem up in other you words, its best you be dead honest.

First of all, when short-listing your university selections list, make sure your selected un gives aid to INTERNTIONAL STUDENTS, specifically. Go to the uni website and be sure about t. Send the uni mails everyday and nag them if required but be sure to check this first. Next check whether your uni has need-based or need-blind admission policy. Obviously, the need-blind policy is better… it means that you will be considered for admission in the uni regardless of whether you need aid or not. Need-based policies consider how much aid you require before you are given admission and are usually followed by unis with very less yearly endowment. Oh and, also check the unis yearly endowment, again for international students… for example, Johns Hopkins University has a very low yearly endowment… only 8 international students received aid last year… best to avoid such unis if you are applying for aid.

The common aid forms that the unis usually want are the ISFAA (International Student Financial Aid Application), also called the FSFAA, and the ISCF (International Student for Certification of Finances). Many unis however have their own aid forms which are usually no different than the ISFAA. You can download the forms from the net… just go to google and search, or they are available for download from the uni website. Or send me a mail if you find it too much of a hassle and I will send you the forms. Best adviced to look at the forms now… they can be really annoying at some parts. Make a list of your selected unis and write which uni requires which form… or alse it can get really confusing. Oh…again worth mentioning, along with the ISFAA forms….you have to send your supporting documents, which are listed below:

The documents are required for working parents only (like, duh). Oh and by the way, you are going to have to translate the documents if they are bangla… which they are. You can get them translated by the recognized Notary Public whi will be charging you a hell lot of money for a simple translation… but its required. You'll also need to get the photocopied documents attested by the Notary Public… that's going to be a real trouble, believe me, unless obviously you know someone from within or are eager to give something extra which is always acknowledged in our country. That's why I said its really bothersome and time consuming… so get moving.

You have to send the ISFAA form along with your application package and if you want you can also send the ISCF form also, but they usually require it after they have guaranteed your admission to the uni. They will send you the form then… but then again, they don't mind if you send the form with your package.

You can also do this to show that your calculations are well done. In a separate page, you can show the amount of aid you will require and the amount you are willing to contribute. A note of advice, the more you can contribute, the more your chances to getting in the uni should be around 8,000 to 12,000 dollars, if possible, yearly. Next show how you are going to pay for the amount you said you would amount from parents savings, income etc... this shows that you have a future plan on how to repay the amount you guaranteed you would.

Securing aid for your study abroad is a tough competition… since we are competing against the whole world. Get a head start and select your unis keeping all factors in mind, esp. this, or else you will find yourself in NSU or IUB or somewhere… after loads of wastage of money trying to apply abroad. Go whatever you do, be sure of it before you do!

By Adnan M. S. Fakir & Golam Rezwan Khan


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