What did you inherit from your parents? Your nose? Your accent? Your sense of right and wrong?
Many parents in the MENA have inherited traditional approaches to child-rearing which aren’t always helpful. For instance, deep-rooted gender stereotypes in the region can be traced back to the different ways boys and girls are raised: boys are expected to be more active and decisive, whereas girls are expected to be more passive and are often held to higher standards. These attitudes can create a harmful cycle that is difficult to break.
Additionally, many parents punish their children with physical violence, as they in turn were beaten by their own parents. “Some Middle Eastern parents are violent in the way they raise their children,” says Enaam Haddad, a clinical psychologist, family counsellor and presenter on SAT-7. “They beat their children because for them this is normal, it’s not seen as wrong – it’s how we were raised.” UNICEF estimates that an average of 82-88% of children in the MENA have experienced violence at home.
So how can the cycle be broken? Like all mums and dads, Middle Eastern parents need support and guidance – and an alternative, Christ-centred model for parenting.
SAT-7 has programmes for parents across all its channels, to offer compassionate advice and teach healthy habits, helping parents raise their children in love.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate the mother figures in our lives – all those, whether related to us or not, who have helped shape us into who we are. Join us this week in praying for the mothers, fathers and caregivers who are shaping the next generation of the MENA – that they will find freedom from any harmful habits or experiences of their past, and inherit a new heart – one of compassion for their children and hope for the future. ∎
SAT 30 MARCH
“The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15). Thank God that He is our true father, and we are His children.
SUN 31 MARCH
“Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Happy Mother’s Day! Thank God for mothers, grandmothers and female role models everywhere. Also remember in prayer those for whom this day may be painful.
MON 1 April
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Pray that MENA parents will learn to discipline their children in constructive ways, rather than using violence, and that their children will flourish as a result.
TUE 2 April
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Sometimes parents get things wrong! Pray they will have the humility to apologise to their children, and that this will transform their relationships.
Wed 3 April
“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalm 78:4). Thank God for SAT-7’s children’s shows like A Girl’s World, which are proclaiming His praiseworthy deeds to the next generation of the MENA.
Thur 4 April
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13). Pray for children around the MENA who have lost their mother or father because of war, conflict or violence. Ask that God will be their comfort.
Fri 5 April
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9). Pray that, through SAT-7’s parenting shows, MENA mothers and fathers will be equipped to raise their children with godly values.
As well as supporting parents, SAT-7 has a whole host of colouful programmes for children. Some of our young viewers don’t come from a Christian background and don’t have access to believers who can guide them, so it’s vital that they receive biblical guidance from their “spiritual parents” on TV.
SAT-7’s children’s programmes – many of which are shown on our dedicated children’s channel, SAT-7 KIDS – feature Bible stories, games, counselling, advice and education, which teach Christian values to children in a fun and interactive way.
One such programme is A Girl’s World, a weekly children’s show on SAT-7’s Persian channel. Here, the show’s presenter, Parastoo Poortaheri, shares how she wants to use this platform to bring hope to the next generation of Persian girls.
Parastoo is the Iranian presenter of SAT-7 PARS show, A Girl's World.
All the girls watching A Girl’s World are like my own children – we have a special connection and bond, even though it’s not face-to-face.
I do feel somewhat like a spiritual mother to these children; I’m giving them everyday advice, listening to them, and encouraging them on the right path in life. I hope to be a positive influence in their lives as they grow up and find their identity as young women. Even some of the parents ask me for parenting advice, which surprises me! I am young and unmarried and without children, but it shows that they trust us [SAT-7] and value our opinion.
I am passionate about encouraging young girls to love themselves the way they are. We are all unique – each of us has a different purpose on this earth. However, it takes time for young girls to realise this truth and love themselves. Of course, they will know this when they understand how much God loves them and their identity as God’s daughters.
In the Middle East, women’s voices and opinions can often be ignored. However, women in the Bible also lived in an unequal society but they were still used powerfully by God, and part of changing history. We tell the stories of these inspiring women from the Bible to encourage our young viewers.
I want young Persian girls to know that they can do big things – even if they grow up in a part of the world where women have less rights. I want them to know they can be successful, they can make their dreams a reality, and they can change the world! ∎