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What Does Pepe Have to Do With Parenting?

By Chris Starr
What Does Pepe Have to Do With Parenting?

When Portugal defender Pepe allowed his anti-social behavior to surface during an early World Cup match with Germany, his head-butt resulted in a red card and expulsion from the game. Eliminated for the rest of the contest, he exacerbated Portugal’s defeat, let down his teammates and, one could argue, in that moment let down his entire country.
His behavior became a fruitful illustration for Psychologist and Author Fari Khabirpour as he led a discussion with ISL parents entitled, “Respect – Responsibility – Resiliency,” organized and hosted by the Counseling Team at International School of Luxembourg on Tuesday, June 17.
This final installment in the annual series of ISL-hosted Parenting Seminars, continued to bring together resources, national experts, and fellow parents to collaboratively address some of the more challenging issues facing parents and children.
Pepe’s behavior in the World Cup was an example for Khabirpour that hidden in the word responsibility is “response.” Our response to adversity, provocation, emotion, in fact everything, is within our ultimate control. Understanding this principle, taking responsibility for our behavior, and never blaming others for the way we respond to circumstances leads to resilience and self-respect.
“Those who accept anti-social behavior or condone it in some way by seeking to understand the contributing factors are putting forward the notion that as individuals, we are not responsible for our behavior,” Khabirpour suggested. He went on to posit that if one is easily provoked, one gives power to the provocateur. “When we take charge of how we react, we keep the power.”
Khabirpour’s advice to parents, as well as schools, was that we cannot simply model positive behaviors and teach our children through a flow of information. We must give them opportunities to practice, experience, reflect, and “train capacities and capabilities.”
Says Khabirpour, “The feeling of belonging is innate. We are created like that. The less we feel like we belong, the more we feel ‘dis-couraged’. If we feel excluded, disappointed, not loved, then this feeling of not-belonging gives one the desire to destroy what doesn’t accept him or her, or seek a sense of belonging in social media, games, technology and other attachments.”
As a parent, or school, we can look for opportunities for our children to build their capability and capacity for courage and confidence. Often, this means simply taking time to be in the moment with them, listen to them, express empathy, and allow time to think through a situation and suggest their own solutions.
“When we listen in the present, we help the other person get more in touch with themselves. The more a child speaks, the more they think through a situation and take responsibility,” concluded Khabirpour.
ISL’s Parenting Seminars are open to all parents in Luxembourg. To join the electronic mailing list or to register for a seminar, contact Upper School Counsellor Lou Gervais at [email protected].
Chris Starr is Communications Team Leader at the International School of Luxembourg.

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