Parenting from the Middle East

Dear Dr. Gottlieb,

I have a "tween" daughter and 5 year old son. We all live in the middle east- My children both attend a British School and this country is rather lenient towards expats. Our community is one of the few that is almost entirely Westerners. Still, I am always concerned about what my kids are missing in this culture.

The one thing I regret is that my daughter will probably not have a prom (depending on whether I am still a contractor) because it is not allowed at the schools. School dances were a challenge and a joy in my memories. Before I go crazy coordinating the Expat Contract communities in neighboring friendly countries to give our kids dances and proms, I would like some information validating that Proms and school dances are actually good for my kid. I just don't think they are getting all of the socialization skills that we had in the US.


Trying to do the right thing


Dear trying to do the right thing

I am quite touched by how devoted a mother you are. If all kids and others like you...

The answers to your questions are pretty easy. Proms and dances are good for kids. And your kids are probably not getting all of the socialization skills that are available in this country.

But I think you are asking the wrong question. The question that I think is most important is whether your daughter will be harmed or experience some form of social deficit by not having a prom. Clearly she won't be harmed and there will not be a deficit.

I understand this doesn't help you decide about whether you should do this on your own. If you do, it will probably be fun for the kids. But please keep in mind in my opinion, it's not a high-stakes issue.

In the big picture, your kids may be missing something by being in Kuwait, but I am sure there are also gaining something that US kids don't have.

I am a quadriplegic and have been since my girls were six and seven years old. When I look back on their childhood, I can think of all of the things they lost like not being able to play ball with me or the fact that I couldn't teach them how to ride a bicycle or drive. But then I think about all the time I spend with them reading books to them when they were little, just hanging out and talking to them and they were older -- things I never would have done if I was "running around". Just something to think about.

I wish all of you the best

Dan Gottlieb

Dear Dr. Dan,

Thank you so much for your reply.  I think that I will still look into perhaps hosting a multi-country Prom somewhere like Dubai, which is more tolerant of Western culture.
You know, as a parent it's so hard to ask for advice and then further to consider the advice credible.  The travel and culture that my kids have been exposed to is wonderful.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I actually have real vacation time and resources (though never enough) to give them more of the regular things.  It's a shame though that I couldn't give them this life in our own country.
I hear you about quality time.  It something that all parents need to remind ourselves is important in addition to the big deals that we try to give our children.  I'll work on that too!

Should you hear of any other scholars who may be doing research on any of the subjects we've discussed please keep me informed.