Children’s Column

Pen-Pal: Heart-Talk

Facts and Challenges of the Growing-Up Years

Amatul Hakim

True is the saying ‘adolescence is the conjugator of childhood and adulthood,’ even before our childhood comes to an end, certain physical and psychological changes begin to appear in us, and lo, we are sexually mature adults, whether we like it or not.

Apparently, the biological clock set within us by our Creator works beyond our control, and thus to either delay or fast-forward the process is not desired. However, the knowledge of what is happening within us will definitely help us in facing the challenges it brings.

The phase where these changes happen is called puberty, it takes an average of two to four years to complete this process, at the end of which we are almost an adult. The start of puberty is different for every individual, for girls it can be anytime between nine years to thirteen years, for boys between twelve to fourteen years.

The puberty changes begin in us when the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain becomes more active, this produces two hormones which are closely related to the puberty changes: the growth hormone, which is responsible for the growth and the body size, and the gonadotropic or gonad stimulating hormone which bring about sexual maturity.

These physical changes are so pronounced and prominent in us that we do feel disturbed and confused, they may also be accompanied by a sense of uncertainty and insecurity within us about appropriateness of what’s happening, and so, we often behave in an unpredictable manner which may be unsocial. Perhaps, this is the reason why puberty is called ‘the negative phase.’

The low point in family and social relationships also comes at puberty. Therefore, our self-acceptance also reaches the lowest now. The stimuli for the negativity could be either in the form of a unfavourable or dis-satisfactory comment by the significant people around us, and/ or it could also be because of that ideal self-concept or the ideal self-image which we create for ourselves, and therefore any discrepancies to fit that image will make us sad and unhappy, in turn making us rebellious towards the people around us.

This is also the age when we are more conscious about our appearance, and especially so in the sight of our peers, than ever before, for example a broken teeth of a child goes un-noticed by his peers until he reaches puberty, and hence the child may not take this defect seriously, but on becoming a pubescent it is a matter of concern for him.

Our effort to look good and attractive increases, as we desire to be appreciated and accepted by our peers. We feel confident when we appear attractive to our peers, and inferiority-complex lingers within us when we do not fit into the definition of attractiveness, as defined by our peers. Though our clothing should be to improve our appearance and camouflage any undesirable thing, we often try to dress, to fit into that ‘hep’ image of our peer, even if that is un-Islamic.

Most often, our self-evaluation is based on how well we adjust to the changing social trends, or be a part of it, even if it goes against the religious values. For example, boys and girls hanging out together is a most accepted social trend, and not being a part of it will brand us to be conservative.

It is indeed challenging for one to pass through this phase of puberty being within the limits, as define by our creator, until we ourselves are clear and sincere about our goals, and what we intend to achieve in our life. Our self-worth should not be defined by the changing social trends, but rather we should make ourselves so worthy that, what we do, should become the social trend.

We need to accept that Islam is a way of life and we cannot confine it to just prayers, fasting, and hajj. Our record of deeds begins as we enter into puberty, every word we speak and every action we do is questioned on the day of judgment.

We need to educate ourselves about does and don’t of Islamic life, because what seems to be pleasurable now, should not make us miserable in the hereafter, for indeed the life of this world is transitory, and what is to remain permanent, is yet to come.

Foolish Parents

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview; the director did the last interview. The Director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

The Director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?”

The youth answered, “None.”

The Director asked, “Was it your father who paid for your school fees?”

The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.”

The Director asked, “Where did your mother work?”

The youth answered, “My mother worked as laundry woman.”

The Director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The Director asked, “Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?”

The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.”

The Director said, “I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.”

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange. Happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the young man.The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.After finishing the cleaning of his mother’s hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: “Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?”

The youth answered, “I cleaned my mother’s hands and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes.”

The Director asked, “Please tell me your feelings.”

The youth said: “I know now what appreciation is. Without my mother, there would not have been the successful me today.By working together and helping my mother, only now I realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationships.”

The Director said, “This is what I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.”

Later on, this young person worked very hard and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously.


Something to think about:

The Prophet (saws) said, ‘Cursed be the one whose both parents are alive and he does not assure himself of paradise, (by not serving them).’

Interesting Facts 

  • A diamond will not dissolve in acid. The only thing that can destroy it is intense heat.
  • A lump of pure gold the size of a matchbox can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court.
  • Absolutely pure gold is so soft that it can be moulded with the hands.
  • An ounce of gold can be stretched into a wire 50 miles long.
  • Coloured diamonds are caused by impurities such as nitrogen (yellow), boron (blue). With red diamonds being due to deformities in the structure of the stone, and green ones being the result of irradiation.
  • Only four important diamond fields have been found – in Africa, South America, India, and the Soviet Union.
  • In 1957, the Shipping port Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States, went on line. (It was taken out of service in 1982)
  • Natural gas has no odour. The smell is added artificially so that leaks can be detected.
  • Prussic acid, in a crystalline powder called Zyklon B, was used to kill in Germany’s gas chambers. The gas would paralyze the victim’s lungs, causing them to suffocate.
  • Sea water, loaded with mineral salts, weighs about a pound and a half more per cubit foot than fresh water at the same temperature.
  • Ten per cent of the salt mined in the world each year is used to de-ice the roads in America.
  • The Chinese were using aluminium to make things as early as 300 AD Western civilization didn’t rediscover aluminium until 1827.
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