Building strong families

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International Day of Families was observed on Wednesday under the theme “Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG 13”. The 2019 observance focused on families, family policies and major SDG 13 targets, which include: improved education, awareness-raising, human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning. SDG 13 target 13.2: also speaks to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

The United Nations says that although families all over the world have transformed greatly over the past decades in terms of their structure and as a result of global trends and demographic changes, the United Nations still recognises the family as the basic unit of society. The International Day of Families, the world body says, provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting them.

Here in Guyana, there was no major public event, but no doubt, government has recognised the important role the family plays in the overall development of the nation. Society is comprise of families and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are “the issues of life”; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, all depend upon the family influences.

The elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us. As the youth are educated, and as their characters are molded in their childhood to virtuous habits, self-control, and temperance, so will their influence be upon society. If they are left unenlightened and uncontrolled, and as the result become self-willed, intemperate in appetite and passion, so will be their future influence in molding society. The company which the young now keep, the habits they now form, and the principles they now adopt, are the indexes to the state of society for years to come.

It is said that the family in which the members are polite and courteous exerts a far-reaching influence for good. Other families will mark the results attained by such a home, and will follow the example set. New York psychotherapist and parenting coach, Tamara Gold, observes that the family is “profoundly important to the developmental, emotional and cognitive growth of a child,” and pointing to “our first teachers,” she says that “a child will learn about relationships, manners, self-esteem, worth and loyalty, all by watching and participating in family.”

Parents teach a range of values to their children, often indirectly, by first living those values as children learn much more from what you do than what you say. Parents also teach values by how they handle disagreements and conflicts, what boundaries they set, and being respectful and helpful to others. In addition to being your child’s first teacher, a parent is also his personal coping skills consultant. In nurturing family relationships, you help to lay the foundation for all other relationships. Children learn to trust others and cultivate friendships that set the scene for satisfying personal relationships later on in life. The role which a family must play in a child’s development, puts enormous pressure on families to ‘get it right’ and this may be more challenging in the Guyana’s context with a growing number of single parents, particularly among our womenfolk. In this light, it is relevant for the administration to consider and develop a major public policy initiative that will promote family life education in a systematic, multi-media programme for young adults countrywide, as well as make adequate provision to formalise life-skills education in the school system.