Families, roll up your sleeves, gird your loins. Take back the responsibility to bring up confident children
'Families' should take increasing role in child upbringing
Science may have all the kind of means that baffles humanity and religion may have amassed all the authority on Earth and in Heaven. But.....a family has what it takes to conceive, nurture and qualify (add value to) life. Life is complex yet simple. It cannot be fully boxed, yet it can at the same time. Life can be appreciated without science or religion. Science is yet to appreciate life. Religion is yet to appreciate and comprehend life. It is a motivation. It is a source of joy, a fulfillment and hope.
Families should be the bedrock of child up ringing. Teachers, communities, police, religious leaders, lawyers, mentors, social workers and health workers in all their categories are to take on ancillary roles.
It would be meaningless if we did not do all in our power to make joy, fulfillment and reduce a sense of hopelessness for others. Life is an opportunity for bringing about hope in hopeless situations.
Tips for families to take back the role of bringing up confident children
What is the general parental outcry?
"Children no longer understand us," "children are spoilt," "children of this generation are indifferent," "when our parents talked to us, we listened. Not today's children," "children? A wasted generation," "children? We cannot do without them," "Children!"
What of the children outcry?
"We are the leaders of today and tomorrow," "parents no nothing about our huge problems," "parents do not care," "Parents? I only see mine at dinner. We never talk, we just eat," "Parents? BS!" "Parents! What would we do without them," Parents? oh!"
Let us face it as Earthlings. We may talk of winds of change and all of a sudden what comes to mind is the economic equality or inequality ( depending on which side one is). Or what may come to mind is the virtual split of the world along a poverty equator and hence: Global North and Global South. It is these labels we have tended to understand.
Many can give you 100 reasons why a diseases x or y is so prevalent in land z. Huge investments have been made to bring research and implementation together. All manner of interventions have been "sciensimplified." As if that is not enough, interventions have been allocated under a given discipline. It is like the time when morals were taken over by religion and laws. Humans thought fitting morals in a box was the only way to do it. It became a battle between homes and religion. Religion supplanted itself as the sole and only guide on morals. Thus started a raging harmattan fire of moral justification. The principle being: if it is not done according to religion's will then it is nothing else but immoral, decadent and savagery. I can only imagine the number of countries that were labelled savage lands!
The model of supplanting, usurping and being the referral point seemed to work so well and an institution that was thorough and swift in entrenching itself was developed. The home or family and therefore family institution was suppressed and its pillars taken over by religion. Religion then faced another institution called science. These two were bedfellows at one time but later they criticized each other more than borrow from the compromise skills that were well developed in a familial model. Science and religion grew so big, in fact so large. They had to adopt complex mechanisms that were more adapted to resisting 'outsider' influence. Mine is bigger mentality cropped in. Families being smaller, on the other hand, had very effective mechanisms of compromise and appropriating. These compromise-appropriation mechanisms were looked down as non esoteric, parochial and base. Rigidity (also known as moralizing by religion or healing by science) and lines of wrong or right were drawn by science and religion. The tendency to bend them was punished. Thus religion as a moralizer and science as a healer took center stage. One institution referred cases to another. A moral case was prayed over and referred to science for healing. Then one day, the evil prayed over refused to go. When referred to science the 'evil' was diagnosed and treated. Victories by the science side were frowned upon much as some miracles by the religious side were. Being giants, when they clashed the smaller entities ( i.e families) suffered. There were those who referred to the family model of compromise-appropriation. They synthesized its meaning, improved upon it, factored in larger population needs. It was realized that four principles prevailed: the use of reason, convincing a majority, continued dialogue and considering means. But, the family where this principle originated was never acknowledged. There was talk of the humble inheriting heaven but the righteous, especially self righteous getting nothing at all. Luke 18:9-14 (Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector). We meet the tax collector brought into the fold even if he was distancing himself due to his mortification.
Another name was 'coined.' Democratization as opposed to familiarization was chosen. In a home we meet abundant forgiveness and guidance in the face of rebelliousness. Religion had examples of this in many books ( Luke 15: 11-32, Parable of the Prodigal Son). A father, who filled with compassion runs towards his long lost son, embraces him, brings him back to the house amidst all other members and gives him a special place at the table.
The tendency to use thematics as opposed to contexts hides child up bring issues
Broad strokes are making us hide our true issues. Serious contextualization of issues in a disaggregated format will help in goal setting. However the tendency to use thematic headings which are not broken down to represent population groups or categories tends to sweep child up bring issues and concerns under the carpet. In the world today, we can no longer afford to capitalize on thematic issues without knowing who the victims are. In the 21 Century the principals of integration have shown us how to deal with many issues at once.
It may not come as a surprise if the following are listed as the major issues that seem to capture news :
2. Animal welfare
4. Justice issues
7. End of life
8. Family planning
10. Gun Control
11. Health care issues
14. Human Rights
It is true they are crucial issues. But for those in the intervention world, goal setting, broken down according to who the victims is provides decorum and a human face to things.
The child up bringing issues; setting the stage for taking responsibility
Children are jewels of their parents, communities and nations. Parents are believers and are hopeful when it comes to children. Children were 'seen and not heard,' that today is despicable. We do see, hear, listen to, court, remember and embrace children ( Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin, 2003: America's children; picturing childhood from early America to present).
How children develop and what they need to succeed are inextricably entwined with the society in which they live and how well it sustains and supports its families and individuals (Hilary Rodham Clinton, 1996: It takes a village and other lessons children teach us).
There is genuine concern by parents and the children to lead fruitful lives. There has been a tendency by different media and peer pressure to promote images of child invincibility. That needs to change. There are questions being asked today. The discourse is re-ignited. What do children, especially boys, think they should be and what they believe it means to be a man. Fist? Stick? Knife? Drugs? Building castles in the air? Early sex? Infrastructure that promotes: mentoring, love, self esteem, faith, healing, negotiation skills, conflict resolution and non-violence are continuously involving families and children as active participants and planners (Geoffrey Canada, 1998: Reaching up for manhood; Transforming the lives of boys in America).
Having and liking our children is a continuous exercise that should be committed to. Having children is its own experience. It provides opportunity for complete responsibility for another human being.It is an opportunity to learn how to love and bond in the deepest sense and way. Families should be settings to discuss indifference, material gains, regard for other humans and gauging expectations. Families is where hugs are given, deeds are common as opposed to words, the easy way out is questioned during discussion, a black sheep is praised, reverence is shared and all learnt to let go. In families, there is effective caring that views and empowers one to act on innate wisdom (Johann Christoph Arnold, 200: Endangered; Your child in a hostile World).
Dramatic shifts are called for. Position your children in the center stage. Bring them back to the priority list. Children do not deserve the left over time. They do miss their parents and elders. This forces them to look for answers in the wrong places. This is where they look for solace and support. Many are humiliated, frustrated, alone, lonely and angry. You can police, you can offer psychoactive drugs, but also offer kindness, love and respect. Heal the relationships.Recast attitudes. Foster honest dialogue about societal pressures (Peter R. Breggin, 200: Reclaiming Our Children; a healing plan for a nation in crisis).
Rewarding and Discipling
The Problems; a disaggregated approach
What are some of the issues you deal with in your home or you are aware of around you?
Avoiding Lip Service
In his book, 'who is throwing babies in the river?' Dr. Conroy posits four major to do things:
1. Build an interest in children
2. Get to know what is going on with them
3. Restore hope and belief in kids' abilities to succeed.
4. Be the tuned up child advocate
Further reading: Charles P. Conroy Ed. D, 2001: Who is throwing babies in the river?
A true story by Lyn Mikel Brown, 1998; Raising their Voices: Politics of girl anger
Two fourteen year old girls fed up with the "Hooters" shirts worn by their male classmates, designed their own rooster logo: "cocks: Nothing to crow about." Girls are no longer the wasted, down trodden passive by standers in a parade of victim hood. They articulate their expectations and partake in planning solutions.
Still from the same book:
Amber is one of the characters and in this statement she was reacting to a question on coping and anger management. "If you let it build up inside, it is just like you get angrier and angrier and it's like all built up and you just get so mad-just really mad....You have to control it. I'm pretty good at that sometimes...I just do it because I don't want to lose my friends, so I just control it.." (Brown, 1998, page 67).
Communication is key in a family
How to Nurture good qualities and rebuke the anti-social habits
As a parent or guardian or some one who identifies with the children's causes, focus on relationships, be compassionate, cultivate a culture of understanding a child. Be slow to blame and punish. Remember a baby boy has traits and not character. Hate the sin and NOT the sinner.
There are two references I have used to build this argument:
I. The qualities are: attachment, honesty, dependability, sharing, self control, dignity, respect, generosity and courage.
The anti-social habits to rebuke are: bullying, cheating, dealing in drugs, alcohol, illegal competitive games, indifference and selfishness.
II. Develop a ministry to the young. Children can be stubborn, playful, happy, sad, sensitive, complex and mostly..race blind, color of skin blind or country blind. Do treat children as children but guide them responsibly.
I. Eli H. Newberger, 1999: The Nature and nurture of Male Character; The men they will become.
II. Jonathan Kozol, 2000: Ordinary resurrections; Children in the years of hope.
William Pollack, 1998: Real Boys; Rescuing Our Sons From the Myths of Boyhood
The Myths: Tough, confident and cheerful
The Reality: Sad, lonely and confused.