According to the United Nations General Assembly, 15 May of every year is the International Day of Families. The day reflects the importance that the international community attaches to families as basic units of society as well as it’s concern regarding their situation around the world. Last year, the theme was on work-life balance.
Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development; the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
The 21st Century Family
I read somewhere that “Families of the 21st Century come in all shapes and sizes. Divorce, remarriage, parenting out-of-wedlock, and a host of other variables have turned nuclear families into the exception rather than the norm”. However, I disagree.
The nuclear family is still the normal family unit; It’s the way families are and should be. All the other variables i.e divorced units, parenting out of wedlock etc are the exceptions. But when life throws lemons at you, what do you do? You make lemonades.
Whatever form a family unit takes, it is what it is – a family with individuals who love each other, living and growing together. Whatever the situation, parent(s) always have their child(ren)’s best interest at heart. In addition, your family is what you make it.
Family is the first social institution. It is the building block of our future since children are leaders of tomorrow. The bottom line is that your style of parenting is a great determining factor of how your child(ren) will turn out in future. (Read: How to raise children with values ?)
As stated above, the Sustainable Development Goal aims at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and ensuring accountable institutions at all levels.
What has Family got to do with this?
It starts with you. Majority of the problems in society stems from bad upbringing. Children who don’t feel loved enough, children who were not properly corrected when they erred, children who were left to their own devices right from when they were young and children who were exposed to the evils of the world without proper guidance are the ones causing chaos and disrupting societal peace.
An inclusive society is one where everybody is involved. About half-century ago, children were typically raised by their parents, extended family members and their community.
When parents questioned their own parenting , they had only to turn to one of these supporters for reassurance and a confidence boost. They not only served as mentors and role models, but often as a sounding board or emergency caregiver.
Fast forward to the first decade of the 21st Century and we are on the verge of loosing our sense of community. This is probably because family members live far away, neighbours are strangers and there’s a lot of discrimination and stereotypes.
What are Parents roles in maintaining peaceful and inclusive societies?
Can you remember how we used to learn roles of family members in primary school? Daddy as the head of family whose job is to bring money home. Mummy as primary caretaker whose job is to cook in the kitchen and take care of everybody.
The truth is that this rules/roles don’t apply in the 21st century. Every family is unique; different in their own way of doing things.
We can’t dictate how a family should operate. However, when it comes to ensuring peaceful and inclusive societies, parents should:
1. Model the right example
As a parent, you’re the first role model your child has. Your actions and decisions shape theirs. It is also from you that they will get their first lessons on how to be a parent and how to build a family.
What lessons are you teaching your children in that regard? What legacy are you leaving behind? Do you argue with your spouse in front of them or yell all the time? Or do you show them that you’re a united front no matter what goes on behind closed doors?
2. Share responsibilities and communicate
Ensure that at every point in time, members of the family are not over-burdened by responsibilities. Parenting involves both parents not only mummy or only daddy. We all have a part to play.
Most households require the income of two full-time wage earners just to get by. Some don’t. When it comes to financial decisions of a family, communication is important.
In fact, communication is essential in every aspect of a relationship. Communication between spouses, communication between parents and children. You need to communicate all the time.
Talk about everything and anything. It’s the only way you’ll know what’s going on in each others lives and how you can help out. It’s the way you’ll stay relevant in each others lives no matter where you may be.
A teenager once said that every time she was in a difficult or compromising situation; all she had to do was remember something her parents told her that could help her out. Little conversations you have with your children concerning everyday situations will go a long way in guiding their steps. (Read: how to be intentional about parenting in the 21st century)
3. Be intentional about your parenting
The family generally provides the best outcome for children as they prepare for adult life. Children fare better when they have parents that are present and active in every area of their lives. ” As parents, we are gardeners. We are meant to nurture children and every child is unique in their own way.” Yetty Williams. [Read: Is your parenting style raising monster kids?]
If we accept that raising children is vital to the social good, then we should ensure that we play our roles as members of a family unit by providing the best platform for children to learn how to be responsible citizens.