To put the world right, we must first put the nation in order; and to put the nation in order, we must put the family right.
This advice came from Minister of Social Care, Constituency, Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, this morning as he addressed the theme Healthy Families: A Brighter Future for our Children at the First Baptist Church on Constitution Road, St. Michael to celebrate the beginning of Child Month.
Encouraging the congregation to celebrate children and see the importance of the family structure to the development of this nation’s youth, Blackett stated: “The family is the most important institution a child will have throughout his or her lifetime, and as such every effort must be made to ensure that this unit called the family possesses the qualities and characteristics that will make a positive and enduring impact on the lives of children.
“The family, as the primary socialising institution, is uniquely placed to influence what this nation will become… It is within the family that the child is equipped to meet and cope with the everyday functions of life.
“It is the family that shapes the child’s personality, and it is the child’s interactions and experiences within his or her family, that determine what he or she becomes in life and how he or she responds to the various occurrences within his or her lifetime. The relationship among members of the family … is a very special one.”
The minister said he believed caretakers had a responsibility to raise children in a manner that facilitated the transmission of positive values and ethics. Directly addressing the adults present, he said they must ask themselves the question: “How do we exemplify the healthy family lifestyle?”
Stressing the answer involved everyone learning, internalising and then demonstrating to children, positive values through their words as well as actions, he added:
“What I am advocating is that the heads … within families set the tone for the relationships that exist within the family units — set standards by which your family should live. You the adults must determine what it is that you believe in and what each member of your family will have to do to accomplish the goals set for the family.”
“In essence, you the adults must determine what type of family you will have; you must determine this from the outset and communicate these ideas, and goals to each member of your family. Let there be discussion so that at the end, all members know and understand, what it means to be a part of this family,” he said.
“As parents, your children’s emotional well-being is just as important as their physical well-being. As parents and guardians you must employ all strategies that will strengthen the self-esteem of your children.
“Children need to feel loved and wanted, they need to have a sense of belonging and you mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, guidance counsellors and all significant persons in the children’s lives whether at school or in the community must create this sense of well-being. Therefore, I challenge you to be there for them in times of success and in times of discomfort.” (KC)†††