What is the great strength of our generation?
It is the emphasis which we place on families. Keep your families close together and love and honor your children.
Today, families are facing unique challenges that were unknown years ago. Let me emphasize common challenges first and then provide direction for parents in navigating the stormy waters created by these issues which include: parenting, marital conflicts, divorce, grieving, out of wedlock pregnancy, emotional and mental stress, substance abuse, addiction, pornography, atheism and eating disorder. Despite differences of race, income, or geographic origin, most families are working toward the same goals which include preserving healthy relationships; raising their children in a respectable manner; maintaining a quality standard of living; coping with chronic illnesses; adapting to the needs of aging parents; and keeping families safe. Unfortunately little faith in God and consistent poverty pose overwhelming challenge because of sustaining self-pity.
Here are a few points that can assist families to turn things round.
Social Support which means having connections to others and the ability to access guidance. Some families are in problems simply because they think it is fine that way.
Communication: Only quality communication makes community. Families need professional channel through which they can talk sense and share constrictive ideas most especially on pertinent issues;
Problem-Solving: This is another point that needs concerted effort. Several families are suffocating under issues which are solvable but they have no idea about how to go around them.
Family Cohesion: Modernity is eating up the once strong family fiber. The once prided upon value of sharing is being suffocated by commercialism.
Economic Strength: We have families who have no crew about saving money for the invisible bad day. These people budget the moment they realize that some money is in their pockets. Saving money is science that most family don’t even dare to think about. When a family is financially stable, its voice becomes loud.
Family security: There families who presume that someone somewhere will always defend them. This is not true. A family needs to secure a clear contact with a medical practitioner, a legal person, a security operative and a spiritual mentor. All these contribute to the security that a family may need any time.
When children are born and brought up in families that have for decades sustained a lifestyle of misery; even when they rise up into fortune, these people continuously remind everybody how poor they were. God has created us to be happy; the reference to misery is in fact our own making. One may not have everything, but there is something good and unique that can contribute to a good life story. Not all may be born with tangible wealth, but the same people may be swimming in visible wisdom.
There is a clear indication that poor income families in our community, most of the time live in homes that are dilapidated. This self-negligence can easily contribute to high levels of crime and addiction that in the long run can compromise common sense which is essential when it comes to parenting.
Children need to be born and raised up in families which cherish honesty, smart and hard work, prayer, cleanliness and order. Even the once upon a time villages which were clean, now are littered with plastics. Both children and adults throw dirty things all over.
When a child is born and brought up in such scenario, even when in higher institution of learning will not remember that trash has to be gathered and put in dustbins. Good child upbringing is a powerful tool in helping younger generations to stay focused and sensitive to their neighborhood and the environment.
If one has not been parented well, this person may study and get a good paying job, may frequent a clean and organized place of worship, may live in a good estate but the same person will struggle to escape from poverty. Those who are parents now need to pray that they don’t only get children but that they know how to raise them up in dignity.
It is family identity, financial stability, balanced spirituality; a culture of saving that will provide light at the end of a tunnel. Some families cannot afford daily food, organized daycare, even simple things like children’s language which leave the young ones at the mercy of ‘to whom it may concern’.
Children are a treasure who must be looked after with love and ardent care. Leaving many children unsupervised for prolonged hours every day is a disservice to the Family, the Community, the Church and the State. Abandoning children to themselves ends up ruining the nation. Parents therefore are challenged to make sure that they continue learning all that concerns quality parenting.
Often times, most parents must choose between work demands, socialization versus the need to take a child to the doctor, attend school functions, accompany children for Sunday school, supervising their homework and organizing their school holidays.
There is a high correlation between poverty and serious health problems. Families who ignore securing a health insurance are likely to face challenges when it comes to children falling suddenly sick. Medical assistance for children should be affordable when needed. Children get sick when it is least expected, for that reason, parents should be prepared all the time.
Parenting is a gift and a responsibility at the same time because it is God who blesses a family with children. In today’s society this job is getting tougher as many accept when they are less prepared for it. It is not strange to find grandparents taking care of both their children and grandchildren. As the world becomes volatile, violent and restless and it turns out that parenting is no longer natural but an art and a science that all need to master. Bringing up a child today is turning out to be more demanding than it was two decades ago. It is therefore inevitable that parents, read, listen learn and practice the art of parenting.
The children of today are vulnerable because of being exposed and easily influenced by useless attraction like gambling, hidden video sheds, drugs and fashion. In this day and age, drug use is one of the most common problems parents have to fight against. It is not only a problem that is affecting twenty year olds; it is a problem that begins as young as eleven and twelve. Many youngsters of today are already hooked up. The percentage of children using drugs is overwhelming.
Visit a rehabilitation home and you will see what i mean. There is alcoholism. If you have teenagers at home, you know what i am talking about. Alcohol fascinates youngsters most especially when they are drinking with their peers. It is not one or two drinks and they call it a day; they consume bottles and brands of all kinds of alcohol. To most youngsters nowadays alcohol is the symbol of fun. They need either alcohol or drugs to ensure a good time. When teenagers feel a bit depressed or tensed up, the solution is to hit the bottle.
The next challenge is sex. With all the programs on television and the porn sites on the internet, sex is becoming a growing issue among teenagers. Most of them who in the beginning were naïve and innocent feel eager and excited to practice what they have read about regarding sex. Some of them no longer believe in preserving their virginity till marriage. They pretend that it is their human right to have sex at any age everywhere. Sex which is preserved for the married has turned out to be a commodity for all who feel they want it even when not yet married. Today sex seems to have no age limit; one can be as young as twelve and get to have sex. If you are among those who watch the news or read the newspapers regularly you will find that promiscuity and the diseases that come with it like HIV/AIDS are on the increase. To bring up children in a place where drugs, drinking, sex and fear of God are optional; then know that we are in for a rude shock. We need to put all our efforts together to make sure the family is safe.
Here are some does and don’ts for parenting.
When your children are still under your care as their parents you must establish clear guidelines in advance to avoid arguments. The first is clear and objective communication as a key to keep everybody aware and responsible. As a parent you need to set specific boundaries which should be respected by all. If you say no smoking, no alcohol, no pets, no overnight guests, and mandatory Mass on Sundays, make those rules clear and practice them. When forced to accommodate a compromise, let it be once and for all but not a new norm conflictingguidelines. Have your children share family burden. If finances are a problem, let them know so that they can save the little remaining. If your children have some income, sharing expenses like food and utilities is fair. If they have no income yet, cleaning the compound, cooking, washing household utensils and other relevant house cores can help your child appreciate being productive family member. Whatever you need to accomplish as a family set time limit for it. Keep the lines of communication open to prevent resentment; a structured family is a peaceful home. Give each other some space and time alone since privacy is important for both parties. Crowded conditions can lead to cranky housemates. Have a common time to pray to God together and access ways of reconciliation. Obeying God’s commandments will make your family a joyful and peaceful place.
Allow children and young adults to set up working guidelines. Every child needs to come up with a personal game planand keep parents informed. The children need to set up a time limit for everything and show how their gaining from their goals. Every child needs to know that some things are a must. There should be no question about greeting each other politely. If at all there are any family battles, they must be fought prudently. Dear child, notwithstanding your age, if your parents want you to make your bed, to return to the home early for evening meals together, to reduce volumes on the radio and television, just go ahead and do it. That is not an issue that should take up energy. Initiate family meetings to keep your parents in the loop. Do not assume they know how you are progressing or the difficulties you are encountering. Think of an exit strategy which is not an escape from discipline and responsibility. It is easy to get complacent if your parents make it possible for you. Keep in mind that your own growth will be stunted if you stay too long with your parents. Time comes when you have to get out of the confortable nest and start fending for yourself in a smart, progressive and organized way; if not, you risk remaining a child forever when society needs to see an adult in you. The dependence you once enjoyed has an expiry date. Grow with a view that on day you will live on your own but keep in mind that vices destroy heroes while virtues build the humble.
Fr Paulino Mondo