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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learn how to take on the challenges of parenting

The rising cases of child sacrifice, street children, starvation of children and violence in homes have prompted Education Consultant Fagil Mandy to come up with a series of trainings. He told Dennis D. Muhumuza about the causes of this “parenting crisis” and how it can be addressed
Why have you started the Good Parenting trainings?
Because there is a parenting crisis and we cannot afford to have our future generations going without proper tuning and direction. Parents or potential parents, young people and university students, policy implementers or leaders both in the government and private sector or even those interested in learning more about good parenting should attend these fortnightly sessions, code-named “Good Parenting Sessions” which will be taking place at the National Theatre starting March 16, 2010. They are aimed at addressing the challenges of parenting today; we are going to look at the world of work and education; how to train a child to be a worker, thinker, leader. The world is changing so fast that the demands on a child or the growing up generations are so intense and diversified and the parent must be brought along to understand the diversity in the world today.

You talked of a parenting crisis. What really is the problem?
I’ve run workshops and training programmes for parents and young people and have made some discoveries: I’ve found out, particularly, that children from middle class parents have no capacities to deliver, to work, to produce or generate ideas. And today, because most parents are working, the child is largely neglected so there is an increasing mystery or this huge gap between the parents and the children. Also, I’ve met a lot of parents who think that parenting is simply producing a child; most of them think that a child of four or five years doesn’t need any particular guidance and counselling, or driving in a certain direction, so there’s a heavy dose of ignorance. Even more, our education system is not equipping our children with the right attitude, mindset and physical skills to succeed in this tough world.

What are the major concerns of young people in regard to the way they are brought up?
The last time I carried out a leadership training programme, I asked the children what they would have wished their parents to teach them. Many of them regretted that their parents had not talked to them enough about issues of love, relationships, sexuality and even politics and leadership. Also, most of them complained that their fathers hardly feature in their lives and that they feel not protected or guided by their parents.

Did you also register any complaints by parents about their children?
Of course! Most parents cried out about the cartoons on TV; their children are becoming cartoons themselves; TV has become a preoccupation for young people. And most TV stations screen pornographic material - it is killing children.

But how can children keep themselves occupied meaningfully in a situation where their parents are at work and cannot keep a close eye on them?
But you see, I don’t agree that every parent must work away from home. One of my sons works but his wife is a stay-at-home mother. But most mothers don’t want to first stay home and raise their children because of greed; it’s all primitive accumulation; we think that the wife must produce so much money and the husband so much money but I think someone intelligent enough must sacrifice; why can’t wife and husband organise their activities in such a way that, say, the husband works out and the wife stays at home or looks after a small family business that involves the children too? Parents must involve children in the family business.

In this age of emancipation, women cannot surely be expected to stay home to look after children
Why not? I think, again, it is greed; a lot of women are running around in this so-called economic independence because they want to run wild programmes. I disagree with that sort of thing because every child needs a stay-at-home mother because there is no way you are going to compensate for the emotional dislocation of a child who has not had proper parentage.

What is the true measure of a parent?
First, one must be knowledgeable enough – one is not going to be a parent worth their soul when they are ignorant; a parent must know a bit of everything because they are the encyclopaedia for their child. Secondly, parents must know how to do several things because a child must follow their example; you must be a good reader, be able to clean your own compound, fix a bulb and have a multi-skilled capacity for your child to emulate. Also, you must be healthy; no child likes to grow up with a dying parent; remember, a parent must help the child lead a healthy life and how can you do that if you are not healthy yourself? Then of course, a parent must be able to generate enough income to look after the family and be available to provide the time required for the child. If you are unavailable, don’t produce the child.

--Sunday Monitor, March 7, 2010