Radical transformation, what and why?
We like to use such terms and do so in a variety of contexts, e.g. socio-economic or gender transformation in the workplace. A particularly meaningful statement I was faced with this week was, “there is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.” Marianne Williamson.
Attending a Parenting Conference at the University of the Western Cape was meaningful for a host of researchers, practitioners, students and educators all of whom were there because of a passion for family life and parenting in particular. The UWC and PAN (Parenting Africa Network) organised and hosted the conference and the participants, to a woman – (or a man of which there were significantly less) are committed to strengthening families in our current situations.
Academics presented research programmes and practitioners their work in the communities. Much was from a social work perspective. MARFAM’s presentation was from a faith-based perspective. For us the family, ideally based on marriage, remains the most effective context for parenting well, but in South African society that is by no means the common reality. Less than 40% of children live with both biological parents and the commonest family form is a single mother headed family. However there are plenty of other configurations as described in the article “Who is Parenting our Children?” in the current issue of FAMILY MATTERS magazine. Or “How are we parenting our children?” the title of my brief presentation at the conference. Does the Church offer enough by way of parenting skills to families and communities possibly incorporated into marriage but still distinct from it? Parenting is a component in the Parish Family Ministry programme developed at the SACBC and many regular or straightforward parenting needs from pre-birth to caring for our own elderly parents are raised for consideration in MARFAM reflections. However there is much too that is radical and needs radical action when children are expected to raise younger siblings, parents are faced with substance abuse, sexually active teens and increasing suicide rates amongst youth. Bullying is one of the main serious problems faced by learners which can negatively affect their self-esteem. Does that drive them to viewing pornography, or is it peer pressure or curiosity and easy access?
Issues around parenting today are radical, calling for radical responses, and even transformation in the approaches to parenting and caring for our children. We cannot continue to parent in the same ways as before when the environment has changed. As one practitioner mentioned to me we even have a portion of a generation of parents now who has received little proper parenting. Children should by rights be the fruit of the love of their parents and not seen as a mistake, a sexually transmitted disease, or cash calf to provide an impoverished young mother with a social grant. The radical transformation is in parents’ attitude towards them, children’s and youth attitudes towards parents as well as the help that families deserve. But that is what I always mean when I say, “Family Matters!” TR. FAMILY WEEKLY 18 MAY 2017