The Ministry of Human Empowerment of our Church (MOHE) has decided to initiate various programs on an all Church basis during the fag end of the current calendar year, possibly during October, November and December with the agenda that the life of our young boys and girls are nurtured the right way by their parents. MOHE is understood to have rightly identified that the lack of good parenting in our society creates many a problem as stumbling blocks towards proper grooming of our young boys and girls to lead their lives positively to be true witnesses of Jesus Christ. In fact, the last two years, Church has taken initiatives towards creating proper awareness among us on issues like the need of strong family ties and also the need to stay away from the habit of drinking or using drugs and such other intoxicating substances. In other words, we are just coming across to analyze a third major issue in three years, which certainly makes us more responsible in our endeavor to attack social evils spoiling our community. It is also a pertinent point that the issue we have this year, perhaps, happens to be the mother of issues we attempted to tackle last two years. No doubt, lack of good parenting is the main or even the most crucial reason behind broken family relations and the habit of drinking.
Under such a background, an effort is being made here to come out with a few suggestions as to how we approach this issue of good parenting to be made effective in our society.
The subject Good Parenting can be driven home in an excellent manner by conducting a series of seminars and symposia and even street plays or through such other popular media. We have no dearth of quality resource persons, but what I suggest is that driving home the message should not be the goal we target to achieve. We must penetrate into our family life church wise and parish wise. Earlier, we had looked into the aspect of how closely bound are our families and later we looked into the damage caused by the menace of drinking. But, both these can have their real source traced to relevance of good parenting. Thus, the importance of good parenting can never be under estimated.
Let us look into this issue at the parish level. Our first step shall be to identify the segment where good parenting is lacking badly. This may not be a difficult task. Once a core group is formulated at the parish level they should evolve strategies best suited in their environment. For example, out of 200 children in the parish, only 50 may be attending Sunday school. There may be children who are highly irregular in attending Church services. There may be parents attending, children not attending and also the other way around. There may be families coming very late. There may be children who come to church in cow boy style dressings. There are many indications like these. From such indications, the core group can identify families where parenting has issues to be corrected.
Again, we must try to watch the behavior of children outside the time of worship. How do they behave in the church premises? How do they behave in Sunday school? How do they behave even inside the church? How do they behave with elders? By observing these types of behavior patterns, we can get clues as to how they are parented. I have personal experience that certain children are very prompt and regular in littering their snacks’ waste everywhere in the church premises and corridors in spite of waste bins provided. Is this not something to do with parenting? There are children misbehaving with their friends. There are children behaving as if the whole premises are ruled by them or by their parents. Such situations, if properly watched, can definitely lead us to a lot of families where improvement in parenting is a need.
May be, Sunday school teachers are the best to judge whether a boy or girl is in the habit of reading Bible regularly or praying regularly at home with their parents. The attendance in prayer meetings surely can be judge in itself to ascertain the spiritual life of families, of course from those who are regular in absenting themselves.
From here, the core group’s watch may be extended to young couples and young parents. Their reluctance to be regular in church itself can lead to infer the lacuna in parenting they have had during their formative years and the likelihood is that the pattern may repeat in the next generation as well. There needs to be efforts from our side to correct this. In any parish, there would be at least a significant number of young couples or parents belonging to this category and we must identify them.
Again, there are many who spend a lot of time with their mobile phones and they cannot control this passion even at church premises. Such youngsters too are victims of not so good a parenting. There are children who perform badly in Sunday school examinations and that too quite consistently. There are children who are very prompt in shying away from co curricular activities of Sunday school. These are all signs of inadequate parenting. Once we talk with them, many incidents relating to their home life may come up.
We also find these days many of our youngsters are falling into unhealthy friendships. Boys and girls are equally getting misguided into such traps. These ‘friendships’ grow into sexual molestations leading to harassments and even gay relationships develop followed by worse and unruly turn of events which could have been prevented had there been healthy interference from responsible sources. Many a life gets spoiled and the parents come to know of these only at a stage when the maximum damage is already inflicted. The core group should identify such relations among our parish youngsters. May be this is not that easy, but if we aim at good parenting, we have to find out ways and means to ascertain these.
Similar to what are suggested above, there are many more areas where situations requiring corrective measures can be identified. We should list out volunteers who can visit such homes and find out the parenting styles. True, such volunteers have to be properly oriented and sufficient in puts provided so that such visits should not result in more damage than positives.
The fact has to be accepted that bad parenting stands out as the root cause for most of the ill effects the society is facing these days. So any extend of positive efforts initiated shall not be excess. The actions initiated should have a follow up system through which the changes are to be monitored. Not much radical transformation need be expected in the three months of October to December. The efforts initiated now should continue and the actions should be of ongoing nature.
Finally, the message that the actions on good parenting by MOHE is not going to be an activity for the sake of doing something, but it is a beginning in our Church with specific goals, must be effectively communicated down the line.
GEORGE JOSEPH ENCHAKKATTIL