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16.05.2006 General News

International Day of the family launched

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Accra, May 15, GNA - Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, on Monday called for a revisit of Africa's unique cultural and traditional values regarding the family system to help address current problems of family disintegration and ensure national development.

She said, gone were the days when each person within the community was each other's keeper. Now, she said, pressures of globalisation had gradually affected the moral values of the family system, making it very weak and more vulnerable.

Hajia Mahama made the call at a seminar to launch the International Day of the Family, which was under the theme: "Responsible Parenting and Family Integration".

The occasion is set aside by the UN General Assembly to draw attention to problem areas, increase co-operation at all levels on pertinent issues that affect the family and put in place practicable actions that strengthen the family to play its role in national development.

Hajia Mahama said the family, being the basic unit of any community, had its status and well-being linked to the socio-economic development, stability, peace and prosperity of a nation. Therefore any instability in the family system could greatly affect the future development of the nation.

Hajia Mahama noted that the gradual erosion of the important role of the extended family system and focusing on only the nuclear type of family had created numerous problems for good parenting, as most parents spent most of their time at work at the peril of their children's total development.

"In the olden days, members of the extended families provided excellent training and discipline for children whose parents were too busy with their work, but foreign cultural influences have replaced these systems, leading to the current moral decadence among the youth." She also said the rejection and neglect of the aged by society due to the breakdown of family values gave cause for urgent action to ensure reintegration and reconciliation of former traditional values into modern structures to save the current situation.

The Minster said parental irresponsibility, which had lead to the current social indiscipline among the youth, crimes and delinquencies as well as the spread of diseases including the HIV/AIDS and streetism, was unacceptable and needed joint efforts by all stakeholders to reverse the trend.

Hajia Mahama urged parents not to justify their inactions by blaming poverty, but set their priorities right to be able to provide for their children as well as their aged parents.

She advised parents to work at good parenting and family integration to help their children grow into responsible adults by living exemplary lives.

"Let us also remember that there is a thin line between discipline and pampering and we need to ensure the right balance. It is crucial to mentor our children for the future because the character of our children tomorrow depends largely on what we teach them today. "Government believes firmly in family values and integrity, hence the need to explore and develop policies that have family essence at the core."

She said since the family served as the solid foundation for social development, its disfunctioning would greatly affect the society, especially women and children.

The Minister mentioned global economic situations, civil strives, natural disasters, contemporary influences, technological advancement, such as abuse of the internet, child exploitation and human trafficking and diseases such as the HIV/AIDS, as some of the challenges that had affected the family system in Ghana.

She said government was developing Social Protection Policy and Programmes as part of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) to provide safety net as well as enhance security for poor families. The adoption and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Community Level Health Management Promotion and Support for Family Planning, HIV/AIDS training, the Ministry Of Food and Agriculture's farmer-based organisation Support programmes, are some for the structures put in place to support families.

She also mentioned the capitation grant, which had greatly addressed the poverty related barriers and which had led to substantial increases in girls' enrolment especially in the Northern Region as another intervention.

The Rev. Dei Awuku, Executive Director of Families Together Ghana, an NGO, which provides counselling to families, urged parents to make time for their families, study their children and build relationships of trust and security. He cautioned parents against the acts of comparing their children with others, as such attitudes created rivalry, hatred and discomfort among siblings resulting in future disintegration among families. Rev. Awuku also urged parents to rebuke their children with love, instead of inflicting pain and injury on them.

He said parents needed to teach their children to be responsible, independent and competent and have a great conscience that would enable them to face the realities of life.

Mrs Nabilla Williams, a retired Senior Lecturer at the Department of Home Economics, University of Ghana, underscored the importance of establishing parental education to help parents understand their roles and act appropriately. She also supported the need for parents to ensure closer dialogue with children, to help realise and understand their needs. She said studies had shown that most parents lacked basic knowledge on good parenting and this had greatly affected their families, leading to family displacement with their added consequences on national development.

Mrs Williams stressed that for the country to move forward there must be the placement of certain structures that would ensure parental education right from the basic school level. She said this would enable children to acquire fundamental knowledge on responsible parenting and also learn to understand the current socio-economic pressures that parents faced.