For Many, Parenting Is Hardly Child’s Play
There’s a lot of truth in the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” But one Jakarta-based NGO is learning that it may also take a village to raise a parent. Sahabat Anak has been working with street children in Jakarta for more than 10 years. Over this time, it has found out just how important a role model is in the life of a child. These role models could be teachers and volunteers, but importantly they can also be parents.
Parenting is hard (just ask anyone with a toddler or teenager!) and it takes skill. But like any skill, parenting can be learnt and can be taught. This is why Sahabat Anak decided that throughout 2015 it will focus on helping the mothers and fathers of Jakarta’s street children become committed and confident parents.
Sahabat Anak hopes to empower parents through a series of parent training workshops and give them the skills and confidence necessary to be positive role models in their children’s lives. One recent parenting training workshop focused on three different areas of parenting — children’s rights, praising children and budgeting. The sessions were hands-on and interactive. They were loud and fun and full of energy.
During a session on praising children, parents took turns at talking about their children out loud. Praise boosts self-esteem and confidence — something that marginalised children can often lack and can motivate them to keep trying hard. “Thank you for helping with your brothers, you are a good son,” one mother said quietly into the microphone. Her son’s smile lit up the room. The importance of talking to children was emphasized. Asking kids about their day and how they are feeling should be daily tasks. Simple questions can give a parent a good insight into their child’s world. Children might be bullied or struggling with school, but a parent cannot help unless they know. And they will not know unless they ask. Relationships of love and trust between a parent and a child rely on open communication.
The session on financial planning was particularly well-received. Armed with a wallet of monopoly money, groups of parents were asked to budget. What needs to be prioritized: medical care, food, petrol, rent? What needs to be paid for today and what can wait until next week? Involving the whole family in financial planning and the importance of saving were two big lessons.
It was not just the parents who benefitted from the workshops. The Sahabat Anak teachers and volunteers gained invaluable insight by talking to the parents in the formal and informal settings. Sahabat Anak believes that too often, parents are left out of the conversation.
Governments, schools, NGOs, and aid organisations often focus on helping marginalised children — but the voice of the parent is rarely heard, or even sought. Sahabat Anak hopes to change this. By creating a partnership with parents, Sahabat Anak believes that all people involved — educators, volunteers, parents and most importantly the children — will be better off.
Sahabat Anak will continue to work with parents throughout the year and for the first time in nineteen years it will invite entire families to the annual Street Children Jamboree which will be held in August. Find out more about the work of Sahabat Anak on its website, sahabatanak.org; its blog, thevoiceofsahabatanak.wordpress.com; its Facebook Fanpage, Sahabat Anak; or follow the group on Twitter, @sahabatanak.
Source: The Jakarta Globe