I welcome you to my exciting world of Child Protection Social Empowerment Advocacy. Today, I am beginning a series of discussion, which sheds light on the foundation we need to lay before we begin to invite children to this world. This is an attempt to address the almighty issue of child protection from the very root and I think it is very important to the peace and stability of the family unit, where the child belongs. My commitment in this discussion is to tackle the fundamental issues people, who are planning to marry, must pay attention to as it relates to child protection.
One of the basic needs of a child is that a child needs somewhere to belong, first a family, then a community. The first question we must ask is: why does the child need to belong to a family? I think the answer is not far-fetched. It is simply for the reason of loving, nurturing and caring for the child. It is established that the child is not designed by the Creator to care for himself/herself. Please note that it is the responsibility of the primary and secondary caregivers to teach the child how to care for himself/herself according to his/her age and physical and mental development.
The second question we must ask is: when is a family safe enough or ready to receive the child. A man and a woman, married are pioneer members of a nuclear family. First, they must understand the meaning of a family and the purpose for its existence. They must understand the purpose of having children and how to raise them. They must understand that the decision to have children is not taken as a result of marriage. It means children must not be seen as the direct dividends of marriage. Though when, they are born, they will belong to a family, we must not forget that they are independent entities, with lives of their own, whose invitation into the family must be well planned and executed. Therefore, the decision to have children must be taken as a result of only two factors: first understanding the joy of having and raising children as independent entities, who have their own lives to live but which life they may never live or live well, if they are not properly raised by the primary and secondary caregivers; and second, preparedness to raise children, which child protection plays a major role. Child protection demands knowledge (what to do to protect children), skills (how to do it) and attitude (the fortitude to do what is to be done).
When the family is not prepared to receive children and they decide to have them, they fail to meet one of the five basic needs of a child. The implication of the foregoing is that though the child is born into a family or home, he/she is born homeless. In the cause of this discussion, I will shed light on the definition of family.
Bill Gates Senior in his book ‘Showing Up for Life’ shed light on the issue of preparing to raise children as follows: ‘I believe that being a parent is one of the most important jobs any of us will ever undertake-and it’s the one most of us are at least prepared for-at least formally…For example, reflecting on my own experience raising a family, I think about how as parents most of us try to feel our way through the challenges that come with being married and raising children. We have very little formal training for those roles, and they are two of the most difficult and important things we’ll ever undertake.’
He further pointed to his own challenges, ‘like every other parent, at times I worried about my own competence as a dad. So much was going on-apparently including some things I didn’t know about. He concludes on this sobering note, ‘I am intrigued by the fact that most of us seldom look for any guidance on how to perform competently as parents when there is so much good formal training and information available.’
If the Ghanaian proverb that ‘the ruinof a nation begins in the homes of its people,’ is true and I believe it is,the family must be prepared by its pioneering member to receive the child.
I think abuse begins from when couples decide to come together without making adequate plan for the children the plan to receive.
If people prepare and invest in having children same way they prepare for weddings, our children will be better raised and they will live in a batter world. It is common to note that the preparation for wedding ceremonies is never for the sole benefits of the two people who are getting married. It is in most cases an unnecessary attempt to a statement to the world. On the other hand, the preparation to have and raise children well and protect them is for the benefits of the child, the family and the community. Please note that I am not talking about antenatal or buying baby things. I’m talking about deliberate effort to acquire knowledge, skill and attitude.
Think about this, how do you prepare when you are expecting an invited and respected special guest? How do you conduct yourself before the invited and respected special guest? What if you are fully aware that the invited and respected special guest will spend at least eighteen years under your care what kind of preparation will you make as a responsible host?
As you give the foregoing a thought, I charge you to join me tomorrow as I begin to discuss fundamental issues to consider about child protection as you prepare to marry. I invite you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…