Happiness is Just Around the Corner?What does well-being mean to you? Is it having a happy family? Or is it having well-behaved children? Do you hold the keys to it?
According to the Hong Kong Family Well-being Survey Report 2018, Hong Kong families have a relatively positive overall score of 72 points, which is measured under the domains of Family Interaction, Parenting, Emotional Well-being and Material Well-being. 34% of those interviewed say they hope their family members would listen more, while 25% express a desire to communicate more with their family members to support and help them relieve stress. Undoubtedly, it is a common belief that family is the greatest source of well-being.
A Source of Love and PainAs a fortress of well-being, family shelters us when we grow, allowing us to pursue our dreams and relationships, start a new family and pass on the family values and virtues. Yet we all know that well-being is never guaranteed. As the saying goes, each family has its own problems, and there is a wide range of them. There are numerous books and courses on family education, flooding us with all sorts of theories and formulas on raising a child, but isn’t it easier said than done?
Family education is a lifelong process of learning, because family still has an influence on us even when we become old. Generally speaking, parents and grandparents are also our mentors, shaping us into who we are with their words, deeds, knowledge and habits. Therefore, while parents and grandparents can make children into better people, they can also leave a negative impact, or even indelible marks of pain.
A 2017 UNICEF report, A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents, points out that children may experience violence even in a familiar setting like their homes. One of the more shocking figures shows that three quarters of our world’s children aged between two and four, about 300 million, experience psychological aggression and/or physical punishment by their parents and caregivers. In certain social contexts, parents and caregivers also tend to resort to violence, both corporal and psychological, while attempting to teach children self-control and proper behaviour. The use of violence is sometimes a response by parents and caregivers out of anger and frustration, in other cases it is due to a lack of understanding of its harmful effects, or simply not knowing how to discipline children in non-violent ways.
To face violent discipline in a setting where they ought to be protected often brings children the longest and greatest pain, especially as they cannot understand the motives of their parents and caregivers. Currently, only 60 countries in the world have adopted legislation that fully outlaws the use of corporal punishment against children at home, which leaves over 600 million children under the age of five without full legal protection. Moreover, about one in every four parents and caregivers in the world is in favour of the use of corporal punishment in educating children. Is violent discipline really a viable and effective way of parenting?
Becoming a Fountain of JoyWe believe that the key to providing children with a place of well-being lies in the thoughts and deeds of parents or caregivers. That is why World Vision developed and started promoting the Celebrating Families project model in 2011. This seeks to ensure that families, especially the most vulnerable ones, enjoy positive and loving relationships and are able to have hope and a vision for the future. It also aims to support families as being places that allow children to experience the love of God by addressing beliefs, convictions and cultures that contribute to harmful attitudes, norms, values and practices of raising children.
Through the three-and-a-half-day Celebrating Families workshop series, parents and caregivers learn about the importance for children to be in a safe environment where they feel loved and are free to discover God. The workshops consist of four modules.
Addressing the Past
Parents and caregivers are invited to look back at their past to identify experiences that may influence their parenting, as well as things of the past that remain unhealed and may have hindered them from having loving relationships with their family members.
Recognising the Present
Parents and caregivers clarify and recognise each family member’s identity, roles and individual realities. They learn to appreciate one another, as well as the importance of forgiveness in restoring broken relationships.
Envisioning the Future
Parents and caregivers are educated on the different elements needed to strengthen families and be prepared for the future. This includes understanding children’s different life stages and age-appropriate ways of relating with them.
Pursuing Our Dreams
The final step for parents is to make a covenant of love with children, seek God’s blessings and apply what they have learnt in the workshops in their daily family life.
While the workshops mainly target parents and guardians, we highly value children’s thoughts and actual needs. While planning for the activities, children are invited to express their thoughts and suggest how they would like to participate, ensuring that parents and guardians fully listen to their views. After attending the workshops, World Vision and partnering stakeholders, such as parent groups and churches will follow up with activities to ensure parents and guardians are able to establish a loving and safe environment for children.
As of 2016, the Celebrating Families project model has been implemented in more than 700 World Vision Area Development Programmes (ADP) across East Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa, while also reaching socio-politically unstable places, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where families may release some of the pressure brought by instability onto their children.