Conference on ‘Achieving Better Parenting for our Children’
‘Parenting towards Resilience’ was the main theme discussed during a conference held recently, organised by Agenzija Sedqa in collaboration with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
Ms. Sina Bugeja, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Social Welfare Services during her opening address explained that Parenting towards Resilience, was the main theme chosen by the Foundation to celebrate this year’s Children’s Day. Moreover, Ms. Bugeja mentioned the recent launch of the National Children’s Policy that safeguards children’s rights and ensures space for their opinions before decisions are taken. She mentioned that parents need to be kept abreast with changing parenting styles as well as with different influences which might affect children’s development.
Ms Helen D’Amato, Commissioner for Children, said that the inherent vulnerability of children requires not only a strong legal and institutional framework of protection but also the consolidated ability on the part primarily of parents to nurture their children in such a way as to instil in them the inner strength and will to overcome the challenges that come their way during their childhood. This is important, she said, as there is a limit to how far the legal and institutional framework can go to actually protect children in the context of an increasingly complex and challenging social and cultural environment, and also because the development of such inner strength and will is an integral part of children’s gradual maturity into strong, independent and responsible adults. The development of this inner strength or resilience should be seen as a main goal of the child’s upbringing. Ms D’Amato thus urged all parents to continue helping their children develop these inner qualities.
During his closing address, Mr. Jesmond Schembri, Operations Director, Agenzija Sedqa said that since its inception Sedqa has always been at the forefront of imparting skills to parents to improve their communication with their children. Although the Agency is best known for its work with persons experiencing drug, alcohol or gambling-related problems, it nevertheless invests a lot of resources in prevention.
The main presentation of this conference was entitled Inrawmu ‘l Uliedna biex Jilhqu l-Isfidi, delivered Ms. Clarissa Sammut Scerri, Registered Counselling Psychologist and Family Therapist. She is also a full time member of staff within the Department of Psychology at the University of Malta. Her presentation focused on a clear description of what is resilience in children, highlighting the kind of parenting that makes a difference in enhancing resilience in children. She stressed the importance of a warm, parent-child relationship that is attuned to the child’s needs according to his or her unique development. This relationship greatly affects/influences every aspect of children’s learning and development, especially the growth of their inner security, self-worth and ability to build relationships with others. Ms. Sammut Scerri also spoke about how harmony in the family, consistent guidance especially in adolescence, and adequate role models also help to promote resilience in children. She also cited from her research on families with domestic violence highlighting the resilience (and challenges) of these family members.
This conference was attended by parents, carers, and various professionals in touch with children of all ages. The workshops delivered were: Families of Children with Disability by Ann Marie Callus and Marchita Mangiafico; Education & Parenting by Juan Camilleri; Role Models by Carmen Delicata; Building Resilience in Adoptive Children by Cher Engerer; The Mindful Parent – Parenting against Substance Use Risk by Anthony Gatt; Building Attachment by Elaine Grech; Parenting Towards Resilience with the Media by John Mallia; Playful Parents, Playful Children, Playful Therapists by Dott Roberta Attard & Daniel Mercieca; Looking After Traumatised Children in Foster Care by John Role’; and Power Struggle between Parents and Young People by Carmen Sammut.