The future of all nations depends on the youth and according to reports the youth represents an average of 34% of all people on earth. They have the power and destiny to change a nation and as such is a powerful part of the population. As we celebrate Youth Month however, we need to also make the younger generation aware of the immense responsibilities they have towards the nation and their own families.
It is so important that the youth play a part in the creation of sustainable development in the country. Development needs to change the economy and social landscape of the country and should bring equal opportunities to all members of the community.
They also have a part to play to change the mentality of our nation – change those things you do not like. As a large part of the community, youth can bring positive attitude to give impetus to changing the way society thinks.
It is also important to look at the educational system. In India they have changed what is taught to what is required to be successful – an approach that will benefit them in years to come. When you teach according to people’s interest you do not loose talent. How many lawyers, accountants and engineers do we need versus our need for entrepreneurs, creative minds and environmental scientists?
The youth also have the opportunity and responsibility to explore new avenues. We need them to help us figure out ways in which to use the talent and potential in the upcoming generations. There needs to be new career opportunities for people with extraordinary talents. They need to bring their energy and vision to help our country with a makeover.
But how can we make sure that the youth is ready to take on their responsibilities?
- Education: Any country needs educated, well informed and responsible leaders. So do you actively encourage your child to grow his/her knowledge? It is important to provide learning opportunities for the children by teaching them about nature and the environment, introducing them to different cultures so they develop an understanding and appreciation for other people. It is not only important for children to finish school and learn basic academic skills – this process also teaches you to think and reason, and in a changing environment like South Africa we need thinking leaders.
- Youth will be the next parents – are we teaching them how to be effective parents? Are we setting examples for them? There are many books on parenting, but nothing is more effective than a leading example – when a child knows love and grows up in a caring environment the chances are good that he/she will also be a caring, loving parent.
- Nothing will happen in our community if youths don’t work to accomplish their role but we need to help them find their “true north”. By giving our children a sense of direction we can guide their thoughts and plans for the future – but it is important to make them part of the decision-making process. We need to also make them aware that tertiary study is not a right but when you have the opportunity to study it should be used to the fullest.
This brings me to effective parenting and the very important role we as parents and caregivers play in the lives of children. We are central to the emotional well-being of the children – affectionate, supportive and involved parents contribute to the communication, cognitive and social development of their children. It builds strong self-esteem and sense of well-being.
We are therefore in fact busy shaping our own futures as well when we guide the youth towards proper decision-making, acceptable lifestyles and a code of conduct which includes loyalty, humility, excellence and self-discipline.
Although both parents are important, the father figure is often linked to healthy development in both boys and girls. It is any man with whom a child can connect on a deeply psychological level and who generates emotions generally felt toward one’s father. Where the mother is often the consistent factor in a child’s day: nurturing, transporting and feeding them, the father is the one that will play and wrestle a bit and bring fun at the end of the day.
A father is also the person teaching the child that treating a woman with dignity is a strength. A strong man will show his boys how to treat a woman if you are upset with her and his daughters will see that a standard in a relationship cannot be ignored and this will make them good future partners and parents as well. It is good for a father to also cheer his son on but to also see excellence in your daughters. Many successful women had supportive dads! A girl who is adored by her father internalise this good experience and knows what it means to feel special. She knows intuitively how to pick a good partner and how to feel and give love. It will be less likely that she will get involved in an abusive or unhealthy relationship because she has a positive role model.
When we guide our children to become strong, independent youths they will be able to lead their generation. We are the vaccine they need against the ills of society and the help they need to grow wings.
At Child Welfare Tshwane, we also assist children placed in Foster Care or in the Child and Youth Care Centre, we often need to find replacement father figures who can assist and guide these children towards their goals. We have several volunteers helping us with our WINGS programme, a programme aimed at preparing the youths for the day they will leave the care facility or foster home and must survive on their own. Many children do not have any supporting family structures and have to be independent once they leave so we try to equip them as best we can.
The programme includes budgeting, how to find accommodation, how to compile a CV and cope with a job interview and basic cooking lessons but it also addresses the softer issues like sexuality, relationships and helping the child set a personal code of conduct.
If you would like to contribute your time and knowledge to this programme, please contact us on 012-4609236 and speak to Caren or Hanlie.