Tuesday, 25 June 2019

New law ‘to hurt kids’


Reaction to the article 'new law to hurt kids':

The children will suffer the consequences of even fewer adoptions being done if the changes to the Bill is implemented as recommended by the Department of Social Development, says Ms. Nina de Caires, Tshwane Representative on the National Adoption Coalition and Supervisor of the Adoption Unit at Child Welfare Tshwane.

“Professionals in the private sector, specialising in adoptions, will no longer want to assist in adoption cases and the abandoned, orphaned and children in need of care and protection will suffer”, says De Caires. “The focus is on getting homes for children, and not finances.”

Child Welfare Tshwane does not discriminate and all decisions on adoptions are made with the best interest of the child in mind. We support the Constitutional right of every child to belong to a family!
De Caires added that the reason for charging fees, based on a means scale, is purely to cover the shortfall as the subsidies from the Department are inadequate. Overheads like administration costs and advertising, have to be covered for each adoption.

She also said that specialisation in adoption is important as this is a permanent placement and social workers have to be skilled to make these important assessments in collaboration with other professionals like medical doctors.

“In my opinion, there are many children in need of care and protection and many abandoned children every year. The more professionals we have contributing to the future of the children, the better. Finding homes and families for children should be the ultimate goal – we should not focus on the money but rather finding a loving solution for children."

Friday, 14 June 2019

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference – Aristotle

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. 

Monday, 3 June 2019

DAD – the superhero without a cape!

Every father should remember that one day his child will follow his example, not his advice – Charles Kettering, Success.Com

With Father’s Day on 16 June, we turn our attention to the men in our lives and the key part they play in the developmental phases of our children.  Although many children grow up without a father in the house, it is very important for a child to have a male role model that they can relate to.

According to a blog by Ditta M Oliker, Ph.D., on Psychology Today (2011), the world has radically changed as we grew accustomed to the social, economic and technical advances of the 20th century.  These changes also forced a change in the basic structure and functioning of the family, with a consequent shift in the authority of the father. His influence was increasingly seen as minor, even negligible, and his importance was defined by how well he provided for the family.

She believes that the then-new field of psychology contributed to the diminished role of the father. Until then, not a lot of research was done on the importance on the role of the father, and his influence on the development and growth of his child was reported as "insignificant."  When referring to the term "parent", reference was often made to the mother and if the father was mentioned, was equivalent to other influences. Sadly, very little parent-child studies investigated the father's role, and when studies reported on the father's involvement it was as reported by the mother. In more than 2,000 parents who responded to questions about parenting in studies, not one father was interviewed.  There was a general conception that men were not interested in fatherhood!

According to Oliker, the pendulum slowly began to swing back in the 1970s, when new studies started to support the impact of fathers. “That change influenced me as a graduate student at the time to risk doing my Ph.D. thesis on father-son interactions and how those interactions may actually be an important influencing factor in an adolescent son's development. Fortunately for me, my study did find positive results of a father's influence on the moral reasoning of an adolescent son, allowing me to graduate on time”, she wrote in her blog.

Today the father is regarded as a very important person in the developmental phases of children and the impact a father has on a child will have lasting results. From a report in "Fathers and Their Impact on Children's Well-Being":

Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.

It is so important that fathers also understand this role and know that even the way that fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child's emotional and social development. Oliker claims that fathers spend a higher percentage of their one-to-one interactions with infants and pre-schoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behaviour.

Children with involved, caring fathers also have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father's involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.  Unfortunately, no baby is issued with a script on how to raise this particular child and fathers (parents) make mistakes. We learn as they grow!

What makes a good father, then?  For one, he needs to realise that children are sent to our lives to make adults of grown-ups! Because nothing will make you more responsible, more aware of a secure future and quality living than when you hold that little child for the first time.  And nothing matters more than the well-being of the child.

So, what makes a father?

Faithful and forgiving.  If you drop something or come home late, your father will understand and have your back.  He will also take your side in any situation (until you get home!).  Fathers believe the best of all their children and will be there to support you at your first netball game, give advice when you want to ask a girl out or when you learn how to ride a bicycle.

Accountable and admirable.  Fathers are heroes – so many little girls want to marry men like their fathers and boys want to grow big and strong like their dads!  The man in the house is admired by his wife and children because of the way he treats people, his example and the way he remains accountable for actions.

Teacher and trustworthy. Fathers teach their children about life, about nature, about being human.  By taking the little one along when you chop wood, go shopping, fishing or camping, you teach them about survival, negotiation, treating other people fairly and about spending time in nature.  By showing up at the game when you promised to, by catching the child when he is jumping into a pool or by fixing a broken toy, you express that you are trustworthy.

Helper and honest.  Children often believe “dad can fix this” and you should be the helper, the one to try and make things right.  Sometimes it will be something you need to fix physically but often by listening and giving advice you are also fixing.  Fathers should be honest – children are more sensitive to lies than we give them credit for and therefore we should also trust our children and confide in them with honesty when possible.

Encouragement.  Fathers are the ones running up and down on the side of the field, urging the child on to do more, go faster.  He is the one telling you that a future and good career is important, but he is also there to dry the tears when things are not looking great.  Then he will encourage you to believe in the future and new opportunities!

Respected and role model. Children want to respect their fathers.  And remember that your child also does not have a checklist of what you are supposed to do and be – as long as the relationship between father and child is based on mutual respect, understanding and accommodating the generation gap a child will grow up with the concept that the father is the role model to which he will aspire, the man she is proud to call dad!

Do not try to be the perfect father.  Maybe just look at priorities again and see what in your schedule can be cancelled so you can make that all important first match, ballet concert or just an afternoon playing in the garden.  Small things we do with our children, make big impacts when they are adults!

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, future dads, and grandfathers!