Parents tell how they A.F.F.I.R.M their children

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

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EVERY year the month of May is recognised as Child Month. Under the directive of the National Child Month Committee, Jamaicans are asked to focus on different aspects of child development, and in general work together to explore ways to nurture and protect children. This year the call is to provide a supportive and positive environment for the nation's children under the theme A.F.F.I.R.M Me!

The acronym A.F.F.I.R.M, which stands for “Acknowledge me, (Be) Friend Me, Favour Me, Influence me positively, Respect Me, and Motivate Me”, according to the committee's chairman Dr Pauline Mullings, was inspired by calls from children for adults to recognise and validate their worth.

With this in mind, we asked parents how they currently A.F.F.I.R.M their children and how they intend to work on improving it, especially understanding how important this is to children. Here is what they had to say:

Vivian, photographer, 47:

I am a mother of three teenagers and I am happy that this is the theme for this year not because I have not been doing this for my children, but sometimes we need a reminder especially as working single parents who barely get time. Plus too many children seem to be missing this. I A.F.F.I.R.M my children by always reminding them how grateful I am that God gifted me with them; by always creating room for them — no matter the time they know they can come in my bed and talk to me about anything; I also always try to show my children the importance of hard work and always try to help them to understand why it is important for them to do the same at every stage of their lives. And, of course, every chance that I get I try to inspire confidence in them.

David, police officer, 34:

I am a father of two children. My first child was born while I was still in school and to be very honest, I didn't know how to be the best father. Being a parent is more than just feeding your child or clothing them. I could see that my son was just mimicking what we, his very young parents did, and as I grew older I could see even from my own experience how impressionable children are. And so I have been working overtime, especially with my son, since I have to play catch-up, to help him to realise his potential. I try to show my children that they are unique and they each have something special to offer the world. I try to inspire them by furthering my own education while saving for theirs and making sure I create the best opportunities for them. A very important thing to me is always reminding them, sometimes several times for the day, that I love them.

Deidre, business owner, 39:

I am a mother of one and I have always been close to my son. I A.F.F.I.R.M my child by being a strong, single mother. I give him minimal room to even think about the fact that his father does not care to be around him. I also am very involved; he is great at football so I go to all the matches from country to town and I do the same with his academics. I, however, do not invade his privacy unless my motherly instincts tell me otherwise, but I trust my child because he is a good kid. I have worked very hard to hear my child tell me I am his role model and every time he says that I know I inspired one person. I have also taught him about failure and not allowing it to keep you bound because life will throw us some hard blows. Overall, he knows that I will always be there for him no matter how difficult things get, and that is important to me.

Jennifer, teacher, 27:

I believe that affirming your child really encapsulates the small things that will form a larger part of the individual that your child becomes. My daughter just turned one and of course these are among her most impressionable years, and while she may not be able to acknowledge what I say to her in a full mouth of words, I still celebrate her when she achieves anything. I gave her stickers — because they are her favourite — when she walked, and I tell her how proud I am of her when she says her words. I stimulate her mind by creating a positive, conducive environment filled with learning material and I teach her social graces every chance I get. Parenting a child for me is a beautiful journey and I will do all that I can to protect, love and nurture my child.

Thomas, development manager, 31:

When I was growing up my father told me that I would never amount to anything and I believed him until he died and my grandmother started telling me differently. It was hard to make the change but she nagged me until I did. I say this to say that the things we tell our children or preach over their lives carry a lot of weight. By my grandmother's actions, I knew even before I dreamt of fathering children I would do right by them. Now an important part of my parenting is speaking positively — I congratulate them, I encourage them, I motivate them and cheer them on when they come upon hurdles. I have created an open line of communication because your children should respect, not fear you. I have put things in place to ensure to the best of my ability their safety, and I encourage healthy social relationships with their peers. I encourage them to be independent and kind. These kinds of things can really make the difference.

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