In every race, religion, culture and nationality in all parts of the world, parents are the primary caregivers and teachers of their children -- preparing them for a happy, fulfilling and productive life. Parents are the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies.
On this basis the United Nations today celebrates the Global Day of Parents with the world body saying the day provides an opportunity to appreciate parents for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship. Since the 1980s, the family’s important role has increasingly come to the attention of the international community. The General Assembly adopted a number of resolutions, and proclaimed the International Year of the Family and the International Day of Families. In 2012, the General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring June 1 as the Global Day of parents.
Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognizes also that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding, the UN says.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals -- adopted by world leaders in 2015 -- focus on ending poverty, promoting shared economic prosperity, social development and people’s well-being while protecting the environment. Families remain at the centre of social life ensuring the well-being of their members, educating and socializing children and youth and caring for the young and old. In particular, family-oriented policies can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to doing away with poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring educational opportunities throughout their lifespan and achieving gender equality, the UN says.
In Sri Lanka, in the context of the present situation where we are facing the threat of another racial conflict, parents also need to teach their children the values and principles of unity in diversity. Sri Lanka is a multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-cultural country. By example parents need to teach their children to practise the basic teachings of their own religion. While doing so, the children also need to be trained to respect the faith, beliefs and practices of people of other religions, races and cultures. This is an important role for children, besides the proactive and creative involvement in national and global issues such as poverty alleviation and the battle against global warming or climate change.
The children could be taught or shown the story of the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, whose vision is that no one is too small to make a difference. As the Guardian newspaper says the teenage climate crisis activist’s speeches have inspired global school strikes. They are sobering but tentatively hopeful.
According to the Guardian, Greta Thunberg, is painfully aware that “people tell me that I’m retarded, a bitch and a terrorist, and many other things”. But her speeches – now collected and published under the title of her refrain, “no one is too small to make a difference” – give the lie to these caricatures. Yes, she reiterates, “I want you to panic … I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
Greta sits on the steps of the Swedish parliament on Fridays while attending school on the other four days of the week. She was invited to attend the DAVOS summit of world leaders who listened carefully while she told them, “I am now 16 and when I am 60, I may not have a world to live in. That is why instead of just promises I want you to act, doing it urgently and effectively”.
Last week, the Cable News Network’s (CNN) Christiane Amanpour interviewed her and ended the programme by saying, “The world should be greta again – a turn of phrase based on United States President Donald Trump’s, notorious claim of making, “America great again”.
Let’s hope our families will also produce children who will make Sri Lanka great or ‘Greta’ again.