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FAMILY FUSION: Focus on family, Barbados

Reverend Haynesley Griffith, [email protected]

FAMILY FUSION: Focus on family, Barbados

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“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.” – Virginia Stair

THE BACKBONE is one of the most crucial bones in the human body. Without it, standing, sitting, bending, running, walking and other actions which are often taken for granted, will become practically impossible.

Comprising of several little bones called vertebrae which are very closely linked, the backbone also acts as an excellent protection for the body’s main high-tech “fibre optic” communication “cable” called the spinal cord.

This “cable” which has the brain as its main message centre connects to every part of the human physique. Any damage to this “cable” may result in mild or even permanent paralysis.

Social scientists may have looked at the significant function the backbone plays within the human frame and concluded that the institution of the family has to be the very backbone of society because without it, mankind’s social order will be far from stable, secure, and strong. It was Pope John Paul II who rightfully said: “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

As Barbados celebrates 50 years of independence, more than a cursory glance should therefore be given to every area of family life. The goal should be seeking to affirm those elements that are working well; working toward correcting areas that may have gone out of alignment and fighting to sustain a high level of cohesion for a productive, pleasant and peaceful society.

Last week I looked at the importance of each Barbadian citizen putting his/her mind to create a unified people. Today, giving some attention to a sharp focus on the natural family as we move beyond 50 years as a Barbadian people, will occupy our thoughts.

Building Homes

It is impossible to travel across the length and breadth of Barbados and not admire the beautiful, exquisite houses that adorn our physical landscape. Some of these houses, though gorgeous in their architecture are often the centre of much hostility, hatred and contention. Houses by themselves do not create homes.

As a nation with 50 years behind us, the real question that must occupy our minds is this: have we exercised enough muscle toward building homes as we have toward houses?

The diverse social and other negative challenges with which we are faced may offer us a clear answer. If every husband, wife, mother, father, child sees himself/herself as a significant contributor toward creating an atmosphere conducive for a sharply focused family; and devotes quality time, talent and tolerance toward building more homes, I believe our present and future generation may be able to enjoy a better life together.

Cherishing Children

I usually listen very keenly to political leaders when they publicly call the nation to pay close attention to the importance of home and the long-term effect it may have on its precious treasures – the children.

The words of the late President Lyndon Johnson caught my interest when he addressed students and parents at Howard University on June 04, 1965: “The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child.

And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest — schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern — will never be enough.”

What an insightful and yet courageous speech at a time when the sexual revolution was beginning to take wings. As celebrations take place on our 50th Anniversary of Independence, let a greater concern strike in our hearts for our children some of whom are brought into this world by unprepared parents who have little or no clearly defined goals for their future. Children deserve much better. A more cohesive proactive strategy involving parents and children agencies and other stakeholders must occupy our attention in order to bring a sharper focus to the next generation.

Reshaping Educational System

Strong voices from many corners of our society continue to register their disquiet regarding the structure of the educational system under which we operate. Questions as to whether or not in its present state it is catering for a more rounded child with the ability to meet the demands of life.

Too many of our students are academically trained but seem to fall short in effectively handling life issues that demand more than the acquisition of knowledge. Someone put it this way: “We teach academic subjects and we assume life skills will somehow be acquired along the way. Not a safe assumption! The curriculum has to include things like communication, conflict resolution, parenting, family dynamics, critical thinking, values, and ethics.” Spot on.

While as Barbadians we take pleasure in looing back at our achievemnets, we must never failt to give superior attention to the very backbone of our nation – the natural family.

• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]