Today is International Day of the Family all over the world. It is an occasion for us to celebrate the importance of the family and the benefits we all derive from the family. As Ghanaians, we all belong to a family whether we were born into it or through adoption.
As we celebrate the day, we also take the opportunity to reflect on how our families are affected by changing social and economic trends, and what we can do to strengthen our families in response especially during this COVID-19 era.
A family is a group of people related either by consanguinity or affinity by marriage or other relationship. The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would offer predictability, structure, and safety as members mature and participate in the community. In most societies, it is within families that children acquire socialization for life outside the family.
Additionally, as the basic unit for meeting the basic needs of its members, it provides a sense of boundaries for performing tasks in a safe environment, ideally builds a person into a functional adult, transmits culture, and ensures continuity of humankind with precedents of knowledge.
Parents and sibling are the closest and the biggest security in our families. The kind of person we become depends of the families we grow in. this year’s theme is “Families in Development”. The theme focuses on the importance of the family. The basic social unit called the family is tasked with meeting the basic needs of those family members who can’t provide for themselves. This includes minors, the elderly and disabled, or simply those who can’t afford to live by themselves.
Basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and clean air are accessible when one or more members can provide these things for the whole family. Families spend so much time and energy supporting each other through difficult times because of the bonds they’ve created and nurtured since the time each of them became a part of the family.
The community benefits when the family relieves it of the burden of supporting members of that family. Healthy families produce people who make positive contributions to the community too. Parents tend to get involved with their community more often than people living alone. What’s more, they teach their children at a young age that the only way they can control what kind of community they have is to contribute to it.
When parents contribute to their community by donating money or needed supplies, they model an attitude of caring. They show their children that providing money, food, or supplies to the community helps support it so it can serve everyone better. Parents contribute to society by working to ensure that their family gets the best possible educational opportunities. They may donate funds, or they may use their social network to help a college-age student find a job. Their emotional and practical help might be even more important than financial support.
Often than not, parents do not take up the responsibilities ascribed to them as heads of families. This creates major problems to members of the families especially children. The number of children on the streets have increased partly because of the gradual breakdown of the extended family system in the country.
Recently, there was a viral disturbing video of a child who was beaten by his father leaving scars all over his body simply because he urinated in bed. The story also revealed that, the boy’s father and mother were separated. If the two were together, there is a very little chance that his mother will sit and watch his father subject him to such torture. As much as we can we must try to keep family ties and resolve problems as and when they come so as to prevent separation.
The offices of the Department of Social Welfare are always opened to help struggling families solve their problem. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Department of Social Welfare wish all families a happy International Day of the Family. Keep Safe and observe all the protocols to prevent COVID-19.
>>>The writer is the Acting Director, Department of Social Welfare at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. He can be reached on 024 563 7466 and [email protected]