Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Darryl Smith, is describing questions surrounding his trip with a delegation of officials to Tobago last weekend as another storm in a teacup.
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Dr N Carrington
"Lady? Who she calling Lady?" That was the venomous comment a teenaged girl spat at an adult female who dared address her as "young lady" seeking to discourage her from raising her skirt and allowing boys to touch her in inappropriate ways on a public street.
Interestingly enough that same teenaged girl happily glowed at being called 'bitch' and 'whore' by her female and male friends as they raucously awaited transport home after school. What does this suggest about the societal norms accepted by young females? Is it that they see negative terms and behaviours as compliments and positive ones as insults?
Their young impressionable minds are bombarded by negative societal examples, movie content and musical lyrics promoted as norms.
Parents, where are you in this process? What are you doing to counteract such occurrences? The responsibility is yours as the primary socialization agent of your child. You lay the foundation for your child's character development, self-esteem and self-worth. What 'materials' are you utilizing to build that foundation?
Although the concept is difficult to define in concrete terms, the notion of good character generally consists of a rigid code of conduct which allows an individual to act positively in varying situations.
Parents, this is subjective and hinges on your own appropriate example which your child will emulate. Your child will be exposed to undesirable elements or simply those which they are still too young to comprehend. You will need to realize their limitations and capabilities and help them to develop good moral character. Focus on the qualities that you want to inculcate in your child: respect, responsibility, integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, generosity, selflessness etc.
Research conducted by Jean Piaget on the cognitive development of children posited there was a direct link between a child's cognitive development and the natural biological maturation of the brain which occurred in steps throughout the years. According to Piaget, as a child's brain matures so does his or her ability to think, create meaning and thereby increase understanding. Many researchers such as Erik Erickson utilized Piaget's theory in the design and focus of their social research about youths and their development of critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Parents, your child's character, self-esteem and self-worth results from experiences that help children learn responsibility, feel accepted and capable. You must also understand that high self-esteem assists your child to feel secure, confident and competent when faced with challenging situations and decisions.
Are you equipped to do this most important task that you dared to undertake when you became a parent? Just remember your daughter or son is a future mother/father within this nation. Will s/he be able to hold his/her own and nurture future positive and productive citizens of this global society?
We have always been special in Tobago as we were a close-knitted community. Though much has changed over the years and we can no longer allow our neighbours to assist in bringing up our children, as they too might be perpetrators, it's about time we start bringing back the good societal values we were proud to be a part of.
The conversation has begun.
Dr. N. Carrington is an experienced parent,
educator and sociologist