Since the year 2000, the Ministry of Education and Youth (MoEY) and its partners have designated November as Parent Month in Jamaica. The purpose of this prestigious month is to honour the parents who have significantly supported their children throughout their educational journey and to strengthen the relationship between families and schools. As a nation, we give the highest commendation to all the hardworking parents who have taken on their responsibilities with pride. Parenting profoundly shapes the destinies of individuals and societies. Hence, such duties cannot be taken lightly. Ideally, we want to celebrate the efforts of all our parents during this time as the importance of effective parenting extends beyond our homes, impacting the heart of our communities and society at large. However, before we can celebrate all our parents, we should seek to answer these two pertinent questions: One, “How many parents are worth being celebrated for their positive roles in their children’s lives?” and two, “Do the majority of parents understand the critical role they play in the success of their children?” This article will explore the importance of “positive parenting” and its effects on children’s success and Jamaican society. Additionally, this article will provide recommendations that will assist parents and the government to improve parental involvement.
“Positive Parenting” and its Effect on the Success of Jamaican Children
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This bible verse encapsulates what positive parenting is. Positive parenting causes children to thrive in an environment where they feel loved, supported, and understood. As such, the act of parenting will impact various aspects of a child’s life, including cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioural development. Parenting is a lifelong journey consisting of challenges, joys, and intense responsibilities. Parents build a child’s intellectual foundation, fostering an environment that stimulates curiosity, critical thinking, and a love for learning. Positive parenting enhances children’s autonomy and sense of responsibility and improves their academic achievement.
Good parenting practices in Jamaica will lay the foundation for building a fulfilling life. By recognising the profound impact of parenting, we acknowledge its role as a catalyst for empowering Jamaican children to achieve their fullest potential and navigate life’s journey with confidence and purpose.
In Jamaica, there are growing concerns about the lack of positive examples set by some parents for their children. Students are sometimes given significant freedom without clear boundaries or guidance. This laissez-faire approach from parents, where anything seems permissible, raises questions about the potential consequences for the development and well-being of our younger generation. The absence of consistent positive parenting skills results in students facing disciplinary challenges, low academic performances, and negative social interactions. In essence, the behaviour and values children learn from their parents heavily influence their beliefs and attitudes, which may or may not shape them into responsible, compassionate, and well-adjusted individuals.
“Positive Parenting” and its effects
For Jamaica to become a society with highly educated and skilled individuals, the role of parents is critical. Positive parenting principles are closely linked to a well-functioning society. Individuals who grow up in supportive environments tend to exhibit a sense of responsibility, perseverance, and practical communication skills, leading to a highly productive society capable of collaborative problem-solving and innovation. Therefore, positive parenting is an investment in societal success.
As Jamaica positions itself to achieve Vision 2030, the legacy of parenting plays a pivotal role in this realisation. The effects of positive parenting can certainly impact the society of Jamaica by developing well-adjusted individuals who will contribute directly to their communities, which inadvertently will have a spill-off effect in the broader society. Given that parents provide a nurturing role, a well-nurtured Jamaican child will add positively to society and no doubt boost the workforce by bringing a range of valuable skills, such as strong critical thinking abilities and a solid work ethic that has been fostered through positive parenting.
An essential role of parents in Jamaican society, especially those at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder, is to propel their children upward. Many parents from humble beginnings endeavour to motivate their children to seek higher-paying jobs by aiming for higher education. There are numerous success stories of parents who have done so; one speaks explicitly to a mother of two from deep rural St. Thomas who worked two jobs, collecting coconuts during the week on a well-known farm and then working as a domestic helper on weekends. Though poverty-stricken, this did not deter her from motivating her children to aim for more to create a better life that would raise their standard of living and ultimately positively impact society. In all, her efforts were worthwhile as her two children completed their secondary education and acquired university degrees. This may only have been possible with the firm guidance and nurturing hands of a parent who knew better was there to achieve. Parents like these who work daily to make honest bread and go above and beyond for their children have raised the bar for all parents. Their efforts have produced children who are well-equipped to move the country forward for the better.
Recommendations for Improved Parenting in Jamaica
As the 2021 Jamaica Education Transformation Commission (JETC) report states, parental involvement will be crucial in moving the education system and Jamaica forward. To address parenting issues in Jamaica, we offer the following recommendations:
|Parenting education programmes: It is vital to act urgently to implement parent training programmes and initiatives. These programmes and initiatives must also be monitored and evaluated regularly to ensure their efficacy. Additionally, these programmes should be continuous, allowing most parents to receive training. Such training sessions will equip parents with the knowledge and skills to create a supportive and enriching family environment. Updating of various laws and policies: There are various laws and policies available in Jamaica to protect children. Some of these are The Child Care and Protection Act (2004), the Education Act (1965), the Maintenance Act (2005), the National Parenting Policy (2011) and in the case of law, the Judicature (Family Court) Act (1975) and others. Policymakers and the government should update the various laws and policies used to protect children in a timely manner. In addition, public campaigns and town hall meetings should be used as initiatives to make parents aware of these laws and policies.
|Continue to highlight the outstanding parents: Celebrating Parent Month motivates parents to get involved in their children’s lives. Schools can also extend the festivities of Parent Month throughout the academic calendar, keeping parents active, appreciated, and recognised throughout the year. Involve parents in the school’s decision-making process: To ensure parental engagement in their child’s education, schools should involve parents in decision-making. This could be accomplished through active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, where parents can collectively decide on the school’s academic and extracurricular direction. Getting parents involved in these processes will keep them informed and more active in their child’s life. Mentorship programmes: Mentorship programmes in schools are crucial in supporting and guiding students who may lack a positive role model at home. These programmes are designed to fill the void left by absent or ineffective parents and offer mentorship relationships that can positively impact a child’s development. Through these initiatives, experienced and compassionate mentors provide emotional support, academic guidance, and life skills to help students succeed.
|Father- child involvement: Fathers, whether biological or non-biological, play a crucial role in their children’s lives. They have the potential to make a lasting impact on their children’s upbringing, particularly when it comes to discipline. Being a good father involves much more than just providing financial support; it means actively engaging with your child and being a positive father figure. By doing so, fathers can significantly improve the quality of parenting in Jamaica and help to raise more successful children. Structured family time: Family is the oldest socialising agency; spending time together as a family helps members grow closer, creating a support system that becomes crucial in times of need. In Jamaica, dedicating time to be together ensures that family remains a priority, reinforcing a sense of unity and love that strengthens the family structure. Substantial home and school partnerships: It takes a village to raise a child approach: The partnership between home and school is a cornerstone for a child’s holistic development. Teachers working independently cannot unearth their students’ full potential; this is where the parents are needed to work alongside the schools. At this level, the government may need to enforce measures or implement strategies to hold parents accountable for their children’s success.
In all, parenting is a rewarding experience, especially when done right. It is also important to be reminded that parents make a difference in every sphere of their children’s lives. Effective parenting practices create a ripple effect, shaping the next generation of individuals who will, in turn, contribute to the success and well-being of the broader community.
Celia Christian and Deatricia Ming are trained teachers who have been working at the Primary level for sixteen and nine years, respectively and have completed their master’s degrees in Educational Planning and Policy at The University of the West Indies.