Issuu on Google+

RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children March 2006

PARENTING

KDN PP 14535/1/2007

1


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

RESTORE is an international initiative of Viva

Fax : +60 3 90584057 Website : www.viva.org/restore

Network. Copyright © Viva Network 2006 and the respective authors. All rights reserved. Viva Network is an NGO in Roster Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. UK Registered Charity No. 1053389.

The Restore team is: Kok Chik Bu, Vani Jeyachandran and Katharine de Villiers

Design and layout:

Published on behalf of Viva Network by Viva Network Asia Centre Berhad, PO Box 13230, GPO 50804, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Website: www.asia.viva.org

Touch Creative

Cover photo: Catherine and Peter Moore

For enquiries or subscriptions: E-mail Phone

Design & layout:

: restore@viva.org : +60 3 90584154

Touch Creative

Editorial Welcome to the second issue of RESTORE! This time we look at Parenting as we follow the second of the themes of the working document Understanding God’s Heart Biblical Framework – see below.

Parenting is a large topic in itself, raising issues of how to nurture children in a broken world; how best to educate children or what discipline to use to guide them and so on. Of course, many of the children we work with do not receive anything like God’s standard of parental love - whether because of death or illness of one or both parents (and the lack of a guardian to stand in) or because of abuse, breakdown of relationship, economic factors etc. Then the parents’ role needs support, or in some cases replacement and the task becomes harder because of the added difficulties and experiences. Now the issues raised include the best type of alternative care and how to re-integrate children into families and communities,

Children need parental love in a broken world. God’s design is for each child to be born, vulnerable and dependent, to loving parents within the covenant of marriage. God’s desire is for each child to grow in this secure, caring environment. In a fallen world, people and relationships can be damaged. When parents struggle to fulfil their intended role, others must provide dedicated care for them and their children.

among others.

God intends for all children to be raised by at least one loving, committed adult.

Patrick McDonald introduces this issue by looking at the fundamentals of parenting and how this impacts on the support we need to give to parents and how we develop our programme.

Statement 2 of the ‘Understanding God’s Heart Biblical Framework’, a working document. See www.viva.org/restore for the full document

such a key aspect of parenting, whether by parents or secondary caregivers that Elaine de Villiers contributes three articles. The first provides a basic understanding of how secure and insecure attachment develop. The second provides ideas on how to help children experiencing insecure attachment and the third is a staff exercise to help increase awareness of attachment and how to help children.

Contents Page

A discussion exercise by Wanda Parker helps children think through family relationships and to keep trusting in God. Stuart Kean and Mark Lorey describe World Vision’s community response to Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Jean Webster gives a model of how to engage local churches in this kind of community care from her experiences in Zimbabwe. Re-integrating children with families and families with communities is the theme of Rita Nkemba’s article.

Patrick McDonald

Understanding attachment

Elaine de Villiers

TOOLKIT Elaine de Villiers Helping the insecurely attached child TOOLKIT Elaine Attachment wall exercise

de Villiers

TOOLKIT Wanda Parker Love: God in the midst of family pain

Advocacy is a vital part of the work with children at risk and there will be a regular feature on advocacy in RESTORE. This first article by Katharine de Villiers looks at how the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been used in advocacy in a parenting related context.

Care for Children Stuart Kean Orphaned and Mark Lorey made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS: World Vision’s response

and

Marcia Bunge concludes this issue with a biblical reflection on the sacred act of parenting.

The Cry of the Child: Jean Webster mobilising the church to care

Please do send us your letters, thoughts and suggestions. These could be in response to one of the articles in this issue or in issue 1 on Dignity (you can read issue 1 for free on www.viva.org/restore) or you may have some ideas to share or questions to ask. And what would you like to see in future issues of RESTORE? You can contact us at the Viva Network Asia Centre (details on the back cover) or through the website.

Family Preservation, Rita Nkemba Reconciliation and Placement: A holistic ministry to street children in Uganda Advocacy in action

Katharine de Villiers

Marcia The Sacred Act of Parenting: a biblically and theologically informed perspective of parenting

Attachment – the process by which children learn to relate trustingly to one or more caregivers – is

2

Keep it simple

3

Bunge

4 6 8 9 10 12 15 17 19 21


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

RESTORE is an international initiative of Viva

Fax : +60 3 90584057 Website : www.viva.org/restore

Network. Copyright © Viva Network 2006 and the respective authors. All rights reserved. Viva Network is an NGO in Roster Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. UK Registered Charity No. 1053389.

The Restore team is: Kok Chik Bu, Vani Jeyachandran and Katharine de Villiers

Design and layout:

Published on behalf of Viva Network by Viva Network Asia Centre Berhad, PO Box 13230, GPO 50804, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Website: www.asia.viva.org

Touch Creative

Cover photo: Catherine and Peter Moore

For enquiries or subscriptions: E-mail Phone

Design & layout:

: restore@viva.org : +60 3 90584154

Touch Creative

Editorial Welcome to the second issue of RESTORE! This time we look at Parenting as we follow the second of the themes of the working document Understanding God’s Heart Biblical Framework – see below.

Parenting is a large topic in itself, raising issues of how to nurture children in a broken world; how best to educate children or what discipline to use to guide them and so on. Of course, many of the children we work with do not receive anything like God’s standard of parental love - whether because of death or illness of one or both parents (and the lack of a guardian to stand in) or because of abuse, breakdown of relationship, economic factors etc. Then the parents’ role needs support, or in some cases replacement and the task becomes harder because of the added difficulties and experiences. Now the issues raised include the best type of alternative care and how to re-integrate children into families and communities,

Children need parental love in a broken world. God’s design is for each child to be born, vulnerable and dependent, to loving parents within the covenant of marriage. God’s desire is for each child to grow in this secure, caring environment. In a fallen world, people and relationships can be damaged. When parents struggle to fulfil their intended role, others must provide dedicated care for them and their children.

among others.

God intends for all children to be raised by at least one loving, committed adult.

Patrick McDonald introduces this issue by looking at the fundamentals of parenting and how this impacts on the support we need to give to parents and how we develop our programme.

Statement 2 of the ‘Understanding God’s Heart Biblical Framework’, a working document. See www.viva.org/restore for the full document

such a key aspect of parenting, whether by parents or secondary caregivers that Elaine de Villiers contributes three articles. The first provides a basic understanding of how secure and insecure attachment develop. The second provides ideas on how to help children experiencing insecure attachment and the third is a staff exercise to help increase awareness of attachment and how to help children.

Contents Page

A discussion exercise by Wanda Parker helps children think through family relationships and to keep trusting in God. Stuart Kean and Mark Lorey describe World Vision’s community response to Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Jean Webster gives a model of how to engage local churches in this kind of community care from her experiences in Zimbabwe. Re-integrating children with families and families with communities is the theme of Rita Nkemba’s article.

Patrick McDonald

Understanding attachment

Elaine de Villiers

TOOLKIT Elaine de Villiers Helping the insecurely attached child TOOLKIT Elaine Attachment wall exercise

de Villiers

TOOLKIT Wanda Parker Love: God in the midst of family pain

Advocacy is a vital part of the work with children at risk and there will be a regular feature on advocacy in RESTORE. This first article by Katharine de Villiers looks at how the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been used in advocacy in a parenting related context.

Care for Children Stuart Kean Orphaned and Mark Lorey made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS: World Vision’s response

and

Marcia Bunge concludes this issue with a biblical reflection on the sacred act of parenting.

The Cry of the Child: Jean Webster mobilising the church to care

Please do send us your letters, thoughts and suggestions. These could be in response to one of the articles in this issue or in issue 1 on Dignity (you can read issue 1 for free on www.viva.org/restore) or you may have some ideas to share or questions to ask. And what would you like to see in future issues of RESTORE? You can contact us at the Viva Network Asia Centre (details on the back cover) or through the website.

Family Preservation, Rita Nkemba Reconciliation and Placement: A holistic ministry to street children in Uganda Advocacy in action

Katharine de Villiers

Marcia The Sacred Act of Parenting: a biblically and theologically informed perspective of parenting

Attachment – the process by which children learn to relate trustingly to one or more caregivers – is

2

Keep it simple

3

Bunge

4 6 8 9 10 12 15 17 19 21


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

K

The other BIG question becomes...’if parenting is that important, then how do we develop our programs to reflect that?’

eep it Simple!

all you listen to is yourself, and parenting is a good opportunity to deal with our own inadequacies. Just as God called us to engage with what is important to him, so we should engage and equip our own children, or those of our program, to work with us (or us with them!) on a similar agenda. That makes the child far more than an object of adoration or a recipient of our care, but a participant with us, a co-worker and a friend. In parenting terms you are now helping the child discover his or her dignity, worth and destiny.

Now the list would include: • Increase the number of parenting figures involved in the program • Improve their parenting skills • Give them more focused contact time with the child • Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity • Engage the older children as ‘parents’ and mentors to the younger ones

Patrick McDonald gets to the heart of parenting – for parents and programmes. Creating a better world is simple. Its starts at home, with our own kids, doing what is obvious, necessary and compelling – Parent!

It’s simple really. God has many good ideas and parenting was a hit! Figure that one out and life will be sweet, ignore it (or any other of God’s ideas) and you are in trouble and with you, the people under your care.

The other party in the parenting equation is...the child. God’s own parenting of us; his adoption of us as sons and daughters into his family relies on THE crucial factor of our participation. If we don’t want anything to do with God, he will keep his distance. That’s a great challenge to parents who want to control and manipulate their children and who fail to listen to their needs and real questions. Its hard to hear others if

The largest, most committed and most significant work force for children - by a long way – is.... PARENTS! That’s handy as the most significant thing children need is...PARENTS! Whilst great programming and effective policy are important, a child’s deepest existential need is to be known and loved. It sounds gooey but Photo: Ian de Villiers

“Creating a better world is all about hugs, meals together and Sunday afternoon walks with pockets full of chocolate.”

Again, you are back to simple stuff, like: • • • •

creating a better world is all about hugs, meals together and Sunday afternoon walks with pockets full of chocolate.

Invest time in it Pray about it Learn about it Program around it

If you want to be more ponderous than that then you could talk about the need for vision casting to parents and church leaders; about running parenting courses; about supporting single mothers; about engaging grand parents; about ‘father – son’ and ‘mother – daughter’ bonding events; about mentoring parents; and ‘parents keeping parents accountable’ for some prayerful and clear goals.

Few would argue that the world would be a radically better place if parents succeeded in raising mature confident children aware of what they are good at and enjoy, and able to engage in meeting the needs of their community. In view of that, the BIG question becomes....’what can we do to help parents succeed?’

Patrick McDonald is father to three boys aged 6, 4 and 1 and is also the founder and International Director of Viva Network 

Attachment Introduction: Helpless baby, loving child, good friend – the necessity of attachment Attachment is the process by which babies learn to relate trustingly to one or more caregivers, usually their parents, and so to form trusting and healthy relationships with others throughout their lives.

help of friends, family, midwives etc. However, many times a parent’s own inexperience or difficult circumstances prevents them from being able to respond to the baby’s need. Mothers who themselves were children at risk are some of those who find attachment hardest. Before the baby suffers, we need to learn enough about it to be able to help.

Well-attached children grow up able to trust others, with a confidence that they will find friendship and consistency in the way the world works. Poorly attached children struggle much more to trust, and find the world a more confusing and dangerous place. This results in behaviours that make life even harder for that child.

In the previous Restore we looked at dignity and how that works out through relationship. Dignity can be seen in the earliest attachment when a mother relates to her baby, lovingly and responsively, giving to that child it’s God-given ‘specialness’.

Attachment is a critical skill that most children and parents can, miraculously, learn to do with the

4

5


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

K

The other BIG question becomes...’if parenting is that important, then how do we develop our programs to reflect that?’

eep it Simple!

all you listen to is yourself, and parenting is a good opportunity to deal with our own inadequacies. Just as God called us to engage with what is important to him, so we should engage and equip our own children, or those of our program, to work with us (or us with them!) on a similar agenda. That makes the child far more than an object of adoration or a recipient of our care, but a participant with us, a co-worker and a friend. In parenting terms you are now helping the child discover his or her dignity, worth and destiny.

Now the list would include: • Increase the number of parenting figures involved in the program • Improve their parenting skills • Give them more focused contact time with the child • Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity • Engage the older children as ‘parents’ and mentors to the younger ones

Patrick McDonald gets to the heart of parenting – for parents and programmes. Creating a better world is simple. Its starts at home, with our own kids, doing what is obvious, necessary and compelling – Parent!

It’s simple really. God has many good ideas and parenting was a hit! Figure that one out and life will be sweet, ignore it (or any other of God’s ideas) and you are in trouble and with you, the people under your care.

The other party in the parenting equation is...the child. God’s own parenting of us; his adoption of us as sons and daughters into his family relies on THE crucial factor of our participation. If we don’t want anything to do with God, he will keep his distance. That’s a great challenge to parents who want to control and manipulate their children and who fail to listen to their needs and real questions. Its hard to hear others if

The largest, most committed and most significant work force for children - by a long way – is.... PARENTS! That’s handy as the most significant thing children need is...PARENTS! Whilst great programming and effective policy are important, a child’s deepest existential need is to be known and loved. It sounds gooey but Photo: Ian de Villiers

“Creating a better world is all about hugs, meals together and Sunday afternoon walks with pockets full of chocolate.”

Again, you are back to simple stuff, like: • • • •

creating a better world is all about hugs, meals together and Sunday afternoon walks with pockets full of chocolate.

Invest time in it Pray about it Learn about it Program around it

If you want to be more ponderous than that then you could talk about the need for vision casting to parents and church leaders; about running parenting courses; about supporting single mothers; about engaging grand parents; about ‘father – son’ and ‘mother – daughter’ bonding events; about mentoring parents; and ‘parents keeping parents accountable’ for some prayerful and clear goals.

Few would argue that the world would be a radically better place if parents succeeded in raising mature confident children aware of what they are good at and enjoy, and able to engage in meeting the needs of their community. In view of that, the BIG question becomes....’what can we do to help parents succeed?’

Patrick McDonald is father to three boys aged 6, 4 and 1 and is also the founder and International Director of Viva Network 

Attachment Introduction: Helpless baby, loving child, good friend – the necessity of attachment Attachment is the process by which babies learn to relate trustingly to one or more caregivers, usually their parents, and so to form trusting and healthy relationships with others throughout their lives.

help of friends, family, midwives etc. However, many times a parent’s own inexperience or difficult circumstances prevents them from being able to respond to the baby’s need. Mothers who themselves were children at risk are some of those who find attachment hardest. Before the baby suffers, we need to learn enough about it to be able to help.

Well-attached children grow up able to trust others, with a confidence that they will find friendship and consistency in the way the world works. Poorly attached children struggle much more to trust, and find the world a more confusing and dangerous place. This results in behaviours that make life even harder for that child.

In the previous Restore we looked at dignity and how that works out through relationship. Dignity can be seen in the earliest attachment when a mother relates to her baby, lovingly and responsively, giving to that child it’s God-given ‘specialness’.

Attachment is a critical skill that most children and parents can, miraculously, learn to do with the

4

5


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

Attachment Part 1 : understanding and responding to children who find it hard to trust

Insecure Attachment Infant plays with itself/becomes apathetic Infant gives up: rage not trust develops

Infant rests

Rest / Contentment

Need

Displeasure Discomfort

SECURE ATTACHMENT Adult responds with anger, resentment or not at all

Satisfy Need

Displeasure / Discomfort

Adult responds inconsistently or not at all

Baby protests even louder

IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS OF ATTACHMENT

• • •

Do you recognise the following in some of the children you work with? • • •

Indiscriminate affection Superficial charm Lack of ability to give and take

• • •

Needing to be ‘in control’ of others Destructiveness/aggression A lack of empathy – difficulty in recognising own and others’ feelings Severe teasing or cruelty Persistent lying in the face of truth Lack of normal fear Lack of impulse controls Absence of ‘cause and effect’ thinking Poorly developed conscience Poor concentration span Abnormal eating patterns

• • • • • • • •

Poor peer relationships Extreme self-reliance Over-compliance

If so, the child may be affected by an attachment disorder – a problem with a child’s capacity to relate because of inconsistent or inappropriately low levels of care as an infant. Although the cause of attachment disorder goes back to the child’s early years, it is possible to help a child in later life.

UNDERSTANDING ATTACHMENT BETTER Part 2 gives some guidance on how to help children experiencing insecure attachment but it is useful first to understand the processes leading either to secure or insecure attachment. In the diagram below, the inner circle shows the cycle of secure attachment and the outer circle shows the cycle of insecure attachment.

6

Infant protests / cries

It is the repetition of these cycles that leads to secure or insecure attachment. The capacity to make an attachment may be seen as a spectrum. At one end is the securely attached child who feels worthy of being loved; feels safe enough to explore the world around and can cope with short periods of discomfort and separation as a normal and healthy part of personality development. At the other end, is the child who is insecurely attached, or even with ‘severe attachment difficulties’.

As well as the relationship between the child and primary caregiver, a number of other factors affect attachment including:

FACTORS AFFECTING ATTACHMENT

The child’s temperament and capacity for resilience

The results of pre-natal drug and alcohol exposure, birth trauma

The child’s culture – e.g. a variety of patterns of attachment between young children and their caregivers, which may affect the number of adults that the child is attached to

With all these factors, it is worth remembering that attachment is not a ‘once for all’ phenomena but a far more complex and life-long process, perhaps best

The relationship between the parent/primary caregiver(s) may fail to meet an infant’s basic needs because of: family circumstances (including poverty, illness or death of a parent or primary caregiver), abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect and exploitation.

thought of as a skill. It is this that can give hope to the child experiencing attachment difficulties. What is essential is that one or more adults must show the following qualities towards the child: sensitivity, consistency, stimulation and responsiveness.

7


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

Attachment Part 1 : understanding and responding to children who find it hard to trust

Insecure Attachment Infant plays with itself/becomes apathetic Infant gives up: rage not trust develops

Infant rests

Rest / Contentment

Need

Displeasure Discomfort

SECURE ATTACHMENT Adult responds with anger, resentment or not at all

Satisfy Need

Displeasure / Discomfort

Adult responds inconsistently or not at all

Baby protests even louder

IDENTIFYING PROBLEMS OF ATTACHMENT

• • •

Do you recognise the following in some of the children you work with? • • •

Indiscriminate affection Superficial charm Lack of ability to give and take

• • •

Needing to be ‘in control’ of others Destructiveness/aggression A lack of empathy – difficulty in recognising own and others’ feelings Severe teasing or cruelty Persistent lying in the face of truth Lack of normal fear Lack of impulse controls Absence of ‘cause and effect’ thinking Poorly developed conscience Poor concentration span Abnormal eating patterns

• • • • • • • •

Poor peer relationships Extreme self-reliance Over-compliance

If so, the child may be affected by an attachment disorder – a problem with a child’s capacity to relate because of inconsistent or inappropriately low levels of care as an infant. Although the cause of attachment disorder goes back to the child’s early years, it is possible to help a child in later life.

UNDERSTANDING ATTACHMENT BETTER Part 2 gives some guidance on how to help children experiencing insecure attachment but it is useful first to understand the processes leading either to secure or insecure attachment. In the diagram below, the inner circle shows the cycle of secure attachment and the outer circle shows the cycle of insecure attachment.

6

Infant protests / cries

It is the repetition of these cycles that leads to secure or insecure attachment. The capacity to make an attachment may be seen as a spectrum. At one end is the securely attached child who feels worthy of being loved; feels safe enough to explore the world around and can cope with short periods of discomfort and separation as a normal and healthy part of personality development. At the other end, is the child who is insecurely attached, or even with ‘severe attachment difficulties’.

As well as the relationship between the child and primary caregiver, a number of other factors affect attachment including:

FACTORS AFFECTING ATTACHMENT

The child’s temperament and capacity for resilience

The results of pre-natal drug and alcohol exposure, birth trauma

The child’s culture – e.g. a variety of patterns of attachment between young children and their caregivers, which may affect the number of adults that the child is attached to

With all these factors, it is worth remembering that attachment is not a ‘once for all’ phenomena but a far more complex and life-long process, perhaps best

The relationship between the parent/primary caregiver(s) may fail to meet an infant’s basic needs because of: family circumstances (including poverty, illness or death of a parent or primary caregiver), abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), neglect and exploitation.

thought of as a skill. It is this that can give hope to the child experiencing attachment difficulties. What is essential is that one or more adults must show the following qualities towards the child: sensitivity, consistency, stimulation and responsiveness.

7


RESTORE

TOOLKIT

pursuing God’s standards for children

2

TOOLKIT

Attachment Part 2 : Ideas for change to overcome insecure attachment tachment

develop a sense of belonging and practise new behaviour. Changing behaviour patterns may at times disrupt children’s equilibrium, but the confusion and uncertainty created can in itself be a motivation for change. As their actions become effective and rewarding, a sense of being in control increases and their self-esteem grows. They can

How can we help children who have the greatest difficulty in making attachments and the difficult behaviour which results? First, we need to meet their needs in each of the four critical areas shown in the boxes below. Second, after these needs are being met, change is possible. Children are able to learn and mature,

then move into the secure attachment cycle. 

They need to experience care that offers: sensitivity, stability, predictability, structure, affection, opportunity to belong. They need to know their

basic needs will be met. Only then will they be freed up to focus on their emotional and social needs and focus outside of themselves.

Their pain

and stress must be relieved, e.g. through counselling. In this way, the caregiver offers the opportunity to begin building a relationship of trust.

Part 3 is an exercise that can be used with your staff, as a training exercise to increase awareness of attachment, or to consider the needs of your group of children as a whole, or to understand the needs of a particular child. •

They need to

appropriate stimulation.

have fun,

This means they are likely to feel less depressed, more able to be interested, to learn, and to be available to others.

which is rewarding, reduces defences, makes them more attractive to others and so begin to develop healthy relationships.

They need discipline – to experience rewards

Care Expression and response They need unexpected understanding reactions and responses. Children and feedback. change when they get an unexpected reaction to habitual behaviour e.g. empathetic humour to react to frustration. Receiving a different reaction, they must alter their feelings and behaviours to fit the new situation. They need to be taught the ‘labels’ for their feelings and then how to express them. This will allow for the correction of distorted feelings and the appropriate expression of the feelings, rather than through difficult behaviour.

8

Behaviour

They need

As their caregivers help them to understand the world around them, and relationships in particular, the child’s sense of predictability and trust increases, resulting in a more accurate appraisal of themselves and others.

Attachment Part 3 : The Attachment Wall

Stimulation They need

Mar ʼ06

Divide your staff into four groups and give each group a number of small sheets of paper (e.g. A3 size). Each group should have a different colour of paper from the other groups. Each group represents an age group: 0-2, 3-5, 6-11, 12-16 (0-2 could include pregnancy). Ask each group to write a word on each sheet of paper which represents one thing a child needs at that age.

3

Spend a few minutes looking at the wall that has been created – it represents a securely (or ‘well enough’) attached young person, i.e. there is a secure foundation to the personality.

Now take away some of the stones, starting from the bottom. Is the wall still a strong wall with a secure foundation?

Using the words that have been removed, consider what the child/children you work with need now to strengthen the foundation.

An optional extra task can be to look at a particular issue e.g. being orphaned by AIDS / being abused and emotionally neglected. Which ‘stones’ would be missing as a result of these circumstances and what would an appropriate response look like? 

Starting with the group representing the youngest age, build a ‘wall’ on the floor. Each piece of paper with a word on represents a stone.

which increase appropriate behaviour. Misbehaviour which is ignored or appropriately punished often diminishes.

12-16 Education

Help with planning re future

Company of peers

Boundaries

Health and hygiene education

Self-protection Privacy education

They need choices

12-16 Food

Shelter

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

6-11

Education

Fun

Choices

Health and hygiene education

Self-care education

Opportunities to explore

Company of adults

6-11

Company of peers

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

3-5

Food

Water

Stimulation

Opportunities to explore

Safe environment

Cuddles

Hygiene

3-5

Play

Protection

Love

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

0-2

Toys

Cuddles

Stimulation

Protection

Company

Love

Exercise

of behaviour, so that they are helped to acquire a sense of consequence. They need to be able to

compare themselves to others and look to them as role-models. In this way, they can experiment with new feelings and in the process find a more secure identity and guide for behaviour.

Some possible words for each age group:

Elaine de Villiers is an adoption social worker based in the UK working in policy development, child placement and family support.

9


RESTORE

TOOLKIT

pursuing God’s standards for children

2

TOOLKIT

Attachment Part 2 : Ideas for change to overcome insecure attachment tachment

develop a sense of belonging and practise new behaviour. Changing behaviour patterns may at times disrupt children’s equilibrium, but the confusion and uncertainty created can in itself be a motivation for change. As their actions become effective and rewarding, a sense of being in control increases and their self-esteem grows. They can

How can we help children who have the greatest difficulty in making attachments and the difficult behaviour which results? First, we need to meet their needs in each of the four critical areas shown in the boxes below. Second, after these needs are being met, change is possible. Children are able to learn and mature,

then move into the secure attachment cycle. 

They need to experience care that offers: sensitivity, stability, predictability, structure, affection, opportunity to belong. They need to know their

basic needs will be met. Only then will they be freed up to focus on their emotional and social needs and focus outside of themselves.

Their pain

and stress must be relieved, e.g. through counselling. In this way, the caregiver offers the opportunity to begin building a relationship of trust.

Part 3 is an exercise that can be used with your staff, as a training exercise to increase awareness of attachment, or to consider the needs of your group of children as a whole, or to understand the needs of a particular child. •

They need to

appropriate stimulation.

have fun,

This means they are likely to feel less depressed, more able to be interested, to learn, and to be available to others.

which is rewarding, reduces defences, makes them more attractive to others and so begin to develop healthy relationships.

They need discipline – to experience rewards

Care Expression and response They need unexpected understanding reactions and responses. Children and feedback. change when they get an unexpected reaction to habitual behaviour e.g. empathetic humour to react to frustration. Receiving a different reaction, they must alter their feelings and behaviours to fit the new situation. They need to be taught the ‘labels’ for their feelings and then how to express them. This will allow for the correction of distorted feelings and the appropriate expression of the feelings, rather than through difficult behaviour.

8

Behaviour

They need

As their caregivers help them to understand the world around them, and relationships in particular, the child’s sense of predictability and trust increases, resulting in a more accurate appraisal of themselves and others.

Attachment Part 3 : The Attachment Wall

Stimulation They need

Mar ʼ06

Divide your staff into four groups and give each group a number of small sheets of paper (e.g. A3 size). Each group should have a different colour of paper from the other groups. Each group represents an age group: 0-2, 3-5, 6-11, 12-16 (0-2 could include pregnancy). Ask each group to write a word on each sheet of paper which represents one thing a child needs at that age.

3

Spend a few minutes looking at the wall that has been created – it represents a securely (or ‘well enough’) attached young person, i.e. there is a secure foundation to the personality.

Now take away some of the stones, starting from the bottom. Is the wall still a strong wall with a secure foundation?

Using the words that have been removed, consider what the child/children you work with need now to strengthen the foundation.

An optional extra task can be to look at a particular issue e.g. being orphaned by AIDS / being abused and emotionally neglected. Which ‘stones’ would be missing as a result of these circumstances and what would an appropriate response look like? 

Starting with the group representing the youngest age, build a ‘wall’ on the floor. Each piece of paper with a word on represents a stone.

which increase appropriate behaviour. Misbehaviour which is ignored or appropriately punished often diminishes.

12-16 Education

Help with planning re future

Company of peers

Boundaries

Health and hygiene education

Self-protection Privacy education

They need choices

12-16 Food

Shelter

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

6-11

Education

Fun

Choices

Health and hygiene education

Self-care education

Opportunities to explore

Company of adults

6-11

Company of peers

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

3-5

Food

Water

Stimulation

Opportunities to explore

Safe environment

Cuddles

Hygiene

3-5

Play

Protection

Love

Etc

Etc

Etc

Etc

0-2

Toys

Cuddles

Stimulation

Protection

Company

Love

Exercise

of behaviour, so that they are helped to acquire a sense of consequence. They need to be able to

compare themselves to others and look to them as role-models. In this way, they can experiment with new feelings and in the process find a more secure identity and guide for behaviour.

Some possible words for each age group:

Elaine de Villiers is an adoption social worker based in the UK working in policy development, child placement and family support.

9


RESTORE pursuing God’s standards for children

TOOLKIT

LOVE: God in the midst pain

Wanda Parker of KidTrek gives a guide for a group discussion based on Genesis 37 to help children understand that God has a loving plan for them even in times of family pain. This activity could be used for children between the ages of 7-15

Objective : The child will learn that God had a plan for Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery.

to focus on Jesus in the midst of family pain and know God is actively involved in his/her life.

Scripture

: Genesis 37.

Verse

: “As for you, you meant

9. In a family, is one person more special than another? If so, who and why?

1. After verse 4: Think how you would feel if your father loved your brother or sister more than you. That’s what Joseph’s brothers thought.

evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20).

2. After verse 11: Joseph’s brothers’ hate of him grew after Joseph told them his dream. 3. After verse 24: Reuben wanted to save Joseph. It was his plan to come back and rescue Joseph. What do you think happens next?

10

17. End this time in prayer. Encourage the children to pray. As the children pray, listen carefully; you may learn a lot through what they pray for.

7. What is a family? You are not looking for a right or wrong answer; you are going to learn what the kids think.

• Each group leader needs to prepare for his/her group.

• Read the story dramatically, stopping to give the statements and ask the questions below.

16. Always, always remember that Jesus promised He would never leave us or forsake us. When in difficult times remember Joseph and how he dealt with his feelings of being abandoned.

6. How would you feel if you were Joseph’s brothers?

8. What is special about a family?

• Introduce the passage by saying: Today we are going to learn about a man named Joseph. Joseph loved God. Today I am going to read the true story of what happened to Joseph when he was a boy. Listen carefully. I may stop from time to time to ask you a question.

15. The brothers sold Joseph to get rid of him, but God had a plan and a purpose. Though it must have felt to Joseph as though God had abandoned him he continued to obey God. Sometimes our family can do horrible things to us, they can hurt us and they can abandon us. What are some ways a family member may hurt another family member? Be prepared! This is an open-ended question.

5. Why did Joseph’s brother hate him so much? His father had given him the beautiful robe so the brothers thought the father loved him more than them; Joseph told the brothers his dream where he ruled over them.

Hearing the Word: Genesis 37

• Practice reading the passage in a dramatic way. If you work with younger children prepare to stop and explain things as you read.

Subjective : The child will begin

Mar ʼ06

4. How would you feel right now if you were Joseph and your brothers had sold you to be a slave? There is no right or wrong answer here. You just want to see if the children really connect with the story. Remind them this is a true story. This really happened to Joseph.

TOOLKIT of family

TOOLKIT

Make sure you let the children know that this does not mean they are to stay in a painful place if they are able to leave. If an adult is abusing them they should tell a safe person, if they are being bullied, they should tell a safe person, etc. Ask the children to think about who a safe person would be for them.

10. Would you have acted differently from Joseph’s brothers if you were at home with your family? If so how? 11. If you lived in the perfect family, what would it be like? 12. Would you have wanted to be a member of Joseph’s family? Why or why not? 13. God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery by his brothers. Do you think God loved Joseph? Why or why not? We see God’s love for Joseph in that God gave him the dream which told him what would one day happen. God loves us enough to allow us to experience pain to bring us to the best place. In the midst of the pain we must stay focused on Jesus, as Joseph did.

Wanda Parker, Founder and Executive Director, KidTrek. Wanda has worked with children for 38 years in both secular and Christian settings. Wanda was part of an international team that developed a university curriculum for reaching children at risk. KidTrek is a reproducible, church-based ministry that empowers adult leaders to work innovatively with children at risk by helping each church establish its own KidTrek Center – a long-term, unique and wholistic approach for serving endangered children and youth. Visit their website: www.kidtrek.org for more information. 

14. God doesn’t always show us why He is allowing pain to happen in our lives. But He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. Ask the children to look up and read Hebrews 13 verses 5&6.

11


RESTORE pursuing God’s standards for children

TOOLKIT

LOVE: God in the midst pain

Wanda Parker of KidTrek gives a guide for a group discussion based on Genesis 37 to help children understand that God has a loving plan for them even in times of family pain. This activity could be used for children between the ages of 7-15

Objective : The child will learn that God had a plan for Joseph when his brothers sold him into slavery.

to focus on Jesus in the midst of family pain and know God is actively involved in his/her life.

Scripture

: Genesis 37.

Verse

: “As for you, you meant

9. In a family, is one person more special than another? If so, who and why?

1. After verse 4: Think how you would feel if your father loved your brother or sister more than you. That’s what Joseph’s brothers thought.

evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 50:20).

2. After verse 11: Joseph’s brothers’ hate of him grew after Joseph told them his dream. 3. After verse 24: Reuben wanted to save Joseph. It was his plan to come back and rescue Joseph. What do you think happens next?

10

17. End this time in prayer. Encourage the children to pray. As the children pray, listen carefully; you may learn a lot through what they pray for.

7. What is a family? You are not looking for a right or wrong answer; you are going to learn what the kids think.

• Each group leader needs to prepare for his/her group.

• Read the story dramatically, stopping to give the statements and ask the questions below.

16. Always, always remember that Jesus promised He would never leave us or forsake us. When in difficult times remember Joseph and how he dealt with his feelings of being abandoned.

6. How would you feel if you were Joseph’s brothers?

8. What is special about a family?

• Introduce the passage by saying: Today we are going to learn about a man named Joseph. Joseph loved God. Today I am going to read the true story of what happened to Joseph when he was a boy. Listen carefully. I may stop from time to time to ask you a question.

15. The brothers sold Joseph to get rid of him, but God had a plan and a purpose. Though it must have felt to Joseph as though God had abandoned him he continued to obey God. Sometimes our family can do horrible things to us, they can hurt us and they can abandon us. What are some ways a family member may hurt another family member? Be prepared! This is an open-ended question.

5. Why did Joseph’s brother hate him so much? His father had given him the beautiful robe so the brothers thought the father loved him more than them; Joseph told the brothers his dream where he ruled over them.

Hearing the Word: Genesis 37

• Practice reading the passage in a dramatic way. If you work with younger children prepare to stop and explain things as you read.

Subjective : The child will begin

Mar ʼ06

4. How would you feel right now if you were Joseph and your brothers had sold you to be a slave? There is no right or wrong answer here. You just want to see if the children really connect with the story. Remind them this is a true story. This really happened to Joseph.

TOOLKIT of family

TOOLKIT

Make sure you let the children know that this does not mean they are to stay in a painful place if they are able to leave. If an adult is abusing them they should tell a safe person, if they are being bullied, they should tell a safe person, etc. Ask the children to think about who a safe person would be for them.

10. Would you have acted differently from Joseph’s brothers if you were at home with your family? If so how? 11. If you lived in the perfect family, what would it be like? 12. Would you have wanted to be a member of Joseph’s family? Why or why not? 13. God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery by his brothers. Do you think God loved Joseph? Why or why not? We see God’s love for Joseph in that God gave him the dream which told him what would one day happen. God loves us enough to allow us to experience pain to bring us to the best place. In the midst of the pain we must stay focused on Jesus, as Joseph did.

Wanda Parker, Founder and Executive Director, KidTrek. Wanda has worked with children for 38 years in both secular and Christian settings. Wanda was part of an international team that developed a university curriculum for reaching children at risk. KidTrek is a reproducible, church-based ministry that empowers adult leaders to work innovatively with children at risk by helping each church establish its own KidTrek Center – a long-term, unique and wholistic approach for serving endangered children and youth. Visit their website: www.kidtrek.org for more information. 

14. God doesn’t always show us why He is allowing pain to happen in our lives. But He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. Ask the children to look up and read Hebrews 13 verses 5&6.

11


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

The Challenge

Recognizing that orphans are not the only children who suffer because of HIV/AIDS, and in line with the internationally agreed Framework1, WV supports community efforts to identify, monitor, assist, and protect those who are most vulnerable within HIV/ AIDS-affected communities. These may include children who are living with HIV/AIDS, children whose parents are living with HIV/AIDS, children in households that have absorbed orphans, disabled children, and others who meet the criteria for vulnerability defined by the community. WV’s response to care for orphans and vulnerable

Over 14 million children, most of them in subSaharan Africa, have lost one or both parents to AIDS. This number will increase to over 25 million by 2010. In addition, millions more children are highly vulnerable because their parents are suffering from AIDS or because their families are heavily affected by the pandemic. Children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS experience many problems. In addition to the severe psychosocial distress of losing one or both parents, they may lack food, shelter, clothing, or health care. They may be forced to leave school or be required to care for chronically ill family members. Deprived of parental guidance and protection, they may face discrimination, abuse, or exploitation. In many communities, traditional ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), such as the extended family system, are severely strained by the impacts of HIV/AIDS. The challenge is to find ways to help communities care for the unprecedented number of children and families rendered vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

community-based organizations, government or other local institutions) are brought together for this purpose. The result in many communities is a broad-based community care coalition (CCC), formed to work with WV to define criteria for assessing vulnerability within the community. The coalition then uses these criteria to identify OVC in the community.

Community-managed children

day-care

for

young

Supervised recreation activities for all local children that promote integration and healthy socialisation and overcome stigma and isolation

Education of pregnant and lactating women regarding prevention of mother-to-child transmission

World Vision staff and partners provide training in key organisational development skills that enable CCCs to access resources. In addition, coalitions

In addition funds are made available to support activities based on particular needs, capacities

Care for Children Orphaned and made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS : W o r l d V i s i o n ’ s R e s p o n s e Stuart Kean of World Vision UK and Mark Lorey of World Vision International outline World Vision’s approach to caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the community.

children has two main components: facilitating the formation of community care coalitions and supporting home visitors.

World Vision’s Response

Community Care Coalitions

Community-based responses with families lie at the heart of World Vision’s response. Institutional care is not only very expensive, but children raised in orphanages lose out on family life and a sense of belonging to a distinctive community.

World Vision facilitates the formation of a community-led care initiative for OVC and their families. Interested and concerned community members (often from churches / faith communities,

1

The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS & UNICEF, July 2004.

12

are linked with other sources of support (technical, financial, and material) available at local, district and national levels. Most significantly, WV staff assist CCCs to undertake a range of activities: •

Overcoming attendance

barriers

to

primary

“By

2010, 25 million children will have lost one or both parents to AIDS”

school and priorities in local contexts and may include: education support, basic health care, food security, clothing and blankets, access to safe water, psychosocial and spiritual nurture

Arranging apprenticeships, or other appropriate education for older OVC

Emergency nutritional support

Referrals to health care facilities

Assistance with basic household tasks

Care for chronically ill adults and children

Preparing for the loss of a parent by identifying standby guardians, protecting inheritance rights, developing memory books / boxes

Home Visitors CCCs also recruit home visitors: community members committed to regularly visiting the homes of OVC. These home visitors, trained by WV and

13


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

The Challenge

Recognizing that orphans are not the only children who suffer because of HIV/AIDS, and in line with the internationally agreed Framework1, WV supports community efforts to identify, monitor, assist, and protect those who are most vulnerable within HIV/ AIDS-affected communities. These may include children who are living with HIV/AIDS, children whose parents are living with HIV/AIDS, children in households that have absorbed orphans, disabled children, and others who meet the criteria for vulnerability defined by the community. WV’s response to care for orphans and vulnerable

Over 14 million children, most of them in subSaharan Africa, have lost one or both parents to AIDS. This number will increase to over 25 million by 2010. In addition, millions more children are highly vulnerable because their parents are suffering from AIDS or because their families are heavily affected by the pandemic. Children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS experience many problems. In addition to the severe psychosocial distress of losing one or both parents, they may lack food, shelter, clothing, or health care. They may be forced to leave school or be required to care for chronically ill family members. Deprived of parental guidance and protection, they may face discrimination, abuse, or exploitation. In many communities, traditional ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), such as the extended family system, are severely strained by the impacts of HIV/AIDS. The challenge is to find ways to help communities care for the unprecedented number of children and families rendered vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

community-based organizations, government or other local institutions) are brought together for this purpose. The result in many communities is a broad-based community care coalition (CCC), formed to work with WV to define criteria for assessing vulnerability within the community. The coalition then uses these criteria to identify OVC in the community.

Community-managed children

day-care

for

young

Supervised recreation activities for all local children that promote integration and healthy socialisation and overcome stigma and isolation

Education of pregnant and lactating women regarding prevention of mother-to-child transmission

World Vision staff and partners provide training in key organisational development skills that enable CCCs to access resources. In addition, coalitions

In addition funds are made available to support activities based on particular needs, capacities

Care for Children Orphaned and made Vulnerable by HIV and AIDS : W o r l d V i s i o n ’ s R e s p o n s e Stuart Kean of World Vision UK and Mark Lorey of World Vision International outline World Vision’s approach to caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in the community.

children has two main components: facilitating the formation of community care coalitions and supporting home visitors.

World Vision’s Response

Community Care Coalitions

Community-based responses with families lie at the heart of World Vision’s response. Institutional care is not only very expensive, but children raised in orphanages lose out on family life and a sense of belonging to a distinctive community.

World Vision facilitates the formation of a community-led care initiative for OVC and their families. Interested and concerned community members (often from churches / faith communities,

1

The Framework for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Living in a World with HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS & UNICEF, July 2004.

12

are linked with other sources of support (technical, financial, and material) available at local, district and national levels. Most significantly, WV staff assist CCCs to undertake a range of activities: •

Overcoming attendance

barriers

to

primary

“By

2010, 25 million children will have lost one or both parents to AIDS”

school and priorities in local contexts and may include: education support, basic health care, food security, clothing and blankets, access to safe water, psychosocial and spiritual nurture

Arranging apprenticeships, or other appropriate education for older OVC

Emergency nutritional support

Referrals to health care facilities

Assistance with basic household tasks

Care for chronically ill adults and children

Preparing for the loss of a parent by identifying standby guardians, protecting inheritance rights, developing memory books / boxes

Home Visitors CCCs also recruit home visitors: community members committed to regularly visiting the homes of OVC. These home visitors, trained by WV and

13


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

other partners, gain skills and knowledge to enable them to provide essential assistance, including:

for mutual emotional and spiritual support. In some instances, WV also provides home visitors with practical equipment that enable them to provide care to OVC more effectively, such as shoes, umbrellas, or basic home-based care kits.

• Continuous monitoring of child well-being •

Protection against abuse and neglect

Spiritual and psychosocial support for OVC and their guardians

Mentoring on life-sustaining skills

Advocating for changes to local-level policies and practices to benefit OVC and their families

For programming tools or additional information on World Vision’s approaches to community-based OVC care, please email: models_of_learning@wvi.org.

Stuart Kean has been working for four years with World Vision UK where he is HIV/AIDS Senior Policy Adviser. The principal focus of his work is children affected by AIDS.

The home visitors form the backbone of WV’s approach to caring for OVC. Strengthening their capacities is crucial to ensuring high quality care and lasting benefits for OVC and their families. World Vision is developing appropriate tools for this purpose, drawing from our own experience and the work of our partners. In addition to the practical skills mentioned above, training includes strategies

Mark Lorey is director of the Models of Learning unit. He leads research, development, and organizational learning on HIV/AIDS programming for World Vision International. 

Our Strategy: Do and Pray In 1993 God started speaking to us. When we cried out, “God, how do we pray?” God began to show us how to DO as well as how to pray. As told in Nehemiah, God’s answer for the huge task of rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem was to use the people living round the walls to each build the piece of wall nearest to them and God showed that we were to use the same principle. A child without parents has his walls of protection broken down. We were to build up that protection

Photo: Jean Webster

orphan and the widow. (James 1 v 27, Exodus 22v22 and over 50 other texts). So the huge task of making sure that the orphan child has parental love can be achieved only if the church of Jesus Christ is mobilised to care.

that God always intended for them – but how? God showed us that everywhere that there are orphans, there is the local church. The Bible tells us that it is the duty of His people, and His heart’s desire that we visit; care for; and speak for the

Mobilising the Church, Step by Step

The background

The Cry of the Child:

The parents are disappearing in Zimbabwe. Of the population of 8 million, 1.2 million are orphans. The country’s rapidly deteriorating social sector has a great additional impact on the children. Although God intended for all children to be parented and to receive unconditional love – these children lose out on both. With 1 out of every 3 persons being infected by HIV/AIDS, about 1 in every 4 or 5 children is orphaned by AIDS and left vulnerable, but with no-one to turn to with that vulnerability. In fact, we often find that members of the extended family - the loving aunts and uncles, who tried to care, have also died multiplying the children’s loss. The children have to become little adults themselves in nurturing others. Who is there to parent so many children? Neither children’s homes nor even adoption is feasible on such a large scale.

mobilising the church to listen and respond Jean Webster This case study from Jean Webster of ZOE offers ideas on mobilising Christians through local churches to care for children in Zimbabwe without parental love.

14

To mobilise the church we needed to be clear about what we would communicate. We found the following to be effective points: • Care of orphans is the church’s mandate from God. • The main thing the orphan child says is “I want my mummy, I want my daddy” indicating that the parental relationship is the greatest need. • We don’t need to wait for help from the UK or USA to begin to meet this need. God, who has called His church to this task, has also equipped us to care. We have:-

Photo: Jean Webster

15


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

other partners, gain skills and knowledge to enable them to provide essential assistance, including:

for mutual emotional and spiritual support. In some instances, WV also provides home visitors with practical equipment that enable them to provide care to OVC more effectively, such as shoes, umbrellas, or basic home-based care kits.

• Continuous monitoring of child well-being •

Protection against abuse and neglect

Spiritual and psychosocial support for OVC and their guardians

Mentoring on life-sustaining skills

Advocating for changes to local-level policies and practices to benefit OVC and their families

For programming tools or additional information on World Vision’s approaches to community-based OVC care, please email: models_of_learning@wvi.org.

Stuart Kean has been working for four years with World Vision UK where he is HIV/AIDS Senior Policy Adviser. The principal focus of his work is children affected by AIDS.

The home visitors form the backbone of WV’s approach to caring for OVC. Strengthening their capacities is crucial to ensuring high quality care and lasting benefits for OVC and their families. World Vision is developing appropriate tools for this purpose, drawing from our own experience and the work of our partners. In addition to the practical skills mentioned above, training includes strategies

Mark Lorey is director of the Models of Learning unit. He leads research, development, and organizational learning on HIV/AIDS programming for World Vision International. 

Our Strategy: Do and Pray In 1993 God started speaking to us. When we cried out, “God, how do we pray?” God began to show us how to DO as well as how to pray. As told in Nehemiah, God’s answer for the huge task of rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem was to use the people living round the walls to each build the piece of wall nearest to them and God showed that we were to use the same principle. A child without parents has his walls of protection broken down. We were to build up that protection

Photo: Jean Webster

orphan and the widow. (James 1 v 27, Exodus 22v22 and over 50 other texts). So the huge task of making sure that the orphan child has parental love can be achieved only if the church of Jesus Christ is mobilised to care.

that God always intended for them – but how? God showed us that everywhere that there are orphans, there is the local church. The Bible tells us that it is the duty of His people, and His heart’s desire that we visit; care for; and speak for the

Mobilising the Church, Step by Step

The background

The Cry of the Child:

The parents are disappearing in Zimbabwe. Of the population of 8 million, 1.2 million are orphans. The country’s rapidly deteriorating social sector has a great additional impact on the children. Although God intended for all children to be parented and to receive unconditional love – these children lose out on both. With 1 out of every 3 persons being infected by HIV/AIDS, about 1 in every 4 or 5 children is orphaned by AIDS and left vulnerable, but with no-one to turn to with that vulnerability. In fact, we often find that members of the extended family - the loving aunts and uncles, who tried to care, have also died multiplying the children’s loss. The children have to become little adults themselves in nurturing others. Who is there to parent so many children? Neither children’s homes nor even adoption is feasible on such a large scale.

mobilising the church to listen and respond Jean Webster This case study from Jean Webster of ZOE offers ideas on mobilising Christians through local churches to care for children in Zimbabwe without parental love.

14

To mobilise the church we needed to be clear about what we would communicate. We found the following to be effective points: • Care of orphans is the church’s mandate from God. • The main thing the orphan child says is “I want my mummy, I want my daddy” indicating that the parental relationship is the greatest need. • We don’t need to wait for help from the UK or USA to begin to meet this need. God, who has called His church to this task, has also equipped us to care. We have:-

Photo: Jean Webster

15


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

-

-

carers to share their problems and burdens and seek help for the children. Each visit is recorded by the volunteer. The record books simply have a page for each visit made by the volunteer with the name and date; what was seen; what was done; and any needs to be met. The volunteers meet monthly with these record books and share concerns and burdens and pray together for the children, helping them continue to meet the different families’ needs.

a heart in Jesus who has unconditional love and compassion; eyes to see the health of the child and any signs of abuse etc, a mouth to speak of Jesus and His word and also to speak on behalf of the orphan, ears to listen to the child’s pain and reality. hands and feet to go and demonstrate love and care.

Mobilising the church leaders:

Advocacy:

We envisioned pastors nationwide that community based care would be possible in their church. First, we encouraged the national church leaders to bring together all the denominational leaders in each area. Within each area we then envisioned the church leaders of all denominations together and shared about care of orphans. The leaders went back to their churches and shared with them the needs and insights into caring for orphans, and asked for volunteers who have God’s heart for His children. This approach forms the basis for churches to continue to work together in each area across denominations.

‘Fun’ days and children’s clubs encourage the children to speak out to adults and young Christian people in the church. Whereas before there were few who wanted to hear the pain in their lives, the children now have a chance to be heard. This can increase the number of those mobilised to help. As the children develop confidence, they help other children using tools such as art – for example drawing their life story out as a tree, painting about themselves using symbols and pictures. This helps reveal their inner strengths to themselves helping them overcome or live with the things that hurt in their lives. We are finding that as they become free they are much more able to speak up for themselves, even to relatives and people who may speak badly of them.

Training and guiding volunteers: The hands-on care is provided by an army of Christian volunteer visitors who choose to stand in the place of parents to the children. The volunteers are trained in how to care by ZOE. The pattern is that the volunteers visit the children who remain in their own homes. We strongly advise that each volunteer visit no more than five homes (fewer if possible). This is so that the volunteer really gets to know the family and is a hand reaching out to the carer – whether a child or old or sick and more importantly, is able to become a friend to the children. This takes time, commitment, frequent visits, and being available for the children when

This is how we have seen God using His people to meet the basic need of parenting that children have. They receive His love and care and are also able to choose their own destiny or, if they know the Lord, to seek God’s direction for their lives. Jean Webster directs the ministry ZOE of Zimbabwe, envisioning church leaders and training volunteers to envision the church nationally to care for the orphans in their own natural families, in their own communities, and to see them come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. 

needed.

Support for volunteers: The volunteers visit regularly to pray and strengthen the family. This allows opportunities for the guardian

16

17


Mar ʼ06

Family Preservation, Reconciliation and Placement:

a

holistic ministry to street children in Uganda

“What does it take to help the parent so that the child can find a place to call home with his/her parents?”

Rita Nkemba, of Dwelling Places, Kampala, describes the ministry involved in restoring street children to their families and restoring their families so they can look after their children. Dwelling Places focuses on boys and girls of the street below the age of 14.

However, when parents struggle extraordinarily to fulfil their intended roles, then if we have been called to be God’s hand of grace in that situation, we have a responsibility to intervene. Our responsibility means that our programs should ensure that:

The background

a) children are raised by institutions only when necessary

Working with the family raises the standard for children at risk by empowering families towards social integration and economic sustainability and so providing children with a safe and relatively comfortable living environment, encouraging them to explore and develop their talents and abilities freely. The preservation of a secure home is the greatest insurance to raising the standards for children at risk because of the innate need for every child to have a place they can belong and call their own - the experiences and memories of which fashion the kind of people they grow up to be.

b) children stay in institutions for the shortest time possible c) wherever possible, children are raised long-term within a family unit in an ordinary mainstream community setting.

The Family Empowerment and Preservation Program

A summarised African, child-focused definition of home is: a place of residence where children are relaxed, comfortable, at ease, living together in safety and harmony with their surroundings, being raised by at least one loving, committed adult.

Dwelling Places’ Family Empowerment and Preservation Program (FEPP) meets these responsibilities and raises the standard of care for children at risk, by: WORKING WITH THE CHILDREN

Dwelling Places recognises the importance of raising children within a family setting and doing all it takes to preserve a family unit as long as it is in the best interest of the child. We must never assume that the best place for the child is away from the parent. Rather, the questions should be (remembering our definition of home): “What can I do to ensure that this child still lives with their family?” and

17

Tracing and identifying families of street children and high risk slum children

Reconciling and resettling street children with their parents

Encouraging successful resettlement of street children

Preventing the potential vicious cycle of sibling street migration


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

WORKING WITH THE FAMILY •

Offering initial support and empowering heads of families, especially mothers, with the tools they need for sustainability and total care for their children

Linking these families to a local church for spiritual development

Advocacy: using the Convention on the Rights of the Child Photo: Isobel Booth - Clibborn, Niger, Africa 2001

• Creating God-honouring communities

This article, the first of a series focusing on advocacy, links five principles of advocacy to relevant case studies within the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Parenting.

Case study: FEPP in practice

The key to working with the children is reconciliation. Children are taken off the street, usually into our transitional rehabilitation home followed by tracing an adult family member. We then follow a reconciliation program to restore a loving and trusting relationship between the child and the parent or guardian. The program aims to encourage a genuine sense of belonging and willingness to live together between the two parties regardless of prevailing conditions at the time.

Maama Rapha and her nine children lived in Uganda as homeless refugees from Sudan for many years. We found the family through her three youngest children who were picking wild vegetables on the street. A successful reconciliation exercise led her to release her three youngest and most vulnerable children into our transitional home and her recruitment onto the Family Empowerment and Preservation Program.

The key to working with the family is empowering the adults through skills training. Skills-training equips people with micro-business and social skills as well as introducing them to the love of God and Biblical principles for the family and other areas of life. The provision of income generating channels for the head of the family leads to children having better access to good food, health, education, and general information. This helps prevent the begging syndrome prevalent in street and partial street families and reduce the chances of children choosing to migrate to the streets. Parenting skills ensure that children have a model of structure and responsibility. This in turn builds a sense of identity, helping to guide children into making right choices and developing constructive behaviour.

In the program, Maama Rapha was supported with housing and trained in crafts making and basic business principles. She is now able to make pillows and confectionery, which she sells to support her family. Through introducing the family to the Gospel and a church in the local community she has made constructive friends, boosting a sense of belonging and restoring hope into the family, particularly the children. At the beginning of 2005, we resettled Maama Rapha’s children back in their home. We believe that the successful resettlement of Mama Rapha and her family into this new community will serve as a testimony of the transforming power of God, as they carry out all their Christian values.

Conclusion

Work with the family would not be complete without resettlement of the children into the community, which Dwelling Places aims to do after two years of rehabilitation. In practice, our social workers determine that a particular adult or parent is ready to receive the child and the child is ready to settle into normal home life. Follow-up uses an impact assessment tool to monitor the progress of the children in their homes. The areas we look at include health, spiritual growth, social integration, economic growth, and self-sustainability.

Our intention is that all similar families that come through our FEP will have the same influence in the communities where they are resettled - creating God honouring communities and safe environments for children to grow up in, as adults within families obey God’s commission to parenting and commit to raising their children with love as God intends. Rita Nkemba is the Director of Dwelling Places, a ministry to street children in Uganda 

18

Using the CRC can be a powerful basis for advocacy

Much of this issue looks at directly meeting the needs of children needing alternative parental care because their own parents are absent or are not able to provide appropriate care. We also have a responsibility to engage in advocacy with and on behalf of children at risk. This article looks at some key principles of advocacy and gives examples of actual cases to show these principles in practice within the parenting context. A unifying feature of the case studies is how the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been used. Since almost all national governments are signatories to the CRC, it is a powerful document for holding governments to account for the policies they make and their enforcement. Relevant articles of the CRC to parenting are:

Article 5 – about the State’s obligation to respect the rights and responsibility of parents to provide age appropriate guidance for their children

Articles 9-11 – which include a child’s right to live with his or her parents unless this is incompatible with the child’s best interests.

Articles 18-20 – about parental responsibilities to raise a child and the state’s responsibility to assist, and also the state’s responsibility to protect children from maltreatment and abuse and protect children without a family

Article 27 – about the state’s responsibility to support parents fulfil their role in ensuring a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental,

19


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

WORKING WITH THE FAMILY •

Offering initial support and empowering heads of families, especially mothers, with the tools they need for sustainability and total care for their children

Linking these families to a local church for spiritual development

Advocacy: using the Convention on the Rights of the Child Photo: Isobel Booth - Clibborn, Niger, Africa 2001

• Creating God-honouring communities

This article, the first of a series focusing on advocacy, links five principles of advocacy to relevant case studies within the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Parenting.

Case study: FEPP in practice

The key to working with the children is reconciliation. Children are taken off the street, usually into our transitional rehabilitation home followed by tracing an adult family member. We then follow a reconciliation program to restore a loving and trusting relationship between the child and the parent or guardian. The program aims to encourage a genuine sense of belonging and willingness to live together between the two parties regardless of prevailing conditions at the time.

Maama Rapha and her nine children lived in Uganda as homeless refugees from Sudan for many years. We found the family through her three youngest children who were picking wild vegetables on the street. A successful reconciliation exercise led her to release her three youngest and most vulnerable children into our transitional home and her recruitment onto the Family Empowerment and Preservation Program.

The key to working with the family is empowering the adults through skills training. Skills-training equips people with micro-business and social skills as well as introducing them to the love of God and Biblical principles for the family and other areas of life. The provision of income generating channels for the head of the family leads to children having better access to good food, health, education, and general information. This helps prevent the begging syndrome prevalent in street and partial street families and reduce the chances of children choosing to migrate to the streets. Parenting skills ensure that children have a model of structure and responsibility. This in turn builds a sense of identity, helping to guide children into making right choices and developing constructive behaviour.

In the program, Maama Rapha was supported with housing and trained in crafts making and basic business principles. She is now able to make pillows and confectionery, which she sells to support her family. Through introducing the family to the Gospel and a church in the local community she has made constructive friends, boosting a sense of belonging and restoring hope into the family, particularly the children. At the beginning of 2005, we resettled Maama Rapha’s children back in their home. We believe that the successful resettlement of Mama Rapha and her family into this new community will serve as a testimony of the transforming power of God, as they carry out all their Christian values.

Conclusion

Work with the family would not be complete without resettlement of the children into the community, which Dwelling Places aims to do after two years of rehabilitation. In practice, our social workers determine that a particular adult or parent is ready to receive the child and the child is ready to settle into normal home life. Follow-up uses an impact assessment tool to monitor the progress of the children in their homes. The areas we look at include health, spiritual growth, social integration, economic growth, and self-sustainability.

Our intention is that all similar families that come through our FEP will have the same influence in the communities where they are resettled - creating God honouring communities and safe environments for children to grow up in, as adults within families obey God’s commission to parenting and commit to raising their children with love as God intends. Rita Nkemba is the Director of Dwelling Places, a ministry to street children in Uganda 

18

Using the CRC can be a powerful basis for advocacy

Much of this issue looks at directly meeting the needs of children needing alternative parental care because their own parents are absent or are not able to provide appropriate care. We also have a responsibility to engage in advocacy with and on behalf of children at risk. This article looks at some key principles of advocacy and gives examples of actual cases to show these principles in practice within the parenting context. A unifying feature of the case studies is how the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been used. Since almost all national governments are signatories to the CRC, it is a powerful document for holding governments to account for the policies they make and their enforcement. Relevant articles of the CRC to parenting are:

Article 5 – about the State’s obligation to respect the rights and responsibility of parents to provide age appropriate guidance for their children

Articles 9-11 – which include a child’s right to live with his or her parents unless this is incompatible with the child’s best interests.

Articles 18-20 – about parental responsibilities to raise a child and the state’s responsibility to assist, and also the state’s responsibility to protect children from maltreatment and abuse and protect children without a family

Article 27 – about the state’s responsibility to support parents fulfil their role in ensuring a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental,

19


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

Principle: Integration

Case study: Ugandan Network

Principle: Purpose

Case study: Malawi

Our goal is for advocacy to be integrated into all we do so that it takes place alongside practical care for ‘children at risk’. This two-fold dynamic addresses both the causes and the effects of injustice. Advocacy will often flow out of project work, though it contains very distinctive activities. Advocacy and practical care are complementary and should always be viewed as such.

Network members work with many children with HIV/AIDS and with those orphaned or abandoned by families unable to cope. The Ugandan network believes that the children’s needs would be best met by fostering or adoption into families but Ugandan law has been prohibitive and adoption is culturally unusual.

It is important to work out why you are seeking to influence decision-makers. Unless we are meeting a clear, purposeful and legitimate need for advocacy, it will not work. You should only engage in advocacy where you have a long-term commitment to partnership with the people affected by the situation that needs addressing. Their concerns should come first. People will notice and be more likely to listen to what you say.

Facing a similar issue to that in Uganda (the need for legal changes to make adoption easier) the network in Malawi carried out research and subsequently used forums to discuss the proposed changes with groups of people, such as social welfare, the ministry of justice, lawyers, and other civil society stakeholders.

Principle: Strategy

Case study: Colombia

As advocacy work gets under way, strategies will emerge. These may be unexpected or even radical... Christian NGOs may have to partner with secular groups... Targets may have to change... Risks may emerge that need to be addressed... In these circumstances strong support systems are crucial. If people are kept informed at each stage, their involvement and interest will be maintained. Remember that advocacy is not always popular and issues are always more complicated than they first appear. Your strategy will need to be adapted

Following successful work with a national alliance of mainly international organizations on a policy proposal for children, the Colombian Network got involved with the alliance on a regular basis.

Integration Ugandan Network

As a result of working with the media and with key government officials, the government initiated a review of the fostering and adoption process. A key feature of the network’s efforts was to encourage Christians to lead by example in fostering thereby integrating practice and advocay Source: Rita Nkemba, Voiceless Children’s Advocacy Group, Uganda

Principle: Empowerment

Case study: Afghanistan

Advocacy must empower and enable people. Whenever possible advocacy must be done by those who are affected by a situation so they can articulate their needs and influence decision-makers in their own right. While it takes longer and uses more resources for those affected by a situation to participate in advocacy, there are also many benefits to their involvement because any solutions are more likely to be ‘owned’ and accepted and therefore they will probably work better.

During the rule of the Taliban. A translation of the CRC was smuggled into Afghanistan and distributed to children and their parents. Classes were held so that people could learn more and discuss the relevance of the CRC.

Empowerment Afghanistan

Even though at that time the CRC could not be integrated into legislation, parents were empowered by this approach because they had the opportunity to discuss the difficulties of parenting and were inspired by the guidelines to become more dedicated parents. Source: Jo de Bery, Save the Children USA, Afghanistan

Principle: Accountability

Case study: South Africa

Accountability occurs whenever there is a relationship. This is vital whenever you have to speak for someone else, particularly someone who is not present. Advocates are answerable for the actions they take and decision-makers are answerable for the decisions they make. Accountability ensures that advocacy is legitimate. No-one should engage in advocacy without clear reasons for getting involved and it follows that advocacy work must be clearly documented, with good monitoring and evaluation activities in place. Without accountability it is unlikely that your advocacy work will be sustainable or

The Children in Distress (CINDI) network engages with local and national government in the interests of children affected by HIV/AIDS as well as implementing programmes for prevention and early intervention.

successful.

Source: Mark Atterton, Viva Network Facilitation Team

The network recognized that the biggest impact would be through constructive engagement rather than confrontation. This decision has, for example, allowed the network to be involved in such valuable activities as monitoring when children are not adequately cared for within the child care system. Crucially the authorities were able to take appropriate decisions to improve the lives of children and families.

Accountability South Africa

20

Purpose Malawi

Source: Frank Dimmock, NOVOC, Malawi

Strategy Colombia

This has led to the network working with the government on implementation of the proposal. In addition the network has been able to mobilize and train the national church in each region to work with children and to defend children’s rights. Source: Naomi Sosa, Latin America team, Tearfund

to accommodate this. Katharine de Villiers has worked with Viva Network in a variety of roles and currently manages RESTORE. 

For further information on advocacy see http: //www.viva.org

THE SACRED ACT OF PARENTING: A BIBLICALLY AND THEOLOGICALLY INFORMED PERSPECTIVE OF PARENTING because of death, divorce, war, neglect, or abuse. Single-parent and two-parent families are broken and struggling in various ways. Poverty, lack of time to spend with children (often through economic pressures) parents who are self-centred or unable to pass on faith to their children all contribute to the difficulty of raising children who are themselves able to parent. There are also many children who have no

Marcia Bunge identifies four key parts of parenting from the Bible that can help empower the church in its responsibility to support those in a parenting role. Although children best thrive when they are raised by two loving parents within the covenant of marriage, in a fallen world people and relationships can be damaged. Many children have only one parent

21


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

Principle: Integration

Case study: Ugandan Network

Principle: Purpose

Case study: Malawi

Our goal is for advocacy to be integrated into all we do so that it takes place alongside practical care for ‘children at risk’. This two-fold dynamic addresses both the causes and the effects of injustice. Advocacy will often flow out of project work, though it contains very distinctive activities. Advocacy and practical care are complementary and should always be viewed as such.

Network members work with many children with HIV/AIDS and with those orphaned or abandoned by families unable to cope. The Ugandan network believes that the children’s needs would be best met by fostering or adoption into families but Ugandan law has been prohibitive and adoption is culturally unusual.

It is important to work out why you are seeking to influence decision-makers. Unless we are meeting a clear, purposeful and legitimate need for advocacy, it will not work. You should only engage in advocacy where you have a long-term commitment to partnership with the people affected by the situation that needs addressing. Their concerns should come first. People will notice and be more likely to listen to what you say.

Facing a similar issue to that in Uganda (the need for legal changes to make adoption easier) the network in Malawi carried out research and subsequently used forums to discuss the proposed changes with groups of people, such as social welfare, the ministry of justice, lawyers, and other civil society stakeholders.

Principle: Strategy

Case study: Colombia

As advocacy work gets under way, strategies will emerge. These may be unexpected or even radical... Christian NGOs may have to partner with secular groups... Targets may have to change... Risks may emerge that need to be addressed... In these circumstances strong support systems are crucial. If people are kept informed at each stage, their involvement and interest will be maintained. Remember that advocacy is not always popular and issues are always more complicated than they first appear. Your strategy will need to be adapted

Following successful work with a national alliance of mainly international organizations on a policy proposal for children, the Colombian Network got involved with the alliance on a regular basis.

Integration Ugandan Network

As a result of working with the media and with key government officials, the government initiated a review of the fostering and adoption process. A key feature of the network’s efforts was to encourage Christians to lead by example in fostering thereby integrating practice and advocay Source: Rita Nkemba, Voiceless Children’s Advocacy Group, Uganda

Principle: Empowerment

Case study: Afghanistan

Advocacy must empower and enable people. Whenever possible advocacy must be done by those who are affected by a situation so they can articulate their needs and influence decision-makers in their own right. While it takes longer and uses more resources for those affected by a situation to participate in advocacy, there are also many benefits to their involvement because any solutions are more likely to be ‘owned’ and accepted and therefore they will probably work better.

During the rule of the Taliban. A translation of the CRC was smuggled into Afghanistan and distributed to children and their parents. Classes were held so that people could learn more and discuss the relevance of the CRC.

Empowerment Afghanistan

Even though at that time the CRC could not be integrated into legislation, parents were empowered by this approach because they had the opportunity to discuss the difficulties of parenting and were inspired by the guidelines to become more dedicated parents. Source: Jo de Bery, Save the Children USA, Afghanistan

Principle: Accountability

Case study: South Africa

Accountability occurs whenever there is a relationship. This is vital whenever you have to speak for someone else, particularly someone who is not present. Advocates are answerable for the actions they take and decision-makers are answerable for the decisions they make. Accountability ensures that advocacy is legitimate. No-one should engage in advocacy without clear reasons for getting involved and it follows that advocacy work must be clearly documented, with good monitoring and evaluation activities in place. Without accountability it is unlikely that your advocacy work will be sustainable or

The Children in Distress (CINDI) network engages with local and national government in the interests of children affected by HIV/AIDS as well as implementing programmes for prevention and early intervention.

successful.

Source: Mark Atterton, Viva Network Facilitation Team

The network recognized that the biggest impact would be through constructive engagement rather than confrontation. This decision has, for example, allowed the network to be involved in such valuable activities as monitoring when children are not adequately cared for within the child care system. Crucially the authorities were able to take appropriate decisions to improve the lives of children and families.

Accountability South Africa

20

Purpose Malawi

Source: Frank Dimmock, NOVOC, Malawi

Strategy Colombia

This has led to the network working with the government on implementation of the proposal. In addition the network has been able to mobilize and train the national church in each region to work with children and to defend children’s rights. Source: Naomi Sosa, Latin America team, Tearfund

to accommodate this. Katharine de Villiers has worked with Viva Network in a variety of roles and currently manages RESTORE. 

For further information on advocacy see http: //www.viva.org

THE SACRED ACT OF PARENTING: A BIBLICALLY AND THEOLOGICALLY INFORMED PERSPECTIVE OF PARENTING because of death, divorce, war, neglect, or abuse. Single-parent and two-parent families are broken and struggling in various ways. Poverty, lack of time to spend with children (often through economic pressures) parents who are self-centred or unable to pass on faith to their children all contribute to the difficulty of raising children who are themselves able to parent. There are also many children who have no

Marcia Bunge identifies four key parts of parenting from the Bible that can help empower the church in its responsibility to support those in a parenting role. Although children best thrive when they are raised by two loving parents within the covenant of marriage, in a fallen world people and relationships can be damaged. Many children have only one parent

21


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

parents at all or their parents cannot care for them. The number of child-headed households or children being raised by grandparents is rising all around the world. Abandoned children may be awaiting adoption in foster care homes or orphanages, or even expecting to be brought up in institutions.

must help. Numerous biblical passages explicitly command us to help widows and orphans — the most vulnerable in society. i The Bible depicts many ways that children suffer and are the victims of war, disease, or injustice. In the New Testament, Jesus also healed children. These, and other passages clearly show that all children, like all adults, are our “neighbours,” and caring for them is part of seeking justice and loving our neighbour.

Although families face these and other obstacles, one of the most important ways to help children is by supporting their parents or primary care-givers. Several studies and common sense tells us that parents should love and care for their children and that communities should support parents. Supporting parents is especially important because the family has the most potential of any institution for providing for children’s basic needs and for shaping their spiritual and moral lives.

have many children — is to receive God’s blessing. The Psalmist says children are a “heritage” from the Lord and a “reward” (Psalm 127:3). Related to the idea that children are gifts and signs of God’s blessing, the Bible speaks of them as sources of joy and pleasure. Examples include Sarah rejoicing at the birth of her son, Isaac (Genesis 21:6-7). Even in his terror and anguish, Jeremiah recalls the story that news of his own birth once made his father, Hilkiah, “very glad” (Jeremiah 20:15). An angel promises Zechariah and Elizabeth that their child will bring them “joy and gladness” (Luke 1:14). Jesus remarks on a mother’s joy at bringing a child into the world (John 16:20-21).

Second, the Bible says that parents are to have positive attitudes toward their children. They are to see them as gifts of God and sources of joy made in the image of God, and therefore parents are to respect them, enjoy them, and be grateful for them. Photo: Ian de Villiers

of parental love they need. One way to begin to do this is to explore what the Bible and the Christian tradition have to say about parenting. Exploring this theme helps to show the importance of parents and can help us think about practical strategies and implications for work with children at risk in our own local situations and around the world.

Although we all recognize the importance of good parenting, support for children and parents is undermined in both contemporary cultures and even within the church. For example, poverty, low paying jobs, or tight working schedules often do not allow parents to provide for their children’s basic needs let alone to spend enough time with them. Whether the family is rich or poor, children may suffer neglect and abuse and struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and depression, and lack of sexual boundaries. There are also the effects of technology, the media, and market pressures to consider.

Children are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and so worthy of human dignity and respect from the start of their lives. It follows that children, like adults, possess the fullness of humanity – regardless of race, gender, or class. Although parents nurture their children, they are not made in the image of their parents but in the greater image of God.

Children also have ideas on parenting

A third part of the sacred task of parenting, is the need for parents to understand that children are also developing beings and moral agents in need of instruction and guidance. Therefore parents are to nurture the faith of children and help them use their gifts and talents to love and serve others and contribute to the common good. Several biblical passages speak about these responsibilities. For example, adults are to “train children in the right way” (Proverbs 22:6) and bring up children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Parents and caring adults are to tell children about God’s faithfulness (Isaiah 38:19) and “the glorious deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4b). They are to teach children the words of the law (Deuteronomy 11:18-19; 31:12-13), to love God with the whole heart (Deuteronomy 6:5), and do what is right, just, and fair (Genesis 18:19; Proverbs 2:9).

A BIBLICALLY AND THEOLOGICALLY INFORMED VIEW OF PARENTING Certainly a biblically and theologically informed view of parenting emphasizes that parents are to love their children. There are numerous stories in the Bible of parents who love their children. Many analogies are also made between parental love and the love of God. The prophet Hosea, for example, speaks about how God loved Israel when it was a child. Hosea depicts God as acting tenderly toward Israel, gently bending down and feeding Israel, helping it to walk, and treating it with kindness and tenderness (Hosea 11:1-8).

Although many churches uphold the importance of parenting and offer a variety of programs for families, there are also churches that undermine support for children and parents. In general churches do not express strong teachings about parenting or children. Most churches have far more to say about other related issues, such as abortion, marriage, or sexuality, but little about children, parenting, and our shared responsibility to children. Children’s ministry and religious education programs are often theologically weak and under-funded and also neglect the importance of parents in the development of children’s faith. Religious education programs should rather operate as an extension of the home.

Parental love takes many forms. It involves not only the feeling of love but also particular attitudes, actions, and responsibilities. In the Bible and the Christian tradition we find at least four dimensions of the primary purpose and task of parenting.

Because parenting is undermined, we need to find ways to support parents as the most important people in a child’s moral and spiritual formation. We also need to ensure that all children, especially those without parents or families, are given the kind

First, and most basically, parents are to provide for their children’s basic needs of food, shelter, and affection. When parents are unable to take up this task or if they have died, then others in the community

22

Photo: Bless Ministry Selayang Project, SIB church, KL Children also havePrima ideas on parenting

Many passages in the Bible speak of children as gifts of God or signs of God’s blessing. For example, Leah, Jacob’s first wife, speaks of her sixth son as a dowry, or wedding gift, presented by God (Genesis 30:20). Several biblical passages indicate that parents who receive these precious gifts are being “remembered” by God (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:11, 19) and given “good fortune” (Genesis 30:11). To be “fruitful” —

Fourth, parents should also understand that children can be models of faith, and therefore the sacred task of parenting also involves listening to children and learning from them. Many gospel passages turn upside down the common assumption

i See, for example, Exodus 22:22-24, Deuteronomy 10:17-18; and 14:28-29.

23


RESTORE

Mar ʼ06

pursuing God’s standards for children

parents at all or their parents cannot care for them. The number of child-headed households or children being raised by grandparents is rising all around the world. Abandoned children may be awaiting adoption in foster care homes or orphanages, or even expecting to be brought up in institutions.

must help. Numerous biblical passages explicitly command us to help widows and orphans — the most vulnerable in society. i The Bible depicts many ways that children suffer and are the victims of war, disease, or injustice. In the New Testament, Jesus also healed children. These, and other passages clearly show that all children, like all adults, are our “neighbours,” and caring for them is part of seeking justice and loving our neighbour.

Although families face these and other obstacles, one of the most important ways to help children is by supporting their parents or primary care-givers. Several studies and common sense tells us that parents should love and care for their children and that communities should support parents. Supporting parents is especially important because the family has the most potential of any institution for providing for children’s basic needs and for shaping their spiritual and moral lives.

have many children — is to receive God’s blessing. The Psalmist says children are a “heritage” from the Lord and a “reward” (Psalm 127:3). Related to the idea that children are gifts and signs of God’s blessing, the Bible speaks of them as sources of joy and pleasure. Examples include Sarah rejoicing at the birth of her son, Isaac (Genesis 21:6-7). Even in his terror and anguish, Jeremiah recalls the story that news of his own birth once made his father, Hilkiah, “very glad” (Jeremiah 20:15). An angel promises Zechariah and Elizabeth that their child will bring them “joy and gladness” (Luke 1:14). Jesus remarks on a mother’s joy at bringing a child into the world (John 16:20-21).

Second, the Bible says that parents are to have positive attitudes toward their children. They are to see them as gifts of God and sources of joy made in the image of God, and therefore parents are to respect them, enjoy them, and be grateful for them. Photo: Ian de Villiers

of parental love they need. One way to begin to do this is to explore what the Bible and the Christian tradition have to say about parenting. Exploring this theme helps to show the importance of parents and can help us think about practical strategies and implications for work with children at risk in our own local situations and around the world.

Although we all recognize the importance of good parenting, support for children and parents is undermined in both contemporary cultures and even within the church. For example, poverty, low paying jobs, or tight working schedules often do not allow parents to provide for their children’s basic needs let alone to spend enough time with them. Whether the family is rich or poor, children may suffer neglect and abuse and struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and depression, and lack of sexual boundaries. There are also the effects of technology, the media, and market pressures to consider.

Children are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and so worthy of human dignity and respect from the start of their lives. It follows that children, like adults, possess the fullness of humanity – regardless of race, gender, or class. Although parents nurture their children, they are not made in the image of their parents but in the greater image of God.

Children also have ideas on parenting

A third part of the sacred task of parenting, is the need for parents to understand that children are also developing beings and moral agents in need of instruction and guidance. Therefore parents are to nurture the faith of children and help them use their gifts and talents to love and serve others and contribute to the common good. Several biblical passages speak about these responsibilities. For example, adults are to “train children in the right way” (Proverbs 22:6) and bring up children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Parents and caring adults are to tell children about God’s faithfulness (Isaiah 38:19) and “the glorious deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4b). They are to teach children the words of the law (Deuteronomy 11:18-19; 31:12-13), to love God with the whole heart (Deuteronomy 6:5), and do what is right, just, and fair (Genesis 18:19; Proverbs 2:9).

A BIBLICALLY AND THEOLOGICALLY INFORMED VIEW OF PARENTING Certainly a biblically and theologically informed view of parenting emphasizes that parents are to love their children. There are numerous stories in the Bible of parents who love their children. Many analogies are also made between parental love and the love of God. The prophet Hosea, for example, speaks about how God loved Israel when it was a child. Hosea depicts God as acting tenderly toward Israel, gently bending down and feeding Israel, helping it to walk, and treating it with kindness and tenderness (Hosea 11:1-8).

Although many churches uphold the importance of parenting and offer a variety of programs for families, there are also churches that undermine support for children and parents. In general churches do not express strong teachings about parenting or children. Most churches have far more to say about other related issues, such as abortion, marriage, or sexuality, but little about children, parenting, and our shared responsibility to children. Children’s ministry and religious education programs are often theologically weak and under-funded and also neglect the importance of parents in the development of children’s faith. Religious education programs should rather operate as an extension of the home.

Parental love takes many forms. It involves not only the feeling of love but also particular attitudes, actions, and responsibilities. In the Bible and the Christian tradition we find at least four dimensions of the primary purpose and task of parenting.

Because parenting is undermined, we need to find ways to support parents as the most important people in a child’s moral and spiritual formation. We also need to ensure that all children, especially those without parents or families, are given the kind

First, and most basically, parents are to provide for their children’s basic needs of food, shelter, and affection. When parents are unable to take up this task or if they have died, then others in the community

22

Photo: Bless Ministry Selayang Project, SIB church, KL Children also havePrima ideas on parenting

Many passages in the Bible speak of children as gifts of God or signs of God’s blessing. For example, Leah, Jacob’s first wife, speaks of her sixth son as a dowry, or wedding gift, presented by God (Genesis 30:20). Several biblical passages indicate that parents who receive these precious gifts are being “remembered” by God (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:11, 19) and given “good fortune” (Genesis 30:11). To be “fruitful” —

Fourth, parents should also understand that children can be models of faith, and therefore the sacred task of parenting also involves listening to children and learning from them. Many gospel passages turn upside down the common assumption

i See, for example, Exodus 22:22-24, Deuteronomy 10:17-18; and 14:28-29.

23


RESTORE pursuing God’s standards for children

held in Jesus’ time and our own: that children are to be seen but not heard and that the primary role of children is to learn from and obey adults. In contrast, the New Testament shows children in striking and even radical ways as moral witnesses, models of faith for adults, sources or vehicles of revelation, representatives of Jesus, and even paradigms for entering the reign of God. In the gospels we see Jesus embracing children and rebuking those who would turn them away, healing them, and even lifting them up as models of faith. He identifies himself with children and equates welcoming a little child in his name to welcoming himself and the one who sent him (Matthew 18:2-5).

sinful and disobedient, then our view of parenting will be narrowly defined as punishing and physically disciplining children. On the other hand, if we think of children primarily as models for adults or sources of joy, then our view of parenting will be narrowly understood as learning from and enjoying children, and we will forget the responsibilities of teaching and guiding them. The Bible gives us a much more complex picture of parenting and children. Because of the many obstacles faced by children and those parenting them, the Church needs to lift up the importance of parenting. Through a greater understanding of the Bible’s teaching and the Christian tradition, the Church can be empowered to find more ways to help all children by supporting parents or primary care-givers in the sacred task of parenting and by ensuring that all children find the love and care that they need.

As followers of Christ, Christian parents have a responsibility to listen to children and to learn from them. They should take their questions and concerns seriously. This does not contradict the parental responsibility to nurture their children’s faith as described above, or that they are creatures who are “near angels,” “closer to God,” or “more spiritual” than adults. However, these passages and others do challenge parents and other caring adults to be receptive to the lessons and wisdom that children offer them, to honour children’s questions and insights, and to recognize that children can positively influence the community and the moral and spiritual lives of adults.

QUESTIONS: • What are some of the challenges facing children and parents today in your setting?

CONCLUSION

What are some biblical views of children and parents that are important to your work and your own spiritual life?

What practical implications do these views have for your work with and on behalf of children? Dr. Marcia Bunge is Professor of Theology and Humanities and Project Director of The Child in Religion and Ethics at Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, Indiana, USA).

I have provided only a brief sketch of a biblically and theologically informed view of parenting, yet even these four aspects remind us that we can build a strong view of parenting only by at the same time, cultivating a vibrant and rich theological understanding of children and childhood. For example, on the one hand, if we think of children only or primarily as

Based on Remarks Given at the International Cutting Edge Conference, September 2005 (Cirencester, UK).

Viva Network: Working together to bring more children better care

International Centre PO Box 633, Oxford, UK, OX2 0XZ t: +44(0)1865 320100 f: +44(0)1865 320101 email:info@viva.org Website: www.viva.org

The launch of Restore has been made possible through the assistance of Compassion International and Mission of Mercy.

Regional Centres Asia

Latin America

Africa

Europe

Viva Network Asia Centre Berhad, PO Box 13230, GPO, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Perseketuan, 50804 Malaysia t: +60 3 905 84154 f: +60 3 905 84057 website: www.asia.viva.org

Red Viva de América Latina, PO Box 544-2050, San José, Costa Rica t: +506 280 4400 f: +506 280 4400 extension 114 website: www.redviva.org

Viva Network Africa, PO Box 14003, Kampala, Uganda t: +256 41 270056 Website: www.africa.viva.org

Viva Network Europe, PO Box 633, Oxford, UK, OX2 0XZ t: +44(0)1865 320100 f: +44(0)1865 320101 Website: www.viva.org

24


Restore Page 01