A feature by Christabel Addo, GNA
Cape Coast C/R, Aug 16, GNA - Parenting is admittedly the most tedious task ever assigned to humanity, but if well appreciated and accepted as a godly duty, can be enjoyed, considering its ripple effect on society.
Unfortunately, most parents lack the skills to perform this crucial task of molding the next generation into presentable and responsible adults to take over the mantle of national development and the preservation of our culture.
The task becomes more prominent with adolescence in the sense that a lot of changes begin to occur both within their physical, psychological and social spheres, and they need proper parental guidance to understand, appreciate and overcome the problems that confront them.
"I am now an 18-year old girl from the refugee camp at the Agyeikrom in the Central region and I am sexually active," said Ella to this reporter.
Ella (not her real name), explained that the first time she experienced the strange feeling for sex was when she was 16 years old, but she felt very odd, shy, confused, and thought she was going mad, because it was all new to her.
"There was this male classmate of mine who became close to me, and I realized that I always wanted to get his attention by dressing nicely and smelling good, so my mother noticed the change in me, and warn me not to play with boys or have them as friends anymore. But she never explained why and I was also afraid to ask her," she said.
Ella said out of curiosity she spoke to a friend, who told her a few things about sex, and that was how she got her education as an adolescent girl.
There are similar cases and incidents of such scenarios, where the lack of good parenting skills have resulted in serious consequences for many children especially adolescent girls, with some examples being unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV and even death.
In an effort to address the challenges confronting the youth during the transitional periods between childhood, adolescence to adulthood, a joint training programme for refugees on
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), Interactive theatre and Parent-Child Communication, has been organised by the United Nations Population Fund and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The training, which was part of the Canadian Government sponsorship, is to support Ghana to implement her adolescent girls' vision, and scale up existing strategies and interventions to holistically serve the needs of this vulnerable groups, especially those in refugee camps.
The objective of the training, is to equip the beneficiaries who were from selected refugee camps in Fetentaa in the Bono, Agyeikrom in the Central, Ampian in the Western, and Krisan also in the Western Regions respectively, and others who are already integrated into societies in urban centres especially in Accra, with information and the skills to become facilitators in their respective communities.
Some of the sampled views from girls from these refugee camps endorsed the fact that most of the adolescents (both sexes), have become very sexually active and school dropouts, due to the poor socio-economic and environmental conditions that pertains in their respective communities.
However, because most of the parents themselves lack parental skills, they are not able to educate or control the effects of their inactions.
Ms Audrey Vaho, a Peer Educator from the refugee camp at Fetentaa, explained that some of the girls in her community secretly visited the health centre for Family Planning (FP) services for fear of their parents knowing that they are sexually active.
Others, she said have the support of their parents who accompany them to these centres to access FP services, often to protect them against unwanted pregnancies.
She also said some of her friends, have also expressed their unwillingness to use other effective FP methods with the fear of experiencing complications or the myth of growing fat as they have seen and heard from others.
Dr Abraham Nyarko, a Consultant for the joint UNFPA/UNHCR training, said empowering adolescents especially girls with CSE was key to enable them to make informed choices and decisions, and this required a lot of skills and patience from parents.
He advised parents to develop good interpersonal relationship with their adolescent children, and create a healthy environment for effective communication, in order to build their confidence and self-esteem to manage this transitional period to adulthood in an informed manner.
He explained that good communication skills ought to be practiced over a long period for perfection, and urged parents to cultivate the habit of listening to the views or opinions of their children with rapt attention while maintaining positive body languages, and asking fewer questions, to assure their children of the importance of their contributions and a cordial relationship.
Again, parents must be precise, concise or clear in their communication and messages, avoiding the use of jargons that may dilute the real meaning of the messages they intended to communicate, he advised.
He said "the way we make them feel can either draw them closer or push them away from us".
It is a fact that contemporary societies and specifically most parents are loosing the importance of good parenting, resulting in the numerous social vices and the moral breakdown especially, among the youth worldwide.
Dr Claudia M. Donkor, the Programme Analyst, Reproductive Health and of Humanitarian Assistance, UNFPA, says the mandate of the Fund, stretches to all persons with the objective of leaving no one behind, hence the use of theatre to reach out to all persons including those in refugee camps.
She explained that the emphasis on girls was because they were the vulnerable group who experience high human right violations and abuses such as domestic violence, rape, poor access to nutrition as well as CSE including FP services, and access to formal education among other.
She called for collaborative effort by all stakeholders to ensure that the investment being made to address the present challenges were sustained through continuous education and the various strategies to empower the youth to be responsible contributors of national development.
There is therefore the need to garner efforts to salvage the good that skilled parenting play in shaping societies to be more responsive to the challenges that confront their children, particularly the adolescent girl and support them by investing time, energy and financial resources to holistically address their needs.
The wealth of every nation, it is said, depends much on the health of its people, and women are the main pillars for building a healthy society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).