Family empowerment incorporates many factors. It is the first and basic unit of society. It can involve infants, children, adolescents, young adults, adults, parents, mother, father, grandparents, guardians, adopted members, and even senior citizens. The different stages of life are all part of the family.
Other family members may include uncles, aunts, cousins and other relatives. And even close friends considered as family.
Family empowerment is a lifelong process. From early childhood to elders like aging grandparents grappling with old age issues like dementia, etc.
With respect to children, a family home is usually the safest place for a child to develop into a responsible adult. It acts as the child’s first interface with other people. Here is where love is taught and learned.
All family members play an important role in each other’s well-being, and hence the accent is on family empowerment.
When we are born into a family, a choice not of our own, this gift of family is one that every person should feel grateful for in life.
The feeling of having a family’s support is a very empowering feeling for every dwelling member.
There are many factors that are important for the family to be aware of, in order to provide a safe and secure home for the members in the family.
Parent empowerment or parental empowerment is making sure children’s guardians are empowered for the task ahead for proper upbringing and all that it entails.
An empowered family system of empowered parents means the parent or parents are well aware of their responsibilities towards the child and takes care of them, with or without help from external agencies.
An empowered family with parent empowerment makes sure the child is loved and cared for, has the financial stability to support the child, and the child’s education is always prioritized.Hence, the emphasis on family empowerment.
A child growing up in such an environment is likely to make the right choices at the right time to lead a successful life.
The well-being of the family depends to a large extend on these stated factors.
Love and Care
The love and care that a child experiences from parent or parents and siblings forms the basis of a strong relationship between them.
When a member feels loved in the family, he or she grows up capable of loving others and of accepting love from others.
If the member knows that the love and care from family is unconditional and non-judgmental, that person will always come back to the family in times of trouble rather than indulge in other ways of overcoming problems.
The needs of a family are many.
Right from adequate housing facilities, quality food, proper healthcare, clothing and childcare, the family needs a dependable source of income to take care of all this.
Different countries has aids and schemes to help financially challenged parents to bring up their children. Because the governing body knows that it is important for the child to have at least the basic amenities growing up.
There are tax exemptions, financial aids, free or discounted lunch at schools, scholarship programs, counselors, support groups, etc., that work towards providing help for children and students who need it the most.
Most governments have policies of free education for children until a certain age. The parents however have to ensure that they avail this facility and send their children to schools.
This holds good for people living in any country, and under any circumstances. A better future for the child is ensured by proper education.
For this, it is important that the parent understands the importance of education today.
Also, as children grow older, apart from basic primary and secondary education, more skills can be learned.
Different skill-sets empower individuals in a family to be independent.
These same family members with developed skills help can support the family unit as a whole. Together is sometimes far better than making it on your own, especially when you can pool resources collectively.
An empowered family system means the parent or parents are well aware of their responsibilities towards the child and takes care of them, with or without help from external agencies.
An empowered family makes sure the child is loved and cared for, has the financial stability to support the child, and the child’s education is always prioritized.
Hence, the onus is on family empowerment. A child growing up in such an environment is likely to make the right choices at the right time to lead a successful life.
Family Empowerment Definition
“Family Empowerment provides solution-building services that help parents tackle family problems and fortify family strengths in an effort to promote child safety and well-being .“
“Today’s children are tomorrow’s future”.
If we want a good future for our society, country and world as a whole, it is important that we provide today’s children with the right environment to grow and thrive.
Some families have the right circumstances to do it themselves and others need intervention and help from external agencies to do so.
In either case, the accent is on family empowerment in order to ensure child safety and well-being.
This empowerment should help the family to find solutions for the problems they are facing. The problem could be of any nature and the family empowerment service provider will vary depending on the problem faced by the family.
What Is Family Empowerment
Now, let us understand what family empowerment is.
Family empowerment is basically, making the family aware of the requirements to raise a happy and healthy family.
Making them aware of their responsibilities towards the other family members and providing them with the means to do so.
If we look at the relationship between parents and children, the parents have a huge responsibility of providing the right environment for the overall development of the child.
The key factors that are involved in empowering the family are:
It is unfair to expect individuals to already know how to raise kids or how to empower them.
In olden days, when large families lived together or the entire village was involved in raising the child, the new parents did not have to worry too much.
There was always an elder around who knew what had to be done. The knowledge passed down from one generation to another.
Later on, social workers and government authorised agencies started investing time and money to impart this knowledge to the new families.
Today, books and the internet provide this knowledge to families.
The source of knowledge could be from anywhere.
The source of empowerment here is the knowledge!
Tools and Techniques
Along with having the knowledge, it is important to have the tools and techniques to put that knowledge into practice.
It could be about the practical ways to handle a child who is going through a particular condition or who needs special care. These are best taught by experienced people who have the authority to do so.
The agencies that work towards family empowerment are trained in specialised areas and they provide training to the family members in order to empower them to handle difficult circumstances with regard to the child in the family.
Like with any new topic that we learn and practice, it is always helpful to have a group of like-minded people to share our experiences with.
The learnings of one person when shared in the group can benefit all the others.
When going through difficult times, they can derive strength and positivity from one another in the group.
The agencies that work towards family empowerment formed communities of families living under similar circumstances to act as support groups empowering them and giving them a cushion to fall back on.
When we embark on a new journey, it is important to have regular feedback on the progress.
It not only encourages us to keep going, it also tells us what we are doing right and where we are going wrong.
It is always easier to make amends with these periodic feedbacks.
In the case of a family, the health – physical, mental and emotional, the growth of the child etc., can be assessed by trained professionals and that is a great feedback for the family.
This feedback in turn empowers them to keep doing the right things.
Family Empowerment Services
Like mentioned earlier, there are different family empowerment services across the globe, dedicated to helping families cope with different conditions.
These conditions could vary from their living circumstances, the mental and physical health of the child in the family, the financial background of the family etc.
there are family empowerment services for families raising children with developmental disabilities,
family empowerment services for refugee families,
family empowerment services to ensure a healthy childhood in countries that have malnutrition and high infant mortality rates,
family empowerment services to help families cope with loss of child or children,
family empowerment services that help the families to enhance their ability to provide for their children.
These agencies empower families by providing them knowledge, financial aid, arranging for clothing, books, ensuring supply of healthy meals, connecting them to support groups for emotional support, training them to deal with certain circumstances, helping them deal with trauma and loss.
This tremendous service by means of empowerment, these agencies are doing, because they are showing rays of hope to the families during their most vulnerable times.
These agencies, through family empowerment, play a huge role in building a better society.
What Does Family Empowerment Mean
Family empowerment can mean different things to the different people.
For the family involved, it becomes their source of inspiration and power.
For the children growing up in that family, it is a gift which enables them to have a safe and memorable childhood.
For the people involved in family empowerment services and agencies, it is a great way of giving back to society, it is a great service to humanity.
For society, it is a means of ensuring a better future.
In conclusion, family empowerment is a solution based investment today in order to ensure a better future.
The investment is in families – the basic unit of the society.
The immediate impact is on the family members who are raising the children.
The investment is on the children growing up in the family through the family members.
The link to the future being – these children who grow up in an empowered family today, will grow into good citizens of the world tomorrow.
May each family in the world be empowered to provide each child in the family with everything that the child truly deserves!
Contributors: Deepa Kadavakat and Kazim Abasali