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Developing the family through youth empowerment Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Comfort Robinson, Nigeria Aug 29, 2005
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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The family is a group of persons consisting of two parents (Husband & Wife) and children. In African settings a family can include a man, his wife children and their extended family members/relations living with them under their care. During the ancient times the family was made up of all the people in the household, including slaves.

Sociologists define the family as a group of people, united by ties of blood, marriage or adoption forming a single household, in which they perform their representative roles of husband and wife, son and daughter, mother and father, brother and sister, creating a common culture. In reference to this definition, “servants” cannot be included as members of the family because they are not united by ties of blood, marriage or adoption. Similarly, the wife’s sister or brother who lives around them is not a member of the family because he/she is related to the woman by blood and not part of the common household. However, many people regard all close kin as members of their families.

In any society, the family is the basic component which serves as the atom that makes up matter, like a larger body society. In almost all societies children are born into families and as they grow older it is the family which introduces them to the society at large. When a child is born, he/she grows from infant to childhood, to adolescent, to adult. As one ages he or she may move away from the close- community of the family into larger-community known as an “association”. An association includes a school, place of work, government and law. Sociologists have termed this transition as a movement from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft.

Families have the following basic functions reproduction, maintenance, socialization, placement, religious, political, economic and educational. When a child is born, he/she depends solely on their parents for survival. The baby depends on their parents or elders to learn how to communicate with others and it is through their roles models that the infant begins to mold into a character and become more aware of others. Eventually he/she begins to learn how to adjust he/her behavior in relation to others as a form of socialization. This process involves learning right and wrong values and they continue the process throughout our lives.

As an individual reaches their youth, they are introduced into more complex situations involving school. The family plays basic roles in the development of a child including personality, attitude, values, morals and ideals. It is on this foundation that adult socialization will be built.

Youth empowerment is the power, authority and the capability that to carry out responsibilities with more credibility, rationally and efficiently. A part from a family’s role in assisting a child in terms of training, directing, controlling and regulating, youth empowerment is derived from formal education through schools. The education system provides a system of social class or placement. If a youth is highly educated with the help or other institutions, the youth can be development and be empowered religiously, economically and politically. If a youth is empowered religiously, he has a gift of the Holy Spirit (ref 1 Corinth 12; 1-29). Investing in youth and empowering them today creates a wealth for tomorrow.

As children transition into their youth they remain members of their families. If one is empowered by the Holy Spirit with the gift of vocation to be a reverend sister priest, reverend brother, sisters, a prophet or the power of wisdom, knowledge or healing, speaking in tongues or distinguishing between spirit and the ability to learn a trade one can use such power for the betterment of their self and their family.

When youth are empowered educationally, economically or politically they can start to make change. This change can be manifested in areas such as improving the standard of living. The more capable a youth, the more they will be able to contribute to the education and enlightenment of the members of the family and community. They will be able to make environmental advancements such as building modern houses, adding taste and styles to the trend of things and hygienic environment. They will be able to contribute towards larger families and communities through churches, schools and community developments. Empowered youth will be able to contribute meaningfully to general discussions and decisions around their families.

There is a great need for both the parents and the government to empower the youth. In response to the saying “youth are the leaders of tomorrow”, we need to understand that before the tomorrow, youth need someone to educate, direct and empower them today. We must provide them with a proper mind set in terms of economic and sociological framework in order to enable them to know the best way to manage the resources available to them for a better tomorrow. Youth empowerment is necessary because by the time our current adult leaders pass away the youth of today will be the leaders.

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