Hon. Michael Falzon,
Minister for Social Policy and Children’s Rights
Parenting is a way of handing over the baton from one generation to the next. It is through good positive parenting, that children learn to be empathic, kind, and of good moral character. The children we are rearing today, will be the workers of the next generation. Secure children do better at school, and promote good leadership, self confidence and social competence in problem solving. The way children are brought up, will also have a great influence on their choice of partner and on the kind of family they would dream of building.
Parenting, therefore, carries great responsibility and is indispensable for each and everyone’s wellbeing and also that of society at large. Nevertheless, parenting is also demanding in many ways and parents have to cope with a number of challenges when rearing their children. These challenges mainly revolve around the ability of the parents to give priority to the children’s best interests, as they build positive and secure relationships with them, relationships which are free from violence and which are conducive to their optimum development. These warm relationships need to extend to the other members of the family as well thus helping children grow in a nurturing environment, in a context where both parents see themselves as equal and able to balance work and family life, in order to be able to participate in the upbringing of their children. Other challenges include economic pressures that a number of parents face, which make it even harder for them to cope with the stressors of parenting.
It is for this reason that as a Ministry, we are strongly committed on supporting parents in their endeavours. Whilst recognising the importance that the Convention on the Rights of the Child gives to the family in terms of child wellbeing, the National Strategic Policy for Positive Parenting 2018-2024 further aims to give children and parents a voice, and accompanies them at every stage of the family life cycle.
As can be seen from the report being presented, we are starting our support right from the beginning by intervening during the perinatal period, when parents are expecting a baby, and in the postnatal period. Building on the sound existing infrastructure within the Health Service, the well-being of the baby and that of the parents is further enhanced by offering therapeutic support to mothers and fathers, who may be experiencing mental health difficulties. We are also supporting the relational wellbeing of the couple in situations, where the parents are experiencing couple distress. Our strategy seeks to support parents wherever they are in their stage of rearing their children and as early as possible. This strategy is also being implemented in conjunction with the National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion (2014-2024) and gives priority to those parents who are hard to reach.
I would like here to thank the interministerial Taskforce in charge of the implementation of the Positive Parenting Strategy for their work in these last four years. Despite the challenges that they faced related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they continued with their work online and in hybrid form. Indeed, the pandemic made it even clearer for all of us to appreciate, how crucial parents are for their children and how vital support is for the parents, especially when they are going through a critical situation. I augur that this sterling work continues with vigour, with the collaboration of the professionals in the field, and with that of the parents and the children themselves. It is only when we work as a team that we can achieve great things!
Ms Ruth Sciberras,
Chairperson of Positive Parenting Malta
Children bring so much joy and hope into the world and they are crucial to the future well-being of our society. The first years of life may be seen as a crucial investment for the wellbeing of children and beyond. Children are very malleable and sensitive to all that goes on around them; they easily pick up differences in emotional climate in relationships and contexts and are sometimes not yet skilled enough to deal with overwhelming emotions. This may negatively impact on their development and wellbeing.
When it comes to influences on a child’s development, it is generally understood that the most important role belongs to the parents. Parents are the greatest role-models who affect children’s values and opinions, the development of children’s personality and the acquisition of good habits. Their efforts determine whether the child’s potential will be reached, and whether the child will grow up to be happy and successful. Parenting styles differ from one family to another; there is in fact no single golden rule of upbringing. For certain however children need to grow up surrounded with love, attention, stability, and encouragement. Additionally, a positive parent-child relationship paves the way for the development of a secure attachment.
Undeniably, all of us have been touched by parenting in one way or another. Despite its beauty and satisfaction, parenting may however be quite a challenging journey – from the moment we decide to become parents to the time we give birth or are assigned the responsibility of a child, up until we die. Parenting is indeed a life-long experience, and you get to learn, grow, evolve as a parent along the years.
Thankfully parents can be supported throughout this rollercoaster ride full of emotions. There is an abundance of research, life experiences and evidence-based support available. Locally, we are blessed with numerous specialised parenting skills programmes, perinatal services, postnatal support; the list is endless.
The National Strategic Policy for Positive Parenting 2018-2024 brings all this information together and provides a clear research-based direction to all stakeholders involved. It brings all Ministries and all sectors of society together – Children and Family, Health, Education, Justice and Social Services – to share a common target and vision towards healthier families and a healthier society. Each and every child is unique and important. This strategy listens to the voice of each child and echoes it to every corner of Malta and Gozo. We do this by all communication means available – meetings, online sessions, groupwork with children, research and social media amongst others.
I would like to thank the Hon Minister Dr Michael Falzon, Minister for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights for believing wholeheartedly in this strategy and for launching the taskforce who are the driving force of this strategy. This report highlights the meetings, the training, the research and outreach carried out by this taskforce and presents the overall accomplishments to date. It also shows the commitment and passion of each professional involved. We are committed to reach each and every parent and child in our community and be there throughout the parenting journey, no matter what the challenges and difficulties life can present.
Professor Angela Abela
I am in agreement with Bowlby who stated that if a country values its children, it must cherish their parents. The National Strategic Policy for Positive Parenting 2018-2024 aims to focus on this important endeavour by supporting parents or others designated to this role, to raise children in a warm and secure family environment.
This Strategy is based on the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2012-2015) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Malta ratified in 1990. It is embedded in a cultural context, where child and parent participation are prioritised and is implemented in tandem with other important strategies including the National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and for Social Inclusion (2014-2024). The Strategy also endorses equality between parents and is in favour of family friendly measures which empower both parents to participate in the upbringing of the children.
It also builds on a good existing infrastructure of services. A number of universal interventions build on the services already on offer and cut across the departments and ministries thus creating a better synergy between one entity and another. Targeted interventions are especially aimed at parents who are considered hard to reach and to be more at risk. Equally important is early intervention given the importance of baby brain development in the first 1000 days. All of this necessitates an increase in professionals working with parents as well as specialised training offered to professional staff working with children and families.
Positive parenting is considered as an important building block in our society. In this respect investment in this area is considered paramount. The Strategy is in favour of evidence based policies and aims to build the evidence to show how important such an investment is. It makes sure that money is allocated where it is really needed and interventions are fruitful.
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