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UN Global Day of Parents 2016

Global Day of Parents Observed at the United Nations

New York City, United States—In observance of the UN Global Day of Parents, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See organized an event on June 1, 2016, in partnership with Universal Peace Federation, entitled: “The Importance of Motherhood and Fatherhood for Integral Development."

On September 14, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution A/66/L.59/Rev.1 proclaiming June 1 as the Global Day of Parents to be observed annually, honoring parents throughout the world. Guided by the resolve of the peoples of the United Nations, with a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being, the day is observed in appreciation of all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to their children and their lifelong sacrifice toward nurturing this relationship.

H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, opened the program by addressing the parents' mission as teachers who assist in forming values such as compassion, solidarity, trust, mutual respect, responsibility, education, hard work and other values needed for global citizens to live in harmony as a society. He mentioned Pope Francis’ published exhortation Amoris Laetitia and emphasized the following statement: “The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world.”

The pope stressed the crucial role of mothers where an authentic feminism should not negate motherhood nor weaken the maternal presence. In addition, mothers need to be appreciated because motherhood is an antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism. A child will grow in confidence, self-esteem and empathy as a result of the mother’s tenderness and compassion, and will feel that the world is good and a welcoming place. The pope also referred to fatherhood as crucial to the raising of a child’s perception of the limits of life and openness to the challenges of the world and the need for hard work and effort. The pope emphasized the complementary teamwork of the father and mother, in bringing harmony and love to the child through their mutual love as a solid foundation of the family and the children’s future.

Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of the Universal Peace Federation, spoke about utilizing all available assets for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He spoke of the family as a social asset “that needs to be better construed in terms of existing contributions and its under-utilized potential to promote development.” He also added: “In our UPF programs we often say that ‘the family is the school of love.’ … However, the family also transmits and teaches, through the parents, many other virtues, capacities, dispositions, attitudes and skills. For this reason, the family, and parenting, deserves and should be included in discussions of development.”

After the opening remarks by the host organizations, Dr. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, spoke on “Parenthood in Transition and the Consequences for Families and Society.” He spoke about the nature of family life around the world. He cited studies about the retreat from parenthood manifested by declining rates of fertility, and the retreat from marriage due to divorce, cohabitation, non-marital childbearing as well as the rise of single parenthood. He went in-depth on each issue and how it affects the economy, population, and child’s success in the future. He pointed out that research from around the world indicates that children have the greatest advantages on every level when raised by their biological mother and father in a stable family.

Another speaker, Mr. Brian Caulfield, director of Fathers for Good Initiative of the Knights of Columbus (FathersForGood.org), addressed the “Importance of Fatherhood for Men, Women and Children and Society.” He spoke about the consequences of the absence of fatherhood in the development of the child. He also raised the issue of the growing belief that fatherhood is expendable. He said that this false notion is commonly portrayed in the media and is a damaging problem that must be addressed for the sake of children.

The next speaker, Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times special sections manager and former national reporter for family and social issues, spoke on the “Importance of Motherhood for Women, Men, Children and Society.” She shared with the audience three major points: a mother’s self-sacrifice during pregnancy is critical for the child's health and well-being; motherhood has a lasting benefit because certain important cognitive capacities of the maternal brain are remodeled and strengthened during motherhood; and, lastly, mothers acquire special emotional intelligence during the investment required of responsive mothers.

The next speaker was Dr. Meg Meeker, a well-known pediatrician, author and expert on parenting, teens and children’s health. She focused her talk on “How Mothers and Fathers Working Together Strengthen Men, Women, Children and Society.” She mentioned that as a parent there is a need to think about the child’s perspective. As a child advocate, she shared that the problems that children face today are different than before due to the increased time spent on electronic devices and decreased time spent with the parents. She stressed that, for children's well-being, parent-child and mother-father connectedness are essential.  

The final speaker, Dr. Deborah MacNamara, clinical counselor at the Neufeld Institute, educator and author, talked on Parenting in the Digital Age.” She said, “It is essential to know the importance of exposing only certain tools to our children in the digital world.” She spoke about parent-child attachment as the fundamental need for the emotional, social and intellectual development of every child and adolescent. She implored parents to make sure children do not substitute their connection to their parents with an attachment to electronic devices, as this will derail the child’s development. She emphasized that parents today need to manage electronic tool usage properly and establish the norm that family relationships are the priority.

The speakers addressed an audience of 300 participants from the UN community, including diplomats, UN agencies, Secretariat officials, and UN NGOs. UPF-USA brought a large delegation of 20 participants, who were enthusiastic and participated in the question-and-answer session after the presentations.


Related Link:

The Importance of Fatherhood and Motherhood for Integral Development : To mark the Global Day of Parents, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, together with the Universal Peace Federation, is hosting a Side Event on the importance of fatherhood and motherhood for the integral development of men, women, children and all of society.

The Holy See UN - Official Facebook Page

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