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UN International Day of Families 2014

International Day of Families Observed in Forums in Germany

UPF-Germany observed the UN International Day of Families 2014 with forums in Frankfurt on May 3 and Stuttgart on May 17.


"What Are the Values to Be Taught at School?" was the topic of an UPF symposium in Frankfurt on May 3. Four presentations were followed by a lively discussion with the audience. The four speakers were a former school director, a current high school teacher and a future teacher still studying at the university. The fourth speaker was a psychologist.

In the first presentation, Christian Haubold, a teacher of Protestant religion and history, elaborated on the three stages of education: formation of character, the acquisition of proper ethical conduct in relation to others and fostering individual development according to inclination and talent. Schools concentrate on the third stage only, while character education and ethical conduct are almost entirely left to the family. Many families feel overwhelmed by that task and are looking for support – mostly in vain. Schools should play a supportive role for character and behavioral education.

Former school director Wolfgang Krug emphasized the importance of creating a climate of trust and cooperation between the school and the family. This is not an easy task and demands much understanding of people and forbearance on the part of the teacher. University education barely touches on this important subject and mostly concentrated on the transfer of knowledge. Krug did visit each family of his pupils personally while still active in his profession.

The third presenter, Martin van Kampen, is still on his way to become a teacher. He would encourage parents to get involved more in school decisions and school life, even though it might be uncomfortable at times. Parents’ assemblies at school are an important tool for parents to have an impact on school politics. He also gave some examples of “democratically-led schools”, mainly from the United States.

The most though-provoking presentation came at the end from Hildegard Piepenburg, a mother of four who is finishing her studies in psychology. In her message she stated that the so called “sexual revolution” is far from over but takes on a new momentum in the form in the ideology of “gender mainstreaming.” Gender mainstreaming is no longer concerned with offering equal job opportunities and social standing to men and women alike. It has gone far beyond that and has the “free choice of sexual behavior” at the core of its agenda, aiming especially at young people, even children. Gradually this gender ideology is creeping into the curricula of schools. Instead of offering guidance and orientation to young people about how to achieve a fulfilling and happy family life, the youngsters are confronted with a whole spectum of possible sexual relations, encouraging them to make their own choices. Even kindergartens are becoming the target of gender mainstreaming. Society at large may not even be aware of this development, and parents are surprised about what their children are being taught at school.

In the final round of discussion it was agreed that democracy can be tedious, but the active involvement of parents with issues about what should and what should not be taught at school is of paramount importance. Only such involvement can curb trends such as gender mainstreaming.

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As in previous years, UPF marked the UN International Day of Families 2014 with a program on May 17 in Stuttgart. It was a colorful, international group, young and old, who met determined to devote some time to deal more intensively with the topic of the family, here and now.

First, Hubert Arnoldi explained a little about the origin and purpose of the event, and encouraged the participants to see the original value of the family not only from the viewpoint of religion, but as an essential core of what society means today. He also mentioned the need to pay attention to the threat from destructive, family-hostile ideologies, and without fail work together to propose solutions.

A musical virtuoso, Christop Fröher, Ambassador of Peace and holder of a family award, played a wonderful piece on the flute, to attune us, so to speak, to the topic.

After this, Hilde Piepenburg gave a presentation on the topic: "The Family - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," giving an impressive picture of the development of the family in the course of history. The nuclear family consisting of father, mother and children living together in one separate household is a relatively new phenomenon which first appeared in Middle and Western European cities some time before the industrial revolution. The bourgeois family created a special type of ethos which eventually led to the acknowledgement of the rights and freedom of the individual as well as the development of modern economy and democracy.

The power for the development of society today, as yesterday, is to be found in the dynamics of well-functioning families. The challenge parents face today is to educate children guided by love, which means to respect and foster their personality, to set clear boundaries and to raise them to become independent, autonomous, responsible and peace-loving human beings. The most effective way to achieve this is an authoritative - not authoritarian – style of education. How to achieve such parental competencies is well described in Michele Borba’s book, Parents Do Make a Difference. The 8 development goals she calls for are: Self-confidence, assertiveness, communication skills, responsible problem solving, cooperation, self-motivation, perseverance and empathy.’

Autonomous, assertive families, who practice love and solidarity, can also be politically effective and promote peace in society and effect justice. To hold men and women as equal in position and value does not mean that they should be considered the same. Allowances must be made for their differences, and that means also that the functions that are considered ‘womanly’ should no longer be devalued but given full recognition. The work of education is not private but public, since its ‘product’ is advantageous as ‘human capital’ to the whole society. This work should be held equal to paid employment in contributing to a pension because the pension system rests on two pillars: the contributions from paid employment and the generative contribution of families in the form of children who will support the system in the future. Therefore, today’s unbalanced situation should be eliminated.

Mrs. Piepenburg also mentioned that the family as an institution is threatened today by ‘gender’ ideologies that claim to undo male and female biological identities by annulling traditional gender roles and creating new ones. These ideas are being propagated world-wide with public money.

Such topics, and an invitation to participate in current demonstrations for family values, were a few of the important points that were discussed with animation. Participants were in agreement that now is the time to stand up with renewed vigor for the original, natural family of father, mother and children. The informative books from Gabriele Kuby were warmly recommended as reading material on the topic.

To conclude the meeting, the family award was given to Aiko Yamada, an artist from Japan who lives in a three-generation household and is very active in familial and social domains.

This wonderful and important event was brought to an end with lively discussion over coffee and cake, and a souvenir group photo.

Report by Hubert Arnoldi

International Day of Families 2014 from Universal Peace Federation International


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