UN Global Day of Parents 2013

Global Day of Parents Observed in Washington DC

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Washington DC, USA - Nearly 80 guests including four Ambassadors, 12 wives of ambassadors, diplomats from 20 embassies, and NGO leaders attended the first annual UN Global Day of Parents celebration on June 11, which was initiated in 2012 by H.E. Nassir A. Al-Nasser, former Ambassador of Qatar to the United Nations, during his presidency of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The day will be commemorated annually on June 1.

The resolution recognizes the important role of parents in the rearing of children and invites Member States to celebrate the day in full partnership with civil society, particularly involving young people and children.

Following lunch, Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, Director of UPF DC Office, welcomed everyone on behalf of UPF and The Washington Times Foundation. She mentioned the historic establishment of this day and reminded the guests that the United States had already established a Parents’ Day by a Joint Resolution of Congress on January 25, 1994 and signed into law for the fourth Thursday in July by President Bill Clinton on October 14, 1994.

Following a short video highlighting the worldwide activities of UPF, Mr. Larry Moffitt, Vice President of The Washington Times Foundation, stepped up as MC for the afternoon. He then introduced Mrs. Yoshimi Kadota, a professional opera singer, who moved the audience with her breath-taking renditions of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and "Nella Fastasia" (In My Fantasy).

The first speaker of the day was Mrs. Rosa Rai Djalal, wife of the Ambassador of Indonesia to the US. and president of the Muslim Women’s Association in Washington, DC. As a mother of three and a professional, she spoke on the essential role of parents in shaping the future of society. She said that before attending school, a child first learns at home, the first school. Parents are the first teachers. Schools teach spelling and grammar, but children learn how to walk and speak at home. Parents teach what is right and wrong, inculcating the morals and compassion needed for life. She continued that parents have the greatest responsibility in the world to do their best in raising up children to prepare them for life.

Not all parents can give the basic needs of their children, she added, but they do their best. Life is complex, and parents need to be the protectors and teachers of the child. Parents are the primary resource that children rely on. They are the first safety net, the first source of advice, regardless of their religion, marital, ethnic, or cultural situation. Without the proper protection, children can fall prey to bullies, drugs, and extremist militants.

Women play a significant role in the raising of children. Many studies show that educated women have healthier pregnancies and a lower infant mortality rate. “If you educate a man, you educate one person; if you educate a woman you educate a nation,” she said to an enthusiastic round of applause. Education is critical in the empowerment of women in all aspects of society. Women can juggle many roles: work in the community, in the family, and as a wage earner. When women have a loving partner they can do even more. With respect and good actions in the home, parents set the best example.

She concluded by saying, “We all have the same goal, we want children to be happy. We all want our children to be more successful than their parents. The common denominator in parenting is love.”

The next speaker was Mrs. Caroline Andjaba, wife of the ambassador of Namibia to the US and President of the Spouses of African Ambassadors Association in Washington, DC. She is the mother of six children. She began her comments by saying that, “Each child has a little of his father, a little of his mother, and a totally separate part all his own.” She has six unique characters in her family.

She continued by saying that the United Nations must be applauded for recognizing the role that parents play in shaping societies worldwide: "The family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children and for the full and harmonious development of their personality; children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding.” One key part of the parental role is to pass on good moral values to their children so they can make good choices and not take things for granted but develop high self-esteem, she added. When children have low self esteem they don’t usually love themselves; they develop resentment and tend to seek something outside the family to make themselves feel good. A teenage girl might seek a boy who says she is “pretty," a boy might try to show he is manly by being aggressive and fighting, eventually being a violent boyfriend or father.

Looking back at traditional African parenting, children learned value and responsibility from parents and village elders who taught through story-telling and riddles around the fire. Children also had “work” to do, which involved play, but they felt good about themselves when they finished their task. But modern African parents often spoil their children because of greater economic power. “We spoil them by buying labeled clothing, cell phones, and iPads, which overrun all of us and our traditional culture,” she added. Often face to face interaction is replaced with television and computers, and home-cooked meals are rare. We have become "absentee parents," she lamented. “How can we expect our children to cook for their families if we buy take-out food?”

Every elder and parent can nurture children. She concluded with the famous quotation that, "It takes an entire village to raise a child" and asked, “When was the last time we corrected our neighbors’ child?”

The third speaker was Ambassador Gilbert Galanxhi, Ambassador of Albania to the US. He has two children. Even though the UN Global Day of Parents was established only last year, he believes that it has been celebrated every day, week, month, and year since "time immemorial," because most people adore, respect, and honor their parents. Albania is small but has an ancient and proud history. It has been known by many names by different invaders, yet to Albanians it is known as Shqiperi, meaning "home of eagles." He mentioned this because the Albanian identity card refers to the people, not the religion, and they have been “Albanians” for generations. At the core of this identity is always the respect for a strong, healthy family, where the relationships of three generations have served as the foundation for a solid society. This unwritten “law,” along with the Albanian “Kanun” or traditional laws, is observed and respected by all ethnic Albanians in Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia, he added. The fundamental clauses of this informal constitution are church, family, marriage, home, work, and honor. He continued by saying that even the constitution of Albania shows respect and gives protection for the family because it believes that the role of parents in educating children is fundamental and irreplaceable. Children mirror the rules, norms, and values they receive from their parents, and their second parents, their teachers.

He stated that if you visit Albania "don’t search for homes for the elderly; they hardly exist," because all elderly parents and grandparents live with their family. The tradition is to live with their youngest son or daughter. But the modern accelerated pace of globalization is beginning to change this tradition. Albanian parents invest a lot in the education of their children. Few Albanian students in the US have taken out student loans, because their parents take care of them. Some families move to the US to give a good education to their children. Many students study abroad fully supported by their parents. Some of them stay in the countries where they studied, while most parents chose to remain at home. The new phenomenon is that the parents live away from their children and the children stay abroad. Nevertheless, the relationship between the parents and their children is still so strong that children send financial support to their parents, in a way returning the favor.

In conclusion, he said that parents should be recognized and honored all the days of the year.

Mr. Tom McDevitt, Chairman of The Washington Times, was the final speaker. He has five sons aged 20-30 years old. He spoke about the core values of the newspaper which sets it apart from others. The Washington Times was begun during the Cold War and focuses on freedom reflecting the Founding Fathers and the US Bill of Rights. The paper promotes family values especially in this “over-sexualized and secularized culture.” Faith is the third point, recognizing one universal creator, from which everything flows. Service is another value calling for journalism to "tell the truth" and give people the information needed to make good decisions - in contrast to "celebrity journalists" who seek the story first and the facts second. Finally, participation or citizenship reflects the idea that the people are the owners of the nation, not the government.

The essential role of parenting is supported by religious texts, he added. The Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, shows how God sees parenting as directing the children to "keep the way of the Lord.” God has the heart of a father. In a letter to Timothy, in the New Testament, Paul writes: “Do not rebuke an older man, but exalt him as a father, treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers younger women like sister, all in purity.” In the holy Qur'an it is written: “Lord give us joy in our wives and children as a model for living.” The family is the training ground of the heart. We learn to love through loving our brothers and sisters, and parents who bequeath to us their heart and good sense. “By your love you will know that you are God’s children.” There is a universal compassion that binds people, and the parents are at the center, giving selflessly and passing their legacy down to their lineage.

He challenged everyone present to a new level of "‘parentism" and a commitment to being better parents. “We need a new ethos or ethic within our culture where the heart and parentism uplifts politics, economics, etc. This new ethos will guide us to take care of each other as one family.”

The program was completed with the appointment of Ambassadors for Peace. Susan Fefferman, herself an Ambassador for Peace, read the certificates and, together with Ambassador Galanxhi, also an Ambassador for Peace, presented them to Dr. Rosa Djalal and Mrs. Caroline Andjaba.

A toast of sparkling juice was offered for “parents everywhere” by Larry Moffitt.

Global Day of Parents 2013 from Universal Peace Federation International

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