Ranjan K Baruah
The first school or place of learning for any person is the home and family and the initial mentor or teacher or guide for any child is none other than their parents. Parents are also the caregivers and they are the key architects of early childhood development. There is no doubt that parents shape the experiences that build their children’s brains and set them on a path towards healthy progress.
We must be aware that parenting care may be taken on by a mother, a father, a grandparent, sibling or another relative, or another adult and it is the job of providing nurturing care throughout childhood, preparing children to live in society, form relationships, learn, work and thrive. The basic foundation of any successful person is set by healthy parenting though there might be few exceptions.
Parents and care givers are entrusted with nourishing growing bodies as well as developing brains. It’s a multifaceted, time-sensitive and ever-evolving job, in which each element–from proper feeding and health checkups to singing and playing, from cuddling and creating stable routines to protecting children from harm – is indispensable for babies and young children to not just survive, but reach their full potential and thrive.
Since the 1980s, the important role of the family has increasingly come to the attention of the international community. Emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognizes that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.
The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 1st June as the Global day of Parents which was designated in 2012 and it provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their "selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship."
During the 1980s, the United Nations began focusing attention on the issues related to the family. In 1983, based on the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council, the Commission for Social Development in its resolution on the role of the family in the development process (1983/23) requested the Secretary-General to enhance awareness among decision makers and the public of the problems and needs of the family, as well as of effective ways of meeting those needs.
We are also aware that providing nurturing care takes time, resources and services and many are not fortunate and may not get good parenting due to many challenges. There are challenges for parents who contend with poverty, deprivation, conflict and other crises; lack access to quality services, etc.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has thrust parents and caregivers into the role of frontline responders as school shutdowns and overstretched services have piled on additional responsibilities–from teaching at home to managing health care needs to balancing work with added hours of childcare–while taking away critical support.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) strives to be a trusted partner for parents and caregivers everywhere, to support them in their most precious task of all – raising their children. Strengthening integrated services for early childhood development (ECD) is one key part of this support. UNICEF works with Governments, businesses, civil society, academia and other partners to promote parents’ and caregivers’ access to ECD services, and to help strengthen the service providers that support them.
Parenting is always in the pure form and healthy parenting is more important where the child learns the best things since childhood. The concept of equality like gender equality, positive responsibility towards environment may be taught from early days which shall bring sustainable development for all of us. There are children who might have lost either one or both parents and in that case we must ensure that such children should not be deprived of their rights and also parenting.
(With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback may be sent to [email protected]