Expatriate organisations should play a major role in guiding parents
A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for healthy development in a family. But nowadays, parents and children with their busy schedules have less time to spend with each other. Technology abuse, lack of communication, lack of ability for decision-making are just some of the issues facing families and these need to be addressed and solved as a priority says eminent sociologist and family counselor Hafiz Mohamad.
Farook College Old Student’s Association (FOSA) recently held a workshop on the topic, ‘Parenting is not a magic, but wonder’, which was addressed by renowned sociologist, writer, illustrator, corporate trainer and family counselor, Hafiz Mohamad.
Taking time from his short stay and busy schedule in the country, Mohamad, who was born and brought up in Calicut in India’s southern state of Kerala and is a former lecturer at Farouk College in Calicut, found time to sit down for an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait.
With a post-graduate diploma in Counseling and Guidance, and in Mass Communication and Journalism, he is actively involved in family counseling and therapy and is also associated with magazines and publications. He was an editor for Malayalam Publications Books Publishers, and now is the chief editor of Gulf Focus, a magazine published by Varthamanam Ventures, Doha, Qatar, which features articles on Indian expatriates in Gulf countries.
Giving his thoughts on the FOSA workshop, Mr. Mohamad, who graduated from Kerala University in M.A. Sociology and went on to do M.Phil from Bangalore University and then his Ph.D. from University of Calicut on the topic of ‘Matrilocal Mappila Muslims of Malabar’ said, “The FOSA workshop was a well-attended event with participation from around 130 members. During the discussion many social issues, especially those centered on parenting were discussed in detail
Nuclear Families: Bringing our attention to the first and most common issue he said, “Nowadays, nuclear families are generally the norm everywhere. Families live in villas and flats, aloof from everyone. Children and parents stay busy the entire week with children going to school and returning by bus and parents staying busy with their own work schedules. The only time they get to spend with each other is on weekends or during a family trip to the mall on some days. Because of this, there is no time to develop quality relationship between parents and their children.
“Also, it becomes difficult for children, especially when they become adolescents, to cope with things on their return to India. Many find difficulty in adjusting to the new environment and would prefer to remain with their parents and peers here. This places parents in a predicament as affordable higher educational options are limited here or for that matter in any GCC country.
“This issue becomes magnified in the case of girls who continue living here with their parents through young adult hood. When they become of marriage age they refuse to get married to anyone in India as they will have to return and live there. A new trend that I have witnessed, especially among the Muslim community here, is girls try and find out alliances from the same area where they live. For example, if a girl lives in Kuwait city, she will find a boy who lives in Kuwait city; so that she can stay here after marriage.”
Technology Abuse: Speaking about another issue that was discussed during the workshop, Mr. Mohamed said “Technology abuse, as you know, is high these days. The demand for gadgets among children is growing every day and the parents are forced to give it to them. Yesterday, I had a family who came to me for counseling because their daughter, an 8th grade student, was on the phone the whole night.
“These kinds of situations give rise to a lot of tensions in households. In the case of the 8th grader, she did not speak to her mother for weeks even though they stay under the same roof, just because she was reprimanded for abusing technology. I admit that technology is a must these days, but children should be taught how to use them properly. This happens as the children are not properly trained and guided by the parents. Parents too have to be taught on how to train a child in the right way, as many parents don’t know these basic things.”
Separated Parents: Elaborating further on the workshop, he said, “Another important topic that came up during the workshop was on how separated parents have an impact on families. Among the Keralite community in Kuwait, a significant percentage, nearly 80 to 85 percent, are so called ‘married bachelors’; young men who are forced to live a bachelor life here as they cannot afford to bring their families to Kuwait. Because they are away from their children for most of the year, they don’t have proper guidance on properly bringing up their children. This is also the case with many women who have had to leave their children back in India.
He adds, “I think, FOSA realizes how great this issue is and that is why they came up with this idea for a workshop. I believe other expat organizations should also work on training parents to be better at parenting. Even schools can teach students the importance of spending time with parents rather than being on phones and tablets all day long and guide them in making better decisions in the future.”
In conclusion Mohamad added, “These family issues cannot be solved through emotional reactions and advice; what is needed is developing a scientific approach to the problem. In this regard, I believe that expatriate organizations can play an important role so that young parents can be guided on how to bring up their children in the right manner.
By Madhuri Awale / Staff writer