Parenting in the 21 st century offers challenges like never before. Violence, social disorder and sexuality are common treats and influences that are likely to condition the mindset of children. Proper education and parenting are two main lines of defense and protection against that negative elements that threaten the well-being of children and families.
The inaugural International Forum for Parents held under the theme – ‘Engaged Parents, Empowered Children’ at the BMICH, Colombo addressed the critical issues on parenting, education and the impact of parenting on children’s wellbeing and success. The event organized by the Gateway Graduate School and supported by the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus and Pearson Edexcel brought together an array of international and Sri Lankan experts to discuss and share expertise on issues related to children’s education and wellbeing that challenge both parents and children.
Prof. Ganakumaran Subramaniam, Head of School of Education at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus spoke on the topic, Further Education Choices: what parents should know. His presentation discussed the dilemmas many parents and children face in deciding education and career choices. The session touched on the following questions;
- What makes some children so decisive and others frustratingly indecisive?
- Are the decisions of decisive children the right ones?
- Should parents support these choices? Why? How?
- What should parents do with indecisive children?
- How can parents help them?
The session highlighted the key factors and people that are likely to influence the children’s education behavior and decision making of your children. These included the role and influence of parents and family; school and teachers; peers and friends; significant others; the environment and exposure; and self-awareness.
Hans Billimoria Hans Billimoria, the Director of The Grassrooted Trust, an organization that works on prevention of gender-based and intimate partner violence, including cyber exploitation and violence, presented a session that forced the audience into deep soul searching and reflection on their parenting styles, skills and priorities. In the session entitled, The disconnect between parents and young people in the age of social media, he presented on cyber exploitation and violence (CEV) in Sri Lanka and the role of the parent in helping prevent abuse and violence toward children. He warned the audience by stating that the perpetrators of CEV are most often boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, team mates, other young people your child may know - not nameless adults. The session suggested how parent can be vigilant and protect their children against such crimes.
Dr. Daniel Seal, a Chartered Clinical Psychologist from the UK. and a faculty member of School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, spoke on the topic, How to manage common problems in childhood & adolescence. The session highlighted how childhood can be a confusing and difficult time for children and teenagers and how parents it is often difficult to know what to do to help. He introduced the audience to some of the strategies and techniques that clinical psychologists use to manage common childhood problems. He described how we can respond to the problems young people using real cases as examples.
The climax of the Forum was panel session designed to engage the audience in an interactive discussion to address key public concerns related to parenting and education. The members of the panel were Mrs. Nirmali Wickramasinghe, consultant to the Gateway Group of Schools, Ms. Soundarie David Soundarie, Founder and Music Director of Sri Lanka’s premiere female ensemble, ‘Soul Sounds’, Mr. Julian Bolling Julian is the Head Coach of Rainbow Aquatics and the Director of the Rainbow Swimming Academy, Mr. Ted Muttiah, Chief Commercial Officer of South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) in the Port of Colombo Sri Lanka, and Mr. Aravinda De Silva, Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning cricketer. The panel session was moderated by Prof. Ganakumaran Subramaniam of the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus.