Social Services Director Stresses Importance of Responsible Parenting



Director of Social Services Mellany Zonicle was the guest speaker at Mabel Walker Primary School’s 7th Annual Parents Month Celebration on Tuesday, March 11, 2008 under the theme, “Parents, Your Children Need You”. (Photo/Raymond A. Bethel)

By: Matt Maura

NASSAU, Bahamas – Responsible parenting is critical in reducing the amount of violence and poor behaviour being exhibited by some of the country’s children and young adults, the Director of the Department of Social Services, Ms. Mellany Zonicle, said this week.

Addressing a Parents’ Night Seminar hosted by the Administration, staff and students of the Mabel Walker Primary School, Ms. Zonicle said parents can help reduce the likelihood of poor behaviour and/or violence in their children by giving “thoughtful attention” to how that child is raised, by providing a loving and peaceful home environment and by monitoring the influences their child/children are exposed to.

“Children need their parents because the experiences they have early in life set the foundation for their future health and well-being,” Ms. Zonicle said. “While there is no simple, foolproof way to ensure that a child won’t hurt him or herself or others, one way parents can reduce the likelihood of bad behaviour or violence is to be the best parent possible and by ensuring that he/she becomes a happy, self-fulfilled individual”

Ms. Zonicle said top experts in child development have noted three major conditions under which children thrive: adequate income, good parenting and supportive communities.

“If we examine these three conditions, we find that income is important for obvious reasons [as] parents who work must balance work and family life,” she noted. “With regard to good parenting, addiction to drugs or alcohol or having serious illnesses can cause parents to face added challenges.

“The third condition refers to most parents not having the assistance of an extended family, consequently needing the community at-large to provide wholesome after-school and summer programmes,” she added.

Ms. Zonicle said that for one reason or the other, some parents are not able to carry out their responsibilities and that the Government has to step in. She said the Department of Social Services has several Divisions to assist in this event including the Children and Family Services and Child Care Facilities Divisions, which handle complaints of child abuse, neglect and abandonment and also offer support to dysfunctional homes, while identifying alternative placement for children.

She said parents can help their child/children to develop into “loving and responsible” persons by demonstrating several proper skill-sets at home.

“For example, using ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is not a good parenting technique. If you scream, shout, throw a tantrum, abuse or hit others, your child will most likely do the same. When you see a problem with the child, do something about it right away (and) encourage cooperation by giving choices, expressing clear expectations and setting appropriate limits.

“Parents should also take time to listen to their children, to plan events with them, to know what they are doing and if you have internet, to know the potential dangers the internet can inflict upon your child.

“Another action a parent can take to ensure their child develops into loving and responsible adults, is to help them to be good at something positive. When you practice these types of behaviours with children, it will have a positive outcome on them,” Ms. Zonicle added.