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More than 4,500 delegates attended Mothers' Union Zimbabwe's bi-annual conference in Harare where they discussed topics of relevance and importance.
Sheran Harper discusses the importance of parenting young boys
Mothers’ Union Worldwide President, Sheran Harper, visited Uganda in April 2023 alongside MU CEO, Bev Jullien to build strong relationships with our worldwide members. During an interview at a dinner hosted by Mrs Grace Murengezi, Mothers’ Union Provincial President, Sheran sat down with Edrine Osteen Mukalazi and spoke about the importance of parenting, especially when it came to young boys.
All over the world, parents struggle with issues of parenting and this resonated with Sheran as a parent of two boys herself. The United Nations campaign ‘International Day of the girl child’ focuses on empowering girls, as girls are being exploited and abused.
‘Give girls an opportunity to lead by putting them in the forefront of change efforts; hearing their voices, responding to their asks; and welcoming them in decision-making spaces – it is one of the ways to invest in a future that believes in girls’ agency’ – United Nations
Though this is extremely important, Sheran states it is just as important to empower both girls and boys. ‘How are we empowering the girls and leaving the boys behind, when the two are expected to journey together in life?’ We stand side by side with boys through school, through work, get married, interact with each other and socialise. ‘How can the two interact together, when the girls goes strides forward and leave the boys behind?’ Both important questions to ask when we look at future generations and the future leaders of tomorrow.
‘If want leaders in our homes and communities and the men to lead, this is all down to how we parent them.’ The parents are responsible for nurturing and teaching the child about how to act and live in the world. Therefore, the parenting of all children is very important.
Many people believe that young babies and children are too small to understand, but Sheran says this is not true. They understand from very small. She tells a story of how in Church while pregnant, her baby would kick joyfully. They listen and can hear while in the womb, as well as feel the emotions of the mother. Parenting starts earlier than most would believe.
If you don’t nurture or look after your child from a young age, if you don’t guide them, the people who you don’t want influencing their decisions will lure them away from you and their family.
‘You must start from the beginning; teach the boys that they are leaders and co-leaders with their sisters. Make sure that boys grow up knowing their sisters are with them and they should love them and help them.’ But don’t just let boys know this, the girl child should receive the same teaching.
Sheran noted that girls are a little more faster to mature than the boys, therefore you have to spend more time nurturing boys to build their confidence and self-esteem. Show them how to accept love and affection as well as receive. Teach them how to be kind, patient, true and sincere, all significant traits to be a fully rounded adult. In a world where it is seen as weakness to show emotions as a man, it is important to teach boys how to express themselves healthily and be conscientious.
Finally, she asks us to question what kind of relationship did we build with our child? Were we shouting, hitting them, taking out our own frustrations unfairly on them? Or were you listening, understanding, encouraging them in areas they were weak? It is crucial to tell them how good they are. To not compare them to others. To tell them ‘you did your best’ and be positive. This will build on their confidence and self-esteem.
Every child is a gift of God. He only made one of you.
You can watch the interview in full below.