Building resilient families – the crucial role of the local churchCommon Good
Being pregnant, or being a caregiver of a young child, is hard work. Added to the big responsibilities of parenting are many other factors that families and caregivers face. These can cause a type of stress that is difficult for the caregiver and can also negatively impact the growth and development of children. All families need support and many need intentional intervention to see that they become resilient families.
Sikunye hosted a once-off webinar with leading experts and on-the-ground practitioners to show us what we can all do to see families thrive, and not merely survive. Faith communities have an important role to play in seeing that families are strengthened, protected and prepared for adversity.
Our four guest speakers brought their expertise and experience to show how we can all be part of a supportive community around families to see them build more resilience. The local church does indeed have a role to play!
Dr Hilary Goeiman of the Western Cape Department of Health unpacked The importance and risk of the First Thousand Days,
“Children who are well nourished are 10x more likely to overcome childhood illnesses, complete 4.6 more grades in school and earn 21% more as adults, and are more likely to have healthy families.”
Dr Nicki Dawson from Ububele covered the Adversities and stressors that caregivers in the First Thousand Days face,
“Another huge stressor that’s faced by so many South African families is danger and violence… I interviewed mothers from Alexandra and asked them, ‘What are the things that impact on your parenting?’ One of the top things they spoke about was violence – that they are preoccupied constantly with protecting their children. And you can only imagine how that hinders your ability to have those pleasurable moments, that fun and that playful serve and return interaction.”
On the ground practitioner Sive Vaaltein, from Living Hope took us through What kind of support caregivers need,
“We need to invest in families, spending money on FTD programmes because those programmes… are very key to addressing some of the issues we find ourselves having to respond to in adults.”
Lastly, pastor and social worker Jonathan Manuel from Mfesane showed What the Church can do.
“The church has resources in terms of its organisational and denominational structure: buildings, children’s church, baby’s rooms, Sunday school, teenage groups, young adult groups, parenting programmes, counselling, men and fathers, marital seminars, pre-marital seminars, and pre-parenting coaching – all to create a generation that has a great opportunity to build stronger, resilient and godly families.”
Whilst we may not be able to change the things that cause families stress, faith communities have a unique role in journeying with families. Resilience is something that can be taught. Adverse childhood experiences can be overcome, and protective factors can be developed for future flourishing. Families can become resilient.
If you are part of a local church and want to explore how you and others can strengthen families, join us in our next Church & Early life webinar, where we unpack how local churches are ideally positioned and equipped to see young children get a strong start to life.
We invite you to watch the recording of the event and start conversations in your context of how you, along with others, can be that supportive, encouraging community around families and be part of building their resilience.