The role our youth can really play

Ever since the reincarnation of the National Youth Parliament by Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley earlier this month, there has been much discussion on its much touted benefit –– as there has been on its perceived futility. The latter state has not been without some reality.

After all, Mr Lashley himself at the Youth Parliament’s official launch in the East Wing of Parliament did concede that disinterest had allowed previous embodiments of the idea to perish. This, he promised, would be unacceptable this time around.

“There have been attempts in the past to establish and sustain a National Youth Parliament, but they all failed mainly due to lack of participation and involvement of the youth,” the minister lamented.

“Let us not make those same mistakes,” Mr Lashley pleaded.

We agree with the minister that no such parliament would be successful unless the youth themselves participated and supported the work of the entity; and that the initial enthusiasm would be killed of by inactivity and disinterest. And while Mr Lashley’s intended close monitoring of the revived National Youth Parliament may bode well to some degree, it will hardly offer guarantees.

That “we simply cannot be talking about improving our social, political and economic circumstances and young people opt out of the very process that is critical [to] the sustained development of our country” is not without merit, but creating a mere talk shop, especially where it mirrors much of what takes place in the real Parliament of Barbados –– the shouting, the ranting, the rambling, the acrimony, the would-be challenge of authority –– will hardly cut it.

Our young, apart from learning the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure and debate, if indeed they will contribute to “improving our social, political and economic circumstances”, will have to have instilled in them greater qualities: like considerateness, forbearance, heedfulness, mindfulness and thought. These might be values better instilled by parents –– good parents.

Most parents know the tricks of teaching their children to become high achievers. They praise effort as much as they do ability, motivating their charges and developing a strong study and work ethic. The smarter parents yet add to this, often by  example, a passion for being kind, even when resolute, and being instructive and helpful.

Sometimes there is greater emphasis on caring than achievement –– which is not a quality unknown of our foreparents, who taught us that genuine praise was worth more than monetary or other materialistic reward. Surely such rewarding runs the risk of leading our young to be kind only when the carrot is given, a bad habit encouraged by the “very busy” parent.

Praising genuinely and warmly communicates that kindness, considerateness, forbearance, heedfulness, mindfulness and thought are intrinsically worthwhile for our children’s sake.

Parents who value kindness and compassion and respect for self and fellowman hardly fail in raising children who shared these very values and become exemplary youths.

In this day and age, there are too many agencies around for parents to claim they can get no advice on raising their children –– troubled, troublesome, or not. If the pastors and prophets can’t pray the “evil spirits” out, the more sublime PAREDOS is there. There are a plethora of books
on child rearing; and if parents don’t mind the risk, they can scour the Internet for ideas.

The point is raising a child is work, but its worth it. It calls for dedication, profound attention, patience and persistence. It demands time –– and you find it. Importantly, the child must come to understand that he or she is part of his or her social coding and development.

What has all this to do with the National Youth Parliament? Our young, so raised and cultured as above, are the ones that Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley can come to rely on for that improvement in our social, political and economic circumstances. They are the young who will hardly opt out of this “process that is [so] critical [to] the sustained development of our country”.


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