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On this World Children’s Day (November 20), we recognize and celebrate the ideas and demands that children have on issues that matter to them. From climate change to education to ending discrimination, we encourage kids to “take over” to inspire us with their actions, show us their solutions, and galvanize support for positive change. As parenting and caregiving advocates, we must create the enabling conditions to make that happen.
The annual day of action for children, by children, marks the adoption in 1989 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The landmark treaty recognizes that childhood is a special, protected time in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop, and flourish with dignity. Safeguarding the period of childhood has helped to transform children’s lives around the globe with laws, policies, and investments responding to children’s unique needs.
Despite this progress, there is still much work to be done to protect children and advance their well-being, growth, and development. Global challenges impede children’s rights alongside ongoing social inequities, growing climate concerns, armed conflicts, and social norms that tolerate and normalize violence against children. Children with disabilities are among the most excluded, discriminated against, and unseen members of society. Their human rights are often violated through separation from their families, harsh punishment, abuse, harmful treatments, and institutionalization.
Supporting Parents to Support Children
As communities, organizations, and governments, we can support parents and caregivers to support their children and promote children’s rights and safeguard them.
Parents and caregivers play a particularly critical role in advancing children’s development and rights by providing an environment that helps children thrive and achieve their potential. They are children’s primary caregivers, their first and best teachers. Parents are often juggling caregiving with work, family, and personal responsibilities and needs, leaving them with limited time and resources to provide responsive care to children. They cannot do it alone and need ongoing support, especially during crises. Making evidence-based parenting support interventions accessible to all caregivers is a critical step in providing continuous support.
Communities also play an invaluable role that enables parents to access services, provide care to their children, and importantly, to take care of themselves. When communities provide a support structure to parents and caregivers, they help to advance social norms that recognize children’s rights and needs, promote inclusivity and diversity, and protect children from violence.
Parents and caregivers can also benefit from accessing quality services that provide them with a trusted source of information and skills. They may need guidance on how to provide children with nurturing care and to support their children’s needs across the life course. They also need support for their own physical and mental health in order to provide the best care for their children.
Services and parenting support programs are best offered in an enabling environment with adequate funding and resources. Governments need to develop and implement family-friendly policies that support paid parental leave, encourage breastfeeding, enable child benefits including cash transfers, and provide accessible, quality childcare to promote children’s well-being, growth, and development.
To address these needs, the Global Initiative to Support Parents (GISP) works with governments, researchers, program implementers, parents, and other partners to ensure services and support are available for parents and caregivers to provide the best support possible for their children.
Let’s Truly Have Kids “Take Over”
When parents and caregivers are supported and their skills strengthened, children benefit across the life course. There are also benefits to parents and caregivers themselves. In this way, investing in parenting interventions advances society at multiple levels.
When we adopt a whole-environment approach that is holistically oriented toward children’s needs, and support parents and caregivers to meet those needs, we are truly letting children “take over.” It is also a key approach to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals. This is the mindset that will enable us to provide children with the nurturing care and support they need to thrive. This is the most valuable contribution we can offer children on this World Children’s Day.
Join the GISP Call to Action and share how you are supporting families.
By the Global Initiative to Support Parents team.