March 21, 2014

Good Morning to you all.

Lady Allen and I are pleased to welcome you all to King’s House.  We are even more pleased for this occasion on which we have gathered to Launch “Parenting Jamaica”.

In 2011, we decided that the Family would be one of the three Pillars for our I Believe Initiative, with a focus on values-based parenting. This decision was fuelled by our research and consultations done in the years prior to the Initiative’s launch.  Very early in our programme planning, we determined that we would create a partnership which would work to promote good parenting skills.

There is general agreement that many of the problems we face in our nation have their roots in weak parenting. Since the family is the first agent of socialization, when the leadership (through Parents or surrogates) is weak, our society suffers the consequences.   Good parenting should be a national priority, which is why I was very pleased when the National Parenting Support Commission was established. The Governor-General’s Programme for Excellence under which the IBI falls, will support to the objectives of the Commission through the implementation of our two programmes of which I shall now speak.

In 2012, the IBI began its partnership with Ms. Jennifer Small- whom we all know as “Jenny Jenny” – and her Jamaica Parent School Team to conduct parenting skills workshops. Since 2013, we have six sessions in St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Andrew, Kingston and Manchester. We are now in the second phase of this partnership in which workshops will be held in each county with the aim of building on the knowledge and skills of existing counsellors. We hope to better equip them to deal effectively with parenting concerns and share their knowledge within their communities and organizations.  Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in commending “Jenny Jenny” and her team for the excellent work which they are doing. And may I add that her show on HITZ FM will carry parenting gems from our project.

Last year,  I met with Dr. Barry Davidson of Family Life Ministries and Mr. Cecil Foster of Fosrich Group of Companies to discuss prospects for collaborating with IBI in a media promotion of parenting skills. Thankfully, we readily reached agreement.  The next step was identifying the right Communications expert to help us move from the vague concept to convincing project. “The Write House” headed by Kalando Wilmoth proved to be just what we needed. Please help me acknowledge the presence of Dr. Davidson and the Family Life Ministries Team, “The Write House” Team and Mr. Foster.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For the IBI to achieve its objectives we must have partnerships. We know that several organizations and stakeholders have been addressing the problem of faulty parenting.  While developing the blueprint for “Parenting Jamaica” we consulted with several parent based groups, including the National Parenting Support Commission. In a recent meeting we noted the synergies between the Initiative and the Commission and I am pleased to say that we will be collaborating on “Parenting Jamaica” and other projects.

“Parenting Jamaica” is a multimedia campaign which will use, as its primary source, the book “Answers to Questions Parents Ask” as a guide to address the issue of faulty parenting. This programme will have several components, but for this year, it will be media driven.  “Parenting Jamaica” will be carried by all the radio stations represented here, beginning with a 30-minute segment on RJR on April 6 on the programme “Palav”, hosted by IBI Ambassador “Gerry” McDaniel. On April 9  “The Barry G Show” hosted on Mello FM begins its version. Shortly thereafter LOVE 101, NCU Radio and TBC Radio will begin their own partnership with us for Parenting Jamaica. We continue to dialogue with other radio stations with a view to blanketing Jamaica with tips on good parenting.

I leave you with a quotation from Malcolm Gladwell which is printed on the back cover of “Answers to Questions Parents Ask”:  “Human behaviour is a combination of instincts and skills. Laughing , yawning and crying are instincts. Reading, on the other hand, is a skill. It has to be taught…The great mistake that many people make with parenting is to think of it as an instinct. We have instincts as parents but those instincts are not always correct or complete. Loving our children is an instinct. How to love our children well is a skill.”

To the media, the private sector, churches and community associations, I issue an appeal for us to work together to improve parenting skills in our country, thus helping to resolve this significant social problem.  Together we can make a powerful difference. Together we can prove that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica.

Before I go, I wish to thank Ambassador Coye for all the work she has put into the planning and preparation of Parenting Jamaica.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Lady Allen and I take great pleasure in launching “Parenting Jamaica”.

Thank you!