Considering the fact that more than 31 percent of Bhutan’s total population is below the age of 24, the Royal Government of Bhutan invests heavily on youth development to ensure that the youth of Bhutan get the opportunity to spend their childhood meaningfully so that they grow up to become responsible and productive citizens of the country. Since the year 1996 when His Majesty the Fourth King first issued a Royal Decree to institutionalize youth guidance and counselling programs in the country, several major initiatives have been undertaken by both government and non-government agencies to address emerging youth problems. Nevertheless, the youth of today continue to face numerous challenges that come hand-in-hand with the modern socio-economic development of the country. The rising cases of juvenile crimes in urban centers coupled with unemployment, substance abuse and other issues further highlight the need to meaningfully engage and empower young people through educational and recreational activities so that they would get enough avenues for positive growth. Recognizing young people as potential agents of change in the society and the future custodians of our nation, the Royal Government of Bhutan attaches the highest importance to youth development.
However looking at the current scenario of youth problems in Bhutan, it is apparent that the effort of the government alone is not enough to address youth problems in the country. More than anybody else, we as parents have the biggest share of responsibility in ensuring that our children grow up in a safe and healthy environment, free from all sorts of negative influences. Since the quality of a person’s future is determined by the quality of his or her childhood life, it is important that every child gets enough care, love and support while growing up. There are studies showing that people with distraught childhood are more likely to grow into aggressive adults. If we can afford to nurture them well at least during the first two decades of their life, they would probably do well throughout the remaining years of their life.
As parents, one of the most important things we should remember is that the kind of world we grew up as children was different from the kind of world our children are growing up today. During our childhood days, we did not have sophisticated technologies and facilities to distract us from our routine lifestyle. But today, our children have access to all kinds of advanced technologies and modern facilities which have the tendency to expose them to social ills if we fail to guide them properly. The lack of parental guidance and support has been repeatedly pointed out by youth as one of the root causes of youth problems in the society. As one of the youth said during a panel discussion on BBS Radio on 3rd March 2018, it is important for parents to spend quality time with their children and make them feel important in the family by actively engaging them in every aspect of home life. This would not only help children feel that they are equally important in the family, but they would also be able to grow up with a strong sense of social responsibility and ownership. But the sad thing is that in the midst of busy urban life, many parents do not seem to even get time to eat with their children at home, forget about spending quality time with them. In the absence of parental supervision and guidance, there is a risk that they might take the wrong path in their life.
I always believe that a close parent-child relationship is the most important part of early childhood care and development. It is this special attachment that will define the kind of future our children are going to have during their adulthood. Because of this, it is important for us to deal with our children sensitively and spend more time with them. We must know how to strike a balance between our professional and family life so that our children do not feel neglected at home.
Eating meals should be made a special affair. All the family-members should sit down together and enjoy the food together, without being distracted by television or smart phones. We must also often organize outing together during weekends and long vacations. Such special moments and frequent interactions with our children would eventually contribute to their positive development. No matter how busy we are, I and my wife are always trying our best to spend more time with our kids and we often take them with us for walk, pilgrimage or other social events. We have already started to teach them values that could define their life. As parents, the only dream we have is to see them grow into good human beings who could contribute positively to the society. We don’t expect them to take care of us when we grow old, but we would be satisfied if they at least do not become a liability to the nation.
(The writer blogs at amrithdiary.wordpress.com)