On the occasion of the International Day of Families, 15 May, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) gathered stories from participants in its Positive Parenting courses in Jordan.
By Razan Hroot (*)
Wael is a 33-year-old Syrian refugee living in the governorate of Mafraq in northern Jordan. He fled his parents’ hometown near Daraa, Syria, in 2013, when it was destroyed by regional violence. Soon after fleeing, Wael married his wife, Saba. They now have five children between the ages of one and eight.
Sadly, Wael experienced parenting challenges, struggling with emotional bonding with his children and with creating a balanced life while instilling moral ideals in them. This prompted him to seek guidance and enroll in ICMC’s Positive Parenting course. The course helps parents and caregivers to develop safe and caring strategies for their children and supports the creation of strong family bonds.
“I attended three sessions, all focused on improving parental responsiveness to the needs of children. I have applied what I learned in the classes in my interactions with my children,” says Wael. He is thrilled to be able to continue the course and thus to improve his relationship with them.
ICMC’s Positive Parenting course is part of the organization’s protection activities for refugees and vulnerable host community members in Jordan. The course provides five sessions on healthy parental and family relationships, communication with each child, parental care and the basic principles of positive parenting, stages of child development, disability, and non-violent discipline and behavior guidance. The sessions are aimed at mothers and fathers, whose relationship with their children is extremely significant and impacts on the development of a child’s personality.
Ahmad is a 41-year-old man who fled from Al-Ghouta, Syria, to Jordan in 2014. He also lives in Mafraq. Ahmad is a graduate of the Positive Parenting course. “Before taking the course, I used to beat [my children] severely; today, I talk things over with them to reach an agreement,” he says.
Ahmad has three sons and two daughters. He now regrets having pulled his eldest daughter out of school. At the time, he believed it was the best option for her, but after taking the course and realizing the importance of education for the girl, he regretted his action and began supporting her and allowing her to make decisions on her own.
One of Ahmad’s sons has leukemia and was affected by his father’s violent behavior. Owing to his appearance after chemotherapy, he was harassed, disregarded, and undervalued. Lacking awareness, his family assumed he was exaggerating his distress. “I didn’t know how to handle him and did not realize I was hurting his feelings. I modified my communication with him after the course’s behavior guidance session. I can now support him morally, understand his anguish and offer him a more appropriate atmosphere,” Ahmad says.
As a result of ICMC’s Positive Parenting sessions, Ahmad is now able to respond positively to his children’s needs. Passing on the knowledge he received from the training to his wife has improved their family communication further. Ahmad also improved his relationship with his son, which boosted his son’s confidence.
Wael and Ahmad’s stories were gathered for ICMC Jordan’s 15 May activities surrounding the International Day of Families, under the theme “Families and Urbanization.” Over 80 percent of Jordan’s refugees live in towns and cities. Through its protection centers in Mafraq and Irbid, ICMC Jordan’s program participants have access to a variety of activities aimed at helping them overcome their social and economic vulnerabilities and enhance their personal development.
The United Nations declared 15 May the International Day of Families in 1993, recognizing the importance of families, providing an opportunity to promote awareness of issues that relate to them, and increasing the knowledge of the social, economic, and demographic processes that affect them.
ICMC Jordan’s protection activities are financed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. They aim to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities in Jordan and to enhance their protection.
* Razan Hroot is a communications officer with ICMC Jordan.