“Parenting is also learned” Campaign launched to help parents raise happy, healthy and smart children

The Ministries of Labour and Social Policy, Health, and Education and Science, together with the European Union and UNICEF, today launched a campaign titled “Parenting is also learned”.  Opening discussion on child development and human flourishing, the campaign aims to bring attention to the need to support parents in raising confident, respectful and successful children.

The campaign was kicked off with an emotional video featuring children role playing how parents discipline children – a striking reflection of the physical and psychological violence used by 8 in 10 parents in the country. 

“Parenting is not always easy. Love comes naturally - but all the evidence tells us that successful parenting is learned,” said Ms. Mila Carovska, Minister of Labour and Social Policy. “With this campaign we want all members of society to work together, to help parents be mindful of the need to learn parenting skills that are proven to have a positive impact on the child’s emotional, social, intellectual, language and physical development.” 

Developments in science show that during the first years of life, the human brain develop at a pace never repeated. Every single experience the child has, impacts brain development and shapes the way they think, feel, behave and learn throughout life. The “Parenting is also learned” campaign opens the discussion on these topics, including emotional attachment, character development, parenting styles and the impact of adversities and stress on child development.  

“Children who experience adversities in early childhood are more likely to experience serious health problems as adults, so supporting parents is not only an issue for protection and education, it’s also a public health issue,” said Dr. Venko Filipche, Minister of Health.  “Patronage nurses, pediatricians, and family doctors are in a unique position to support parents and advise them, not just on physical development, but also on emotional and cognitive development because these also impact the child’s physical and mental health.”    

A UNICEF supported survey shows that while most parents are aware of the harmful consequences of using violence to raise children, this does not necessarily translate in practice. Social expectations to punish, low self-efficacy and not having access to information on positive parenting and child development are the main reasons for the continued practice. The campaign aims to address this gap by providing parents with trusted resources on positive parenting and nurturing caregiving.  

“Most parents know that they are children’s most important teachers, but there is a tendency to believe that children need to be ‘taught a lesson’ to learn. Through parenting programmes, including those available in schools, the education system is also committed to helping parents learn positive parenting skills,” Mr. Arber Ademi, Minister of Education and Science.  “We see this as an important strategy to improving student’s learning outcomes and to address violence among children in and around the school.” 

Supporting parents to raise happy, healthy and smart children is an issue of protecting child rights to grow up in a protective and nurturing family environment and contributes to the country’s human capital development, prosperity and security. 

“The launch of this campaign ‘Parenting is also learned’ is to raise awareness among parents and society at large about the negative effect of violence, abuse and neglect have on a child’s development. The campaign will also provide information and raise awareness about positive parenting and child rearing approaches and techniques. But above all, parents have key responsibility to understand and respect the rights of the child. Due to day to day family pressures, social problems and emotional strain, often children can be the ones that suffer most from violence in the family,” said H.E. Samuel Žbogar, Head of Delegation of the European Union. 

Most parents rarely think about how their parenting style impacts child development or how they learned to be parents themselves. Without access to trusted programmes and information, parents resort to models learned from their own experiences. 

“No child should grow up in fear.  Fear limits their potential to grow.  When all of society help parents raise securely attached and stimulated children, who believe in themselves, are persistent, show empathy, know how to deal with disappointments and can learn and discover new things – we create a life cycle of personal human connection and flourishment, and thriving, stronger, prosperous and safer societies,” said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative.

The campaign includes a video –  the weight of words – bringing attention to emotional neglect commonly endured by children.  A video of parents watching how children acted out violent discipline methods, sheds light on parents understanding of the need for change. Recognizing parents need for support, the campaign is designed to support this change, making available expert masterclasses, parenting resources and the opportunity to participate in parenting events that will be organized throughout the country over the coming months. 

The “Parenting is also learned” campaign is part of a broader UNICEF supported an effort to strengthen services and programmes to support parents and is implemented as part of the EU funded and UNICEF Regional Project “Protecting Children from violence and promoting social inclusion of children with disabilities in Western Balkans and Turkey”.

For more information, please contact: Suzie Pappas Capovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231-244, 072 236 725 or spappas@unicef.org or Irina Ivanovska, UNICEF Skopje (02) 3231-172, 072 236 722 or iivanovska@unicef.org.