A parenthood conference was held in Abu Dhabi for the first time. Titled ‘Parenthood: The Unconference’, the event kicked off on 4th November 2022. Sara Awadh Issa Musallam, Minister of State for Early Education, Chairperson of the Federal Authority for Early Education and Chairperson of Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), said the dynamics of parenting are constantly shifting and that it was important for parents to adjust to the changes.
Taking place at Etihad Arena on Yas Island the first-of-it’s-kind event promises to inform, inspire, and even challenge the way people think about parenting.
The opening ceremony of the conference was attended by His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office.
In her speech, Neo Jane Masisi, the First Lady of Botswana, said that besides a person’s profession, parenthood is the most important vocation.
“Parents, whether biological or otherwise: if what we do while in this world is not for our children, or their children, what, then, is our main driving force in this world?” she asked.
“There are many challenges in raising children as time evolves. What worked for our parents may not necessarily work now.”
Masisi added: “Strong families can only be achieved through proper parenting. Parents have to be responsible and should pass on proper manners and discipline to their children. When children see their parents engaging with other cultures in an intelligent and interactive way, they will want to participate too.”
How to raise children into global citizens while maintaining local identities
In a panel discussion on how parents can raise their children to be global citizens while retaining their sense of local identity, moderated by CNN Anchor, Becky Anderson, Musallam said in order to help children develop a global mindset it helps to have experienced a vast array of cultures firsthand at home.
“Through amplifying cultures within us by practicing them at home, [we] can help pass them on to our children,” said Musallam.
“By cultivating a global mindset and global competency from an early age, children will be equipped with the skills they need to do well in school and to thrive as global citizens who embrace diversity in all aspects of life.”
The minister added that children engaging in discussions with individuals they interact with in the community and across the world is also vital.
“Going back to communities and cultural norms in our education system can help transform our children into responsible [people],” she said.
For Botswana’s First Lady Masisi, children spend a lot of time on social media where they pick up different things like violence and other bad behaviours, in addition to facing risks of online abuse, harassment and extortion.
“It’s therefore the role of parents to protect children from the negative effects of social media. We should lead our children to be the [best they can be], and also to unlearn behaviours and things that don’t benefit them,” she noted.
Another international expert said participating in cultural activities will not only help strengthen the connection between a parent and their child, but will also support their development as a global citizen.
She noted that for a child to develop their own independent drive to continue seeking out new experiences in their future, it’s critical they understand and enjoy experiencing new things and developing into true global citizens.
The event aims to foster a global dialogue to better equip parents facing new and critical challenges in a world where traditional guideposts have disappeared, and previous rulebooks no longer apply.
Offering an enriching program that covers all stages of parenting – from early childhood, to teen years and adolescence – across 5 themes (Identity, New Perspectives, Development, Wellbeing and Early Childhood), visitors will gain access to new and reimagined learning opportunities that can help them become better individuals, spouses, and caregivers.