Ethics Education Newsletter Special Issue - Family and values

Dear friends,

Welcome to this Special edition of the Arigatou International - Ethics Education Newsletter focused on family, values and religion.  In this issue Arigatou International Geneva joins the celebrations on the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family to raise awareness about the importance of the family for the development of children, and the role of parents and caregivers in the creation of safe spaces for them to grow and develop their identities fully. 

Families constitute an important space to protect children and support them to develop physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Despite this important role, many children around the world are, unfortunately, victims of physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetuated by their own parents, other family members or caregivers. Violence in the family remains normalized in many parts of the world, often it is not denounced due to fear, shame, lack of support or knowledge. In several places corporal punishment, negligence, emotional indifference or violation of children's right to participate in decisions that affect them or to be heard, are not the exception but the rule in their lives.  Many children are victims of violence in the name of protection, justified by cultural and religious norms; and yet social and religious leaders play an important role in challenging harmful practices, promoting the rights of the child and encouraging parents and caregivers to unlearn violent practices to raise their children and to understand how and how much they influence and shape their lives and future. 

In this issue you will find articles on the role of the family in the development of values in children from different religious and philosophical perspectives, as well as from experts on child development and family relations.  Some authors shared their views on the importance of the community, and not only the family, to raise children and develop safe environments for them to grow and thrive.  A few articles also highlight how families are perceived and understood from different religious perspectives and their roles and responsibilities.  We also share with you information about the new programme that Arigatou International Geneva is initiating on Strengthening Family Systems and the work that other Arigatou International initiatives are doing to promote positive parenting and challenge violence against children in the families.

We hope this issue serves as a reflection on one's role in caring for our children within the family and community settings, and provides insights and critical questions about the role of the family in the healthy and sound development of children. 

In peace,

Maria Lucia Uribe
Director Arigatou International - Geneva
Inside this issue
Religious and Philosophical Perspectives
Child development and the Buddhist Philosophy

Dr. A.T Ariyaratne
Founder and President of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
Sri Lanka

"In the development of the personality of a human being, three factors matter most, according to Buddhist philosophy. These are the Environment in which we live, the Karmic inheritance we have got from past lives and the degree to which we develop our Mind. These three factors together influence the awakening or the decline of the personality of the human being from its conception in the mother's womb to its final exit from this world or death..."
Family as a Unit of Harmony and Peace – A Hindu Perspective
Swami Atmapriyananda
Vice Chancellor, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, India and Council Member of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children
"...The whole life of an individual human being has been perfectly ordered in Hinduism into four stages called ashramas: the student stage (brahmacharya ashrama), the householder stage (grihastha ashrama), the retired mendicant stage (vanaprastha ashrama) and all-renouncing monk stage (sannyasa ashrama). These four stages came to be reduced later into just the first and the last two stages: the householder stage and the monk stage. Each of these is equally glorious; what is important is to aspire to become an ideal householder if a person is in that stage, or an ideal monk, if one belongs to that stage..."
Family and values - An African Catholic Perspective

 Bishop Method Kilaini
Auxiliary Bishop of Dar el Salaam, Tanzania
"...The spiritual values of a Catholic marriage emanate from their free decision that they are together for life, come what may. Marriage is indissoluble.  Christ commands "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mk 10:11-12) They are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving[2]. The fulfillment of conjugal love is having children and introducing them to life.  Parents are the principal and first educators of their children.[3] The parents educate their children mostly by their example of a life of love and mutual respect."
Revitalizing Family Life: A Muslim Perspective
Dr. Abdul Rashied Ali Omar
Imam at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa
Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding at the Notre Dame University, Indiana, United States
"There can be no doubt that the family is the most important moral institution in Islam. From the Islamic perspective, maintaining strong and healthy family bonds not only draws one closer to God, the Most High, but is the pathway for success and salvation in this world and the hereafter. Consequently the majority of the legal verses of the Glorious Qur’an pertains to the family and a vast shari`ah literature is directed at preserving the institution of the family and ensuring good interpersonal relationships within the family..."
Values in the Andean Community - An Indigenous Perspective

Bishop Eugenio Poma Anaguaya
Bishop of the Bolivian Methodist Church and former Bolivia's Ambassador to Denmark
"...“Suma Qamana” is synonym of “happiness”. When an Andean person searches to “live well” it means to live in harmony with all surroundings: the nature, he or she wants to live with animals, the mountains, the earth, the water, with the people, with gods, for that person is holiness as long as everybody “live well”. This concept is opposite to western concept of development..."
Family and Values from the Myochikai Perspective in Japan

Rev. Kenichiro Saito
Chairman of the Board of Myochikai and Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Arigatou International
"Myochikai, of which I am a member, is a lay-Buddhist organization founded in October of 1950, 64 years ago. We are one of the youngest religious organizations. The Lotus Sutra in the Mahayana tradition is the source of our practice. Our founder Rev. Mitsu Miyamoto started Myochikai with the idea that the happiness of the family is based on the happiness of each member of the family. Happiness in the broader society is based on happy families. In turn, world peace can only be achieved based on happy societies."
A Swimming Lesson - A Jewish Perspective on the role of the Family

Rabbi Michel Schlesinger
Rabbi of the São Paulo Israelite Congregation in São Paulo, Brazil and Representative of the Israelite Confederation of Brazil
"The responsibilities of parents towards their children are discussed in the Talmud, on the Kiddushin Tractate. Among the main responsibilities, four stand out according to different Jewish traditions. Parents should teach the Torah to their children; parents must ensure their children also learn a profession; parents must assure that their children marry and finally, parents should teach their children how to swim."
New Challenges: Context and Relations in the Family
Education for Peaceful Living: A necessity from early childhood in contexts affected by violence

By Dr. Ilham Nasser, Ph.D and Asssociate Professor in Early Childhood Education at George Mason University, Virginia and Member of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children

Sometimes, I wonder about the value of programs teaching for peaceful living in violent and conflict situations and ask myself whether programs such as Learning to Live Together and others become more of a luxury or a privilege in these situations.  This question is not only true in violent situations but also applies in cases where children live in extreme poverty and unhealthy family conditions. Other times, I wonder about the positive roles faith, spirituality, and ethics may play as important vehicles and entry points to teaching non-violent ways of living and resolution of conflicts. It is my vision as an educator to confidently claim that we are able to bring up a new generation of world citizens who are more capable than the older generations to be generous, tolerant, empathetic, and able to forgive. This requires a set of skills and strategies that are not totally innate but are also learned in the family, schools, and community.

Continue reading...

Family and relations between parents and children - New Challenges

By Rev. Dr. Felipe Adolf
President of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) 

Family! What kind of images and memories bring about the word "family" in the minds of each person? Perhaps many and very diverse.  Througout the years the task to take care of new generations has been assigned to the family and it is in this context that the first memories and experiences of love or lack of affection are imprinted.

Love? As the Professor Humberto Maturana says, we are primarily loving beings, and it is love that nurtures us and gives sense to our lives; in the absence of love, we fall sick.  The question that emerges is then, what is love? How can we know that the love to our children is enough? And is it possible through love to guarantee their wellbeing?

Continue reading...

Strengthening Family Systems Programme

The new ethics education programme that is being initiatied by Arigatou International Geneva aims to develop resources on positive parenting and to promote the healthy and sound development of the child. 

Five places were selected to pilot projects to use the Learning to Live Together manual with families with the purpose to identify how the current framework of the manual can serve the development of new resources for families.  The following is a description of the objectives of each project.


Brazil - GNRC Group

After the workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme titled “Building a Culture of Peace in the Family and at School”  held from 4 to 8 June in Bahia, Salvador, a few organizations already working with families, have started activies based on the manual to support parents and care givers.  

The organizations involved are conducting home visits to monitor the situation of the families, and understand their needs and challenges to be able to develop a clear programme based on the Learning to Live Together.  Issues related to poverty present challenges to articulate a program that supports parents not only in their parenting role but also in their economic activities; this is an opportunity as well to rethink the work with families in difficult contexts. 

Ecuador -  GNRC Group

The family program developed by GNRC Ecuador has as main objective to familiarize parents with the content of the Learning to Live Together manual and to provide them with new tools and skills in their role as parents.  The main thematic areas that are included in the programme are: building a safe home to grow based on mutual understanding and respect, and building a peaceful environment for children using non-violent alternatives to deal with problems. 

Monthly sessions will be conducted for a period of six months starting in September 2014.


India -  Shanti Ashram

15 Pre-school teachers from the Bala Shanti and Montessori schools in Coimbatore, India were trained in June 2014 on the Learning to Live Together framework to be used with families. 

The pre-school teachers  will be working for a period of nine months with caregivers affected by poverty and violence, widows, and deserted and young mothers.  The program started in August and will run until May 2015.  

The purpose of the program is for parents and care givers to reflect about themselves and their role in the family,  how their behaviorus and actions influence children, how they can create safe environments and nurture values and spirituality from early ages.  

Portugal - GNRC Group

24 Teachers and social workers were trained in May 2014 on the use of the Learning to Live Together programme. 

Projects with parents based on the educational framework and approach to ethics education are being planned to initiate in Obra Frei Gil, a Foster Care center; Junta de Freguesia do Bonfim with families affected by violence and poverty; with the Social project ‘Lagarteiro’ in a neighbourhood affected by violence in Porto; and in a public Multicultural School.

The project with families is part of a strategy of the GNRC Porto to address violence against children through preventive mechanisms, particularly through the development of positive parenting skills and the focus on spirituality. 


Catholic Charities of Idaho (CCI) - United States


The project initiated by CCI aims to support and encourage parents to understand and internalize the Learning to Live Together key concepts and values, and their roles and responsibilities as parents; by creating opportunities for parents to discover themselves as parents and individuals; the rights and responsibilities of children; and by giving parents the practical skills to create safe environments at home where children can reach their full potential while fostering their spiritual growth.

The program will run from June to December for 15 parents from Boise and refugee communities in Idaho.



Read more in our archive section
  Did you know?

Did you know that Arigatou International Geneva is developing a new programme on ethics education for families?

The new programme called Strengthening Family Systems aims to support parents and caregivers to nurture values and spirituality in children.  The first phase of the development of the programme will use the Learning to Live Together framework with families in Brazil, Ecuador, India, Portugal and the United States of America.
Teachers, social workers, community leaders, psychologists, family therapists, who have been trained on the use of the manual, are developing programs using the framework of the Learning to Live Together to work with families from different socio-economic, religious and cultural backgrounds.  The purpose is to support positive parenting and the creation of safe environments for children, and to learn which elements of the Learning to Live Together Programme and others can serve the work with families and how.    

The information, learning, insights and recommendations from the pilot programs will serve the development of a new resource to work with families.   Members of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children are working parallely on the first draft of the conceptual framework of the programme that will be complemented with the findings of the pilot projects, in addition to insights from theoretical models and practical expertise. 

Updates on the development of this programme will be shared in upcoming newsletters. 
  Quotes from the field

“I like the workshops because they have allowed me to become more conscious about the need to give more time to my children and I feel motivated to continue striving to be a better mom." 
Mother from the parents workshop in Quito, Ecuador
“My main learning from the workshop is related with the importance of working the Learning to Live Together key concepts with families and the impact it will have in children’s full development”

“This workshop provided an opportunity to discuss, unlearn and relearn about things that we’ve always worked in my activities with families and children but that I now see differently”

Participants from the Learning to Live Together workshop in Porto, Portugal
“I learned a way to approach individual family members”

“I Learned a possible means to reach the parents and children as well”

Participants from the Learning to Live Together workshop in Coimbatore, India
  The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children and Positive Parenting

Ms Meg Gardinier

Director of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children Secretariat
Arigatou International New York
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children mobilizes religious leaders and their communities, civil society (including young people), UN agencies and governments to partner on Universal Children’s Day (20 November) to reflect and take action to improve the lives of children in their community.

Our current global theme is to Stop Violence against Children, within the parameters of the UN Study on Violence against Children (2006). In 2006, the UN Study on Violence against Children identified five settings of childhood in which violence against children takes place: home, family, schools, care and justice institutions, workplace and community.
  Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty - "Transform" to Empower Women Caregivers

Rev. Fred Nyabera
Director of the Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty
Arigatou International
In the fiscal year 2014-2015 Arigatou International’s Ending Child Poverty Initiative will engage in an income-generating programme titled TRANSFORM. The programme aims at empowering women who are caregivers of vulnerable and orphaned children.

Through this programme women are expected to learn how to read and write as well as use their own financial resources, no matter how small, to invest in small businesses and save.

Through TRANSFOM, women will also be placed in a better position to increase their family income—not only by developing their businesses, but also by using their savings to establish their own community-based banks.

When the women care givers come together in groups of between twenty (20) to twenty-five (25), the little they each save will go into a ‘group fund’. In addition, they will also participate in discussions on child protection issues such as family planning, nutrition, good parenting, disciplining, strengthening parenting skills and promoting better care of vulnerable children.

Click here to learn more about Ending Child Poverty Initiative of Arigatou International
  Facts - Violence Against Children in the Family

"According to the recent UNICEF Study on child disciplinary  practices by parents and other caregivers in 35 developing countries (Covering around 10% of the world’s child population in developing world), more than 75% of children between 2 and 14 years of age experience some form of violence within the home. Shouting, yelling or screaming at a child are the most common practices; but in many cases other more severe forms of violence occur- including spanking, hitting and beating the child with a belt, stick or other object."

Remarks by Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children on the ocassion of the GNRC Fourth Forum held in Tanzania in June 2012
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