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Marriage and Family

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The Family Under Strain in the UK: Different Faith, Gender and Generational Perspectives

This conference topic and date was arranged and decided with Ambassador for Peace assistance. Due to the MEPI activity the response and the up until the last few days was very limited. However, in the end the result was by the grace of God and according to a number of participants one of the best conferences.

The core Ambassadors for Peace established the framework for this conference last November in a meeting in Lord King’s office. It was to focus on inter-generational tensions, the role of women in the family and the experience of intercultural or interracial marriage.

The first session featured Dr Raheem Khan, a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain and the Three Faiths Forum, who spoke of the problems of the current society and contrasted them to his experience within the Asian community where communication was still very strong within the family. He spoke of his inspiration with WAIT, which is a young people’s group that proclaims the message of waiting for the right person and to have a sexual relationship within marriage. 

Parmy Olson reflected on her family life and those of her friends. ‘It seems to be that young people want to separate from their parents. It would be better if we spend more time together and talk to them as we would a friend. 'My Dad is my best friend and mentor.' Albert Schweitzer stated that parents teach children in three ways, by example, by example and by example. Every generation has a teenage problem even though it seems that this teen generation is the worst. We need to talk to each other more. We need to speak to our parents and elders.

Alan Rainer said I have been coming to Lancaster Gate for 30 years and it is always a great pleasure. It is like a family here. My doctoral study is the unity of religions. He saw the unity of each religion to the sacrosanct raising of children in the family.

‘In many of the schools in the United Kingdom this basic traditional approach has been eroded for many different reasons, individualism, human rights being claimed without their corresponding  responsibilities.’ He said he cried when he read that one million children had been failed by schools. He said he felt a related statistic was that during their lives 1.5 m men will become persistent criminals. He said he first had to try to tame a classroom of wild teenagers who could not read. Then to control them before he could teach them anything. He added, ‘I have been beaten everywhere on my body during my time as a teacher.’
 
‘There is no alternative to have to make our stand for traditional values. There is no alternative to protecting future generations and for this the traditional faiths have to work together to ensure that everybody realizes that the secular liberal world is a dangerous illusion but a necessary step in human beings evolution to accepting authority from parents, governments and tradition but with higher skills of evaluation of the right individual and collective path to choose in an open democratic society.’


Dr. Carole Ulanowsky, former senior lecturer at the School of Health and Social Welfare at the Open University in Nottingham, spoke on the topic 'Family under strain - a problematic context for motherhood'  She perceives motherhood as being two under great sociological pressures: individualism and the undermining of parenting, and especially motherhood, in the early years of a child’s life. These pressures influence Government policy and are reflected in the institutions we have established during the last 30 years as key individuals influenced by post-modernism, have turned their backs on motherhood and created similar structures for others to follow.
She added ‘there has been a diminishing of commitment to faith traditions and the ethics and values underpinning these, for example the principle of self-sacrifice, and the emphasis on the importance of family and children.’ The economic encouragement for mothers to return to work quickly has a short term economic benefit to the society but in the long term the society pays dearly in the decline of children’s social, mental and emotional health. She concluded that the rights of women and the rights of children were ‘not mutually exclusive’ and that society is failing to support the role of parents in short ‘a failure to treasure the essence of humanity at all levels.’

In response to a question she added that there is an element of self-justification of professional women who abandoned their children and write theories to justify their position.

Miss Xiaoming Gao a volunteer youth worker from China, spoke of the wonderful relationship she has with her mother. She has been in the UK for three years. ‘I can feel their love even though they are far away. My mother says to me by phone, 'Dont miss home but try to fly as high as you can.'’ The Mum lives her life for the children and her husband. My Mum is a good listener, cook, cleaner, and friend.

There was an emphasis in the contributions from the audience of the role of the media in damaging the family. A number of participants spoke about the need to examine the role of the media and how to influence it. Others said the need was to not encourage the media by turning it off or using media that was more positive. Joy Phillipoo, when reporting on discussions at her table, raised the topic of discipline emphasising the values taught at home protect the society. Cllr. Faisal Khan expressed that grandparents are very valuable within the family to pass on values and traditions. Dr Raheem Khan said the 'father was seen as having the keys to heaven and the mother as the nurturing role of the earth making the gateway to heaven.'

Three Ambassador for Peace Awards were presented just prior to lunch. Julie Coker, Lurlene Hoyte-West and Daniel Ulanowsky.

Prof. Ian Hall spoke about the difficulties he and Radha had experienced just after marriage as an inter-racial couple. His mother in law had been open-minded during Radha’s childhood but with their marriage she was very hard to relate to.

He spoke of the barriers coming down over time until now his mother in law assisted so much with expenses incurred in curing his wife’s cancer.

Mr. Saleem Mohammed spoke of the changes in society regarding sexual activity. In the past the youth would try to maintain their purity and integrity. Now he said the youth do not try to maintain their virginity. ‘The ones who are virgins are beat up at school’ he said. It pains me to see mother’s go through so much to bear and raise a child and but these days the children beat her up and are rude to her he added.

Rita Zaccerelli
My parents always educated me to value one partner for life. There are a lot of couples who are beautiful and committed to each other. Among those couples if a love is centred on something beyond themselves, something higher than themselves, it is even more precious. If they love God first then there life can be so exciting. Love just for themselves is not enough but that love should expand beyond the couple and family to the wider world.

Dr Ayaz
I am honoured to give the last word. The last word is the most important. We have heard 14 principal speakers from all over the world. It has been amazing how the world has come to hear and appreciate the same message.

We can blame the media but why do we continue to receive the media in our homes. We should not allow the media to divide our generations. 

The base of a happy family is the love of God. If there is a problem then we must improve our relationship with God. There must be a source of love in God. We must replete our container with love so that it might be filled regularly. If the children do not receive love at home then they will look at other sources to receive the love they need. They will look at the television, spend more time with their peer group etc.

In the Kingdom of Heaven the family is the original base of True Love. Family has two axis vertical and horizontal planes. Vertical axis is connected to the love of God. The Horizontal plane enjoys the love of God brought to them through the vertical plane of grandparents and parents etc.

We cannot only focus on one family but it is an important to change the environment that the families live in. Much of the blame for the present situation falls on the parents. The parents are divine teachers. What we have learned has come to us from Heaven. What we have inherited has to be passed on to continue the inheritance we have received.