Importance of valuing family unity

Fatimah (top row, second right) along with other speakers and participants during the webinar.

KUCHING: Bridging the generation gap involves the role-modelling of parents with regard to positive relationships, the importance of learning, respect, and taking responsibility for mistakes.

Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah explained that this generation gap had resulted from the rapid development of the world, especially in the areas of advancing science and technology.

On positive relationships, she said being a positive role model required effort, forethought, and self-control for most parents. 

“Parents’ actions, beliefs, and attitudes become integrated into our children’s way of being,” she said during a webinar on ‘Exploring the Unity in Sarawak through Intergenerational Understanding’ organised by Yayasan Perpaduan Sarawak (YPS) via Zoom and Facebook Live on Thursday (Sept 9).

“Parents need to build a connection with their children based on trust so that they know they can count on you when they need you and so that they learn to be trustworthy in return.”

She said that with good communication, all family members are united with a shared vision of the family’s purpose, common values, and mutually defined priorities.

“Parents should also include their children in family discussions, and meaningful family activities are good ways for them to understand how people can get along with others and work together.”

With regard to the importance of learning, Fatimah said a positive approach to education and knowledge could help children value the process of discovery and learning.

She said respect was also another vital aspect in bridging the generation gap.

“Showing respect to others of different age groups, races, and faiths as well as resolving conflicts in a positive way rather than simply getting reactive, angry, and upset, will show them what respect and problem-solving look like.”

As for taking responsibility for mistakes, she said that parents openly admitting their mistakes and talking about how they could correct them would show their children how to be accountable for their own actions.

“It also teaches them that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you can always bounce back.”

Apart from the role of parents, she said the surrounding community also played a crucial role in inculcating values of unity and respect, since children emulate the behaviour and character of adults around them.

“A family is always stronger and more stable when there is a supportive community. Community values such as compassion, empathy, respect for diversity, and acceptance need to be practised, especially in a multi-ethnic community.”

Fatimah emphasised the importance of valuing family unity – “When we have strong family structures, then we are assured of having strong societies, which are important in nation-building.”