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Invitation to join the International Mother Center Campaign: “How do we want to raise our children?”
14. 8. 2006 13:20

With great pleasure and quite some excitement we invite you to join the mine international campaign: How do we want to raise our children? The idea for this campaign came from the Union of Slovak Mother Centers, the national network of the over 60 Mother Centers in the Slovak Republic.

Questionnaire 1: What do you consider good child-raising?
Questionnaire 2: In what way are MCs a unique environment for raising children?
Questionnaire 3: How to involve fathers in parenting?
Questionnaire 4: What qualifies for raising children?
Questionnaire 5: Practical Parenthood/ Parental Recipes
Questionnaire 6: Kindergaartens & schools
Questionnaire 7: Enabling and disabling conditions for raising children

Summary of Campaign Results

Context and Objectives

In contemporary societies the question of how to raise children is no longer self evident, does not go without saying. Traditional kin networks are dissolving and many young parents find themselves struggling with issues of how to bridge traditional and modern values, how to keep up with their children, what to pass on to their children, and how to participate in and influence public childcare and education in kindergartens and schools. Within the educational system parental knowledge and involvement and is often lacking.

The campaign “How do we want to raise our children?” aims to stimulate a dialog process as a bottom up approach to redefining child socialization and child-rearing through parental self reflection, peer exchange and a peer learning process. Mother Centers have a wide range of practical experience and expertise linked to parenthood and child-upbringing. The aim is to make this knowledge and practical experience visible both to the involved parents themselves as well as to the general and professional public. For the Mother Centers and their grassroots networks this will mean a significant move towards advocacy in child-rearing issues and to a raising of awareness and recognition of their position and educational function as “universities of parenthood”. In the process a better understanding will be developed of what is needed to support mothers and families in their daily and daunting task of bringing up the next generation.

Campaign Stages

The campaign starts locally by local Mother Centers and groups initiating local debates in their centers on the issue “How do we want to raise our children?” These reflections will be structured by a questionnaire and common guidelines focusing on defining the issues parents are struggling with as well as the goals and values they are striving for in raising their children. These debates at grassroots level will draw out the knowledge and competencies developed in every day life with children and give a picture of “contemporary parenthood” as it is shaped and formed by everyday challenges and how parents deal and cope with them throughout different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds.

An additional element of the debates and exchanges of experiences at local level will focus on the role of Mother Centers and their effect both on the participating parents as well as their children. These discussions will attempt to develop an understanding of and give a language to the process of “collective parenting” developed in the every day life of Mother Centers.

The experiences and reflections resulting from the local debates will be shared and extended in regional and national forums to create a “platform of family policy from the bottom up”, giving visibility and a voice to the perspectives of parents on society and defining the issues where parents want more influence in shaping the environment for their children.

The body of knowledge developed through this process and in these stages will be the base for debates and negotiations with other stakeholders in society: kindergarten and school teachers, urban planners, local authorities, representatives of the retail industry, representatives of medical professions, religious institutions, universities and the media. These debates will take on a broader perspective: The question “How do we want to raise our children?” will develop into reflections on “What kind of environment is needed to raise our children as we want?”

The campaign culminates in 2006 when a 3 day international conference will be held from 17-20 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, on the topic: How do we want to raise our children? We envision bringing together representatives of the existing Mother Centers, Mother Center initiatives and related grassroots groups from Albania, Austria, Benin, Bosnia, Burundi, Canada, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Nepal, Rwanda, Slovak Republic, Sudan, Switzerland, The Netherlands, USA and Zimbabwe.

“How do we want to raise our Children”
17 – 20 November 2006 in Bratislava, Slovak Republic (pdf, 7 MB)

This international conference will extract common values and common issues of parenting throughout very diverse geographical, social and cultural settings. These settings and the conditions for parents and children will be as diverse as the backgrounds of the participating grassroots delegations from over 20 countries world-wide.

The debates and discussion clubs on local level can start as soon as your group decides to join the campaign, at which point we will send out the first questionnaires and discussion guidelines. In the Slovak Republic and in Germany discussions have already begun. The debates and different stages of the discussion will be conducted throughout the period preceding the international conference and for a follow-up period of half a year after the international event in Bratislava.

The process will support parents in their parenting skills by sharpening their goals and visions as well as by providing peer learning on how to cope with everyday parenting issues. It will raise and help define perspectives and strategies for collective and international advocacy for family and child friendly societies. Another important objective and outcome is to contribute to dialog, understanding and peace building among parents across cultural, ethnic and religious divides.

The local, regional and national debates and conferences will be organized by the local Mother Centers and grassroots groups and the regional and national Mother Center and grassroots networks. The international conference will be organized by the Union of Slovak Mother Centers in cooperation with mine.

Funding and Fundraising

Right from the start we need to make it very clear: mine is a self help movement, not a program or a funder. The success and range of the campaign will depend on the joint effort of all participating, including the issue of fundraising.

We have secured initial funding for the Bratislava conference and are working on several further fundraising proposals. We will be able to support travel costs for some participants, but will not be able to pay the full costs for all participants. Priority will be given to groups who join the campaign actively in their centers and groups and to groups from the South.

We therefore encourage you to raise funds locally both for conducting the campaign in your groups and centers as well as for participating in the Bratislava conference.

The final decision on what travel subsidies can be offered will depend on how many funds we and all of you participating in this campaign will raise in the coming year.

This means to spell it out very clearly: Your decision to join the campaign cannot be based on a guarantee of participation in the Bratislava conference. What we guarantee if you join is that you will be included in all the communications and sharing of learning and results that will be generated in the process. Your decision to join the campaign therefore needs to be based on your judgment, that joining the campaign as such will be beneficial for your group, independent of participating in the Bratislava conference, and that you can secure the support necessary to conduct the debates and activities you plan as part of the campaign in your community, region and country.

What the Union of Slovak Mother Centers and mine are offering as support in the process:

  • Guidelines and questionnaires for the discussions and debates

  • Putting up a forum for the exchange of experiences between participating groups

  • Analysis and sharing of results

  • Monitoring the process and coordination of the international campaign

  • Organizing of the Bratislava conference

  • Travel subsidies for a part of the participants

    What we ask from participating groups:

  • Participating in the campaign means initiating debates on the issue: “How do we want to raise our children?” both inside your groups and centers as well as as public events with partners, other stakeholders, the media etc.

  • Participating in the campaign means reporting on the process and results of these debates

  • Participating in the campaign involves looking for subsidies to fund your activities in the campaign as well as for participation of your group in the Bratislava conference.

    Joining the Campaign

  • Join now, if you think the issue: How do we want to raise our children? is relevant and important for your work and your groups

  • Join now, if you think it worthwhile to be part of this international campaign

  • Join now, if you think you can contribute to fundraising for your group

  • Join now, if you think being part of such an international campaign can raise the visibility of your work and can support you in advocacy and publicity activities locally

  • Join now, if you want to be eligible for applying for travel funds from mine for the Bratislava conference.

  • We need to hear from you by November 30th, 2005

    Contact: Monika Jaeckel, jaeckel@mine.cc

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