This past weekend we held one of our regular Parent Meetings, where we invite families to come with their students and participate in our communal activities. These Parent Meetings are designed to help families keep abreast of developments at The SOLD Project, get to know some of our various staff members, and engage in conversations meant to facilitate communication between our students and their parents.
The bond between kids and their families is one of the greatest weapons we have in the fight against child exploitation. Having a strong network of support, communication, and love provides kids with resources to face problems, prevents alienation, and research has also shown how a strong bond with a caring, consistent provider produces a wide array of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional benefits. However, many parents in the community come from a culture that sometimes represses emotions and frowns on exuberant displays of feeling. As such, telling a child openly how much they love them is difficult, even embarrassing, for some.
At The SOLD Project, we try to find ways to help the families open up and share with each other. We provide a safe place and fun, nonintrusive activities where parents and children share with each other answers to questions like: what are your expectations from each other, what are your hopes, and what are your expectations from SOLD?
People are nervous and shy at first, but over time, these questions get easier to answer, and we always get positive feedback from families telling us how much they appreciate these opportunities and how much they learn from them. It’s hard to change habits, and it’s not easy to be self-reflective, but just knowing how important it is to be open and willing to communicate is a huge step in breaking down barriers. In time, we hope we can not only demolish barriers to communication, but that strong bonds of mutual love and respect can flourish after being well tended.