Listen to your children, Minister Loau urges

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, says parents and elders should do more to listen to their children and give them space to express themselves.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer at the 70th anniversary celebrations in honour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Minister said while children should respect their elders, there could be more reciprocity.

“Our elders should respect the youngsters and they need to listen to what they are trying to say and the issues they want to pursue,” he said.

Too often, young people are told to listen to their elders and not speak, because of their age.

The culture of parents telling children everything rather than giving the children space to share needs to change, Loau said.

“We should listen to what they say, what are their ideas, what are they thinking of rather than closing doors and saying ‘you’re young and you shouldn’t say anything, you have to listen to me and what I’m saying to you is right,’” he said.

But that must be balanced against respect for elders, which is enshrined in Samoan culture.

Are children going to too far, or are they expressing their feelings in a proper way so their parents are listening to them in a constructive way?

“We need to give them space to say something.”

Minister Loau is the chairperson for the Commission on Human Rights, and said his role is partly to advocate for the perseveration of the fa’asamoa when defending human rights.

“We need to make a balance in a way where we respect the culture as well…. You need to balance with the concepts from the outside world,” he said.

Human rights are important, but equally so is the fa’asamoa people are born with here.

“That’s why we are so connected and have a peaceful country,” Loau said.

“Compared to the outside world we are much, much better and that’s because of the culture holding us together. People need to realise that.”

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