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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Small word, big problem
  By William Grimm  
  PEOPLE who have studied English as a second language tell me that three of the biggest challenges they encount  
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Youth and sex
  By CCI  
  THE changing attitude of young people toward sex and family is a major concern, says a high-level body of the Indian Church.

"One area of concern is the change in attitude toward sex, stability of family, wife-sex relation," noted the Catholic Council of India (CCI).

The council, representative body of Indian Catholic bishops, priests, religious and laity, met Jan. 9-12 in Nagpur discussed the situation of youth in the Church and society.

"The young generation of today, growing up as they do in the modern technological age, is exposed to a wide variety of new ideas, experiences and influences," the meeting said in its final statement.

The statement also found the modern generation highly influenced by media -- print, audio and video. But "it must be said that their influence are none too healthy."

Young people's changed views on family and sex correspond to their "indifference" to religion and religious practices that form the basics for a healthy social order, the meeting regretted.

This has resulted in break-up of families and increased divorces. The statement cites as examples the increase in the number of people opting for live-in relation rather than marriage, and demands for same sex unions.

The changes have made youth more ambitious and "collectively impatient at the slow pace of changes" in society.

As a result, they have become "very susceptible" to movements and organizations that project speedy social actions "justifying means by their ends."

The council wants Catholics in India to realize that the negative trends among the youth are the result of society's failure to inculcate in them values that could help them withstand unhealthy influences.

These developments should force people to undertake "a serious introspection" of society's attitude to youth and the type of programs it has for young people, the CCI said.

The meet wanted the Church to improve the quality of the training it conducts for the youth and organize more effective refresher programs. (Courtesy: CathNews India)
Caring for 'special' children
  By Shaheen Chander  

AS a part of a specialization course at college, we were assigned to visit various institutes for 'special' children. I personally feel that there is no better word than 'special' to address such children; simply because they are different from the others, not only in their abilities, but their capabilities as well.

These children included the ones suffering from various disorders -- hearing impairment, physical and mental disabilities, learning difficulties, impaired vision or speech defects. We visited several institutes. Although the functioning of the institutes varied and the disorders of children differed, there was something in common -- a similarity in their anxiety to know more, their life situation and, of course, their emotional distress.

Interaction with the teachers there provided us with insight into how parents struggled to make their special children happy. Each passing day unfolded a new story. In one school for mentally disabled children, a highly qualified professional mother would come every day to drop her elder daughter to school. Her child was chronologically 13, with the mind of a three-year old. The hopeful mother would in a dedicated manner bring her child to school. But despite the love and affection they may get, such children live in an altogether different world, where they strive hard to be a part of the 'normal' surroundings.

Challenges for both parents and the child

Owing to their disabilities, 'special' children exhibit several emotional and behavioural problems. Mood swings and aggressive behavior are just a few. They may suffer from an inferiority complex, brought about by incompetence. The behavioural and emotional problems may even worsen as the child grows older and psychologically matures to understand the situation. They feel awkward at times.

People generally feel that if a child does not match his/her peers physically, then the emotional needs are also limited. Although this depends on the disability as well as its extent, children can very well assess the situation and reactions of people around them. If there is a normal sibling at home, the situation is even more challenging. Extra praise of the normal child's achievements can cause emotional upheaval for the 'special' one, who may psychologically succumb to his/her physical and mental incapability. At times, lack of affection or care from other family members can also have a bad impact on the psyche of the child.

Make your child feel special

It is important to help your child realize his ability and not disability. Help the child grow. Help him/her become independent and confident. At the same time, do not overestimate the child's potential. At home, provide the child with a conducive and encouraging environment. Involve every member in the care of the child. Parenting such children is strenuous, but following balanced parenting techniques will help.

Despite your professional and personal constraints, do spend time with your child. If possible, take him/her out for a stroll and interact with the child. Do not isolate the child. Encourage siblings and their friends to interact with the child. Make the child participate in social and family gatherings confidently. However, do not overindulge in the care of just the needy one. Balanced parenting of both the affected and the normal child is important.

Remember, all that the 'special' ones need is support and encouragement, not sympathy.
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