Learning to accompany families

In addition to formation, which is always necessary, it is necessary to accompany families in today's society. This means being close to them and establishing a real relationship with them.

March 24, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
family demographics day

We are nearing the conclusion of the Year of the family Amoris laetitia, promoted by Pope Francis, who has repeatedly stressed the need to be close to families, in a practical and realistic way, in short, to accompany them.

This is an urgent task, because the cultural changes of recent decades have not gone hand in hand with a change in the way families are helped, in accordance with their mentality and their new circumstances.

Until a few years ago we believed that it was enough to offer families "training" to help them: that is, to give them some ideas about how the family should be and how they should do things, with a style that we could call "directive", forgetting that training is not only giving and receiving information, but that it requires assuming vitally what is transmitted.

Training in the traditional sense is still necessary, but today it is not enough. We must learn to train in another way, with another methodology and another style, according to the culture in which we live, which has changed radically.

It is necessary to develop a new way of looking at "the family". First of all, it is necessary to start by understanding what "real families" are like and what they need, because "ideal families" do not exist.

The proposal of accompanying families introduces two differential elements with respect to the attitude prevailing up to now in the work with families.

To accompany means "to be with someone", to walk beside him, so that he discovers his own protagonism and learns the best way to solve the difficulties and conflicts that all personal relationships entail.

Accompanying is above all establishing a personal relationship and, as such, it is based on trust: we cannot impose it, but we can offer the conditions to make it possible.

I International Workshop on Family Accompaniment

In May 2022 the I International Workshop on family accompaniment will take place in Barcelona (more info: https://workshopfamilia.uic.es), with the aim of offering training on what it is and how to carry out this accompaniment to families from different areas (educational, pastoral, from professional offices, social networks, etc.), in a practical and realistic way.

The program aims to help to understand what families are like today and to learn how families can be accompanied from different areas, with a markedly practical character. At the same time, the workshop will be a meeting point to publicize the accompaniment initiatives that are already being successfully carried out in various countries, making it possible for those who carry out this task to meet, and encouraging the creation of new initiatives.

Family accompaniment is not reduced to a single action: it is rather a broad-spectrum change of perspective, which can be applied in different ways and in very diverse settings. As there are no "perfect families", in reality we all need to be accompanied. And we can all in some way be families who accompany other families. So, in a way, everyone who is concerned about helping families has a place in this workshop

The authorMontserrat Gas Aixendri

Professor at the Faculty of Law of the International University of Catalonia and director of the Institute for Advanced Family Studies. She directs the Chair on Intergenerational Solidarity in the Family (IsFamily Santander Chair) and the Childcare and Family Policies Chair of the Joaquim Molins Figueras Foundation. She is also Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law at UIC Barcelona.

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