About three hundred followers assembled on May 25 at the Home of the Parent for a joint convention of five Tenrikyo welfare federations for prison chaplains, juvenile probation officers, foster parents, social welfare facilities, and child welfare commissioners. The convention began with a moment of worship, which was followed by the performance of the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo. Representing the five federations, Chairman Nobuhiko Otake of the Federation for Foster Parents then delivered the opening address. He called on the participants to conduct salvation work through welfare activities while allowing themselves to be guided by God the Parent’s teachings and Oyasama’s warm parental heart. Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi then took the podium and, referring to Instruction Two, said: “If we find people who are having difficulty in leading a normal social life, we should not leave them as they are. Rather, we must try to do whatever we can for them. This is the mind of saving others.” He further explained the attitude required of us in order to carry out welfare activities in anticipation of Oyasama’s 120th Anniversary by saying: “We each should make efforts to nurture ourselves as well as help others nurture themselves so that we can understand the true intention of God the Parent. What we mean by salvation is to nurture ourselves while nurturing others.”
Following this, Yoshiharu Morita, a professor of clinical psychology at Ryukoku University, delivered a commemorative lecture entitled “What children are trying to say to adults.” Based on his own experience as a counselor and as a participant at training seminars held for staff members of welfare facilities, he explained how we should interact with children and how parents and staff members of welfare facilities should fulfill their duties.
He began by suggesting that children’s various psychological problems could be attributed to something that they lack nowadays–namely, the sort of experience that children cannot easily have due to the present social circumstances and the types of play activities that currently predominate in children’s lives. He then presented four key words: Affection, Connection, Composure, and Freedom. He stressed the importance of playing games for children, citing “playing tag” as an example. “Everybody has a desire to be superior to others and be loved more than others,” he said. “In playing tag, there is one who is ‘it,’ and the other children run away. In a sense, this is bullying. Children work off their desire for self-gratification by playing this game. What is the most important is that they return to equal standing when the game is over. Having worked off their desire in playing the game, they don’t have to bully other children in their actual lives.” He thus pointed out that playing a group game enables children to nurture their social nature.
After giving further examples, he stressed that children have the ability to get rid of stress by themselves. We adults, therefore, should create an environment that enables children to play. He also pointed out that problematic behavior of children represents their message for us adults. There must be some kind of message behind children’s problematic behavior. Consequently, we adults should be intent on listening to them and try to discern their message.
Based on his own experience as a counselor, he further pointed out that children’s problems, in many cases, did not come from the children themselves. Rather, their problems came from some kind of problem that their family was having over a long period of time, which eventually drove them to cause problems. When we make sincere efforts to understand children’s behavior, we are also able to ponder over family problems and change the situation for the better. He also referred to how important it was for husband and wife to maintain their unity in a family so as not to cause emotional instability to their children. He concluded his lecture by saying that children would grow up to become persons who are imaginative and active when they are nurtured in an environment where good human relationships are being developed.