Thursday, February 22 2024

Nearly sixty years ago, just as the turbulence that would begin to shake up the family unit was beginning, some visionaries, concerned about their children’s education, decided to devote time to educating themselves and other parents. Their goal was to organize meetings for talking about family and parenting.

IFFD: an international association for families

It all began in Spain and spread throughout Europe in no time, gradually making its way around the world. Over the years, there has been a growth in the number of associations that seek to offer classes, organize conferences, and support married couples on their journey of personal and familial improvement/enrichment.

IFFD, International Federation for Family Development came about at the end of the 1990s. However, in essence what came about was an already well-established organization that inherited significant experience over many years of activity.

Today IFFD operates in 70 countries on five continents and promotes a global family-friendly project with two major activities. The first is Family Enrichment, which consists of formation classes for youth, married couples, parents, and grandparents. The second is Family Perspective, which includes all advocacy activities by being present at the United Nations and international forums with the aim of offering their input on policies.

IFFD: the formation classes behind their success

The number of classes offered has been growing over the years, as have the number of participants. Annually, there are about 25,000 who take a class: a figure that exceeds 50,000 if other activities and online training are included.

The need for parental formation has always been a highly-felt need. Unfortunately, however, it is not widespread, and the emergence of new challenges only make it more and more evident.

IFFD seeks to respond to this need with its more than 4,000 volunteers worldwide who accompany families in the complex, extraordinary role of parenthood and to help them embrace their relationships with their children to the fullest. All this, in an environment that remains the same as it was in the early days: familiar, simple, and serene, ensuring that everyone feels comfortable.

IFFD classes aim to prevent conflicts in the family environment and promote better communication and intergenerational solidarity. For the past few years, a class dedicated specifically to families experiencing socio-economic hardship – Familias sin barreras – has been developed to cater to an increasingly large part of the population. Similarly, there are international events that are held online and delve deeper into the issues that are of greatest concern to families. Such is the case with Love Talks, a program launched in 2022. The first meeting focused on affectivity and sexuality, while the following year explored “family balance” (how to live a balanced life). Through short videos submitted from experts around the world, various issues related to the chosen topics are explored in a simple, engaging manner, giving participants the chance to interact with the speakers and ask questions.

IFFD: the valuable contribution of volunteers

IFFD has always been able to rely on the voluntary contributions of thousands of people, and it is done with very limited funds and a spirit of sacrifice. It must be said that this is not always easy work. The proposal is to share reflections on the hard work and the immense joy of being partnered with someone and of being a family. IFFD’s dream is to “bring each person to discover and experience the beauty of family life, hoping to create a more humane world.”

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