By Josephine Agbonkhese
The Founder of GalParenting Place and Creator of Peaceful Parenting Hub, Abimbola Olayinka, is redefining parenting, driven by a desire to see peace reign in every home and workplace. For her, only peace in the home can transform Nigeria into a peaceful place.
A member of the International Network for Children and Families, INCAF, Gainesville, Florida, and the Family Life Coaching Association, North Carolina, Olayinka, among other international certifications, she is an ACPI certified Professional Parenting Educator, a certified John Maxwell Parenting and Family Life Coach, as well as a certified Professional Family and Relationship Educator/Coach from the Academy of Parenting Coaches, Corte Portofino Menifee, California, USA.
She is the pioneer of Peaceful Parenting Coaching in Nigeria, as well as the only Redirecting Children’s Behaviour Instructor in the country, representing Redirecting Children’s Behaviour International, Florida, USA.
Olayinka, who holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management, is also presently the Managing Director of Gabbie’s Alternative Limited with subsidiaries including Gal Dreadlocks, Gal Consulting Global Services and Gal Logistics.
Parenting is a salient issue in society today; what do you think most parents are doing wrong?
We have all believed in the popular saying “Parenting is about the children.” My dear friends, this is nothing but a myth. Parenting is more about us, the parents, than the children. While growing up, majority of us were erased and not raised.
We were tamed and forced to empty our jar of excitement and curiosity, either by several severe beatings, carefully orchestrated resounding slaps or downpour of overwhelming and heart-wrenching curses. Can we blame our parents? No, not at all. Considering the information available to them as at then, that was the best they could do.
Correcting a child by inflicting pains and scars was a reminder for that child to desist from negative behaviours. Now, we know better, and it is expected that we do better regardless of our societal and financial status.
To redefine parenting, it is imperative that we first change the faulty parenting belief system. It’s a virus in our programming. That’s what we help parents do at GALParenting Place.
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As we celebrate 60 of nationhood, youth restiveness remains a major problem in Nigeria; what parenting approach, in your experience, can effectively address this?
We have various parenting approaches. The most preferable is the authoritarian parenting style. Authoritarian parents are expected to be nurturing, very reasonable, self-disciplined and compassionate. They are also equipped with empathy and high emotional intelligence skill. They set clear expectations, consequences for actions, and boundaries with a good follow-through approach.
They practice parent leadership whereby consequences for actions are stated clearly with reasons as to why. They practice active listening with effective communications and frequent family meetings that allow children to give their opinions. Finally, the children’s ideas are considered during the family decision making process.
Authoritarians are nurturing by nature because of the skills they possess. They provide an enabling home for children to flourish and thrive. Their actions gradually contribute to world peace as they raise compassionate and effective children. That approach will go a long way in addressing most of the problems we face as a nation.
Between poor parenting and a harsh economy, which would you blame for the incessant breakdown of marriages in today’s society?
I would blame both actually; just that I would blame the home front first before throwing blames on harsh economy. Experience has shown that a well-nurtured child from a healthy and enabling environment with the right skills, is likely to last longer in a marriage than a child that was not exposed to the right psychosocial environment during the developmental years.
This is regardless of the effects of a harsh economy.
In my opinion, I think a harsh economy should only serve as a test for how solid our backgrounds are, in the face of recurring difficulties. In the absence of solid backgrounds, difficult situations amplify our lack of emotional intelligence. This was probably not nurtured as every child had a level of emotional intelligence during their early years. This is where the job of the parent to help nurture and strengthen comes to fore.
In line with the theme for this Independence Anniversary celebration, what tips will you highlight as pathways to building stronger families?
Building a strong family foundation is procedural and therefore requires a step by step approach. Like in architecture, a sturdy and solid structure that would stand the test of time starts with a feasible and approved building plan; so is building a strong family foundation.
You therefore have to know the methodology to explore that would begin with the end in mind.
A few questions to stir up your mind are not limited to the following: What is the focus of this family? What do we want people to know us for? Who are we and what do we stand for? What is the aim of this family?
All these questions will not be adequately answered without having effective and transformational leaders at the home front.
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What can you describe as peaceful parenting?
Peaceful parenting is a parenting approach that underpins peace as a major attribute that parents must exhibit. It therefore means that the peace in the word peaceful should, at all times, come from us as parents.
Until we come to that self-realisation that we must be at peace with ourselves in order to be at peace with our children, our spouses and the people around, our efforts would largely remain futile. It is only after this self-realisation that we can parent with peace and purpose. It is as simple as that.
The lesson to note here is that internal peace breeds the required atmosphere to help you function at your optimum. It is about parenting with emotional intelligence. Knowing yourself, knowing what works for you, what makes you tick, etc. before you can have the awareness of others.
Tell us about your experience in managing mental health concerns among families…
As a cognitive behavioural therapist and an ardent emotional intelligence practitioner, it is easy to note that our belief system is what stands in the way of having a peaceful home in most families. This is as a result of our psychosocial environment during our developmental stages early in life.
What we do is to provide interventions that focus on changing and challenging this disempowering cognitive distortion and behaviours. These interventions would improve emotional regulations and also help develop coping skills.
The resultant effect would enable each member of a family function effectively under the same family climate. By the way, it takes intentionality for a family member to achieve this new state of healthy mental state because real learning starts at the unconscious level.
What is the way out of the current rape epidemic raging across the country?
It is still the home front; parents need to do much more. Consequently, this would extend to schools and the larger society. If all home leaderships were to be effective, by implication the society tends to be more peaceful.
We have to be more intentional about creating quality time to nurture and connect with our children while raising them by exhibiting exemplary leadership. Do your part effectively and I will also be deliberate about mine.
Together, we would change the phase of our leadership system by raising more responsible children that will grow up to be responsible adults.