‘To redefine parenting, we must first change faulty belief system’
Abimbola Olayinka is the founder of GalParenting Place and the creator of Peaceful Parenting Hub. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management from Lagos State University. A certified Business Management Trainer, author, Disc Behavioural Assessment Certified, and Accredited by the Coaching Academy, United Kingdom, Olayinka is an emotional intelligent specialist, NLP Practitioner, Positive psychology practitioner, mental health practitioner (Cognitive Behavioural Therapist), and John Maxwell Leadership and entrepreneurship Trainer. She is equally an ACPI certified professional parenting educator and a certified professional family and relationship educator/coach from the Academy of Parenting Coaches, Corte Portofino Menifee, California, USA. The only Redirecting Children’s Behaviour instructor in Nigeria, representing Redirecting Children’s Behavior International, Florida, USA, she’s also a member of the International network for children and families (INCAF) Gainesville, Florida, and active member of the Family Life Coaching Association, North Carolina. In this interview with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA, Olayinka, who is fully involved in child psychology and advocate, spoke on her passion for parenting and its effect in the society.
Tell us about your journey with parenting?
I have worked in different business sectors achieving as much as I could. However, I felt unfulfilled knowing that there was a missing link. As I searched for the missing link, everything looked quite hazy, but something dominant kept reminding me about my passion for childcare.
I have also noticed how easy it was for me to connect with children and vice versa. This was very evident as people close to me easily observed. As such, I became the first point of call by my family members and friends for parenting and family advice. If you place 20 children under my custody, be rest assured that we would all relate and deal peacefully. I love children, and I see them all like my biological children. Hence, my adorable husband and friend told me one day after an encounter that it was high time I got fully certified in parenting education, as skill comes to me effortlessly.
I couldn’t sleep that night; I kept thinking and kept getting clarity on those words till the rising of the sun. Since then, I have not looked back; I gave up my employed job and transitioned into professional parenting with expertise in coaching, training and counselling.
What is the nexus between your various fields of operation?
These lines may seem diverse; they are however linked in more ways than one. As such, the nexus is not farfetched, making it easily identifiable. The nexus is simply ‘Peace at Home’. Independently, my lines of operation ranges from child advocacy, family unity, emotional stability, positive psychology, neuro-linguistic programming to cognitive behavioural therapy. These are all connected as they jointly help an individual achieve the requisite positive mental health required of every member of a family. This invariably creates peace in our homes as positive mental health helps us relate better with other family members and the larger society.
What really drives you?
The quest for peaceful homes, which hopefully should transcend into world peace, is my driving force. I have always dreamt of a world with absolute peace. So, achieving peace in our various homes is the first step in the right direction. Hence, my popular phrase – Peace starts at home and it begins with you.
My drive is for every child to be raised in a healthy, positive and peaceful environment because every child deserves just that. If we can’t change the world now, then we are duty-bound to encourage, motivate, nurture and support our children to model the positive leadership skills we as parents exhibit within the four walls of our homes. A lot of parents do not see the link between leadership and parenting. Thus, my desire to make parents understand that parenting is also leadership. As such, I engage them through coaching, training as well as speaking engagements.
How do you combine all of these portfolios?
Hardworking and diligent parents, who had the tenacity and grace to combine multiple portfolios, raised me. They believed in effective planning, servant and positive leaderships that encompass empathy and compassion. Growing up, I must have absorbed all these unconsciously while developing and equipping myself to meet the present realities. I equally have a reliable and robust support system as a husband; he genuinely understands the place of women in leadership. This has made things a lot easier.
Regardless, nothing good comes easy. I have toiled, laboured and burnt the midnight candles repeatedly, and that still continues. Hardwork, grit and resilience have been my watchword. Managing the home front, coupled with the different portfolios, isn’t a relaxed walk in the park. Finally, the grace of God, which abounds over my life and that of my beautiful family, has kept me going.
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.’ 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? 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. At GALParenting Place, we take parents through the journey of self-realisation and self-awareness to enable them make that right shift from the disempowering belief system into an empowering belief system. Thereafter, we hand them the necessary peaceful, positive and effective tools to help them parent from a place of peace which most parents are yearning for now.
What parenting approach, based on your experience, can effectively address juvenile delinquency?
We have various parenting approaches, but 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, 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.
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 deliberate effort for a family member to achieve this new state of healthy mental state because real learning starts at the unconscious level. What we do basically is to help the leaders at the home fronts (parents) to alter their thought patterns to enable them move from a disempowering belief system to an empowering one.
The pandemic is no doubt taking its toll on the masses as many people are losing their jobs, how can people guard against mental depression?
In fact, this period of the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the busiest times; work wise for me. Our services are at its peak due to the high demand; a lot of individuals found it difficult to cope with the new normal. You don’t even have to lose your job to be depressed; failure to regulate yourself emotionally to the new normal, due to low mental acuity, is enough for you to slip into depression. It is a tough one, I must say.
However, I will encourage everyone to hang in there and not stay in isolation, but in socialisation, using more of electronic means to keep the distance. Interact with people, exercise daily, read, practice self-care and invest in self-development via online schools, now that education is at our beck and call thanks to e-learning platforms.