Hello friends. Can I call you guys that now? Remember two weeks ago, I posted about taking a big leap and speaking to a panel of young university scholars? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day and got such an overwhelming feeling of fulfillment that I decided to do it again. So when another young lady – who inspires me greatly – reached out to invite me to another mentoring engagement, I jumped at the opportunity.
This time, I was invited to speak to the teenagers at a prestigious secondary school in Lagos on Self Esteem and their Career Choices. I have a great passion for mentoring teenagers of today. They are “young enough that they can still be moulded, yet old enough to get it,” as my host put it.
PARENTING IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE
Kids these days are under so much pressure; a different kind of pressure than that which we had to overcome 20 odd years ago. This is due in part to the emergence of the internet, and its increasing influence on our day-to-day lives. The internet has made our lives so much better. It is used by about 3 billion people globally to share information, communicate, do business and get educated. And we are only scratching the surface with the potential power of the internet. However, with its many advantages, the internet has its fair share of disadvantages.
Nowadays, kids are exposed to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc) from a young age. With the internet, pornography is now a click away for them. Even worse still, children are frequently being bullied on the internet, leading to an increasing number of cyber-bullying related suicides, sadly. These days, the coolest kids are those who have access to social media first among their peers, those with the coolest gadgets, and the ones who brag about having access to unrestricted TV and internet usage.
THE GRACE TO PARENT
The things that young kids (12 year old and above) get up to today blow me away, for lack of a better expression. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not judging them at all. “Let he without sin be the first to cast a stone“, right? I recognise that in spite of their flaws, many of these kids will grow up to accomplish big feats. After all, God chose Jacob, Rahab, Samson, David, Paul, Peter and others for greatness, the Bible tells us.
Twenty years ago, parenting was much easier than it is now. In the past, children’s indiscretions were usually private and guardedly held. These days, any poor behaviour by one’s kid is transmitted electronically over the internet, for the viewing pleasure of potentially thousands of people, including other parents and kids. As parents, we have our work cut out for us, parenting in this new age. However, we must not tire. We undoubtedly need God’s Grace to Parent now more than ever.
AS I WAS SAYING ….
Anyway, back to my talk. On the day, I came up with a number of excuses why I couldn’t make it to the event. That was my nerves talking. However, this cause was so important to me, that I fought off the nerves, got in the car and went to the venue. I am well aware of the struggles plaguing teenagers in this generation. I am full of empathy and driven with a passion to play my part. Each time I speak to teenagers and youth, I know that all it takes is that 1 child, that little nugget of inspiration, information or wisdom. THAT is what impact is all about. It is a ripple effect. This 1 child may grow up to be the greatest president Nigeria has ever seen, or the CEO of a large multinational company. And I would be a part of that story.
My objective for last Friday’s talk was to remind the kids that they are special. I shared with them my personal definition of self esteem – an unshakable belief, a knowledge, that God made you; that you are special; that you were built by God for more, for better; that yours is a life of purpose. Now, to the average 14 year old, this is an alien concept……at first. However, I believe it is a concept that we need to instill in them.
Self-esteem not only affects our social interactions, it also has potential implications on our careers. From our career choices, leading ultimately to our career progression, self-esteem plays an important role. So it was imperative that we reminded this set of kids that they could be anything, yes ANYTHING, that they set their minds to be with God on their side. And there is no better time than in their early adolescence to curb any self-doubt or low self-esteem before it festers and becomes something bigger.
A number of the kids expressed feelings of low self-esteem, and some even confessed that these feelings caused them to be bullies. So you see, low self-esteem is a vicious cycle which we hope to break, 1 child at a time. A particular question really touched me. One of the kids asked me this question: “My friends keep making fun of me and I don’t like it. What should I do?” My answer was simple. Friends do not hurt their friends, that just goes against the very definition of the word. I told the kid to let those friends know how their teasing made him/her feel and that if they persisted after this, then the friends needed replacing, and urgently too! “Snip!” as I called it. He/She deserved good friends, everyone does!
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
Later on in the day, I was speaking to a younger colleague who mentioned that this – replacing one’s friends – is not an easy task for a teenager. I am completely aware of this. However, perhaps if we can reach these kids early on and convince them that they are special, then they would be more likely to believe us when we tell them that they deserve good friends, better ones than those that would make them feel bad about themselves. We should teach our kids that they can be anything they want to be because God created them and purpose-built them for greatness. How fortunate are they to have such an awesome Creator!
So that was how I spent my Friday last week. How about you, bog readers? Anything interesting to share? Please leave your feedback and comments below. I love to read your stories.
May God grant us all the Grace to Parent Successfully in Jesus Name. Amen.
Till my next post…..
Keep Leaping and Leading!