Looking Back at My Adolescent Years – Creating Safe Places for Young People

A safe place connotes a conducive and enabling environment to be yourself and pursue your goals and dreams without fear or any inhibition. We all need that safe place to blossom and flourish.

At a Youth Mentoring program by Beehyve Initiative.

What does a “safe place mean to a young person? This takes me down memory lane to my adolescent years. Look I’m not that old *wink… LolπŸ˜€.

As a teenager while growing up I and my sisters – we are four by the way, had more male friends than girls. The percentage was 90-10%… I am serious here…. So you can imagine the “fear & terror”, this must have brought to my parents… Hahaha. As African parents or any parent at all there is that extra carefulness you adopt when it comes to raising girls. Often you will hear parents especially mom’s like mine say something like this : “Eyin omo yi, e ma doju timi o!”. Meaning ‘Don’t bring shame to the family “, and by that they mean” do not get pregnant o“! “Becareful with boys”. Are you following my gist? So four teenage girls in the hands of my parents was a huge task in their minds.

Yearly we would organize our special Boxing day party for all the teenagers in our neighborhood and Youth group in church and we would have a hard time trying to get more girls to come to our party. I was the chairman organizing committee leader and sometimes I will hope and pray that my father will not adjust his glasses to access why we had more boys in attendance… “poor me”.

But you know what, admist all the adolescent age drama with friends and parents I felt safe and was able to express myself. I don’t know who taught my parent this wisdom I am about to share but it worked!

Instead of policing us and putting all our activities under a microscope my parents decided to have an open door policy. Our friends whether males or females were allowed to visit our home and they even get to gist with my parents. My Dad will engage us all in a friendly discussion and soon we would all be laughing. My friends back then thought my dad and mum were cool. While dad engages us in a gist, mum will be busy serving snacks or any food available in the pot. Unknown to us it was a strategy to learn more about who our friends were; possibly investigate what we have been up to. Mostly for us, we felt free to bring our friends home and be ourselves.

Now did we ever experienced that parent versus adolescent clashes? Of course plenty… Lol. However our parents open door policy was a check mate for us. Anytime Dad begins to raise some extra questions about a particular friend we were quick to understand that something wasn’t right because he hardly complained about our friends. So without having to breath down our necks, I and my siblings always found ways to cut off such friendship. I found out that I could speak to my mum intimately about my crushes and issues with the opposite sex.

Every time we have a chance to talk about our adolescent years at family reunions, it is usually with fond memories. πŸ’‘ Of course life is never perfect but we thoroughly enjoyed those years.

So back to my gist about creating Safe Places for Young People, I say it is doable. Mostly adults have the major responsibility of making young persons feel safe. We can do this by creating an enabling environment where young people can:
1. Be free to express themselves.
2. Have a listening ear who will be there for him or her.
3. Have a loving home environment.
4. Have a space and opportunities that allows them access to information about life: their wellbeing and reproductive health.
5. Give room for them to bring to the table their questions about issues that trouble people in their age group without fear of being judged.

The International Youth Day is celebrated every 12th of August yearly and this year’s theme is “Creating Safe Places for Young People”.

As a parent are you intentional about creating a safe place for your adolescents? Instead of adopting the “body guard” approach create an atmosphere that allows your children to express themselves. Build a relationship that gives room for conversations that will help guide them in making informed and right choices.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN)Β Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybeeΒ Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

 

Parenting Never Easy…Let Me Share this Gist #Humour

My nieces, nephews & children :Visit to grandpa and grandma’s place. Play time!


While growing up I remember feeling
that my parents hated me especially when I had been disciplined for behaving badly. As a grown woman now having my own children I can now “see clearly”! What a miracle (Chuckling)…πŸ˜‚

They say what goes around comes around…hmmm I guess the law of Karma caught up with me a few days ago πŸ˜€ My daughter insisted that her older brother cover himself with his blanket since he slept in her room that night. He insisted that he had a right not to use his blanket since the weather was hot anyway. And so an argument ensued and my dear daughter came to me to report this total disregard for her demand that he (her brother) use his blanket. You can imagine my initial confusion…In pidgin language …Chei this children will not kill me ooo…(Laughing)πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I stood from the sofa where I was sitting watching the TV to go an investigate this serious allegation *wink“.😎 So off we went to her room and I found my son her brother lying down on a mattress on the floor across her own bed properly dressed in sleeping wears(not naked)…At least that was what I thought initially. I mean we’ve been teaching them to respect each other’s space and not be naked in front of each other…It is called biology or anatomy or sexuality lessons…choose one.😊😊

After seeing that he was properly dressed I told her that he had a right to use his bed cover/blanket or not and that she was infringing on his “human right” to sleep without a cover (Laughing)πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. My daughter insisted that since he was in her room he must use his blanket. Believe me, our children can sometimes say things that leave us baffled. Anyways as the judge in this matter and case I told her she wasn’t right in her demand.

Her young mind didn’t understand and so we argued and I am supposed to be settling this matter o…so I gave my final verdict and told her, she has been “unreasonable” in her demand!

The following day my daughter brought up the issue again and was offendedπŸ˜‘ that I had said she has been “unreasonable”. Then I started a definition lesson of what “unreasonable” means… chei…. She still was feeling bad about parenting my usage of the word. I can’t remember what happened again but later that day she declared that she wasn’t sure I was her mum o….hehehe I laughed.πŸ˜€

Well, I understood that she was not enjoying been disciplined or not having her way. So at that point, I went to have a one-on-one mother and daughter talk with her. I told her that I understood how she felt because nobody likes to be disciplined and that I once said that to my mother. Then I told her that I loved her so much which is why I will continue to discipline and correct her when necessary so she could grow up to become a responsible and disciplined young woman.

She was surprised that I didn’t shout at her or feel bad…I mean the plan was to blackmail me now :πŸ˜€ But she got the message I was trying to pass and soon she was back to her happy self.

Parenting is never easy but we will find our way together as adults and children. We must keep pointing our children in the right direction so that they and everyone can be the better for it. Don’t be afraid to tell your child No you can’t do that! Don’t be afraid to discipline when necessary in love as well.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Project Director Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama. Communication4Development
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com