As I stood on the stage at the Lagos Business School (LBS) on the 10th of October, talking about how parents can stem the tide of suicide and depression amongst youths, I had an “aha moment”. For those who aren’t familiar with the phrase, Oprah uses it a lot and the dictionary defines it as a moment of sudden insight or discovery. The event was the 2nd “Olashore International School Mental Wellness Initiative”, a great initiative by the school to raise awareness on the issue of mental wellness in youths.
I’m not sure if it had to do with the nods and looks on the faces of those in the audience as I shared some personal experiences or the three phone calls I had received earlier in the week from parents who had been hurt by things they discovered about their children, but it hit me “critical to the mental wellbeing of every child, is the mental wellbeing of the parent”.
Now, this may not be a big revelation for you, but while I probably had the head knowledge of this, it moved to my heart. I felt the hurt, the struggle, the relief (so I’m not alone) of so many parents. Empathy welled up in me. The feedback I got after I delivered my paper further confirmed what I felt. “Thank you so much Charity, so it’s not only me”, “Many of us have the battle scars, we’re just very good at covering it up”, “I loved your authenticity”. To be honest, I felt quite vulnerable sharing some of the things I did but I knew I had to and I’m glad I was open about some of my struggles as a parent because guess what, along this parenting journey, we all struggle. There are times of uncertainty, anxiety, anger and deep hurt caused us by our children. However, the parenting operating system (OS) we are running on has been programmed to tell us that we must be the bigger person. I don’t know about you but sometimes the OS gets a ‘virus’ and I don’t want to be the bigger person because I am hurt disappointed, feeling used and taken for granted. Properly eliminating that ‘virus’ is critical to our mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, some have chosen to deny the existence of the bug until the system crashes.
One of the ways I deal with my parenting struggles is by writing. ‘Monologues of a Parent’ is one of such outlets. It allows me to exhale and reformat. While I don’t have these conversations with my children for various reasons (top being that I have been accused by them of wanting to talk about everything) except I feel a strong leading to, I find the process of writing my thoughts very therapeutic and a great way to exhale and reformat. Periodically I would be sharing some of these monologues and I hope you find it a great item to put in your backpack as you continue on the parenting journey.
Dear mums and dads, your mental wellness matters. You cannot give what you don’t have. Hurting people hurt people even though they don’t mean to. By ignoring our wellbeing, our children are more susceptible to struggle in the area of their mental health. Let me at this point say well done for all you do.
How do you exhale? Please share your thoughts