Father’s Day is the third Sunday of June. Empowered Me is making available two-week 3-hour Father-Son workshops. One on June 19, and the other is on June 26. Both from 10 to 1 pm. The link to register is
Effective communication is crucial in building strong relationships. A few months ago, we facilitated conversations between fathers and sons. Not surprisingly, the perspectives between parents and the youth were uniquely different. Some youths indicated that their parents’ style of communication darkens the only light they have at times. Obviously, not the outcome either side desires.
So, as the saying goes, first, we seek to understand. On that basis, we asked the dads:
What is it like to be a father of teenagers in this millennial?
“The kids today are so glued to their cellphones. How can you talk to them?”
“My son wants to be a rebel and doesn’t listen to anyone.”
“I have trouble telling my son that I love him. When I grew up, I didn’t have to hear it. I just knew.”
“My daughter seems to have two sides to her. She’s an angel with her friends. At home, she’s evil and I can never say the right words to make her happy. She is angry all the time.”
We asked the youths to tell me what their parents would say if they came home and said:
“Mom, Dad, I don’t think I want to go to University or College.”
These a few things the youths expected their parents would say:
“I don’t care what you say, you are going to college.”
“Please, don’t even go there. You are going to college.”
“I didn’t come to this country to hear you say that garbage statement. You are going to college.”
“So now you want to disappoint your father?”
Next, we asked the youths what advice they would give their parents?
“Stop criticizing how I study even when I have my Earbuds on. After all, I am doing well in school.”
“Don’t pretend to be nice when my friends visit and then get nasty when they leave.”
“Don’t ask me ‘what is wrong with you?”
“Do not criticize and judge my friends.”
“Practice what you preach. Don’t tell me not to smoke when you are a smoker yourself.”
“Believe in us even when we make mistakes.”
“Point out good things I do once in a while – how I do something may not be perfect or how you would approach it, but it’s nice to feel appreciated.”
The emotional connection is essential and crucial as providing for the physical needs of food, shelter and clothing. Though parenting today is considered more complicated, the direct approach of connecting at the right level is still valid. It has changed from the traditional mom & dad to single-parent families, blended families, same-gender parenting, unmarried parents, and multi-generational families.
It is with the best intentions for parents to use their adult logic to express their feelings and dismiss their children’s feelings or ridicule their thoughts. As parents, particularly in today’s world of empowerment and the higher expectations placed on youths, you want to show them respect and have youths take responsibility. As such, it is best to focus on questions, not statements. First Nations of Canada knew this for thousands of years. Elders and parents would not tell their children what to do or answer questions directly. Rather, through storytelling and sharing past experiences, they would let the child work out their own direction and thus take responsibility – but still being guided by the traditions and expectations of their community.
Let’s keep the focus on fathering since June has Father’s Day.
Does being a father figure mean you have to be the biological father? It’s about being there when it matters most for the child to help them grow. It’s about saying powerful inspirational words that a child needs to hear. Being an outstanding father goes beyond genetics. However, we know that no matter the circumstances, “The Young Shall Grow” proverb puts it in perspective. This month’s Dandy Lion Youth of the Month is a young 27-year-old Nigerian-born Ifeanyi Agwazia. He believes that despite a seed’s innate potential to grow and produce something beautiful from within, external factors are an essential contributor. He goes on to say that it’s the same with humans. Irrespective of everything we do to excel, there are always people and relationships that we have leveraged to get to where we are or want to be.
Ifeanyi is a spoken word artist, a public speaker, an author, a writer, and an entrepreneur. He is passionate about quality leadership and good governance, and he is an avid student of world politics. Ifeanyi is the author of the must-read book, Timeless, in which he shares truths about life that have been relevant through the ages. His focus is on teaching people how to improve their lives by enhancing their mindsets.
Though he has achieved so much in a short time, it wasn’t always an easy path. Growing up, Ifeanyi had several people who helped him in his growth journey. Specifically, he had someone who took the challenge of supporting, raising, and supporting him in his adolescent years. The father figure who influenced him was not a blood relation. Instead, he was a neighbour in his community who saw something in him. The father figure in his life is Demola Isaacs.
Demola was a university graduate and older than Ifeanyi. Ifeanyi was in Junior high at the time. The age where he needed a role model. A single mom raised him. His father wasn’t around in his teen years. The psychological effects of growing up without a father can lead to self-esteem issues. Ifeanyi wasn’t any different. He had low self-esteem. In his silence, he wondered why his father wasn’t ever there for him. That type of thinking impacts one’s self-worth with thoughts of feeling damaged or unwanted. But Ifeanyi was lucky. Demola, his father figure, saw potential in him and exposed him to a lot of positivity and optimism. He gave him hope—something he needed.
Demola was a storyteller and imparted wisdom through storytelling. His house was like a library. Ifeanyi recalls seeing shelves full of books. Demola encouraged him to take advantage of reading. He often told him haste is a waste. Take time to read the books and understand the message. Then, he started developing a deep passion for books and read as many as he could. Leadership books inspired him, and he didn’t put limits on his knowledge. From Demola, he also built on his passion for the arts by learning to play the guitar.
Ifeanyi watched how Demola treated his parents, his fiancée (now wife), and how he constantly improved himself and went from being an employee to an entrepreneur. He heard positive words and affirmations from Demola. One time Ifeanyi failed an exam and shut himself in a room, and refused to come out.
With kind words, relevant questions, and compassion from Demola, he became hopeful. Ifeanyi started to believe in himself and not let failure define him. Failures are our lessons. Ifeanyi grew up knowing that other’s opinions are just words.
The power is within us to filter what matters. Though Demola was not the biological father, his influence has made an impact on his life. For that, he will always be grateful.
Ifeanyi is now an inspiration in the community and a powerhouse for changing mindsets. He says keep fear at bay and find your core. Life is a platform. Do something, and don’t be on the sidelines complaining.
I asked him, “what does being authentic mean to you”:
He replied, “Being true to yourself and being honest. There is no one else like you.”
Ifeanyi’s other inspiration is from the words of Harry Dixon’s song “This little light of mine am going to let it shine” We all have a light in us. Let’s make it shine no matter what.