How I’m Learning To Respect My Children

As a mum of two lovely children, I didn’t fully understand the importance of respecting my kids because I felt respect was an esteemed and sole right of parents. I presumed parenting meant having absolute control and not giving them opportunity to participate in some decision making. Occasionally, I felt my nine-year-old was incapable of making sensible suggestions so I rarely asked him for his opinion. I took no notice of his outlook and sometimes ignored his feelings.

Subsequently, I became accustomed to dishing out instructions, treating my kids like loyal subjects rather than valued members of the family and permitting little room for them to express their concerns. More so, I didn’t’ like the idea of my nine-year old disagreeing with me, and even when he tried to explain himself, I’d cut him short because I thought any sign of disapproval meant total defiance.

Soon, the risk of running my home like a cantonment didn’t seem far off, and in trying to get my children to complete tasks or to do as they are told, I’d yell out instructions like “Don’t argue with me!”, “Hurry up and finish what I’ve asked you to do!”. Judging by my son’s body language, my brash way of ordering, correcting and directing was becoming overbearing. I was only trying to get him to finish his chores, but it seemed my approach only succeeded in intimidating him. Whenever I called out his name, he feared he had done something wrong. Was it the tone of my voice, the look on my face or what he had gotten used to?

Eventually, I began to realise that kids also deserve some respect and parenting isn’t about acting superior. If my children were to become fearful of me, they might prefer to seek solace elsewhere, and this would have spelled trouble. So cutting down on the excessive directing enables me become a better mother and not evolving into a dictator. Also, the privilege of birthing, raising and supporting the next generation is a responsibility I wouldn’t want to take lightly, so help me God. Conclusively, I summarised five tips which have proved helpful.

Establishing eye contact
When speaking with my children, I often forgot to establish eye contact. I preferred to continue doing less important things while communicating with them. I underestimated the significance of establishing eye contact as it gradually turned out to be a profound way of connecting with my kids on a deeper level. I could understand how they felt by observing their body language and they could also tell I was equally interested by how I gazed at them.

Validating their efforts
Commendations are also beneficial for even the less meaningful outcomes because what we may deem as ordinary could be a big deal to our kids. Whenever my son scored an average mark in a test, I was quick to disregard his effort and urged him to work harder. By my standard, achieving an average score wasn’t acceptable and therefore, not worthy of receiving good remarks. A few days later, he would show me his results in other tests. It was evident he was trying to win my approval. My son needed me to validate his effort, and whether it was outstanding or not, he still wanted to feel appreciated.

Letting them know their bodies
Again, another aspect which made me think my kids weren’t as capable. Finally, I allowed my son to bathe himself, but occasionally, I’d interfere. I’d knock on the bathroom door and insist on washing his back and behind his ears. The look on his face said it all! I had not only violated his physical privacy but assumed he wasn’t old enough to exercise some degree of independence. He was becoming more aware of his body and wanted to prove he knew what to do with some soap, water, and a sponge. Now, I’m learning to refrain from constantly checking in on him in the bathroom.

Do-as-I-do
Displaying good behaviour is deemed respectful and a reflection of one’s upbringing. So naturally, we would respect our children whenever they display good behaviour. However,  I realised striving to act appropriately for my kids is one of the best ways of achieving this. Sometimes, I would ask them to complete chores and wouldn’t feel the need to say ‘please’ or forget to say ‘thank you’ when they’re finished. I felt instructing my children didn’t require the use of etiquette. But I was wrong, modelling good behaviour shows them how to behave and encourages them to treat others the same way.

Having a two-way conversation
Creating a two-way conversation was one of my biggest challenge because I was used to calling the shots. My idea of children being obedient was primarily focused on them receiving instructions rather than understanding why they are asked or told to do things. I didn’t really care to help them understand why they had to clear their plates after eating or make some effort to make their beds.

I would also rush to answer questions, interrupt my older child because I felt he was taking too much time to explain himself. Sometimes, I would even scold him for pulling a long face because I thought he intended disobeying me. Consequently, my son became reluctant to discuss personal things with me because he felt I wouldn’t listen to him and probably disregard his concerns.

Eventually, I understood it wasn’t necessary to blow one’s top off when children wear long faces. Facial expression is an inherent nature and helps decipher their emotion and although some may require reasonable rebuke but a few could be overlooked.

It was clear a one-sided conversation wasn’t helpful as it was putting a strain on our relationship.

Now, my efforts are geared towards building a two-way conversation. A type of communication which helps my children understand that I value their opinion and that they aren’t items on my ‘To-do list’ but priceless individuals.

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How I Overcame Low Self-Esteem

Admitting I had experienced periods of low self-esteem was a very worrisome task. At first, it seemed like an issue quite prevalent with a particular gender or perhaps, individuals who felt they didn’t measure up to standard. But I was amazed at how it affected people who were pretty good at masking issues quite similar to mine. Sadly, I happened to be one of those people who may have convinced a few friends and family that I was doing great.

Definitely , I knew that sense of self-worthlessness simply wouldn’t disappear without me wanting to face the problem head on. For years, I’d let this feeling determine how I ought to live my life, how to relate with peers and when I was better off behind closed doors. Trying to avoid looking in the mirror didn’t solve the problem either but learning how to accept and appreciate my reflection, was the way forward.

What next? I reflected on my teenage years in boarding school where I considered myself to be the odd one out because I wasn’t amongst top of the class or as pretty as other girls. I felt that I had failed to meet peer-group standards. Likewise, significant incidents in previous relationships created biased beliefs which made me feel inadequate and discouraged me from changing my outlook on life. Therefore, I adopted ways to overcome low self-stem and have summarised them into ten points.

1. Building self-confidence is a journey
It’s a journey which begins with one step at a time and requires a steady pace to remain focused. At first, I was keen to see quick results but realised some things took time to heal. It’s like rewiring your thinking process and deciding how to perceive change. Although I’m not a bible scholar, I knew I needed to believe and trust what God says about me. I did have bad days, but this time, the journey wasn’t without him.

2. Words of positive affirmation
I’m constantly reminded of God’s everlasting love and his continued faithfulness through scriptures like Matthew 10: 29-31 and Jeremiah 31:3.  Also, I enjoy listening to gospel music and teaching when cooking. I used ‘Deezer’, an internet based music streaming service like ‘Spotify’ or ‘Apple Music’, to create a playlist of uplifting tracks by impressive gospel artists. I still can’t get enough of ‘lovin me‘ by Jonathan McReynolds and ‘move forward‘ by Troy Sneed. Equally, I’m inspired by Jill Briscoe’s, Priscilla Shirer’s and Pastor Nike Adeyemi’s etc teaching via YouTube because they explain how to tackle challenges in marriage, parenting, career and health issues, using scriptures and sometimes, personal experiences.These are brilliant ways of receiving and believing words of positive affirmation.

3. Being objective in times of rejection
Before I got married, I was reacquainted with a mutual friend. It was a long-distance relationship so we hardly spent a day without speaking to each other. In due course, we hoped to tie the knot, and I would finally relocate to Nigeria to live with my heart-throb. Finally, we got to spend quality time but shortly realised we desired very different things. I really wanted things to work out and even agreed to make certain changes, but he soon lost interest. A few days into my visit, he began to resent my presence. Our last telephone conversation proved he was glad to see the back of me.

Naturally, I was heartbroken, felt rejected and blamed myself for whatever may have gone wrong. But over the years, I learned that rejection doesn’t mean one isn’t good enough or not worthy of being loved. Most times, it’s God’s way of telling you to let go of what he hasn’t predestined to be in your life. You may need a season to cry but there’s also a season to move on and to keep your head up. Try to be objective even when the door is shut or ‘no’ becomes the resounding response.

4. Retail therapy doesn’t fix everything
At the time, spontaneously buying new clothes and accessories seemed to relieve the pain but it was only temporary. Fine dresses and pearls couldn’t fix the problem but I yielded to the illusion. You see, material things are nice but are designed to fulfil one purpose, to make one look good on the outside. Behind the expensive attires and stiletto heels, was a bruised soul in search of wholesome redemption.

5. Self-worth isn’t always about money
Self-worth isn’t always about the price tag, belonging to a certain class, achieving accolades, or looking unto others to define one’s self. I felt condemned by past incidents and allowed mistakes to deter me from moving on. Sure, everyone has a past and some may be more gruesome than others but it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a good future. God doesn’t create shoddy, crummy or substandard work so there’s much greatness within you.

6. Don’t do things that wouldn’t make you feel good about yourself
Despite what the majority may deem acceptable or what seems to float someone else’s boat, avoid doing things that could make you feel worse. Fitting in shouldn’t cost one’s dignity or sense of reasoning. Be yourself and develop the habit of making good judgment.

7. Have a hobby
Hobbies are therapeutic because they are relaxing, rewarding and encourages one to try new things. They aren’t boring and span from numerous interests such as joining a reading club, volunteering with your local church or even visiting a nursing home. Recently, I developed interest in making wigs, and I absolutely love it! Pick interest in something that could help take things off your mind and enable you to realise that life is worth living.

8. Don’t be intimidated
In public, I was intimidated by unfamiliar conversation, other women’s clothes, and strong personalities. I struggled to maintain my poise and occasionally, preferred to remain indoors. Shying away wasn’t helpful because I didn’t realise interacting with people could be beneficial. Whenever I didn’t have much to say, I endeavoured to remain quiet, smiled and listened attentively to other people’s opinion. Listening is a lifelong and incredible skill which enriches one’s intellect. No one knows everything.

9. Always ask
If you are unsure about something or need help, always ask. You could burnout by striving to do many things on your own. There are no super humans but real people with real problems. It’s okay to have time to yourself but don’t drown in self-pity. Learn to confide in someone you can trust. He or she may have encountered similar challenges and could reassure you that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

10. You are a role model
Whether you’re married with children or not, you do matter. If you have children, you are their role model. Their perception of self-esteem is an integral aspect in molding their character. They may witness us at the lowest point in our lives but notwithstanding, we also have to show them how to develop the right attitude towards tackling life’s difficulties. Do we let them believe that life is a playground or prove that there can be victory in the face of adversity?

 

 

 

 

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How To Plan Towards Having Your First Baby

In modern times like these, having a baby requires much planning, and affordability is one word we can somehow understand, without taking too many factors into consideration. More people are having fewer children which is in contrast to our parent’s generation, indicating that times have changed yet the wage growth hasn’t increased significantly to keep pace with inflation.

But regardless of status or domicile, the cry of a firstborn is usually heartwarming and reinforces a sense of togetherness between husband and wife. In most circumstances, the couple’s joy knows no bounds as they are thrilled by the thought of becoming parents and hence, the reason why some important items are bought to meet the infant’s needs, making him or her feel comfortable in the new home.

When my husband and I were expecting our first child, space and affordability were two compelling constraints. Therefore, I should have made better choices by window shopping and comparing the costs and practicality of some products. Regrettably, I got carried away yet excelled  at one peculiar decision. So I’ve shared six tips to help plan towards your first baby.
BUDGET AND CHECKLIST
You might be flustered or understandably overwhelmed by advice from friends and family but it’s also important to budget for what you can afford and what could be bought later. Items such as clothing, crib, diapers, feeding, medicine/health, bath, etc are bare essentials so browsing a few websites could give an idea of what your expenses and checklist may look like. Mamalette is an online community for pregnant women and first-time mums and has details of a ‘newborn essentials checklist.’ Furthermore, your doctor or midwife may provide a comprehensive list.

HAND-ME-DOWN ITEMS

Most new mums prefer to swaddle  their baby in new items and that’s okay but don’t be put off by hand-me-downs. Family and close friends may offer items which their kids hardly used. Clothing and feeding an infant aren’t the only expenses so a little help from others, could save you some money.

CRIB

We bought a standard crib which was okay but the convertible crib would have been ideal as it’s more versatile and convenient, and comes with multifunctional features such as a changer and toddler bed. This crib is designed to grow with your child as it easily converts from a baby crib to a day bed, and some even convert to a twin size bed, suitable for older children.

While this crib is typically more expensive than other standard cribs, it’s a better investment and the best transition into a big kid’s bed. This product is sturdy so will last several years of your child’s life. Also when your child outgrows the bed, it can be passed down to younger siblings who may come along.

To view samples, please see konga with prices ranging from N79,000 or for the less pricey, see Mumspring or Mothercare Nigeria. These are informative sites which provide convenient shopping and items for babies and new moms. However, if strapped for cash, you could consider buying a fairly used one via Jiji.ng, a Nigerian online marketplace where one can also source for used renowned UK or USA brands in children furniture, etc.

BABY BATH
The simple baby bath is durable, inexpensive and readily available in most markets, yet the basic use could take its toil on your back. To ease the pain, there are folding baby bath stands which save you bending down while bathing your child and can be easily stored away. Unfortunately I learned the hard way. The folding bath stand is compatible with most standard baby baths, but there’s a maximum weight of 5kg  (child).

CLOTHING
Newborns go through tons of clothes, so you’ll be changing them several times a day. Be that as it may, purchase few infant outfits and more of various and slightly bigger sizes. If you’re having a big baby or prefer to make wise choices, select clothing one size ahead of your child’s actual age as most babies quickly outgrow newborn clothes, and bigger kids completely skip the newborn range and start out with 3-6 months. Also, most sizes can be on the small size and usually shrink after the first few washes. Within six weeks, I couldn’t fit our son into the newborn clothes.

SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Few months after the baby is born, open a savings account for him or her and pay any monetary gifts and subsequent savings into it. Saving for your child is an excellent gift for the future and you could start with as little as  N1,000 per month. If you’re unsure about what most banks offer, visit Moneyshop.com.ng and read through the various offers or you can speak to your bank. Like I said, I didn’t always make brilliant choices but opening a savings account was an excellent decision.

 

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5 Christmas Gift Ideas During A Recession.

 

Ideally, Christmas is that joyful season that reminds us to be thankful for what we have and also, hope for better beginnings in the New Year. Although the impact of the recession may have caused many to reassess their priorities and make certain changes to suit their pockets, still, the Yuletide holiday is here, so there’s still good reason to celebrate.

However, how can one afford to enjoy this festive holiday without breaking the bank or with good reason, hold back on buying expensive gifts for friends and family? Here are five tips which may seem unconventional, tacky or possibly, lack the usual ‘wow’ factor, but sometimes the smallest things convey the deepest feelings.

BAKE A CAKE OR COOKIES
If you’re a whizz at baking then giving homemade cakes or cookies and wrapping it in cellophane with matching ribbons could be a delightful and yummy gift for friends or family. The thought, fresh ingredients, and patience would be appreciated and more so, attach a handmade card to express warm wishes.

MAKE A PRESENT
Making a present could be quite simple, inexpensive and tailored to the needs of the recipient. For example, a Lemon Sugar Scrub is a scentful, moisturising and exfoliating remedy for dry hands, thanks to its nourishing component, coconut oil. It takes about ten mins to make which isn’t taxing. You’ll need the following;

1 Lemon
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil

Pour sugar into a bowl and set aside. Melt the coconut oil in a microwave oven or pot for 30 seconds or until the oil is completely melted then pour over sugar and mix until well combined. Finally, using a grater, zest the rind of the lemon into the sugar mixture, and add the juice of the lemon by cutting the zested lemon into half. Remove any seeds. If the mixture still feels wet, add some sugar to achieve the desired consistency. Pour into a clear glass jar, tie with a ribbon and label with handwritten words like ‘Lola’s Lemony Scrub’. I tell you, there’s nothing more soothing that the touch of soft and fragrant hands!

OFFER TO BABYSIT
Babysitting might not appeal to everyone, but for those who are up for it, the opportunity is most welcoming and ideal for the couple to spend quality time alone. The kids would equally benefit from it and are likely to request for subsequent visits. You may not have silver, money or gold but the heart happy to help others in need, is worth more than the three put together.

MAKE A CD MIX
Making a CD mix for that special someone or persons is another good idea especially if he or she enjoys listening to music. So consider what type of songs they already like and include songs that you think they may like. Most CD mixes have a theme such as ‘old school jams,’ ‘weekend RnB’ or ‘Gospel Hits’ etc. so create a playlist which should fit together, be fluid in continuity and send out a clear message to the listener. To burn the CD, you can use programs like iTunes or Windows Media Player.

BEING OPEN WITH FAMILY
Not everyone may feel the impact of the recession equally, yet it would be unwise to keep up a pretence of wealth and worse, spending too much money during this period. Explain to family and discuss alternative ways of gifting your skills, talent, expertise and labour it to others. Ideas such as organising a family picnic, inviting someone for a special meal or offering to clean the grandparent’s house, etc. is a genuine reflection of one’s love towards another. Furthermore, spending quality time with family is one of the most precious gifts.

At the end of the day, Christmas shouldn’t only be about giving or receiving  gifts. It’s that time of the year when we ought to count our blessings, learn from mistakes and endeavour to appreciate others through acts of kindness and most importantly, acknowledge the one who made the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ.

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Naija Mum’s Guide To Vacationing With Children

Undoubtedly, vacations are usually memorable and mesmerising experiences for children. They reminisce about goats bleating at Grandma’s, occasionally recall their first taste of local delicacies and perhaps, intrigued by pictures of famous world landmarks.

But if you can afford to kick it up a notch, embarking on a family trip abroad might be rewarding. Although, it may come at a price if it’s your first time and intend renting a self catering accomodation or staying with friends or family but the breathtaking sights of the Statue of Liberty, London’s double decker buses or the magical rides at Disney World, Florida may become resounding highlights of their childhood.

So, having tackled the task of packing, unpacking,  boarding the aircraft and trying to keep them occupied, quite stressful, I’ve shared few tips on how to plan vacationing with children.

BOOK AHEAD
Book ahead to grab great deals, double check your travel arrangements well before you leave and if travelling with kids aged under 2, ask if the airline would provide meals for them. Some don’t but you could request for an adult meal or pack some cerelac or toddler food (if your child enjoys it) and ask the flight attendant to re-heat it, they wouldn’t mind. More so, leave on time as children tend to faff about, stall and throw tantrums when out and about.

DRESSING FOR THE CLIMATE
Always consider the season or climate of the country you intend visiting and pack appropriate clothing and footwear. Children are happier when suitably dressed for the weather. During winter, ensure to dress them in several warm layers that can be put on or taken off easily. Also, hats to covers the ears, neckwarmers or scarves depending on the child’s age, warm water proof boots and gloves. In summer, they wouldn’t need as much except light but preferably cotton clothing, walking shoes or sandals and water to keep them rehydrated during stifling temperatures.

SHOPPING

Knowing where and how to shop for great bargains is equally important. It’s cost effective to buy clothes one or two sizes ahead of your children’s actual age. Reason being, some sizes are on the small size and kids grow quickly. In the UK, there are budget clothing stores like Primark, Matalan, TK Maxx or even NEXT outlets. TK Maxx is the hub for big brands at ridiculous value so you could pick up beautiful designer outfits and accessories at insanely affordable prices.

In America or Canada, The Children’s Place is a popular store with brilliant discount deals on staple wears such as jeans, tee shirts, skirts, shorts etc. During summer, you may get quite a lot for your money. Ross is another amazing store that sells latest brand fashion names which shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Don’t worry, they also have TJ Maxx in the US and Marshalls in Canada, same great designer deals on fashion for the entire family.

PLAN FAMILY ACTIVITIES (INCLUDING YOURS)
If renting self-catering accommodation , you can either cook or eat out at your own convenience and choose activities that you’ll all enjoy as you’re also on holiday. To avoid any disappointments, read up about interesting places to visit and things to do as some attractions may have age restrictions or have longer queues at popular rides. On the other hand, if staying with friends or family, they may know most of the fun places and happy to show you around town. Still, you wouldn’t want to put them out-of-pocket or expect them to always chauffeur you so if possible, try to make some plans on your own.

TOYS & BOOKS
It can be quite tricky and tiring, keeping kids occupied. Naturally, they would be irritable and create quite a fuss, especially for toddlers. Although in-flight entertainment is available but having their favourite toy, books or colouring book with crayons could help pacify them. More so, while sightseeing, you could give them a toy camera to encourage them observe their surrounding and focus on what might interest them.

BUDGET
Budgeting on holiday might seem distasteful but doesn’t mean you can’t buy nice things. List what you actually need to avoid paying for excess luggage or ship bulky items via reliable freighting companies. With shipping, inquire about reputable companies from colleagues, friends or family.

MEDICINE, SANITISERS & ANTIBACTERIAL WIPES

Children usually fall ill on vacation, and this could be due to reasons such as being out of routine, a little more unhealthy eating, jetlag, broken nights or climate change. They could develop a fever so pack easy-to-swallow medicine or 100ml of children’s paracetamol in your luggage. Further, having wipes or sanitisers is essential when eating out or using public toilets. Keeping one in your handbag minimises the risk of children catching common bugs.

GOOD BEHAVIOUR
A deposit may be required to cover any damages done to self catering accomodation so keep a close eye on the kids. Also friends or family may find particular behaviour such as jumping on beds, sofas or writing on walls unwelcoming.

TRANSPORT
My kids love commuting by public transportation whenever it’s available. They get to see a lot more and are intrigued by the colourful buses, taxis, and striking features. Hiring a car is useful when embarking on long journeys, but good public transport is another exhilarating treat for the kids.

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The Mistake

I could hear the sound of my father’s car as he drove through the driveway and normally, I would be quite eager to meet him at the front door. But today, the euphoric feeling had fled and sadness, was the new resident. I’d been in my room all day and hadn’t touched the plate of food beside my bed. I prayed death would come soon and relieve my family of this despair. Since we returned home, my father hadn’t said a word to me but his actions spoke volumes.

Soon, the nightmare will turn into reality, leaving me to contend with the stigma, scornful remarks and disapproving stare at what would no longer be concealable. More so, the telling of an even grave problem would suggest to many, that I probably got what I deserved. Relatives,neighbours and society wouldn’t just make jest of me, I would be avoided like a plague.

My eyes were heavy from weeping profusely. My twin sister begged me to eat, she was worried I would do something stupid. My mum didn’t get much sleep. She too had cried, prayed and lamented about the fate of her daughter. I’m sure my father left the house because of the same reason. He wasn’t only furious about the pregnancy but couldn’t deal with the fact that I was also stricken with HIV!.

How could he or anyone else for that matter?! I had less than 6 months to my final year exams. My sister and I had done pretty well since our first year, so were sure to be awarded nothing less than Second-class honours, upper division, in Banking and Finance for my sister, and me, Architecture. Unfortunately, my parents would have little reason to celebrate.

Since my first year, I refused to date any guy. The distraction was the last thing on my mind especially after my mother’s narrow escape from death. On her way back from the village, she was involved in a ghastly motor accident which claimed the lives of most of the passengers. Naturally, my sister and I moved back home to care for our mom so that our dad could return to work. It was such a difficult time for everyone. So as soon as she recovered, we returned to campus.

Somehow, I wished we hadn’t. Maybe I wouldn’t have spent the night in Obum’s room and contracted this dreadful disease. I can’t forget our last conversation because he seemed undisturbed even after hearing such alarming news. He denied the pregnancy and disregarded the possibility of being HIV positive, due to the fact that we only did it once.

As his words cut deep into my heart, moments of my life and family celebrations flashed before me. I could see the disheartening look on my parent’s faces, their hard work wasted, and all because of that night. My predicament had destroyed everything they hoped for, their joy had ceased and now, left with the uncertainty of losing either a daughter and grandchild or probably, both.

For a few seconds, I couldn’t comprehend the rest of Obum’s words as my vision became  blurred. The last thing I remembered was someone calling out my name. I had fainted and woken up to the anxious faces of my parents.

At some point, they would demand for answers so I’d better get ready to recollect the genesis of this shocking revelation. They deserved to know the truth and who was responsible. Though, I hoped they would eventually forgive me but this wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was to graduate, get a good job and then marriage. But now, my future is bleak and all because of Obum. The classmate who became a close friend but fled, leaving a scar that may never heal.

He usually walked me back to the hostel especially when it was late. We talked about our plans after NYSC and hoped to land good jobs with reputable firms. Initially there was no chemistry but we grew fond of each other and ended up spending the night together. My intention was to return his textbook but it rained heavily so stayed longer than expected. I’d never been kissed or touched and sometimes, wondered what it would feel like. Now I do, and completely devasted by the results of one innocent night of passion.

At this point, crying is futile and my future seems short lived. But what worries me the most is that people would be quick to attribute my plight to being promiscuous without knowing it was a mistake. A mistake which many are equally guilty of.

 

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Why Support Groups Are Beneficial

Nobody enjoys catfights or the occasional drama. We either resolve to stay friends or choose to keep out of each other’s way, and most times due to conflict. Still, no relationship strives without conflict because it eventually proves that nobody is perfect. Though one may attempt to disassociate from individuals he or she once shared common interests with, truth be told, no man is an island. Moreso, we’re able to handle difficult situations when in the company of those who may have experienced similar circumstances and are willing to stick it out with us.

Yet, finding and flourishing in the right company can be tricky. Sometimes, it depends on what we’re happy to share and whether we’re ready to respect other people’s opinions. However, this notion isn’t based on a biased point of view but highlighting the advantages of being part of a support group. A circle of individuals who aren’t ashamed to admit common mistakes but rather, their ideas, goals or interests could inspire others to maximise their potential. Do such groups exist? Yes, they’re called support groups.

So what is a support group?

From a medical point of view, support groups are a gathering of people who share common health interests or disorder. They tend to focus on specific conditions such as depression, anxiety, breast cancer, bereavement, etc. and in some cases, led by professional facilitators such as social workers, nurses, etc. This is a typical and formal kind of support group. They don’t replace the expertise of a medical practitioner but create a safe environment for people to discuss their concerns freely and receive advice.

Nevertheless, I’m referring to a different type of group where women, men or both, celebrate, motivate and support each other. There’s no leader or expert, but persons from seemingly diverse backgrounds.

Having moved to a foreign country, I was quite reluctant to join one because I was only acquainted with one or two members and felt others might treat my concern with disdain. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a venue for profound conversation with rewards like business ideas, casual childcare, relevant information, prayer chains and social activities emerging.

Hence, 5 reasons why support groups are beneficial.

1. NETWORKING.
Some groups are built and coordinated via social media platforms e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook, Meetup etc and proven to initiate successful channels for networking. Members chat, exchange concepts, advertise products, provide professional tips,  propose and follow through with charity projects etc. There’s always something positive to talk over, or hilarious to banter about.

2. PRAYER CHAIN
For me, this is one of the best features. Members take on monthly prayer chains and encourage others with kind words and gestures. This strengthens the bond and makes each person feel loved and appreciated.

3. COMPANIONSHIP
One of the biggest benefits is the individual, knowing he or she is not alone. From most discussions, you might realise your situation isn’t that different from others. Whether it’s a personal or work related issue, members share their experience which could be uplifting.

4. NEW SKILLS
Being in a support group could also help identify and develop new skills. You might not think much of what you’re unknowingly good at, but others could see the potential and provide ideas on how the ability could put to good use.

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Naturally, it’s not always work and no play as everyone needs to relax and unwind from time to time. So whether it’s a girls night out, class reunion or the unfortunate demise of a loved one, spending quality time with people who care or appreciate us is refreshing.

Thus, it’s okay to be wary about meeting new faces or reuniting with old pals because you wouldn’t want to give too much away. Even so, when you are asked to join a group; wisdom, maturity and somehow instincts may make it easier to decide whether to opt in or out.

 

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