Divorce and Child Custody: My Unconventional Take

Thank God is Monday. I love Mondays. It speaks of freshness. It is the beginning of the week and it comes with energy and grace for daring new challenges and surmounting them. I am here this day with a freshness of spirit and mind to do the battle of advocacy aimed at bringing to the very first front burner of private and public conscience and consciousness the rights and responsibilities of the African child for due respect in the best interest of the child.

I am particularly elated today that I am bringing to a close the discussion we began a long while ago: 12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace. Today, I bring you the 12th Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace: where a staff’s marriage breaks down, a child-friendly workplace should be interested in intervening in disputes relating to the custody of the child.

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For me divorce is a plague.  Its consequences are dire and almost irreparable, particularly for the children. I once sat as a mediator as consultant to UNICEF in reconciling street children to their parents. I shed tears as I found that most of the children we were reconciling to the parents were from broken homes. Like ninety-eight percent of them were products of broken marriages.

In my years as child protection specialist, I have found that when most couples come to the point of divorce, they have become very bitter. In the midst of their bitterness, their children are always the last consideration. Even when they fight for custody of the children, the last thing on their minds is the best interest of the child. Bitterness blinds a man or woman from reasoning. The only thing that makes sense when parties are bitter is revenge. The child at the point becomes a tool of revenge. They contest custody not because they have a better plan for the child, but they want to make sure they deny the other party any joy of having the children in their custody. The truth is that children hardly recover from the impact of the acrimony, which follows divorce because the parents make copious efforts to involve the children in matters, which does not concern them.

Another issue I have found is that when couples decide to divorce, they have rejected every voice of reasoning in their lives. When I talk of voice of reasoning I talk about family members, friends, counsellors, religious leaders and all. In some cases, some of the people, who were once voice of reasoning in the lives of the couples, take sides with either of the party. In moments like this the couples are on their own and the children are pitifully at their mercy.

In situations like this one entity, which may intervene is the workplace. The reason is very simple, there is every tendency that the parties may respect the intervention of their workplace as it relates to the custody of children, because the workplace have economic power on the parties. Please note that I am not taking about the workplace issuing threats. I am talking about the workplace finding a way to mediate in the matter, where the workplace has information on the matter.

Please note that this is not bringing a strange fire or idea into the workplace. My simple philosophy is that the community must at all times do all to protect the best interest of the child. It is an abomination not to deploy every tool at our disposal in matters relating to child protection. As matter of fact, because of the unpredictability of our times and environment, we must be unconventional about taking measure that will secure child protection. Therefore a child friendly workplace should have it in its child protection policy earlier advocated that it will intervene in child custody matter in cases of divorce of its members of staff.

I think I should rest the train of my advocacy here today. It marks the glorious end of this series. The attributes of a child friendly workplace series is an attempt at an advocacy, which will ensure the birth and sustenance of a child friendly workplace in Africa. Tomorrow, I will be sharing with you basic rules of Key Household Practices. Please make it a date with me. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future.  Do have an INSPIRED Day.

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As a matter of URGENCY, ADD these 4 to your VIRTUE CART today, I Humbly urge!

As a matter of urgency, I think there are 4 things you must consciously add to your VIRTUE CART because the GRACE of GOD makes adequate PROVISIONS for it:

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1. GRATITUDE: let it flow from your heart and find expression in your mouth for an act of kindness…Nobody owes you anything. So be deliberately GRATEFUL when God uses a man or an institution to bless you.

2. LOYALTY: be loyal to people according to what you have made them believe of you concerning them, particularly in their absence, where no one sees you but GOD and your WORDS of commitment to them. To be disloyal is to be a SABOTEUR. To be a SABOTEUR is to sow a dangerous seed…It produces SPEEDILY.

3. SPEAK THE TRUTH OF YOUR CONSCIENCE: Never deny anyone, who seeks your genuine advice and to who you have a DUTY OF CARE (even when it is  not solicited), the TRUTH of your CONSCIENCE: Your REAL OPINION on a matter. Today, TRUTH is lacking. TRUTH has been placed on the shaky and shameful SHELF of SELFISHNESS and sold for the worthless PRICE of SELF PRESERVATION…A commitment not to rock the boat, even when your silence will sink it.  Learn from King Solomon: ‘Open REBUKE is better than LOVE CONCEALED.’

4. AVOID COMPARISON: it is an act of utter foolishness, an exercise in futility. You will never have enough facts to facilitate your comparison project. Nature does not support it! LIFE IS A RACE OF 7 BILLION PEOPLE WITH 7 BILLION DESTINATIONS. Focus on your own RACE.  Take it from me: COMPARISON is carefully ordained by the enemy of your soul for DISTRACTION and DESTRUCTION. Don’t play into his hands.

Have an INSPIRED Week.

Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s Day.

www.taiwoakinlami.com 2348033620843

Mommy CEO: What My Three-Year-Old Has Taught Me About Leadership

StaceyI admit it, I have been career driven since I was 13-years-old when I ordered my first set of designer business cards to advertise my babysitting services. Rarely did a weekend go by that I wasn’t booked solid by neighborhood parents who themselves needed a night off. My passion for business and entrepreneurship has never waned in the 27 years since then. I enjoy competing, winning, and growing big business. When, three years ago at the age of 37, I gave birth to my daughter, my first two thoughts were (1) I love her more than anything in the world, and (2) What will this mean for my career? Now, three years into motherhood, what I have learned is that being a mom offers me a whole new perspective on business. Motherhood provides authentic, hands on training in leadership with concentration on communication, time management, negotiating, and humility. Worried that mommyhood will knock you down the career ladder? Have no fear, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Here are four reasons why moms make remarkable leaders.

Time IS the essence: Sure, as a leader I’ve always felt that time is of the essence in everything I do. Moving forward requires action daily. Sit on something too long and your competition will run with it faster than you. I remember about five years ago I was looking to move one of my offices to a new location. I went and looked at the space, met with contractors to price the fit up, and told the management company a week later we would take the space. Too late, my competition was interested in the space too, and they acted, faster than I did.

One of the first things I learned being a mom is that time is not just “of the essence,” but rather time IS the essence. It is all we have. Not only must you live by strict schedules and deadlines, as any business must, but mommyhood also dictates that there is nothing more valuable and precious as your time. In mommyhood do you know what your kid wants more than a cool new toy? One hour of uninterrupted one-on-one time with mom. Time IS the essence. Your time is valuable to your kid, and also to your employees. When was the last time you had coffee or lunch with your team members? They too, appreciate that one-on-one alone time with you.

Negotiating: I have been in sales and entrepreneurship for more than 20 years. I always fared well when it came to negotiating for what I wanted, until I met my match, a toddler. She has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about negotiating and getting what you want. Unfortunately, I lose more sessions than I win at home, but the invaluable lessons learned make me stronger as a business leader. What I have learned from her is that if you are passionate about something, negotiating doesn’t stop until you get what you want, or really close to it. Negotiating may be put on hold, thereby giving the other side a temporary reprieve. However, if the subject you are negotiating about is really important to you, don’t drop it, come back to it in the future and pick up your negotiations where you left off. The party on the opposite end may think they won when you temporarily back off, which is an advantage to you as they stop preparing their case, making the negotiations that much easier when you return. This is where my toddler usually wins. When I think I have won, she knows that it is a temporary reprieve to which she will come back to again shortly.

Empathy: Prior to being a mom, I saw little room for empathy in business. I felt showing a soft side was akin to exposing a weakness. Now I see things a little differently. Prior to being a mom, if an employee called in sick and admitted that it wasn’t really that they were sick, but rather their kid, I would think to myself, “And how is this my problem?” I couldn’t understand why someone else couldn’t just handle the sick kid so that I wouldn’t be out an employee. Now, having my own sick kid at times, I get it. I get that most people, if they had to choose, would take sick time just for when their kids were sick and would suck it up and go to work if it were just him or her personally feeling lousy. There’s enough guilt that goes along with leaving your perfectly healthy kid each day so that you can go earn a living. The guilt quadruples when you have to leave behind your sick and suffering kid so that you can go to work. I no longer see empathy as a weakness, but rather a strength. Most people would prefer to work for a company where someone actually cares about them and their circumstances. Leadership is about seeing that your company is not about you, but rather it’s about the people who work collectively to make the wheels move, and about the clients and marketplace you serve. Mommyhood has taught me that when it comes to pretty much everything, it’s so not about me.

Communications: Motherhood hones your communication skills. Children listen with precision and they hold you accountable to your word. If, as you rush out the door with wet hair and papers hanging from your briefcase, you say that you will play Lincoln Logs tonight after dinner, you better believe that your kid will be digging out the blocks the minute the plates are cleared from the table twelve hours later. We must live up to our word as often as possible, because we are setting precedent for how our kids should follow through on their own commitments. The same is true in business. The very best business leaders are the ones that are clear, precise, and accountable. They say what they intend to do and then they do what they say. As a business leader, like in motherhood, you are setting precedent with your people in every action you take. The way you communicate with your team is a good predictor as to how your team communicates with each other and with your customers. In business and in motherhood, you are a role model above all else.

Every leader, entrepreneur, employee, mom, dad, or child, has a unique set of experiences they bring to every relationship and job they pursue. Having been a single, career driven, woman for most of my life, I can attest to the enormous advantages I had over others like me who had families. Now that I live life on the other side of the equation, I see the enormous value that having a family brings to my career. Here’s the point: Know what makes you unique, better, and different than the competition and you will always have the leg up.

Follow Stacey Alcorn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/empoweredpeeps

Culled from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Parents&Healthy Child Development: You Need All Support, Get It NOW!

12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace (11)

Thank God it is Friday. It is the day the Lord has made and I will do nothing but to rejoice and be glad in it. It is a confession I make as often as I can. I wonder why I have not made it a habit to say so every day. I think we become what we sing about. I therefore choose to sing of nothing but the mercies of the Lord.

Friends, I was not here yesterday. There was a conspiracy against my mind, time and system. I thank God that He saw me through. He healed my mind, restored my time and rearranged my system. Thus I am here today to continue this so long a series: 12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace. I am trusting that I should finish it today or by God’s grace on Monday.

Permit me to begin today by sharing with you the 10th Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace: Encourage Child Protection/Parents Support Group or Experience Sharing between Experienced and Younger Parents.  This is critical to the peace of the workers though it is uncommon. We live in a society where many of us die in silence. The reason for our silence most of the time is not because we choose to be silent. It is first because we believe we are too busy to have time for counselling. When this first reason takes root, it gives birth to another deception that we can cope without support. Once this is established, we conclude that we will not seek support and things will normalise on their own. What a huge lie? For things not to go wrong, they must be made not to go wrong. For what has gone wrong to be corrected, human being must take responsibility for it.

A lot of times we need counselling on our children. For a lot of us, it is a tall order, if not totally awkward for us to seek permission from work to attend a counselling sessions on matters relating to our children, except medical issues. As a way out, I advocate a Child Protection/Parents Support Group or Experience Sharing between Experienced and Younger Parents. Please note that I use the word, ‘Encourage.’ To encourage will mean to identify the needs for a support group where parents could discuss matters that relate to the protection of their children. . For example I suggest ‘Working Women Support Group on Child Protection.  The support group share experiences and learn from members’ victories and failures. The work group make initiate a particular study on a matter important to children. They may choose to read a particular book as a group. They may invite an expert to address them in specific areas of child development

The support group will find time to meet outside work hours. As a matter of fact they may fix their meeting for outside the workplace. The role of the workplace is to encourage same. Many parents in the Third World are engrossed in their work that it becomes a place where they could hear the voice of reasoning. When the workplace encourages this and leaders of a business join his/her members of staff in such group, it will lend credibility to same and encourage members of staff to be part of it.

Let me close with the 11th Attribute of a Child-Friendly Workplace: Acknowledge Special Days in the Life of the Staff Children. Special days in the life of a child include birthday, graduation, end of the Year etc. It means that the workplace is aware of special days in the life of the children of their members of staff and will prepare at least a greeting card to wish the child the best and acknowledge the day.  Why is this important? A child needs all the acknowledgement and affirmation he can get.

The healthy self-esteem of the child will be one of the greatest gifts parents will give to a child. Healthy self-esteem is installed through love. Love here means attention and acceptance from those who matter to the child, beginning from the parents.

As I have written before there no other way to express acceptance except through affirmation. In most cases, this awesome gift of affirmation is left to the parents. Parents, even leave it to themselves alone. They do not take time to plan affirmation for their children. When their friends attend their children’s parties, they do not advise them with all gentleness of wisdom for them to bring gifts for the celebrant, the child. They do not mind if friends come empty handed.   It ought not to be so. If affirmation only comes from a child’s parents, he may not believe in the universality of it at the end of the day. Affirmation matters to a child, particularly on special days. It also matters to the child the source of the affirmation. If  the parents’ workplace, which the child holds in high esteem sends a card and a present to him/her on his/her special day, it will make a whole lot of difference to the child.

My advocacy today, as usual is not very popular, but that does not take away its efficacy and agreement with universal principles on healthy child development. I urge you to take time to meditate on it, research it, query it and if you find them to be in agreement with universal principles of healthy child development to embrace them.

Thank you for joining me today. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future.  Do have an INSPIRED Weekend.

www.taiwoakinlami.com 234-8033620843

My FAMILY, My FULLTIME Responsibility, My CAREER, My PART-TIME Responsibility

12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace (10)

I woke up this morning thinking that life has no meaning if we live it for ourselves.  I think one thing we should do for ourselves is to prepare ourselves to live for others. Therein rests the fulfilment of every man created by God.  When I talk about living for others, I think, it begins with living for your family, your spouse and your children.  Faithfulness in little brings more, says the Holy Writ. Charity must always begin from home. That is why I love the confession of Dr. Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom. He said and I urge you to meditate on it: ‘when your life is the struggle, like mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our guidance…To be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.’

Permit me to continue with this series, which I was compelled by the end of the year season to suspend: 12 Attributes of a Child-Friendly Workplace. Here is the 9th attribute: flexible working hours. Permit me to begin by declaring that our family is our full time responsibility, while our work is our part time work. Dr. Nelson Mandela made that very clear. I think we have every reason to learn from his wisdom. At the end of live our fulfillment will not come from our achievements in the area of vocation but our intimacy with our family members. Never mind that the order has been reversed in this age and time. Many of us see our role in the family as secondary and our work as number one. It is more so in the Third World, where many of us live under the siege of survival mentality.

Family-Garden-Cartoon-1644139

Survival mentality is the inevitable end result, where state as represented by government fails in their responsibility as clearly state in the social contract. The social contract is predicated upon the principle that the WELFARE and the SECURITY of the people shall be the primary aims of government. It is no longer news that in the Third World, particularly Africa, where there are no social support structures/services to support human existence and basic and inalienable needs, the neglect and insecurity of the people have become the primary aim of government.

You see, survival mentality robs a man of his reasoning faculty, having been saddled with responsibilities that should not be ordinarily his.  Once a man loses his reasoning faculty, he loses his sense of options. Human beings are supposed to be limitless in their options. A man struck down by survival mentality is not aware of his options. He is driven by his belly. I guess that is why the English adage says, ‘a beggar has no choice.’ Because the labour market is saturated, people are in the Third World, particularly Africa are in the pathetic habit of accepting any working condition.

In this kind of situation, the family bears the brunt of the unfriendly working conditions. Parents go to work before their children wake up and they return after their children have gone to bed. This is very pathetic. Children do not know their parents and parents have no time to fellowship with their children. As far as the parents are concerned, once they pay school fees and meets the children basic needs, they are already fulfilling their responsibility to their children. Unknown to them there are many things which are crucial to a child’s peaceful development. Many parents do not understand, for example that money cannot buy love. Love is not communicated to a child through material things. To a child, love means attention and acceptance. Both answer to time with the child. How do we show attention? We need time to show attention. How do we show a child that he is accepted? Acceptance is shown through appreciation. You cannot appreciate except there is time.

In view of the foregoing, I think a Child-Friendly Workplace will consider flexible work hours for working parents. Flexible work hours may mean that parents are allowed to resume outside the normal hours some days of the week or close early some days of the week. I think it will not be out of place if working parents are allowed to close early to enable them spend time with their family.

I must say that there are many issue, which the workplace in the Third World do not pay attention to, which are very critical to performance. I think one of such issues is a balanced family life.  If an employee is happy at home, he brings the happiness to the office. If he is angry at home, he also brings the anger to the office.

My advocacy today is that the African Workplace must move quickly from not being concerned with the life of their staff beyond the office. They must be interested in their personal lives and help them to be responsible to their families. This will be in the best interest of the child. It will by extension be in the best interest of humanity. Abraham Lincoln made it clear, ‘the state of humanity is in the hands of the child.’ I also want to urge parents, who seek for jobs to always consider the interest of their children when signing up for an offer. Our family must be our greatest source of joy. If it must be we must be deliberate about it.

Finally, I urge every member of society to show interest in this matter. I am not under an illusion that the workplace will be child friendly. Why? There are no regulatory bodies, empowered by the African governments to ensure conformity to corporate best practice. Human Resource issues are left to the whims and caprices of the corporate bodies. Where they are sane, they embrace best practice, where they are not, they become oppressive and inconsiderate. It is our responsibility as citizens to agitate for a Child-friendly Workplace. With you support, I look forward to a Child-Friendly Workplace in Africa…I see it…So help us God.

Thank you for joining me today. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future.  Do have an INSPIRED Day.

www.taiwoakinlami.com 234-8033620843

Dr. Nelson Mandela Speaks for the Child

Welcome to the new page on my blog. This page is simply, ChildPLUS™: The Voices of Champion. The goal is to get us to share the sayings of great minds (champions) on children and matters, which affect them. We welcome instructive sayings from champions (dead or alive) on children. The goal is to get you motivated by the thought of great minds, who have made immense contribution to our world. I desire us to show that children also matter to the greatest of minds, who have lived or are living.

I welcome instructive sayings from my readers from great minds on children. I have a gift for your every first post. Hurry, share with us.

To share with an instructive saying of a great mind on children, please tell us briefly about the person, whose saying you want to share.

Permit me to set the ball rolling today as I bring you the Voice of Dr. Nelson Mandela, Nobel Laureate and one of the greatest defenders of the dignity of human person, our world has ever known. Hear him:

Former South African President Nelson Ma

”We have seen too much change to simply accept the way children are living. We have too much hope in the potential of children to leave things as truly are, and we have too much faith in our fellow human beings not to know that the Global Movement we are calling for can Happen.”(at the launching of Global Movement for Children, May 2000)

For every conversation we have had, we will have ten more about children, No matter what is first on a meeting agenda, or what reason we have been invited to a place, we will talk about children, their rights for healthy and nurturing families, basic health services, a quality education and the opportunities to be active participants in their communities .we would talk about their place as the pivotal link in the process of human development” (at the launching of Global Movement for Children, May 2000)

‘When your life is the struggle, like mine was, there is little room left for family. That has always been my greatest regret, and most painful aspect of the choice I made. We watched our children grow without our guidance…To be the father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far little of.’ (from Long Walk to Freedom)

Thank you for joining me today to read the Voice of Champions. I also welcome you to share too. Thank you. I urge you friends, Think the Child, Think Today, Think the Future.  Do have an INSPIRED Day.