Episode 45: Raising Conscious Children & Combating Harmful Mental Health Norms with Olaolu Ogunyemi


Click here to read the episode transcript.

With all the uncertainty and anxiety the pandemic, the patriarchy, and racism has infused into our lives, it feels like mental health and mental illness have never been so prominent. What can we do to nurture not only our own mental health but the mental health of our children? How can we raise children to be more conscious?

In this episode, Olaolu Ogunyemi and I talk about the importance of discussing mental illness in the black community and with our kids. Olaolu sheds light on how patriarchy and “masculinity” are actually harming men, ways to make children more resilient in the face of racism and the everyday pressures of life, and how to change unhealthy behavior patterns to become a more conscious parent. He also gives great advice for parents who are struggling with mental illness.

Olaolu Ogunyemi is a husband, father of three, teen mentor, U.S. Marine Officer, and author of the best-selling children’s book, Crow From the Shadow. Olaolu is passionate about raising healthy, liberated, conscious children and helping the next generation cultivate the power to make massive change.

Advice for parents who are struggling with mental illness & parents whose children are struggling with mental illness:

  • Acknowledge that mental illness exists. Some of us grew up under the impression that mental illness can be prayed away or ignored, but it’s important to recognize that mental illness and mental health are real things that need attention.
  • Prioritize self-care. There’s no way you can pour your love and energy into your kids and loved ones if you yourself are depleted. If we’re not okay, our families aren’t going to be okay.
  • Ask your kids thoughtful questions whose answers go beyond yes or no. Get them to engage with you and open up about what’s going on in their lives. Having somebody to talk to is so powerful.
  • Show your kids healthy habits like going to counseling, interacting with others in positive ways, feeling your emotions, crying when you need to cry, etc. Show your kids that it’s okay to mess up and it’s healthy to apologize when you make a mistake.
  • Teach your kids to be curious before reacting. Society has taught us, especially men, to suppress our emotions… which can lead to unhealthy reactivity! Exploring and expressing emotions and affection is part of masculinity, so let’s start teaching that to our boys.

It’s incredible to see black people feel free enough to express their individuality, unapologetically pursue their passions, and be who they genuinely are. To help our children do that, to make this the norm, we need to be the model. It starts with us. And the more we talk about it, the more our kids will take action to continue these new, healthy social norms.

Change happens when you ask yourself questions. When Olaolu notices he needs to make a change in his life, he digs down into the “whys” and educates himself on why his behaviors may be troublesome. Why do I do this? Why did I say that? Where did that emotion/reaction come from? How do I resolve this conflict in a healthy way? When you start to ask these important questions, you’re actively becoming a more conscious parent.

As you grow, have grace for your humanity and give praise to yourself for your willingness to change. There will be times that you’re too stressed or too tired or too triggered to consciously be the best parent you can be, so give yourself grace in those moments, too. The best thing you can do is just pause, breathe, and send yourself some love. 

As we teach our sons and daughters to embrace who they are and to love their blackness, once we teach them that we are better when we come together, they will grow to be more conscious of their worth and their power in the world. 

Ready to combat harmful mental health norms? Listen in to this powerful discussion to learn more!

About Olaolu Ogunyemi:
Olaolu Ogunyemi (pronounced first name: OH-LA-OH-LOO last name: OH-GUN-YEH ME) is a first-generation American of Nigerian heritage. He is an active-duty U.S. Marine (rank: Captain) currently serving as a Communications Officer in Quantico, Virginia. Olaolu’s military service has enabled him to travel the world. These experiences inform his writing. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with how storytime can engage children and create loving and memorable family moments. He has been a teen mentor for 5 years and active duty military for ten years. 

To connect further with Olaolu & buy his books:
Visit Parent-Child-Connect: https://parent-child-connect.com
Connect with him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/olaolu.ogunyemi
Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/captainono06
Get your FREE #DefeatTheShadow Journal: https://bit.ly/DefeatTheShadow