I HAD TO GIVE UP SOME STUDY ABROAD TRAVEL PLANS TO BE AVAILABLE FOR MY SONS- BAYO AGBOOLA
Bayo Agboola is the father of Joshua Agboola, the Nigerian born 10-year old future skills activist, CEO of Joshfortech which provides web solutions and mobile app solutions to solve business problems. His son also runs a YouTube channel called Joshfortech where he teaches children coding skills and anything digital and simplifies it in a way that a 5- or 6-year-old can understand.
Bayo holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Lagos. He was formerly the Chief Operating Officer at Compera Capital Management and its subsidiary Compera Homes, before founding Koasten, a company with investment interests in real estate and technology.
His industry experience in Engineering, Sales, and Strategic Management spans a few years in companies like Dorman Long Ltd, Nigeria Foundries Ltd and Tower Aluminum Ltd. He is an alumnus of the Enterprise Development Center of the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos and also an alumnus of FATE Foundation.
Bayo has been a volunteer in Solid Foundation Teens and Youth NGO since 1996 and is currently a board member of the organization. He is happily married to Henrietta Agboola, the CEO and Creative Director at House of Henri, an award winning fashion brand. They are blessed with three children.
In this interview with Ola Akinwe on the BMAN LEGENDARY FATHERS, Bayo Agboola shares thoughts and experiences on how he is raising his outstanding son Joshua, who is the youngest speaker to present at a technology talk at the ICTel Expo of the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry in July 2019 and how he is investing in his son to “take over the world.”
FEELINGS OF HAVING A BOY CHILD
Even though I and my wife planned from our courtship days to start with a boy, my firstborn child turned out to be a girl and we rejoiced and were grateful for the gift of a life we had been given by God to nurture. I can’t recall having any special difference in feeling between when I had Joshua and when I had his sister. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to have someone of the same gender to discuss boyish and masculine things with.
BONDING WITH A BOY CHILD
Bonding with your boy child actually starts from the womb. I advise men to make an effort to be more around their wives during pregnancy because babies can begin to recognize their father’s voice from the womb. Generally, bonding is most crucial between the ages of 0 to 3 years, when science says the brain grows to about 90% its final size. The amount of love, care, and bonding with parents that a child receives at this stage impacts the development of their brains and can define who they will become as adults forever. Bonding is part of why I and my wife agreed on long breastfeeding for our kids. My youngest boy was on breast milk until 2 years and 2 months.
EARLY BONDING ACTIVITIES WITH BOY CHILD
I bonded by being at the hospital for delivery with my wife and supporting her at the early stages of motherhood. When as a baby my son cries for food in the night I will carry him, and pacify him with song singing while mummy was getting ready to breastfeed. At times mummy might want to sleep and the boy is awake. I have to do the vigil to keep him company. All of these were bonding times. I used to feed Joshua, change his diapers at times, and bathe him occasionally. I would carry him on my chest to pat him to sleep when necessary. And when he grew older we would sing songs together as we played music in the car or at home. We even composed and sang a funny song together that we captured on video for the records. We also did quite some physical boy’s play. Joshua loved climbing me like a tree and getting to sit on my shoulders. We seized as much time as we could for bonding in those early days.
BONDING ACTIVITIES CONT’D
Right now, I am Joshua’s chief tech coach. We work on his tech and learning projects together. We pray together. We read books, watch documentaries, or watch YouTube content together and review afterward. We engage in intellectual discourse about life, art, and science and he is only 10 years. We also discovered that he is artistically inclined. I teach him the principles of art and how to draw. We occasionally play scrabble together and he has been trying frantically to beat me so as to take away the winning prize of a pack of Fox’s chocolate biscuit. He hasn’t succeeded yet (laughs).
ENGAGEMENT YOU HAD TO GIVE UP WHILE RAISING YOUR SON
Truth be told, raising exceptional children requires a focused investment of time. It doesn’t come easy. Sometimes, a parent or both parents have to restructure things or step down some ambitions in their careers for their kids to thrive. I had to give up some study abroad travel plans to be available for my sons at the crucial years of their growth. And then when you have an exceptional child, like Joshua who has taken on professional projects very early in life, you need to become a coach in helping him maximize his potential. And that is sometimes at the sacrifice of working on your own personal plans.
HABITS FATHERS SHOULD GIVE UP TO SERVE AS A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL
I don’t want to sound like a moral judge of others, but each father or father-to-be should search his own conscience. I take my principles for building a successful home from the bible. In my boyhood years, my relationship with my dad was not the most cordial. There were some things about his lifestyle that made me sad as a boy and as I grew up and studied about family, I decided I would not model the same things for my own children. I am still work-in-progress but I believe to a large extent, God has helped me to model a more positive and family-oriented character.
COPING WITH BOY’S RESTLESSNESS
This is a big one. Both Joshua and his younger brother come packed with loads of energy. Having two restless boys means I have to get used to the noise of their screams around the house in rowdy play and preparing for the occasional announcements of broken utensils or spoilt gadgets. Instead of discipline every time, I remind myself that boys need to play and burn away some energy and I have to give allowance for him to be a child. But what I have done with Joshua over the years is to find creative activities and passion projects that he can divert his energy into. Some of these include getting him a private piano tutor, enrolling him in a young engineers programme, and paying for several coding classes. He is still restless and scatters, spoils, and breaks things, but his passion projects have become the way to harness some of that energy for productive things.
MODELLING EXPECTED BEHAVIORS IN BOYS
Principally by living it myself. Children learn more by watching you than by being told what to do. I also mete out discipline for bad behavior and incentivize or reward good behavior.
I don’t understand the grammar of parenting style but I can say I and my wife try to be friends with our kids first. We make ourselves approachable such that our kids are not afraid to share or discuss anything with us. This has enhanced our communication and has given us access to the hearts and private spaces of our children to help them with the struggles they have in their journey of growing into adults. But we also set boundaries, which when crossed invites consequences.
PEER PRESSURE OR NEGATIVE INFLUENCES FROM FRIENDS
As regarding peer pressure, I encourage discussion. I know his friends and so he tells me stuff. I and the mum do our best to expose him to positive influences and shield him from negative ones. We have deliberately not encouraged TV entertainment in our home because of negative influences. Rather we do curated entertainment and content on-demand.
DISCIPLINE THE BOY CHILD
My principle is “discipline with the right hand and embrace with the left”. I encourage my sons to quickly own up to their faults rather than allow me to find out because when I do, the consequence will be worse for them. They typically come to report themselves to me whenever they have done something wrong.
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT CRUCIAL IN RAISING THE BOY CHILD
I have already mentioned the importance of bonding from 0 to 3 years when the brain is almost fully formed. Personality and character formation is also crucial from 0 to 7 years. Developmental Psychologists say by the time a child is 7, the personality traits that will define him or her for life are already formed. Fathers, therefore, need to be actively involved in character formation in this critical years. By the time Joshua was 7, I had taught him the discipline of the routine of waking up, taking his shower, reading the bible, praying and practicing on his piano every day. By the time he was 7, he had been taught the value of knowledge acquisition by books and had read books like “Rich dad, poor dad” and “Gifted hands”. Small wonder that by 9 years he wasn’t afraid to read fat books on software programming. Finally, fathers need to watch out for the teenage period of the age range of about 13 to 19. This is the period children transit into adults and they are years of peer pressure and great internal and external conflicts. We need to help our children navigate these years well.
HELPING BOYS TO MAKE AND KEEP COMMITMENTS
I have always taught him the virtues of diligence and hard work and thank God he is imbibing these. Those conversations are still ongoing, however, and I have to do periodic motivational talks to help him keep focused. Even at that, a child would rather play at times and some things have to be enforced. But one of the joys of fatherhood is to see your son take personal ownership of a principle you have been teaching him. At that stage, the baton has been passed. Joshua has given me this joy a number of times.
MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE WITH HIS SON(S)
One day, I woke up early in the morning as I often do and decided to pray. As I paced up and down in prayer, with my arms at my back in the passage to the living room, I suddenly realized I was being followed. I looked back and beheld my two sons with their arms at their back too pacing behind me and mimicking my prayer gestures. I was surprised but learned an instructive lesson on the influence of fathers and the power of modeling. It was a very memorable experience for me.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG FATHERS RAISING BOYS
One of the biggest problems affecting families today is absentee fathers. Please find time in your busy schedule to make yourself available for your boys particularly in the critical years. You may say your own dad never had time for you and you still made a success of your life, however, there is no reason for an error in the fathering of a generation to be repeated in subsequent generations by successive fathers. A man can choose to interrupt the perpetuation of a negative pattern by reflection and deliberate action, with the help of God.
The plan for now is to keep working on our knowledge and passion projects. The bigger plan is to “take over the world.”
Ola Akinwe is a Philanthropreneur, Literacy Activist and Boy-child Social Revolutionist. He is the founder of Boys Mentoring Advocacy Network (BMAN). A registered Non-Governmental Organization offering mentoring, training, coaching, support system, success development programs to guide boys and adolescent males on their journey to a healthy, caring, respectful and responsible manhood. He has been passionately equipping, inspiring and teaching young minds to love, learn, live and leave a legacy of an exemplary life since 2007. Ola is a NIGERIA COORDINATOR-International Men’s Day and NIGERIA COORDINATOR -World Day Of The Boy Child. Ola currently serves as the Nigeria Executive- Fathers and Family coalition of America (FFCA
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