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Lola Tewe, coaching families, raising hope for the abused

Lola Tewe is a certified Family Life Coach and Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner. She is the Founder of The Father’s Girls Empowerment Initiative, a non-profit focused on restoring hope to abused women and taking them on a recovery journey to living a fulfilled life.

Lola shares a story of hope, healing, and restoration with the world, a mandate she received to help girls and women rise up and heal from the throes of guilt, condemnation, and rejection. She believes everyone deserves a new beginning, and when given the right environment to thrive, women, many times rise up to the occasion.

As a Certified Premarital Counselling Educator, Lola spends her time teaching, guiding, and coaching couples on their marital journey. Her ‘Foundation for Marriage’ course equips intending couples and newlyweds with the tools needed to create the marriage they long for.

Besides her passions for families, Lola drives ‘Listening Ear’, a platform where girls and women can call in to be heard and talk in an atmosphere where they will not be judged. This platform has inspired the launch of various initiatives including: Tiaras & Cupcakes (a club for girls aged 6 to 11), Lola Tewe’s Pyjama Party, which is van informal gathering where ladies and women can talk about relationships, business, and purpose.

Lola always seeks to create fora where girls and women can meet to foster the spirit of camaraderie. She has authored three books, ‘The Preferred Life’, ‘The Father’s Girls’ and ‘Fit for Purpose’.

Memories of early years

I had a normal childhood like a lot of people and life was predictable. I am the third born and I have four siblings. We woke up at 6am, had our family devotion, had breakfast, went to school, got back, had extra lessons, had breakfast and slept for the day. This routine changed as I grew older, as more chores and responsibilities were given to me. I managed my mother’s store at different times and did the shopping for the house. I was the one that was sent to the market to do the bulk shopping because my mother felt I could. It’s no wonder I’m given to entrepreneurship today.

My dad was a kind and easy-going man. I got my smile from him. He was an amiable man who cared for his children. My mum was and is still great. She taught us to be independent and resourceful. An independent and astute businesswoman, she taught me the art of business. There’s hardly anything I’ve not sold; from food supplies, to fabrics, human hair, jewellery, you just name it. I know how to create money when I need it. She was the disciplinarian too, and I got flogged so many times. My mum could face any one and feared no one. She’s tough like that.

Our family was close knit and so we had friends over every now and then. Today, the same happens in my home. We’ve had so many people pass through our home who needed accommodation at one time or the other.

Who is a certified family life coach and Neuro-linguistic programming practitioner?

A Certified Family Life Coach is someone who has satisfied the requirements required to help families make progress in their lives in order to attain greater fulfilment. A Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner on the other hand, works with techniques to help educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour.

In what way is a family life coach different from a counsellor?

Both roles are somewhat intertwined in that, they both work to ensure families function as they should. A counsellor provides knowledge, advises, guides, corrects and encourage couples in their marital journey, while a family life coach goes deeper. A family life coach believes the couple, or individual have the answers within them. They do not teach from their experiences but help the couple/individual through a process of discovery, by using active listening skills, questioning, identifying limiting beliefs and creating action steps and following up.

So, sometimes, you may be tempted as a coach to tell your clients what to do, however, the ethical thing to do would be to keep listening and asking the right questions till they come up with the answers to the challenge at hand.

Read Also: Building a Coaching Culture through Listening

From experience, do Nigerians understand the core values of a family life coach?

Family life coaching is relatively new in Nigeria but gradually gaining traction. Growing up, my belief was that you only needed a counsellor when preparing to get married, and the people qualified to take you through that journey was the clergy. Today, the story is different. We have trained marriage mentors, counsellors and family life coaches, who are exceling in this niche, and I believe our work lies in educating the public more on the value we bring to families. I have worked with 5 couples and 6 wives in the last 15 months, and I can say that it’s a joy helping families strengthen their bond. I remember a mother who reached out to me after a speaking engagement I had. She reached out because her daughter had been raped and she (the mother) was helpless. During the session, while listening to her, it occurred to me that the mother had a few things she had to deal with. To cut the long story short, the mom had gone through the same experience and had not dealt with it because the perpetrator was a close relative, and this over the years had affected her, her marriage and now, her power to help her daughter. In this instance, you don’t do it alone. You get help and that was what she did.

We worked with both mother and daughter, and today, mother has come to terms with the experience, forgiven the perpetrator and now has a better relationship with her husband and children. Her daughter was also able to come to terms with the incident, forgave the perpetrator and resumed a new job within a month of engaging our services.

Children in the home, share on why they must not be neglected

One of the greatest needs of a child is to feel loved, and one place their needs can be met is the home. As parents, it is our responsibility to create a haven and atmosphere of love where our children can live, learn and grow so much, so that no matter where they are, they’re not afraid to come back home.

In these fast-paced days where we are constantly at work, running our businesses and spending a lot of time on the internet, there is a greater need to pay more attention to what our children are doing and get involved in their personal lives. Children are vulnerable and can pick up traits and or become victims of paedophiles when parents are absent. Make time for them. Get to know their friends. Listen when they talk and do not think you know what they want to say.

Make them feel comfortable talking to you. Have family time out, be there for them, celebrate their little and big wins. Hold them, hug them, validate them, challenge them and be a present parent.

Our children have been entrusted to us and it is our responsibility to groom them into responsible adults who will in turn do the same for their families.

Take us through the process of interaction from inception and how you follow up with results

Most of our clients contact us via email and social media. Once a client makes their intention known, a pre-engagement form is forwarded to them, and the information provided then gives us an idea of the service they need and the number of sessions it will take to get the desired outcome. The bill is then sent out in a mail and once payment is made, the sessions begin.

What have you observed mostly about couples who come for your service?

There are discussions they could have had, and issues that could have been trashed out if they had sought for proper counselling before marriage. Couples need to learn to understand each other. Sometimes, they are saying the same things, but communication in foreign languages. Also, some of the ones currently having issues saw red flags but ignored them. So I tell people to always seek help or counsel when in doubt.


Keeping up with the ‘Joneses’

We have The Joneses everywhere, they leave next door, drive the best cars, have the kind of money we wish we had, always going on vacation and wanting us to believe all is fine when in the actual sense, it’s all a façade.

Now, why would someone want their home to be like the Joneses or keep up with The Joneses?

Well, there are many reasons for this; greed, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, missed opportunities, poor background, peer pressure, past experiences and so on. It could stem from a significant emotional experience that marked their minds and made them vow never to be humiliated or bullied or side-lined again. This vice is rooted in fear and always lands its victims in trouble and financial woes.

The pressure to keep up with The Joneses is real. People feel they have to do more to be accepted. They feel they’re not good enough, so they go out of their way, even if it means compromising their values to create the image they want people to have of them. They take loans to buy things they do not need or have the funds for, in order to impress people that do not notice whether they have those things or not.

You want to know the truth? Do you know that most times, the Joneses wish they were us with little or no care in this world? They want to stop their way of life but they can’t. They feel stuck in their ‘reality’ and are looking for a way out.

To drop off the band wagon, be grateful for where you are on the way to where you are going. Cut down on your excesses and work on paying off your debts where applicable. Write down the things that really matter to you. Set new goals and stay accountable to someone.

What every intending couple must know

There are a lot of things to share here, so I’ll mention just a few.

You must have a vision for your new home. Why are you getting married? What do you want people to experience when they come across the both of you? Love, rage, fear?

It is okay to break the relationship or return the ring if you’re not comfortable going ahead with it. Two questions that ‘blind’ people ask when making this decision are: “what will people say?” and “where will I start from?”. Do not be swayed by what people will say or how much time you’ve lost. Let your convictions guide you.

Manage your expectations. Marriage is not about hugs, kisses and going on dates alone. It is fun, but it is also work. It is like a garden that needs to be tended; otherwise, thorns and weed will grow on it and suffocate the flowers till they die. You both have to put in the work. Communicate often, validate each other. Listen, spend time together and respect each other’s views.

You cannot change your partner. If he has attitudinal problems today, assume he or she will always have it. If they lack integrity, assume you will always have trust issues except an internal change occurs. So, let me ask you, “Are you willing to live with your partner the way they are, if nothing changed about them for the next 60 years?

Is this the marriage you want? Is this the kind of spouse you’ve always dreamt of having? If you had all the money in the world and had no care at all, would you still settle for your partner?

Ensure you both have a mentor you can open up and be accountable to. This will save you from a lot of heartache

What married couples must know

All marriages have their unique challenges so do not compare your marriage with another. What works for them, might not necessarily work for yours.

Your spouse sometimes needs some time alone. Understand these times and allow them to be.

You are on the same team. There’s no need to compete. If one wins, you both win.

Be your partner’s number one supporter. Be involved in their personal projects, their passions, goals, interests, and make up your mind to support them all the way.

Believe the best of your spouse and let it show in your words and actions.

Example of a case you remember

I received a call from a man telling me he had just cheated on his wife.

The Father’s Girls Empowerment Initiative

The Father’s Girls was born out of an experience I went through in college. In fact, it was a book that turned into a mandate. I got pregnant and had an abortion at 19, and this took me on a journey of self-discovery and healing. About a few years afterwards, I started having the desire to write a book that would help girls with their self-esteem and let them know how special they were. As I wrote the book, I got to a point where it was pertinent I shared my story. This was tough for me at the time because no one knew what I had been through. As I pushed the thought away, I heard God say “Lola, I want you to share your story”. It was tough, and I was stuck. I wanted to finish the book but to do that, I had to share my story. On a Thursday evening, I heard that voice again, and I said “Lord, If you want me to share my story, I will” and after I said that, I saw a vision of so many girls and women who had suffered from guilt and condemnation crying and their chains falling off as I shared my story. And then I heard that voice again, “Go and save as many girls as you can”.

After this experience, the inspiration to write started to flow again and the book, The Father’s Girls was published and launched. Since then, I have shared my story at every opportunity, and I have seen God restore his girls (young and old) and give them beautiful beginnings.

So for me, The Father’s Girls is not just an initiative, it is a mandate!

Reason for the birth of your initiative and passion for it

I was raped as a fresher in college and the guy had the audacity to go around telling people he had slept with me. This for me was cruel and too hard for me to bear at the time. I tried telling my friend what happened, but she didn’t believe me, so I cut off from her. I lost my confidence and shame set in.

I chose to work with abused women because it is sometimes a lonely road. People blame and judge them and sometimes don’t believe their story, at least my friend didn’t believe mine.

Because of this, we started working with single mums by sponsoring their children’s education and giving them funds to start a business. As at today,12 single mums have benefited from this initiative.


Caring for the abused, what everyone needs to know

In this part of the world, girls and women alike are mostly judged when they are abused, but I have learnt that you don’t judge people until you have been in their shoes, gone through the same experiences they’ve been through, and in the same emotional state they were in when the incident occurred.

So, as you come across victims of abuse, here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Get them medically checked or attended to in cases of sexual, physical or domestic abuse

2. Listen to them and believe them until proven otherwise.

3. Encourage them to speak to someone who can help

4. Be there to support them

5. Go for therapy where necessary

Forms of abuse prevalent in Nigeria

There are various types of abuse in Nigeria, but I will limit this to the following:

1. Physical – This type of abuse includes punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, or physically restraining someone against their will.

2. Sexual – Sexual abuse is sexual behaviour or a sexual act forced upon a woman, man or child without their consent. Sexual abuse is an act of violence which the attacker uses against someone they perceive as weaker than them.

3. Emotional – Emotional abuse can involve any of the following: Verbal abuse: yelling at you, insulting you or swearing at you. Rejection: Constantly rejecting your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Gaslighting: making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity, by manipulating the truth.

The signs of abuse in a relationship or anywhere at all cannot be ignored. We see it regularly on the news and on various platforms how lives are lost because someone chose to keep mute.

If you notice any form of abuse or need to report an incident, please contact: The Nigeria Police Force, Mirabel Centre -Sexual Assault Referral Centre, and Women At Risk International Foundation, to mention a few.


Stop giving excuses for your abuser

It is not advisable to stay in a life-threatening relationship. Couples should be encouraged to speak up, take a break when it poses a threat on their health or wellbeing.

The two weapons that sometimes stop people from making this decision are: “where will I start from?” and “what will people say?”. If you stay in the abusive relationship, people will talk. If you choose to walk away, people will still talk. So my question is, “What do you want?

How can the abused recognise she is in a relationship with a narcissist? What should she do?

The official definition of a narcissist, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a person who often lacks empathy, acts entitled, arrogant, and prioritises themselves above all else. They are usually hard to spot on first glance because they’re extremely charismatic, but their behavior flips after they notice you’ve committed to the relationship. They become less attentive, outwardly self-centered, and inconsistent. You suddenly begin to feel controlled, as if you can’t speak your mind without jeopardising the relationship. You walk on eggshells and make excuses for their behaviour.

This partner verbally abuses you, belittles, bullies, accuses, blames, shames, demands, orders you around, threatens, criticizes, rages, opposes, undermines, interrupts, blocks, and calls you names. Note that some people occasionally make demands, use sarcasm, interrupt, oppose, criticize, blame, or block you.

If this is not the kind of relationship you want, then you must make up your mind to leave the relationship and leave for good.

Cut ties with your partner gradually and move on. If you’re currently living together, you may want to plan your exit when he is out of the house. If you’re married, seek counsel from an authority or someone you’re both accountable to.

Men are also victims of abuse

The truth is that men get abused too. Research shows that approximately 1 in 10 men in the U.S. experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of Intimate Partner Violence-related impact. Men represent as much as 15% of all cases of domestic partner violence.

While we don’t have much data on this topic, we are aware that men often get abused too, but may feel reluctant to report the abuse because it’s an embarrassing thing to talk about. Domestic violence and abuse can have a serious physical and psychological impact. The first step to protecting yourself and stopping the abuse is to reach out. Talk to a friend, family member, or someone else you trust.

How you teach, guide and coach couples on their marital journey

I have various modes of coaching my clients, we do both in-person and virtual session, depending on location and the client’s preference, and our texts cover 10 building blocks of a healthy marital relationship

How has your ‘Foundation for Marriage’ course equipped intending couples and newlyweds with the tools needed to create the marriage they long for?

This course was launched two months ago, and it is set to equip intending and married couples with tools and techniques to keep the spark alive and stay connected. Over 8 sessions, the course will help you to: Set and manage expectations, communicate more effectively, grow closer by learning methods to resolve conflict, recover from the ways you may have hurt each other, recognise how your upbringing affects your relationship, improve relationships with parents and in-laws, develop greater sexual intimacy, design their unique family map and much more.

Being a certified SYMBIS Assessment Facilitator

SYMBIS is an acronym for ‘Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts’ created by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. The Assessment is a tool that aids counselors or marriage mentor in providing guidance for intending couples during their counseling sessions.

The SYMBIS Assessment is built on a growing mountain of research that reveals what is most effective when it comes to pre-marriage education (as well as marriage enrichment for SYMBIS+). It explores a full range of issues – from relatively simple and static dimensions such as longevity of the relationship, critical skill-sets such as communication, and all of the complexities of joining two sets of personality dynamics.

It provides a personalised insight on answers given by couples and explores how they can leverage the unique combination of their personalities for lifelong love. The process is completely confidential and the results of the couple’s assessments are held privately and will never be made public.

The assessment is usually online and takes each individual about 35 minutes to answer the questionnaire. Each partner completes the test independently to ensure their answers are not influenced by one another. The assessment works for both intending and married couples and will usually automatically customise the question-set for the couple (e.g., a couple where one or both are bringing children into the marriage; they are already married). If there is a need for a particular set of questions to be asked because of a couple’s circumstances, The SYMBIS Assessment will know to do so automatically – including whether the report is for an engaged couple (SYMBIS) or a married couple (SYMBIS+).

Once the assessment is completed by the couple, their reports are sent to my facilitator dashboard, where I can read through it and print their report as I prepare for your first session with them.

Share on ‘Listening Ear’, and why literarily, everyone should be given a listening ear

Listening Ear was a platform I created when I started receiving emails and messages from ladies who had heard my story and needed emotional support in one way or the other. It was a phone number they could call to talk, make a complaint or be heard without being condemned. So far, this initiative has received over 108 documented calls and just last year, a woman was stopped from committing suicide.

Many lives have been lost, many are women, and this was so because people do not care to listen. Parents have lost their children because the children were afraid of what mummy would do if she found out. Predators are still lurking around because they know nobody will believe the story when the victim speaks. Uncles sexually abusing nieces and nephews, and parents shutting the children up lest the evil is heard in public.

Our ears are full, and we are doing what we can to help these people, but it starts with each of us paying attention and listening to people without judging them.

In your case, has the ‘Doctor’ ever been a patient?

This ‘doctor’ has definitely been a patient. I remember a point in my marriage when we had our big challenge. It was in the 7th year, and I noticed my husband no longer felt attracted to me. There was no touching, no sex, and when I asked him what the issue was, his response was “nothing”. “Nothing? And we weren’t the loving and jolly couple that we were?. So, when I noticed he wasn’t opening up to me, I reached out to our mentors who invited us over to their house.

At the time, my husband worked at one of the banks, and everyday he went to work, he saw ladies who were purposeful, good looking and upwardly mobile. On the hand, his wife had resigned from her job, was always without make up and seemed like she had resigned to being the good wife and nothing more.

When he revealed this to us, our mentors turned to me and said, “Lola, your husband has told you what he wants…”. Now, I didn’t change in one day, and I still don’t think I’m there yet, but opening up when I was in pain helped us to address the issue and today, we are better for it.

Being an author

The first time I published a book, it was to tick off a goal. The second time, it was me being the answer to the cries of hurting girls. I have since published the third one titled “Fit for Purpose”. The book talks about the Father’s love for His girls. God loves His girls and doesn’t change His mind when they mess up. And if you’re out there feeling lost and helpless, He’s not condemning you, He is not judging you. He is waiting for you to come back to Him. He wants to rewrite your story and let the world see the loving Father that He is.

This is who I am. This is my story. It is a story of grace and today, I don’t feel condemned because I know I am forgiven. This is what my books are about. The story of The Father and His Girls.

Every day I’m being drawn to the family unit because if we can get it right, if we can build by design, a lot of social ills will be solved. And as Pope John Paul III said “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

Challenges

I believe the family unit is a very important part of our society and building the right foundation must be top priority, but my experiences with people have proved otherwise. I have observed that people are not willing to invest in preventive measures, but will do all in their power to pay higher for corrective measures. In this context, couples would rather pay a coach or counsellor to help resolve their marital issues than invest the same money in premarital counseling.

Final words

There are many things we can compromise on in life. Your marriage is NOT on that list. Ensure you get the guidance you need as you prepare for your marital journey. And if you are married, keep the flames burning.

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