Femi Otedola: 21st century father with a difference


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jim Morrison said: “The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”

When we refuse to accept children the way they have been wired, we kill them subtly by trying to turn them to something else. We must help children to find, discover and express themselves, instead of trying to change them.

Many parents already have a script they want their wards to fit into for their own selfish interest. They obsessively try to control their children and dictate how they are supposed to live their lives. These parents want to live their lives through their children, neglecting the fact that these children have their own lives to live.

As parents, we must prepare our children for their future, instead of using them to correct our own past. Wanting our children to be who we should have been is a waste of who they are. In a world where many parents manipulate the lives of their children to achieve personal gains, some renewed-thinking parents still believe that children must be encourage and nurtured to chart their own paths in life.

I have often said that manipulating our children to live a life that is not theirs is witchcraft. As the Dean of School of a prestigious institution in Ibadan, I have watched pitiably, many parents forcing their children to follow a career path that has nothing to do with the child’s passion, gifting, talents and unique abilities.

Many parents keep looking at the economic value around a particular profession with absolute disregard for their wards’ fulfillment. They claim that the level of patronage of their children’s preferred profession is nothing to write home about and summarily dismisses the preference because they see it as not sustainable in the future.

I want to emphasise this truth to all parents all over the world: The level of patronage of a particular profession is not the yardstick for career impact; it is the depth of your ward’s fulfillment that is a critical factor. The most enlightened parents help their children build their career around their passion, gifts, talents, unique abilities and depth of fulfillment, not just the lucrativeness or patronage level of the profession.

I have only met very few parents who understand the importance of fulfillment in career choice, and the one that is actually the object of my write-up is the Nigerian billionaire business mogul, Femi Otedola, whose genius has showed us exemplary approach towards bringing out the genius in our wards. It is both a form of insecurity and poverty mentality to think, as a parent, that your route to wealth and fame must be the standard for your children. Do not make your children the best version of yourself; make them the best version of themselves.

! Otedola has three wonderful daughters – Tolani, Florence (aka DJ Cuppy) and Temi and one son, Fewa – who have all been given the platform to choose their career paths.

Tolani Otedola, the first daughter of the billionaire, went from being a church choir, school choir, music enthusiast to a full blown music career. She learnt the rudiments of music in England. After her formal education to Masters level, the dynamic first daughter convinced her parent that she will love to go to a music school and afterwards follow her passion.

Florence Otedola, more widely known as DJ Cuppy, is a musician, music producer, songwriter, famous DJ and Ambassador of many brands in Nigeria and South Africa. She wants to become a renowned DJ and make it into Forbes 30 under 30 Rich List, and at her present age of 26, the dream still look achievable. DJ Cuppy wants to be known for her talents rather than just the daughter of the Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola. She has this to say for her parents’ support, “I am lucky to have supportive parents. What stops young people from following their passion is the lack of support, not necessarily financial support. My parents push me to be a better version of me, I am not trying to become someone else but just being myself”. She has also launched her charity foundation “Cuppy Foundation”, an establishment aimed at tackling issues surrounding child protection and education for girls and persons with disabilities.

The youngest daughter, Temi, is a fashion blogger and a designer, a dream that her father gave all his support to. She is the owner of a fashion, travel and photography blog, jtofashion. JTO is an expression of her fashion, art and photography adventures to various destinations including Paris, New York and Milan.

You would observe, there is a huge difference in choice of profession for the Otedolas, naturally a lot of people would have expected one of the daughters to take the father’s business mind. Many people used to think that once your father has built an empire of business and wealth for you, you don’t need to stress yourself by finding another profession; just prepare yourself to take over, but Otedola prove this pattern of thought to be wrong. The three daughters of Billionaire Femi Otedola – Tolani, Temi and Florence – are all into entertainment sectors and living their lives to the fullest through their father’s full support.

Real parents do not define success for their children; they rather nurture and provide the platform for their children to discover themselves and impact their generation with their unique abilities. Femi Otedola has laid a strong example for parents who are only masters at manipulating their children’s destiny! He has shown us that the greatest and most fulfilling platform we can ever give to our children is giving them a platform to be themselves.

Every child is uniquely gifted but I have seen many parents waste their children’s natural gifts, talents and potentials through manipulation. Many parents are suffocating their children’s individuality. This makes it difficult for them to mature. Many never outgrow the need for ongoing parental guidance and control. As a result, their parents continue to invade, manipulate, and frequently dominate their lives. When parents give their children a free-hand to choose their career paths and pursue their dreams, the level of success is limitless.

Children that are product of manipulation don’t end up living a fulfilling life. Wealth flows to people that are consistently living in alignment with what God has created them to be.

Our parenting skills will always take a wrong turn anytime we set out to manipulate our children. Parents should avoid the temptation of forcing their children to fit into their own design but rather provide them with a platform to stand out with their uniqueness. Parents are meant to nurture the uniqueness in their wards. The greatest parental sin and abuse is to manipulate our children to live a life that is not theirs.

Dear parents, you are not in your children’s life to manipulate their destinies. Stop manipulating your children to live a life that you should have lived. Stop being a toxic parent to your children’s future. Embrace their passion and the reality of who they are. Children are designed by God not to blend in, but to stand out.

The 21st century parents must give their wards the platform to be themselves, help them nurture their unique gifts and talents, help them find a mentor that can help them in their journey of self-discovery and mastery, and give them adequate exposures in their areas of unique abilities.

I want to reach out to parents to allow their children pursue their passion. The greatest gift parents can ever give to their children is to provide them with a platform to be themselves. Our work as parents is to nurture the individuality and uniqueness in our wards and not to beat them into the shape or picture that we have in our minds. Parents must be able to discover very early, in their child’s developmental stage, whether their child’s mind is wired around being technical (repairing and fixing things), athletic (deeply interested in sport activities), artistic (deeply interested in music, dancing, entertainment, writing, drawing, painting or poetry), emotional and compassionate (deeply interested in caregiving, meeting people, socializing and human resources), a leader (decision making, taking responsibility, organizing people, motivating people, defending people or leading others), fashionistic (fashion designing, modelling, sowing, graphics or decorating), culinary (cooking or baking), business-like (money management, selling, negotiation skills or solving problems ), spiritually inclined (praying, receiving revelations or interceding for others) or scientific (having an analytical, mathematical, experimental or diagnostic mind). It becomes very easy for parents to help their children in their journey of self-discovery when they have been able to place them in their developmental stage.

There are parents who do unloving things in the name of love. I recommend to every youth and parent to read this book: “Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life” by Susan Forward. It is pitiable to know that many parents are sabotaging their children’s path to destiny fulfillment in the name of love unknowingly!

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