By the Book: Jane Ngunjiri

Jane Ngunjiri is a counselling psychologist, a trainer, author, mother and wife with over 15 years’ experience in the area of counselling, training and motivation. PHOTO| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Parents and teachers also have a huge obligation of identifying the earliest signs of mental illness for early intervention and management.
  • The issue of drug abuse among adolescent is on the increase and has negatively affected mental health.

Jane Ngunjiri is a counselling psychologist, a trainer, author, mother and wife with over 15 years’ experience in the area of counselling, training and motivation.

She is also an author of three published academic journals. She speaks to Nation about her writing journey and experience in counseling in relation to parenting and teenagers.

Tell us about your book

Raising a child is probably the most gratifying job any parent will ever have but also the most challenging.

My book is basically about equipping parents, teachers, pastors and counsellors with the requisite skills, knowledge and mindset for parenting adolescents in the 21stcentury.

It is based on extensive research, work experience and my own personal experience as a parent.

My advice to parents is for them to make early interventions to avoid crying over spilt milk.

Teenage and parenthood is something you’re passionate about. What can you say about the rise of teenage pregnancies in Machakos and across the country?

My take is that due to the socio-economic transition, lack of the requisite skills and knowledge coupled with poverty, most parents rely on teachers or leave their teens under the influence of peers to provide information on sex. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teenagers are currently out of school, very idle and their sex hormones are at their peak.

Most parents want to do their best in talking to their teens about sex.  However, they are often not sure about how to begin due to their own socialization (their parents never discussed sexual matters with them).

Nevertheless, it is critical for parents to become the first teachers for their children on matters of sexuality and drug abuse before anyone else can confuse them with “just facts”.

Tip; It is better to talk to your children before eleven years. While talking to them about sex, remember to talk about more than basic biology and communicate your values as they also need moral guidance from you.

Do you think the Kenyan government is doing enough to provide sustainable mental health care to adolescents?

The government is doing its part of providing the facilities and staff (health care professionals and psychologists).  However, a lot more needs to be done in terms of providing mental health awareness and reducing situations that put adolescents at risk of poor mental health.  Parents and teachers also have a huge obligation of identifying the earliest signs of mental illness for early intervention and management.  The issue of drug abuse among adolescent is on the increase and has negatively affected mental health.

Which other books would you recommend for parents struggling with raising teenagers?

On becoming a woman, Across the Bridge by Mwangi Gicheru and Counselling Adolescents by Geldad and Geldard (2004).

How has the writing and publishing process been like for you?

My motivation for writing this book was occasioned by my fear of parenting my adolescents which was triggered by a negative comment made way back before I parented my two daughters who are now young adults.  From that single comment( to the effect that no one has the authority to comment about parenting issues before parenting a teenager), I purposed to undertake the necessary research to assess what it takes to successfully parent an adolescent.

From the moment I decided to write this book, it took me approximately ten years when the final version was finally published and ready for the market.  That is why it is imperative to choose a topic that you are passionate about as the journey is quite long, expensive and full of challenges.

Which book genres do you enjoy reading most, and why?

Motivation Books like the Power of Positive Thinking, Ben Carson’s books and Rich Dad Poor Dad; such books have been instrumental in my parenting journey, personal growth and in motivating and counselling my clients.

Do you think it’s possible for a Kenyan author to entirely rely on book writing as a source of income?

It is challenging but not impossible as it requires very good marketing and network skills.  It is also a long process and Kenyans do not like reading.  I have been selling mine as a side hassle and so far I have sold over 100 copies. I have also discovered that working with a publishing house gives you fewer returns and you end up selling similar or fewer copies.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and working on my second book.

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