We all learn by imitation – it’s the one message that I’m constantly reinforcing with the parents that I work with. Our kids are imitating us all the time and in so doing are learning about what the world is like, what is possible and how to live.
Unfortunately we didn’t all have parents who were perfect examples for us to follow, and so most of us are playing out the conditioning of less-than-perfect role models and passing this legacy on to our own children. Luckily, as South Africans, we have had the ultimate parent to our nation, a man who is truly a worthy role model – Nelson Mandela.
In our quest to be better parents, let us look to him as an example of what is possible, how to relate to others, and what it means to really live. Parenting a child or a nation effectively both require a few basic human principles, all of which we can learn from Madiba.
Here are some of the many lessons from Mandela that we can apply to our own lives and model for our children today:
1. Nothing is impossible
No matter what your current circumstances, if you keep your dreams in your heart and believe in yourself and where you are heading, there is nothing that can stop you – not even prison!
2. Never say, “I can’t” and never give up
Everyone will face challenges in their lives, and the only way to fail for sure is to never try. Turn your “I can’t” into “How can I?” and see how amazing possibilities open up in places where you thought there were just dead-ends.
3. Always assume the best of other people
Everyone is doing the best they can with their current conditioning. If you assume the best of people (including your kids) you give them permission to rise above their limitations.
4. Learn to communicate
There is no problem that cannot be resolved if we learn to communicate effectively. Truly listen when someone is speaking to you, and put your ego aside when you answer. Communicating with compassion and understanding will get you a lot further than attacking, blaming and righteousness.
5. Kindness is key
No matter who you are dealing with or what the situation, always approach other people and yourself with kindness. Everyone is valuable, just by their very humanity, and everyone from the cashier to the president should be treated with equal kindness and respect.
6. Be present
The past is in the past, and the future is not yet here. Be fully present when you are dealing with someone else (particularly your kids), when you are solving problems, and when you are planning your future. Never let the past (no matter what happened) cloud your clear vision of what is possible now.
8. Shine your own light
In Mandela’s inauguration speech he made use of a beautiful quote by author, Marianne Williamson, which states, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Make yourself a “What Would Madiba Do?” bracelet to remind yourself to shine, to remind yourself to be the role model for your kids that Madiba has been for all of us. As each of us lives these principles in our own lives and models them for our children, we are ensuring that the spirit of Madiba will live on for generations to come.
Note: If you enjoyed this article, and would like to stay updated with more, you can:
- Subscribe to our free weekly Jozikids newsletter for parents in Gauteng
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on Instagram