“The Father of the Nation,” as Nelson Mandela is called is a fitting name for a leader who negotiated peace and reconciliation for all South Africans. His commitment to “a democratic and free society,” left little time for him to spend with his own children. Losing three of his children and spending 27 years in jail on Robben Island without the sound of children’s laughter, he understood the importance of protecting and treasuring our young people. In his own words:” It always gives me great pleasure to be surrounded by the beautiful children of our land. Whenever I am with the energetic young people ... I feel like a recharged battery, confident that our country can look forward to great things,”
His wisdom and life lessons have left us with parenting gifts for a happier more peaceful family life. Here are 10 gifts we should all remember:
1. “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” We cannot stand by as parents and allow our children’s rights to be infringed. Children are people with rights safeguarded by our constitution, and we all as adults, whether a parent or not. have a responsibility to protect our children. It begins at home and in our community. Know your children’s rights and teach them their rights, empowering them to protect themselves
2. “We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." As parents it is our responsibility to create a home that is calm, and peaceful, where our children can be the unique individuals they are. They should be able to make mistakes without fearing being punished by us.
3. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education begins at home. You are your child’s most significant teacher and through your example your children will learn their most valuable lessons in life. If you want your children to read, be a reader yourself. If you want your children to be curious, let them ask questions and expose them to a rich learning environment.
4. ”The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Being positive and persevering teaches children to overcome fear and persist in the face of adversity. Failure should be seen as an integral part of learning. An opportunity to try again or choose a different path.
5. ”We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” Role modelling positive behaviour and teaching our children to consider how their actions impacts the life of others, not only raises their EQ, but helps them develop satisfying relationships with others.
6. “There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Be ambitious and strive for excellence in all that you do, showing your children that they too can be successful.
7. “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”When we shine, we impact the people around us who strive to follow in our footsteps. Be the kind of parent your children want to boast about. Be a leader in your home and in your community.
8. “As a leader... I have always endeavoured to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion.” Take time out of your busy life to listen to what your children are saying. Be patient and give them time to tell you their news and express their feelings. Listen without criticising. You will learn from them.
9. “Together as a nation, we have the obligation to put sunshine into the hearts of our little ones. They are our precious possessions. They deserve what happiness life can offer.” Children who spend a childhood being happy and carefree are better able to handle the responsibilities and stressors of adult life. Strive to not only provide your children with a joyful life, but work with your family to bring joy to children less privileged than your own.
10. “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Teaching children to be tolerant and patient of others and seeking to understand the other person’s world, goes a long way to preventing bullying and promoting inclusivity.
As we celebrate Madiba's life may we be inspired to be patient, forgiving, kind parents, committed to loving and caring for our children.