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I’ll Never Let My Son Have An Ego

iTunes shuffle is the best thing since sliced bread. There. I said it. Now that we have gotten that out the way , back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Earlier I was contemplating what exactly I was going to write about for this series of blogs I have been doing this week on the lessons my father taught me. There are so many lessons and I was struggling to pick one particular lesson to share today. But whilst listening to the song ‘New Day’ by Kanye West and Jay Z I knew I wanted to talk about my father’s legacy to me and the legacy I hope to one day pass on to my own son should I ever be fortunate enough to have one.

‘New Day’ is one of the more emotional and introspective tracks off Jay Z and Kanye’s collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’. In the song both Kanye and Jay have conversations with their unborn sons. A constant theme in both rappers lyrics is a desire to give their future sons better opportunities and a better life than they had growing up. They are not necessarily speaking about material wealth. Their wish is that their sons become better men than they were. They want their sons to not have to make the same mistakes they did.

‘And I’l never let my son have an ego. He’ll be nice to everyone, wherever we go. I might even let him be Republican so they know he loves white people …. Don’t want him to be hated all the time. Don’t be like your Daddy that would never budge’ – Kanye West ‘New Day’

Most fathers are accused of trying to make their son’s into miniature versions of themselves. If it’s not that then they are accused of trying to live out their broken hopes and dreams vicariously through their sons lives. some mistakenly believe providing their kids with material wealth will suffice. But there is also another narrative. Father’s whose aim is that their son’s become their own man and best possible man they can be. Father who spend time and make an effort to nurture the character of their sons.These father’s are more focused on the legacy that they live their sons. That legacy is often some aspect of their character or lessons learned from their own mistakes. The values that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

‘Sins of a Father make your life ten times harder. I just wanna take you to a barber, bonding on charter’s, shit I never did. Teach you good values so you cherish it…. Took me 26 years to find my path, my only job is to cut your time in half …’- Jay Z ‘New Day’

My dad’s personal career success meant very little to me as a child. It is his character and the man that he is that has had a greater impact on how I approach my life. That is what I believe is his legacy to me. From an early age my dad taught me that people will treat you the way you allow them to. He also taught me that I should never let anyone tell me that I couldn’t achieve anything. It was very important to him that I became my own man and that I learn to make my own decisions from a very early age. He afforded me a great deal of autonomy on my life. This is not to say he let me just be. Whenever he thought I was losing my way he would never hesitate to gently guide me back onto the right path. And all the time he managed to make feel like I was in control and in charge of my life but I knew if I ever needed any help he was always there. My dad gave me the greatest gift anyone could ever give another person. He always believed in me, even when I doubted myself.
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Whenever I tell my dad any of my plans he always says the same thing. I remember when I first told I wanted to write a book. Despite my trepidation he was true to form and said to me” Make sure you follow through with it. Whatever you start, you must always finish.” Anything my dad has ever started he has always seen it to the end. So in that regard he has led by example. And that is probably one of his greatest legacies to me. Because for all the things he has taught me the greatest lessons I have learned have been from following his example. I just hope by the time I have a son I will be able to do the same for him.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Lessons From My Father

 

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Head Of The Household

Relationships are complicated. There is no one formula that works for all relationships. But there are some guiding principles that will always help us in our quest to having more fulfilling and meaningful relationships with the people in our lives. The most important relationship we will all ever have is the one we have with ourselves. This relationship sets the tone for all other relationships. However we hope to be treated or aspire to treat others we have to first look inwards and learn to love and be kind to ourselves first before we can even begin to extend the same courtesy’s to others.

From an early age my dad always taught me to believe in myself. To always treat others with kindness and respect. And to always be confident in my own abilities, but never arrogant. He also taught me to always show empathy and never to compromise my values. Another lesson my dad taught me was to always have an understanding of the dynamics of any relationship I was in. I must always know what my role in any relationship is. And If I am not comfortable with that role I must reassess the value of that relationship to my life. Was I a leader or a follower? A teacher or a student? Or maybe even an equal? According to my dad if you understand your role and accepted it you were putting yourself in a much better position to ensure that relationship was worth it.

Growing up we had a pretty defined family structure. My dad was the head of the household. He took it upon himself to be the leader of the family. And my mother gladly accepted that. Even though I have referred to my parents as the dream team of the marriage game on this blog before, it was never in doubt who the captain of that team was. It was my dad. But if my dad was the captain of the team then my mum was definitely the star play-maker. They needed each other. They played for each other. They supported each other. But even more importantly they had a shared vision of how they wanted their lives to play out. Because of that they both accepted their different roles in their relationship and it has worked for them. They understood their dynamic and took full responsibility for their particular roles.

Being the eldest child my dad always pushed me to take on the responsibility to be a leader in my own right. I was supposed to always set an example for my siblings. To this end he insisted that my younger siblings prefix my name with Mukoma when addressing me. (Mukoma is the shona title for a big brother) Everything I did he would remind me that my brothers and my sister looked up to me. To be honest, this is not a role I initially wanted to accept. Half the time I felt I had no clue what I was doing and the rest of the time I wished I had a Mukoma I could look to for answers. But this was before I realised that I had something much better to look to for guidance, my dad. As soon as I accepted that I became comfortable with being a leader for my siblings and I embraced the responsibility that came with it. Mukoma wasn’t just a title; just the same way my dad being the head of the household wasn’t one either. You had to accept, shoulder and live with responsibility that came along with it. And even though you are a leader you always have to treat others with respect. Only then would the dynamic ever work.

For a huge chunk of my life my father has been my mentor and as I have grown older the dynamic of that relationship has shifted and he has become one of my best friends. That is also the case with my siblings. We are all adults now with different experiences and with each passing day I am learning more and more from them as well. And that is a lesson I am still learning that even though relationships may have a specific dynamic at one stage in our lives it doesn’t always have to stay that way. It also important to evolve and accept these changes and you are guaranteed longevity in whatever relationship you have.

I am very grateful for the many lessons that my dad has taught me over the years. That has been part of the motivation behind this series of blogs over the past week. Not only did I want to share those lessons but I wanted to appreciate him in my own way. I also needed to remind myself of some of these lessons.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Lessons From My Father

 

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Abraham Lincoln: A Letter To His Son’s Teacher

Ever since I watched the Abraham Lincoln Biopic ‘Lincoln’ a few months ago I have been enamoured with the man that was the sixteenth president of the United States. Whilst I am still to read his autobiography I have made it my business since to read up as much as I can on the man from what is available online. His greatest legacy is that under his presidency the United States abolished slavery. Abraham Lincoln was a man of great conviction, a humanitarian, forward thinker, revolutionary, a political genius and a great leader.

The biopic itself covers the American civil war in which Lincoln a Republican was fighting the Southern states over his proposition to emancipate African slaves in the United States. Lincoln despite fierce resistance from within his own party as well as the South managed to convince the House of Representatives to vote to abolish slavery. One of the ways he was able to achieve this was through the many letters he wrote to Generals and Senators. Lincoln was a letter writer of note and some of his letters where the highlight of the biopic for me. As such in my reading up on Lincoln’s legacy I have been partial to the letters he wrote in his life time.

One of my favourite letters is one he once wrote a letter to his son’s teacher. Although this letter was written over a hundred years ago, it is not imprisoned by the past. It reads as if it was written just yesterday. The letter reads as follow:

“He will have to learn,I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero: that for every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader.

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know – a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value than five of found.

Teach him, to learn to lose. And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can; teach in the secret of quiet laughter.

Teach him, if you can the wonder of books. But also, given quiet time, wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.

In a school, teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.

Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if anyone else tells him they are wrong.

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.

Teach him to listen to all men. But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.

Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because then he will always have some sublime faith in mankind.

These are big orders, but see what you can do. He is such a fine fellow, my son…”

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Things I Will Teach My Son

“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.”
Bob Marley

‘Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period.”

The Pursuit of Happyness

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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