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5 essential life lessons my father taught me

In honour and memory of my dad, for Fathers’ Day, I thought I should share with you the things my dad taught me about how to succeed in life. Before I was even conceived my dad had already decided he wanted his first born to be a girl because he had no sisters and he wanted one. He had a strong belief that a woman’s heart and compassion were the best ingredients for a good leader. He wanted a girl to lead his family. I was welcomed and loved and this gave me a solid sense of belonging. There’s nothing that is more grounding than knowing that you’re wanted and appreciated wholeheartedly.

I remember as a kid when one of my friends punched me and I ran indoors crying to my dad, he would send me back to punch back. He used to say running away was not an option. Always stand your ground and fight and if you can’t fight use your wits to ensure people just don’t walk all over you.

When I got sick, he dropped everything and came to me. He said it so many times that there was nothing in the world more important than his children. My dad was not perfect, in fact he had a lot of faults and issues from being rejected by both his parents but he decided to change his story. He decided that he would create a family that he had envisioned for himself.

I thought I would inspire other men to consider the impact they can have on their children if they step up and be present in their children’s lives despite feeling inadequate or unsure. A father’s presence gives a sense of security and his words of praise help to build self confidence.


From the time I can remember my dad always asked, “Melody what do you think?” He would look at me and wait for my response. I learnt very early on that my opinion counts. I was and still am important. I have to participate in life because my opinion matters. This was one of the best gifts my dad gave me. Because he listened I value listening to other people and what they have to say. I understand that children can teach you things that you can never imagine if you let them. My family is close and very loving because we all listen to each other. There’s no one more important and no voice more important than the other. Everyone deserves to be listened to.

Standing my ground

Once my dad had envisioned his ideal family he took active action in creating it by being involved in our daily lives. He challenged us, taught us his values in life, his struggles, played with us and laughed with us as well. When we wanted something we had to go to him and not to mom. His first response was always no. Then you had to have a conversation in which you justified why you had to have this thing. You had to think fast, on your fit and stay calm. If you got frustrated at all and quit, you never got what you wanted and once he said no, going to mom wouldn’t work because they were a team and always agreed on everything. No matter how frustrated you felt, being rude or insulting was never tolerated.  I used to just walk away and my sister never did which meant she would always get what she wanted. Sometimes she would even go to fight some of my battles with dad for me. Eventually I became smarter, now when I want something, I make sure I always get it.

Always knowing why

The worst answer to give dad was, “I don’t know.” If you did something, no matter how ridiculous and you had a good reason you were never punished. If you did it because others were doing it, your life would suck. You would either be beaten or asked to dig a hole for no reason. As a teenager I never followed a crowd and even today I have to know why I am doing something and if it doesn’t make sense or make me happy, I just don’t do it. My life is easier because of that and without the beating, I have passed on the lessons to my girls. Knowing your why helps you to use your energy for things that matter to you.

Learn to love my siblings

If you want to disappoint me to the bottom of my heart, stop being friends with your each other. These people should be your best friends. There shouldn’t be anyone more important than these 4 people around you.” He used to say you can’t love other people from outside if you can’t love your brothers and sisters. Loving someone to me means accepting them for who they are even at times you don’t understand who they are being. It also means you are obligated to be honest with them. Our fights with each other even today last 2 minutes and then we’re okay.

These words were said to us so many times. We learnt to play together, protect each other from everyone including our parents. We are still a team, even today. We love each other, play together and we get on really well.  There’s 5 of us. Each of us is great at something and whoever is great at that thing we need to do leads at that time. We’re not even close in ages, there’s 14 years between me and the last born. We still share equally. We currently live in 4 different countries and yet each time one of us does something great we share with each other. My best friends in the world are my siblings.

Showing love by showing it

You can’t show love by demonstrating hate. If you want to teach someone to love, you need to show them how to love by loving them. It doesn’t mean you allow them to abuse you but you can still demonstrate love when you deal with them. My grandmother was very difficult and we learnt that she didn’t know how to love so we needed to show her.

The easiest thing would’ve been to ignore her, not look after her or pay her back for being nasty to us but we didn’t. It took her a long time to even realise that she was loved but when she did, it was beautiful and we didn’t have years of resentment to get past.

My dad told us he loved us. He told everyone in our small community he was proud of us. It was heart warming to get into a taxi and when you gave the driver asked for your address he would ask, “Are you Mr Chadamoyo’s daughter? When I said yes, the next question would be are you the good cook, did you just pass your exams, are you the one who is doing such and such? He bragged about all of us. That conversation always made me feel that I was home. It also made me proud to be his daughter.

Be a good leader

Being a good leader means being responsible. Being responsible means you’re aware of everything that is going on around you and you manage it. We had a maid, and it was our responsibility to maintain a high standard in our home, which meant  we couldn’t ask our maid to do what we didn’t know how to do. This taught us to have a work ethic and compassion towards the people we employed.

My dad changed all our nappies, carried us on his back, sang to us, played with us, danced with us, disciplined us, showed us who he was as a person, ironed his own clothes, cooked for us and that to me is a sign of a good leader. He used to say, if your manhood is determined by which household chores you do or don’t do, then you were never a real man in the first place.

My dad also taught us to fix cars, electric stoves, irons, and many other things around our home. His main aim was that his girls shouldn’t need a man to survive. We could be independent women who only lived with a man because we chose to. I am so grateful for all the lessons and philosophies I learnt from him. I was lucky to have father like him and I value his lessons everyday. I think that is how he created his legacy. Now you know about a man named Stephen who was born in Zimbabwe who helped shape me into the woman I am today. That is the impact of fathers. We appreciate all those fathers that value their role of fatherhood. Happy Fathers’ Day.

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