Reader questions are always welcome on the blog. When this one came up, I was pretty excited. What my parents taught me might take a book of its own to cover. I’ll try to keep it brief and still answer the question.
Setting aside the obvious things, like how to walk, use the toilet, brush your teeth, and speak your first words, there are so many more things a parent can teach you. Focusing on the formative lessons will give more insight into the kind of parenting I had. I’m sure that is what lay at the root of the question…
- Just because I was born a girl didn’t mean I couldn’t be anything I wanted.
My dad made sure I knew that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted. Asking him if an astronaut was still on the table, and his confident assurance, assured me that it was true.
- Speak up for yourself because no one else will.
Both of my parents made sure that I was comfortable talking to them about my problems, as well as things that made me happy. As I grew older this likely became more difficult for them, but they persevered because of how important a matter this is. This can protect your children from bad things.
- Family is everything.
Having each other is for the rest of our lives. That relationship is important. In our case, it was about always having support and love. Other than my parents, I have one brother. In my father’s family, he had three siblings, and they’re mostly estranged. My father was close to his one brother for the majority of his youth, but my uncle’s path took him to another part of the state in which we live. Without their parents to bind them, the distances grew. My mother saw the distance beginning early on, and intervened between me and my brother, who were typical siblings bickering here and there, to ensure that we realized the importance of each other. We were taught to respect each other, to forgive, and to keep in contact. We’re doing just that, even though he lives many hours away. It takes effort, but when you know that your family matters, that effort is meaningless. The rewards of the stability and affection, you either give or receive, are worth it.
- Marriage is work.
I’ve never been married. I don’t think I could ever find someone that would work as hard to keep love between us as my parents do. Maybe they’re old school, but they understand marriage is work. It’s worthy work, just like keeping family close. Additionally, they showed me that not just anyone would do. You don’t just get married because you’re with someone at a certain age and that seems like the next step you’re supposed to take. Marriage should be wanted for more than that, or it becomes nothing more than going steady. Also, it’s not about having the wedding and showing off. That ceremony is such a small nothing in the greater aspect of being wedded to your partner. It needs to be more than timing, or fulfilling a responsibility. Marriage is a responsibility, and you only choose the partner that understands that and truly loves you. Sex, gifts, rings, china patterns, and other frills won’t keep it together. The people involved do.
- Even small lives matter. Go out there with Empathy.
My parents taught me to respect the lives of wildlife, and that what we know about animals and plants is still being learned. When I was growing up, it was believed dogs saw in black and white. Now, researchers have found that they see colors, although they may not be the equal of the human spectrum. The idea behind that was a question that I had when learning the black and white myth: just because the cones and things aren’t arranged like ours, why does that mean they don’t capture the same spectrum that my eyes do, considering the brain decodes the information and thus we see? (Yes, I was a pretty intelligent kid.) Thus, I started seeing the interconnections humanity had with the rest of the world in which we live. Being able to relate to animals and plants empathetically ensured that I would do the same among my own kind. And that is very important for forging relationships and being a positive contributing member of society.
- A love of reading.
If I was going to be anything I wanted, I needed to be able to read well. Reading opens the doors to greater knowledge. Think of the children who struggled in school. They often were not strong readers. Schools try to remedy this, but they don’t meet the frustration of the child struggling to catch up, believing that the gift of taking time and correcting the deficit enough is reward enough. Simply not true. You have to speak to a child’s hurts. You have to speak to why they were lacking in the first place (some parents do not value reading and learning, actually insulting these things before their children and teaching them to spurn it). One size fits all doesn’t work. That’s why it’s important for parents to be involved with their child’s growth and learning. A lot of how they learn will be decided by mom and/or dad. What they value, even more so.
- Others may not respect your accomplishments, and that doesn’t matter.
This goes with the one before. You know how parents might not value education, and teach their children to feel similarly? Well, those kids grow up and you still have to interact with them (not necessarily the ones from your school). They make remarks in the office, online, and even in public that attempt to diminish the things you’ve done in your life. Whether it comes from a place of inadequacy on their part or a true hatred of clever people, it doesn’t matter. These folks are just fine with the mundane. So be it. That is ultimately their choice. However, they don’t get to trump facts with opinions, as they often attempt to do. Nor do they get to make those who have worked their tails off feel as though they’ve done something wrong. Education matters, and so does the level of it. If you chose not to achieve certain things, then there are consequences for it—good or bad. So long as you realize your self-worth and the merit of your achievement, those who chose else cannot take that away from you, though they may make for hard days, as we are forced to face the often destructive efforts they back and partake in.
I promised to not take up all of your time, so I will stop here. I hope this answered the question and helped you see a little deeper into what makes me tick.
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