20 Aug 7 Valuable Lessons I learned from my parents
There are many things I thank Mom and Dad for that have impacted my adulthood and parenting….more than just homemade Halloween costumes.
1. Be your own woman.
They taught me to be self-reliant, smart and educated, and don’t depend in a man to take care of you. Basically, they wanted me to become a self-sufficient individual. Ironically, I have been married for 20 years, stayed home with my kids for 14 years, but during earned my masters degree, created a small jewelry company and worked all kinds of freelance and volunteer gigs. The advice really never left my head; as I have my hobbies, interests, friends and career outside my relationship with my husband and family. So does my husband.
I express the same to my sons to be self-reliant, smart and educated. Don;t depend on others to feel good about yourself. Feel confident to make choices that are best for you even if they are different from friends and girlfriends.
2. Don’t be racist.
Laugh, but this was discussed frequently. My parents taught me at an early age to judge people by behavior and not appearance. My father, who in his work employed a lot of different people, always, said “people are people; they are the same, some good and some bad no matter where they come from”. I have lived my life appreciating people not by their color, race, ethnicity, beauty, religion….but how they treat others and how they treat me. I have raised my children the same.
3. Save 30% of your income for the future.
My first part-time job was at Kmart and I earned $4.25 an hour. After I cashed my first paycheck of $70, my father made me put $25 into a savings account. I was not happy at all. He told me to “Have fun with the rest, buy what you need or want, but always save”. I still try and put money away every check via IRA, savings both short term and long term.
Saved money has gotten our family through some rough financial times in the past few years. I teach my sons that same…enjoy your hard work and money, but save for the future. You’ll thank yourself (and your parents later).
4. Show generosity and kindness even when it is not deserved.
Such a mom thing to teach? and so hard to do!
My momma always told me that kindness can be immeasurable. People may carry huge burdens (sometimes it might be you) and kindness and generosity can help life be tolerable. Smile at salespeople (even cranky one’s), act polite to strangers and always be gracious. More often than not it will be reciprocated. Of course there will always be “Debbie Downers” or opportunists, but if you act the way you want to be treated, you still go away feeling good. Shame on them, not you.
I teach my sons the same, with an added “gentleman” aspect to always shake hands and to offer door holding…it’s a little old school but it works for us.
5. Plan for your death. Parts 1 & 2.
Part 1, My parents have always had their affairs in order, paperwork organized, organ donation cards signed, who gets what, living will wishes known and a legal current will. As a family we know where and what all these items mean and can be found. There will be no mystery or questions if and when needed.
Part 2, whether it is a breakfast, a vacation together, or just a drop by…we hug, kiss and usually say “I love you”, or other kind words. We don’t leave angry. We don’t really argue, but we may disagree. There is no mystery of how we feel about each-other. Again, if and when the time comes, there will be no regrets, only the loss of love.
While my children are just approaching the age to have frank discussions such as this, I have the details done and other adult family members and selected guardians know our wishes and financials. Everything is documented, so that it’s not a burden. In the event this information is needed, focus can be put on my children not icky details.
Also, I express love freely to my children…even when they piss me off. We don’t go to bed or part ways angry. I also try to practice this with other relationships as well.
Drink it. Enjoy it. Alcohol does not make people smarter, more interesting or better joke tellers. So don’t be stupid. That’s pretty much it.
7. See the world
My parents have traveled everywhere, every continent and just about every country. It’s what they stashed 30% away for and they love it!
I live vicariously through photos and realize that doing the first 6 things on this list enable this idea of “seeing the world” and appreciating it. I am still working on this….but hope to see much of this beautiful blue planet.
I promise to share this passion with my sons and their families one day.