Our parents do their best with what they have to raise us. Sometimes, it's harder than usual.
But every once in awhile they really do get it right. Every once in awhile they've done something so well, in fact, that we value it for years and years to come.
Here were some of those answers.
My Own CheerleadersGiphy
My parents are imperfect, but they did a lot of things right. The biggest one that sticks out to me is that they're supportive of things my brother and I like even when they don't understand or like it. They didn't really care for skateboarding, but they spent hundreds of dollars over the years for my brother to enjoy his hobby. They not only helped me get a drum set, but allowed the band to hold practice in our basement and drove us to all our shows. They wanted me to be a lawyer, but they were willing to settle for line cook. It made a difference in the long run, because eventually it helped me realize that I get to make my own choices in life - nothing is laid out for me. I can do whatever I enjoy, and my parents will be there for me, cheering me on.
Never The Fool
I learned a couple valuable lessons from my tough-as-nails father.
1: Don't be afraid to show affection to your children. Tell them you love them. A lot. They need to hear and see it from their father.
2: Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You don't know why that person is being rude or grumpy. Maybe they just lost a loved one. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse this morning before they left for work.
And 3: If, having given someone the benefit of the doubt, and been extra kind to defuse the situation, they continue to act a fool, you need not be a doormat. Stand up for yourself.
Love you Dad.
Leading By Example
Impossible to list everything but a few things that stand out to me:
- They never sheltered me. That covers everything from seeing the diversity of society (rich, poor, healthy, sick, etc) to experiencing my own personal disappointments (losing in sports, saying no when asked to buy me a new video game, etc). I was allowed to grow as an individual. They are always there for support when I needed it, but I was never coddled or protected from things.
- They lead by example. My parents never expected things out of me that they didn't live by themselves. Whether it was something as simple as being open and honest to our entire family or something more complicated like living within your means, budgeting, and treating all people with total kindness. It's a lot easier as a kid to look-up to your parents when they live their daily lives by the same values they taught me.
Discussion Is Key
Taught respect, never played favorites. But the biggest thing was they always explained their actions and were willing to discuss why, and occasionally even change their mind. It was never "no because I said so". I think I didn't really have a rebellious phase because they never really forbid anything, it was always "well you can do that when you don't live here".
Winning The Adventure Lotto
When I was little we lived near a freeway. I asked my mom one time how far the freeway went, and where we would be if we just got on it and kept driving.
She had a map. Did she show it to me?
Nope. She said, "Let's see". We hopped in the car and drove for hours until we were both tired of it, THEN pulled out the map and found a route home along the shore of one of the US Great Lakes. This was in the 80's, before GPS or cellphones. I was maybe 10 and she let me navigate home.
She could have just told me or shown me on the map without leaving the couch, but she wanted me to know... and maybe she wanted to know herself. That's how she's always been - it's amazing.
Fairness In All Things
My dad was exceptionally fair. Any conflict would be solved by sitting down and having me evaluate multiple perspectives. If we could reason through an issue and it appeared someone had indeed treated me poorly/done the wrong thing and I was "in the right", he would give me credit for that but then still work with me to find a way to resolve the issue with the other person.
Vice versa, if I was wrong he had a way of conversing with me that made me realise it on my own.
I think this really helped in building some character traits I'm very grateful for, but it also built a child/parent relationship with mutual trust. I felt comfortable approaching my dad about anything. I knew he'd tell me about it if I was wrong, but I also knew he would back me if I was in the right. That was powerful, to feel respected as a teenager. It's only now I'm an adult I realise how that empowerment drove me to be responsible for my own actions rather than blaming the world for not understanding me.
They Made It Better, Not Worse
When I failed my first year at uni, they didn't get angry or upset. My mom sat down next to me while I was bawling my eyes out in shame and hugged me until I calmed down. She said it wasn't the end of my life, and that she was, and always will be, proud of me.
It May Be Over But It Ain't Blown Up
When they divorced, they agreed to stay friends for my benefit. They didn't want to destroy everything just because they chose to separate, and after many other families they've witnessed, they decided they didn't want to be like them and have the parents put the child in the middle of everything. So they're friends, they still text, and my dad even came to stay at our house for my birthday (we moved a flight distance away and I have a step-dad now) last year and everything went fine. It's something I'll always think about, because I know very few people who's parents are divorced and still happily talk. They done good, my parents, real good.
The Support We Should All Receive
Came out to my parents last year about my mental health issues and they gave me all the help I needed. They stayed with me during my anxiety attacks even if they were late in the night and paid for my counseling even though they don't legally have to. I probably wouldn't be as mentally healthy as I am now without their help and support. Best parents ever.
Yay Good ParentsGiphy
- They lead by example. Lots of things I was not told, but I learn by watching them.
- They informed themselves about how to be parents. I saw lots of books about parenting in my house while I was living with them, and they had no problem asking professionals to help (going to therapy, doctors, etc., was normal for us, and vaccines were mandatory).
- They had plans and alternatives in case the main plan turned to be not the best available.
- They asked me about some key points of my life instead of pushing me (if I wanted to go to religion class -no-, what I wanted to study in university, etc.)
- They answer my questions the best they could.
- Mother had a humor sense who helped her in particular and all the family in general.
- Both are hard workers and had little to no vices.
- They raised us giving my sister and me the best they could, but they didn't spoil us. When money was sparse they explained it to us and we understood without problem.
- They told us what was happening but without details, explaining us in a level we could understand.
- If we had problems they tried to help us grow and solve it with us (my little sister and I), not in place of us.
And so on.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.