Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have been a little different for me this year. I’m about to become a mother and Marcus a father, which has made me reflect a lot on what it means to be a good parent.
My parents were fairly liberal with me and my brother growing up. We didn’t have many rules other than the obvious ones to keep us safe. But we were never told we couldn’t have ice cream before dinner, we could stay out past dark as long as we let them know where we were, and we were free to wander around our neighborhood, into the woods behind the house, or to the lake a few blocks away whenever we’d like (boy, how times have changed). We were never spanked growing up and I was grounded once in my life. Anytime we did something wrong, they taught us why it was wrong, instead of harshly punishing us, so we wouldn’t want to do it again.
Many of my friends grew up with much more strict parents and rigid rules to abide by. Their parents often thought ours were too lenient. That may be, but that “too lenient” parenting style cultivated an environment in which my brother and I had freedom to explore, experiment, make mistakes, and learn. It made for the best childhood I could have asked for and shaped me into the person I am today.
My mom and dad worked in an united front, but today’s post is specifically about my dad in honor of his birthday and Father’s Day coming up.
One memory in particular has been stuck in my mind lately. It’s one that changed our relationship forever.
I was in a terrible relationship in high school that put a strain on my family. My parents let it be known they disliked my boyfriend, but I thought I was deeply in love and wouldn’t listen.
One night I was crying on my parents’ bed after a big fight I had with my boyfriend. My dad came in, sat by my feet, and tried to comfort me. This was his first time seeing me cry from something he couldn’t just kiss and make better. My heart was breaking because of some boy he hated, and he didn’t know what to do. He knew saying anything negative wouldn’t work. What he said instead was a simple, but powerful, statement that changed my way of thinking.
“No man should ever make you feel like this.”
Just like that, it clicked. In that instant I became closer to my dad. I opened up to him about what I was going through mentally in that relationship. Eventually I came to my senses and broke up with the boy. (Although, he was the type to claw his way back into my life any way he could, so it took another year to get him out of my life for good.)
Looking back, I know now how much it must have hurt my parents to see me go through it, but they also knew intervening would only make it worse. It’s an example of how my parents gave me freedom to make my own mistakes in order to learn from them. It was tough, but I walked away a better person.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
I remember the exact moment my dad told me this. My family and I had just gotten the Millennium Force roller coaster at Cedar Point and were waiting in line to ride it again. The Millennium Force was the tallest roller coaster in the world at that time, so my dad was impressed his young daughter was so eager to ride such a terrifying ride.
Truth is, I was petrified and kept my eyes closed the entire time. But in some odd way, his words gave me courage to get back in line for another ride. By the 3rd time I was able to throw my hands in the air during the drop.
It’s been over 15 years since he first told me this, and I’ve repeated it to myself every day since. It’s motivated me to do physically terrifying things just for the thrill of it, go on adventures I never imagined, and take risks to further my professional career.
Change doesn’t happen within our comfort zone. So if it’s both a little scary and exciting, go for it.
We can’t assume what we hear is truth, especially in a world full of misinformation and purposeful deceit. But we have the ability to gain knowledge from all sides and form our own, educated, opinion.
Remember when you were young and questioned everything, naturally? The world was new and everything was mysterious. Somewhere along the line from childhood to adulthood, we lose the willingness to question. Partially because we’ve learned so much along the way that we no longer feel the need to question. But also because we’re slightly afraid of ridicule and we certainly don’t want to be wrong.
But there’s still so much to uncover! Even if we think we’re experts on a subject, there’s more to learn. If we know our opinions are correct, there’s another side to see.
No matter the topic, we have the right to question anything we feel the need to. Passionately.
But also, know that it’s okay to ask for help.
One thing I learned over the years even the best education does not prepare you for life. Did school teach me how do to taxes, repair a flat, buy health insurance, or deal with my husband’s car getting stolen? Nope. But thankfully my dad has always been on the other end of the line with helpful advice to help me through those times.
However, he wasn’t there to hold my hand or do the hard work for me. I had to learn to do those things on my own.
People are often willing and able to help when necessary, but we may not always have that safety net to fall back on. Life happens…and we have to know how to handle it on our own, just in case.
“Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I was told this from a young age and was finally able to apply it in college.
My parents always pushed me to find a stable and lucrative career…but also one I was passionate about. Money can’t buy happiness, after all.
I began college as a pre-pharmacy student and realized a year in that compounding medicine wasn’t my passion. I was first drawn to pharmacy for its security, but I’ve always been much more holistic and believe living a healthy lifestyle is the best preventative medicine. So I switched to a major in nutrition science and never looked back. From there I became a personal trainer, have owned my own business, coached athletes of all ages, taught yoga, and have found a home in the fitness community. The pay might not be nearly what it would have been in the pharmacy business, but I love what I do have never “worked” a day in my life.
Life is sweet. Don’t let the media fool you.
Turn on the TV and immediately get bombarded with horrific news. Another shooting, turmoil overseas, the President did this or that…it’s scary.
I began paying more attention to the news as I got older and became anxious for the future. How could we even think about bringing a child into this world?
Then my dad made a wonderful toast at our wedding that changed my perspective.
To quote part of his speech:
“All around you, you will hear people talk about how the whole world is going down the drain, that society is collapsing, you should head for hills, all is lost, yada, yada, yada. Know what? They were saying the same things 50 years ago. They were wrong then, and they’re wrong now. It’s been said that if ten troubles are headed down the road, nine will be in the ditch before they reach you, and that’s true.”
Isn’t that powerful?
The world isn’t worse than it was, we’re simply more aware. Stay optimistic, live in the present, and look forward to the future.
Have a great weekend and Happy Father’s Day!
Question: What’s one life lesson your family taught you?