Everything I know about parenting I learned from my parents. Reflecting on my own childhood, I realize how hard my parents worked to instill their beliefs and passions into the lives of myself and my sisters, from budgeting to creativity and everything between. Naturally, I find myself passing along these same pieces of wisdom to my own daughter, whether intentionally or not. After all, the apple never truly falls far from the tree…
1. Invest in memories.
Growing up, it’s clear to see how my parents prioritized their finances: memories, not things. People, not products. We lived in a cozy house with everything we needed, but rather than fluffing our nest with the latest/greatest or donning the current brand name fashions, my parents invested in an annual summer road trip, vacationing for weeks at a time to beaches and parks, oceans and monuments. The designers jeans would have faded long age, but these memories are forever imprinted in my mind.
2. Find your village.
Our family’s roots ran deep, gripped by families and friendships and a vast community of social circles. We spent weekends with cousins, evenings with neighbors and vacations with friends. And sure, the socialization was great for the kids, but now as a parent, I see how necessary a supportive village was for my mother and father, too.
3. Stick to a routine.
From the types of cereal in the cupboard to my father’s Saturday morning vacuuming ritual, our lives maintained a familiar consistency that was comforting as a child. There was plenty of space for spontaneity, but as a lover of routine, I’ve grown to respect the level of security that came from a stable, steady schedule.
4. Don’t overschedule.
At the same time, my parents were experts at carving out free time for us. Holidays were low-key, weekday evenings were slow and void of stress. Extracurricular activities were encouraged, not demanded. I feel so grateful for a childhood that felt carefree and simple and can only hope to infuse Bee’s with the same.
5. Teach follow through.
As children with fickle interests, we certainly dabbled into a slew of different activities, sports and recreations. And yet, the #1 rule instilled in us was to always finish what we started. If we didn’t love the flute after we gave it a shot, no problem! But we need to finish the semester, season or schedule. Our team was relying on us, and the responsible course of action is to commit to finishing strong for the collective good, even if it’s not something we were overtly excited about.
6. Encourage creativity.
Books were always readily available for us as children, and I distinctly remember long, leisurely trips to the library with my mother. TV was limited, but reading was encouraged often, honing our imagination and comprehension beyond the walls of our own school. In fact, I 100% attribute my love for writing/reading to the literary encouragement of my parents.
7. Have faith in your child.
Whether it was dish duty or dusting, my parents assigned chores that weren’t completed to perfection, but were appreciated nonetheless. My parents would have folded the laundry much neater and tidier than her boisterous daughters, but they often set aside their own expectations to foster independence and responsibility in us. What a gift!
8. Get involved.
My parents were incredibly involved in our childhood. They knew the names of our teachers, our friends, our friends’ parents. As a result, the lines of communication were open and free-flowing. I rarely felt as if they didn’t understand my circumstances or – perhaps worse – that they didn’t care.
9. Emphasize education.
As the daughter of two teachers, education was a high priority in our lives. Yet learning often spilled far beyond the school year and my parents never missed an opportunity to teach us something new, from historical monument visits to social etiquette in a restaurant. Not every lesson is taught at a desk, and not every level of comprehension can be measured with a letter grade.
10. Lead by example.
Perhaps most importantly, my parents led us. We learned what our parents valued, treasured and appreciated by watching them live their lives. They weren’t perfect (no one is), but their love for others never failed to shine through any mishaps along the way. I can only hope to be a fraction of the example for my own daughter!
Tell me, what are some parenting insights you learned from your own family? I’d love to hear!
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