Three Things My Parents Got Right

Jennifer F. at Et Tu? is hosting a group writing project: What are three things your parents did right? These are my picks.

1. They were (still are) married. Their commitment to each other, for better or for worse, translated to a belief in their commitment to me, their imperfect child, for better or for worse. Their example of marriage indoctrinated me to the concept that marriage was permanent. No matter how difficult times might be with my own husband, walking away is not an option.

2. They love each other more than they love us kids. I still feel like the apple of my father’s eye; he dotes on all of his daughters. Both of my parents showered us with hugs and kisses as we grew up. They definitely love us. But they love each other more. When my dad comes home from an errand or work, he still seeks out my mother right away to tell her he is home and to claim a welcoming kiss. Growing up, he would not tolerate us mistreating or backtalking her. He might clown around with us and act like a kid at times, but we knew, deep down, that his loyalties were with mom. She was (is) the love of his life.

As a mother and as a wife, I too love my children. But I love their dad more. He’s the guy I’ll have to live with when they’re all grown up after all. Spending time with him, even if it is only a late night conversation after the children are asleep, is very important. Our young children are learning through observing us what kind of a person they want to marry. Our children are learning how to work through disagreements. Our children are learning that being angry with someone doesn’t mean you can’t love them and certainly doesn’t mean that you head to the lawyer for a divorce. Our children are learning that a man treats a woman, especially his wife, with dignity and respect, and that a woman treats a man, especially her husband, with dignity and respect.

They are learning this the same way I did: by how my own parents love each other.

3. They taught me responsibility and independence from an early age. This is something that tends to come naturally in households with more than two or three children, I think. I am the middle of five kids. One older brother has Down’s Syndrome. There are only 8 years between the oldest and the youngest. My mom had her hands full, and I’m sure she had that pointed out to her many times, much to her annoyance, and much as I do. We had chores. We had to look out for each other. We didn’t have things handed to us. We didn’t get an allowance. Once I started earning regular money, the lunch money supply dried up, I started buying my own clothes, and I saved up to buy contact lenses. Perhaps, especially when I was younger, I had too much responsibility. But by the time I was 18, I could cook, I could clean, I could make adult decisions and take responsibility for them, I was aware of other people and how my actions affected them, I knew how to budget my time between (school) work and play and how to budget my money between essentials like food and non-essentials like going to the movies. I may have still been immature through lack of experience, but I was somewhat capable of going off to college and functioning as an adult without relying on my parents to do everything for me.

As a mother, I hope to accomplish the same thing in my own children. I don’t expect that they will always make wise choices. I don’t expect that they will leave home at 18, never to ask for advice or money or assistance. And I certainly don’t expect them to do any of this without having had a few years of practice before leaving home. And so they have chores now. And they have to look out for each other now. And they don’t get everything handed to them now.

My parents weren’t perfect parents. But they did some things right. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

7 thoughts on “Three Things My Parents Got Right

  1. What a nice testament to your upbringing. I’m glad you are handing down these good examples to your little ones. Bless your efforts!!-S in MD

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your parents. Very moving.

  3. What a wonderful post. Thank you. (And I agree that #2 is so important).

  4. That is a beautiful tribute to your family! You are very blessed to pass those things down to your children.

  5. #2 inspires me. It’s easy to let the “parent” role supercede the “spouse” one. (Especially for me, since I married the most easy-going and loving man I could find.)I think I’m going to go wake him up from his pre-bedtime nap and welcome him home (again)! Thanks… Heidi

  6. An inspiring piece. Thank you!(Your comments are always so illuminating on E Tu Jen, I’m happy to finally find your blog at last!)

  7. I think we may have had the same parents. Can I just cut and paste your post onto my blog? 😉 Seriously though, you’ve written a really nice tribute to your folks.

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