Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things My Parents Never Taught Me That Everyone Should Learn Young

  1. How to floss regularly
  2. How not to lie in the sun for long periods of time without sunblock.
  3. How to resolve conflict without either person losing his or her dignity.
  4. How to compartmentalize.
  5. How to forgive.   
  6. How to be assertive, not aggressive.
7.   How to be confident without relying on others’ approval.
8.   How to believe in oneself not based only upon achievements.
9.   How to keep perspective in good and bad times.
10. How to get out of myself.
11. How to think of others first.
12. How to choose wisely who to trust.
13. How to cook, garden, sew and knit.
14. How to sacrifice.
15. How to tell and show people how to treat you.
16. How to deal with anger and resentment.
17. How to relax.
18. How to make my own decisions.
19. How not to personalize and internalize when people say unkind things.
20. How to bake pies.

What My Parents Taught Me That Has Been Most Valuable 

  1. How to take risks.
  2. How to value education and continued learning.
  3. How to treat everyone no matter what social, economic or educational level, the same.
  4. How to be friendly and kind to everyone.
  5. How to have good manners.
  6. How to be polite and gracious.
  7. How to set goals, prioritize and go for the moon.
  8. How to discipline myself in any endeavor.
  9. How to be productive and not waste time.
  10. How to value family and friends.
  11. How to enjoy the benefits of traveling and meeting people of all kinds.
  12. How to be compassionate.
  13. How to save money.
  14. How to decorate a house.
  15. How to have fun.
  16. How not to limit myself—to strive for anything I want.
  17. How to enjoy and play music.
  18. How to value laughter and silly.
(How not to get upset when the formatting changes:)
  1. How to work harder than anyone else to get what you want.
  2. How to include others in conversation and not leave anyone out.
  3. How to listen attentively and actively.
  4. How to stand up in front of a group and perform.
  5. How to keep a house.
  6. How to juggle funds so I can always have what I want.
  7. How to use my creative mind to my advantage.
  8. How not to ever brag or flaunt.
  9. How not to judge people based on their race or religion.
  10. How to enjoy a beautiful car.
  11. How to always have something to look forward to.
  12. How to pray.
  13. How to respect my elders and learn from them.
  14. How to take care of and enjoy a pet.
  15. How to be super organized and super neat.
  16. How to pay back debt.
  17. How to let our conscience be our guide.
  18. How to be resourceful in any situation.

My parents both worked full time, and we had a live-in nanny. We weren’t rich, but some of what my parents didn’t teach was taught by a woman of a certain age. Many of my most important life skills, I learned on my own because I had to. That’s probably a better way to learn, but perhaps more painful. 

These lists are far from complete, but they give pause when asking ourselves what we are giving our children (or have given them). It is hard to give our kids something we never had ourselves, but it is easy to give them what we’ve learned by not having certain things or skills that we needed and want them to have.

Kids don’t come with manuals. The manuals have been written after people have screwed up. The manuals change with each generation. No one spanks kids anymore, but kneeling down to their level and explaining things doesn’t always work either. How do we know how much to give and how much to make them work for? What works with one may backfire with another. Parenting is a grueling, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating job. It is hard work—I don’t care what anyone says. My children are grown, and I realize there are things I didn’t teach them, and it may be too late. I am grown, and I have long ago forgiven what my parents forgot or didn’t know how to teach me.

So what’s the point? Do our best. No one can fault us for that. I believe parenting is a full-time job, but I also believe that each couple needs time for themselves together and alone, and if kids aren’t in our sight every minute, that’s healthy. Go out to a movie. Have a romantic week-end away occasionally. It’s energizing and fulfilling. Especially in this cultural climate, it is absolutely necessary.