This week is father’s day, as you probably know, and it also marks my mom’s birthday. So I thought I’d share a few things that I learned from my parents above and beyond the time, money, and sweat they put into raising me and my siblings. There are many, but here are three that spring to mind:
1. Explore your own backyard.
Growing up, we would go for a week-or-more-long vacation every summer. Not overseas, mind you, but within driving distance for the most part. We would take a trailer and go camping in various locations around the province– seeing mountains and lakes and rivers that many people who live nearby don’t even know about. I learned that you don’t have to go to big cities or exotic locales to discover amazing places, people and stories– and it’s served me well in my personal life and in my professional one.
2. Master new things.
A lot of people will quit learning new skills at a certain point in life. Not my parents. My dad grew up playing hockey, but when his kids showed interest in soccer, he learned about that and became a coach. He continues to play in a league (unlike me). He also started learning karate while I was in high school and now has a black belt and co-manages a dojo. My mom is constantly at classes for some new thing or another, and started in a singing group while I was in school, that she now helps run. It taught me that there’s no point where I can’t decide to take up a new hobby– and get good at it.
3. Be self-reliant.
They weren’t (and aren’t) frugal, but my parents taught me the value of money– and mostly, not spending what you don’t have. As kids, we would want this or that thing and they would explain why we wouldn’t get it. We didn’t do without– we got a Nintendo, sports lessons, etc. But we didn’t spend money just because we could. A lot of friends would go on regular overseas trips, whereas we went on two my whole time growing up. Most of my life, we didn’t have cable, which was pretty much unheard of among my friends. They knew how not to spend money they didn’t have. As small as that seems, I see more and more just how important a lesson that is to learn. All the time I see people complaining about not having money for this or that thing and going into debt, and yet they still have the most expensive data plans for their phones, premium cable packages, and regular trips overseas.
Further into this, we didn’t eat out or get takeout as often as a lot of other families did, because we would cook at home. House repairs were done in-house, where possible. And so on. By no means did I do without growing up– we were comfortably middle class– and I don’t do without now– but I know how to prioritize finances because I saw my parents do it all the time.
As I said, there’s many more things, but those are three that come to mind this morning. They’re lessons I’m glad I learned.
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