Being a parent is not simple, that’s maybe why I’m not one yet. But this post is not about me teaching anyone to be something I’m not, but instead talk about remarkable things that I have observed in parents – Both, my own and other’s parents.
In life, a good parent will teach their children, amongst many other things:
- They’re their own person.
- Nothing is impossible, unattainable, or unachievable.
- No one will save them when they fall.
- All humans are born equal.
- Life is not fair.
- Deliver on your promises and execute your punishments.
- You reap what you sow.
So let me elaborate on these essentials. If I sin of being too brief and oversimplifying, it’s that I’m trying to keep each topic to one paragraph.
Everybody is their own person, this is something I learned in my twenties, very late, obviously not from my parents. Why do we go to school? Why do we practice religion? Why do we behave correctly and in a socially acceptable way? Why we respect the laws and rules? Why we have to treat our bodies like a temple? Many believe it’s because their parents are going to get upset if they don’t do it. So they take pleasure in skipping school secretly, stealing things from stores, consuming booze, and doing drugs, to punishing their parents! Some piece of news: You do all that so later on, you can sustain life on your own. Sure, you should have an option to all of that, but your parents made that choice for you because it’s the obvious choice, at least to them. They just told you they will get upset if you don’t do it, instead of potentially impoverished, imprisoned, unhealthy, socially rejected. Maybe because they learned it that way, perhaps because they don’t dare to talk about the ugly life that comes from exercising free will in the wrong way. Maybe because they’re afraid of you making choices they didn’t dare to make.
Nothing is impossible, but you very likely was not born with the ability to execute on it. Some kids are taught they’re not good enough to get what they want; others are given without being taught anything about execution; others that they don’t deserve what they want. But the truth is, you can dream, however big you want, as long as you have a feasible plan to make it come true. I could not count the number of times I got disappointed with life after achieving what I thought was an impossible dream. That is what freedom and free will are about, you set yourself a goal and a plan, establish dependencies, intermediate milestones, reality checks, and course corrections. It takes a lot of hard work! Many people I’ve known in their lives were given great treasures and big dreams, but no one taught them how to execute. In life, you can’t just sit and pray for things to happen, you need to go and get it.
No one will save you! Not long ago I saw a cute video of a girl learning how to ride a bike and the father rescuing her every time she was about to fall. If I were that girl, I’d ask my father: Who will save you if you miss your mortgage payments? Where will the money come if you lose your job? Who is going to save you if you cause a major accident? The same day I did see a contrasting video: A little girl trying to jump on top of a box, the girl would jump and fall, several times; until the father came and helped with her technique. Right after, she got it right. Both celebrated the achievement. What a difference! Part of being your own person is learning how to manage your own money, your own possibilities, your own learnings. Having a plan B, and a plan C. We learn more from failure than what we learn from success. While discussing this with my own father, he admitted: “It’s painful to see them fail, but if you don’t let them, they’ll never grow.” When you’re an adult, ultimately no one, NO ONE, but yourself will save you. Someone very dear to me told me: I used to be very insecure and trying to control everything, now I just surf through it in the best possible way.
We’re all born equal. One time I went on a date with a girl that taught me something interesting. She told me, as citizens of former colonies, we tend to look up to the colonizers. She was referring to how people in Korea tend to look up to the Japanese and other ‘first world countries.’ As an Argentinian, I was taught that everything European or American was the best of the best. They’re better people, more refined and educated. What a lie! The world is a very diverse place, and you should never feel disrespected or disrespect anyone. Whether they think differently, they look different, they speak differently, or they have different habits. Such a concept is crucial: NO ONE is better or worse than you.
Life is not fair. People from different ideologies will disagree on this topic. But from my perspective, life is simply not fair, not because it is not at a global level, but what you perceive as unfair might be fair to others. Some are born with a lot of money, with social status, surrounded by love, beautiful, intelligent. Everyone is different. Many people feel discouraged and even crippled by their disadvantages when, in reality, they just need to have a plan on how to overcome them and execute on it! When there is will, there is a way.
Nowadays, I still struggle with this, not entirely being able to deliver my promises and execute my punishments. As a parent or a human being, you earn the respect of your peers by being firm and consequent. You state the rules of your game, and you live by them. Otherwise, your kid will be missing out on a valuable lesson: How to make others respect them and how to respect others. It’s simple: if you tell a kid “you’ll not have more juice if you drop it” and he drops it; Then two things may happen, if it was intentional and they get more juice, they will lose respect for you. If it was unintentional and they get more juice, it will be the case of the bicycle: they will not learn to save themselves. This topic can be extended for paragraphs and paragraphs. But I will just summarize that all sorts of things are being taught when we’re inconsequent: from insecurity to arrogance, from self-deprecation to loss of respect for others and entitlement; and affect every aspect of the person’s life, from work to romantic. If you want to debate the topic, I’m happy to meet up for coffee! I know at least one person that disagrees with me completely.
I intentionally left cause/consequence till the end. This topic is so ample it would take an entire blog post. Many religions have the concept of whatever you give, you will receive in orders of magnitude. “You reap what you sow.” I’m not part of any known religion, however, by chance, I heard this Christian pastor talking about how one seed of tomato will produce a tomato plant, with multiple tomatoes and seeds. Whatever you do, you will receive in thousands, so you better do good. Giving and receiving is a powerful social tool, too, your primary source of self-worth and appreciation. As a kid, we must learn that taking from our parents is a form of gratitude. But wasting, disposing or misusing what we took from them must be considered as a significant offense.
With this, I finish my post. If you ask me why I wrote this, and why now? I’d say: life has put in front of me enough material and time in my hands to think about it. Hope it’s useful! I would love to debate any of this if you have thoughts and you know where to find me!