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When I was about six years old I was putting sugar in my tea. I loaded it up, stirred it and had a nice bit of sugar settled at the bottom of my glass. When my Dad saw my glass he started explaining the laws of physics in regards as to how much weight liquid would hold. I didn’t quite get the physics lesson but at any rate the bigger lesson was not to be wasteful. I am sure all of us who had parents who lived through “The Depression” were given lessons in frugality in one way or another. All my life I have always been conscious of never putting more on my plate than I could eat: this carried over into just about anything I used. I did not carry it into a miserly way of life, (I didn’t limit showers to just on Saturday). I have lived with a healthy respect for the things that I receive, as well as the earth’s resources. I am grateful for this lesson and have done my best to pass it on.
One Christmas most of my friends got “Mattle Fanner Fifties” along with cowboy hats and other western paraphernalia. We would get together and play “Cowboys and Indians”. One of our friends, Roy, always showed up in the football uniform he got for Christmas. I was very annoyed with his doing this. It happened three days in a row! On the fourth day I was headed to the phone talking out loud and said, “I ‘m going to call Roy and tell him not to wear that stupid football uniform anymore!” My Dad overheard me and asked why I was going to do that. My Dad told me that was just as proud of his football uniform as I was of my cowboy stuff and I should respect that. He also explained how I might hurt his feelings. I took it all in and learned a great lesson about respecting the differences in people. I don’t know if I am more grateful for what he told me or for the fact that he trusted me to learn the lesson at the age of eight.
Unfortunately not all lessons we learn from our parents come from direct counseling or a sincere desire to teach; rather they come from behaviors that we observe and live with. As a teenager one of my friends had parents who drank every day and got into huge arguments almost regularly. She never wanted any one to go to her house and suffered a lot of other adverse consequences. Eventually they mercifully got a divorce. After the divorce her Mother continued to drink excessively every day. As an adult she was totally the opposite of her parents. She doesn’t drink to excess, she devoted herself to giving her children the life she never had and has a strong marriage. For her it was a lesson lived.
What are some of the important lessons you learned from your parents? How did you incorporate it into your life? Was it something you passed on to your own children? Was it something you were taught or was it something you observed? We are a diverse group and I am sure there are many different things to be shared. I thought of a lot of things I had not thought of for a long time, as well as realized some things I had learned unconsciously. Give it some thought, write it down, and let us know what your parents imparted on you.