This week’s topic for Listography from Kate Takes 5 is a very timely one for me. It is “Lessons we have learned from our parents” – not the “how to tie your shoe lace kind” but ideally something a bit more profound than that. It is timely because in about 3 hours my parents will roll into town to meet their new grand daughter. I say roll but my mum would kill me for implying they might be even vaguely of a shape that could roll anywhere. (lesson implied, be diplomatic!). My parents have shaped my life and who I am but here’s what first comes to mind when I think about this topic.
1) Happy marriages are not just the stuff of fairytales
In this day and age of divorce and cohabiting and cynicism about love, my parents have proved that love can last and that it does last if you put the right amount of effort, laughter, respect, honesty and romance into it. I remember starting university and discovering I was about the only person out of my friends whose parents were still together. They met at university themselves and have now been married over 40 years. I am sure there are things I may not know about their dynamic but what I do know is that they love each other very much and are each other’s number 1 fan. I want to have the same with my husband and I intend to employ all I have seen from their marriage to ensure we are as lucky.
2) Never fight in front of your children
Now, this is not to make my parents sound like saints because they definitely aren’t but I never once saw them fight in front of me as a kid. I am sure they had some belters of rows but if they did, it was behind a closed door. You might argue that this can give an unrealistically rosy view of parents/couples but for me, it was only a positive thing. It meant that my parents were united and that they were solid. It meant I could feel secure. That is a good thing in my mind and it is something I want to try and employ as much as possible in front of my own children.
You can get ahead without being a b*tch or a b*stard in life. My parents have proven that to me. They are highly respected individuals and one of the reasons that this is true is because they don’t stab people in the back, they haven’t climbed great heights by treading on other people. They are unfailingly honest (sometimes a little too much!!) but I respect that and I try my hardest to play fair with people in my career and in life in general.
4) Let your children make their own mistakes
They certainly did their best to try and protect me as a child, as a teenager and even as an adult but they also let me try things, go places, make mistakes and never said “I told you so”. When I announced I was going to study Italian at university (having never been to Italy or having spoken one word of it previously) they were all for it. When I said I was moving in with my italian boyfriend a month after meeting him, they had massive doubts but never mentioned it to me apart from to ask me if I was sure! When that ended and I quit my life there to move to London and live in a flat share with 3 boys, they never said a word. When my father came to visit me there and we went to drop something off at the house and opened the front door and a billowing cloud of weed smoke came out, he never said a word (note…no one in the house smoked, it was massively unfortunate timing that someone had a mate over that day). There are countless examples of how my parents allowed me to be independent and make my own choices. I LOVE this fact about them and again this is the kind of parent I want to be.
5) Be a nice person
I’m not so good at this one, I’ll admit. Both my parents are much nicer people than I am. They have more patience, they are kind to strangers, they would spend their last penny to help someone out. They are generous to default. It is amazing and one I am working on!
I feel very fortunate to have such great parents and such great examples to be able to follow.
Thanks Kate, for another great, thought provoking post.