Gratitude for the Parents that Prepare their Kids for Life

I am so grateful to have been raised in the home I grew up in. Our parents, our early home lives, shape us more than anything else. They are the single most significant factor in who we become, and the lives we live – whether we like it or not.

I’m not saying we’re all just the result of our childhood environment. There are just about no aspects of psychology or sociology that don’t boil down to a combination of nature and nurture. It’s rarely the dichotomy people make it out to be, and two people with the exact same upbringing may end up leading vastly different lives. Even completely opposite lives. But they are both still, in many ways, the product of that upbringing.

I didn’t turn out exactly how my parents intended. Not that they had extremely strict plans for who their children would be – above all, they just wanted us to be happy, healthy, and safe. But they also have their own ideas about what that means, as all parents – and people – do. I don’t share many of their values anymore. In my adulthood, I’ve departed drastically from the lifestyle they believe is best, and I know in their ideal world, I would do things a little differently. Go to church. Wait til marriage. Have some kind of plan for my future by now. But they always valued independence in their children, and taught us to think for ourselves and forge our own paths. That’s an amazing thing.

So here’s a shoutout to all the parents who give their kids structure and guidance, but let them become themselves. It’s a difficult thing. While I never had a true teenage rebellion – in the sense that I hid any deviance from them very well, and maintained a pretty healthy relationship – I do regret the time I spent resenting our differences. Resenting the things I didn’t agree with or understand about them. As similar as you may be to your family, there will always be extreme differences to navigate, and my parents did a great job. Better than I could do, for sure.

My sisters and I had rules. Lots of them. More than any of my friends, in fact, which I certainly resented. I was the last to be allowed to watch PG-13 or R rated movies, I was the last to get a cell phone, I had the earliest curfew…but they also had reasons for those rules. While I didn’t and don’t agree with all of them, being able to understand why a rule was in place made me a lot more inclined to follow it. And a lot less inclined to feel guilty when I chose not to (sorry Mom).

But my greatest gratitude is for the rules and structures they put in place that prepared me for adulthood. Some are simple and seemingly obvious, like doing laundry. My mom didn’t make us to our own laundry as kids (although I would understand if she had), but she did make sure I knew how to use a washing machine, and what colors not to mix, and when to use cold or hot water or fast or slow cycles. I remember my first semester in college, actually having to teach other 18-year-olds how to even operate the machines.

The other incredibly important thing that my mom taught me was budgeting. She didn’t just sit me down and explain not to blow all your money – we get enough “frivolity is a vice” lessons through school and media. Instead, she gave me a system to exercise my freedom and practice handling my money in the day-to-day: a set allowance. Now, most kids have an allowance. Many of them, like me, were given that allowance on a weekly or monthly basis, and would be refused if we went asking for more. That’s all well and good, but all it really teaches is that you can only buy so many super-cute shirts with $30.

What my parents did instead was give me, from the age of 13 or so, total buying power for myself. My allowance was adjusted up accordingly, but I was in charge of buying all of my necessities (excepting food and board, of course). I chose and bought my shampoo and conditioner, my lotions and moisturizers and beauty products, my underwear and my vitamins. It gave me the freedom to buy a nicer, more expensive face wash if I wanted – and to have less money as a result for clothes, or for going to the movies with my friends. I learned how to manage money on a small, safe scale – no fear of starving or getting evicted – and was thus much more prepared in early adulthood to manage my money.

At the end of the day, most parents want to help their kids grow up happily, securely, and into capable, well-adjusted adults. But I am incredibly grateful to my own parents for encouraging and helping me above all to be independent, to be prepared for the real world.

Love you, mom and dad.

Review: Pikolinos and Investing in my Adulthood

As a quickly growing child – in both size and personality – my mother instilled in me a habit of purchasing “temporary” clothing. It made sense: whatever I bought, I would surely outgrow within a year or two, and my sense of style was changing even faster. So I frequented Goodwill and other thrift or consignment stores, and developed a nearly pathological fear of spending more than $10 on any one item. The only new clothes I bought generally came from cheaper, youth-oriented stores such as Forever21 or H&M.

And that’s perfect for a teenager.

But as I entered adulthood (kicking and screaming, but I have no choice), I’ve begun to realize the importance of investing more money for more use.

I started realizing a couple of things recently: first, my clothes fall apart far too quickly. I was constantly shopping, constantly dropping $5-10 on a new basic grey t-shirt or pair of shorts. Second, I was buying things I never wear – of course, that’s going to happen occasionally, we’ve all fallen victim to the power of the fitting room mirror, believing we’ll rock some exciting piece and then finding that we would much rather wear something we’re comfortable in. That’s fine by me, as much as I try to avoid it. But when I was buying $5 shirts I would never wear, and then buying a new shirt because, well, I never wear the ones I had…that was a problem.

So as I’ve settled in to a standard fashion that I love – and that I’m comfortable in – I’ve realized that it’s time to start investing in my wardrobe. When I spend time to find exactly the right piece to fill a role in my wardrobe, and am willing to spend a little more (don’t get me wrong, I’m still cheap), I buy items – and only those items – that I actually wear a lot. And they last.

My most recent obsession are my new Pikolinos:

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They’re damn cute, they don’t hurt my feet (even after hours of walking!), and I wear them almost every day. I can wear them to class, to dinner, even hiking. They’re sturdy, well-made, and fit me perfectly.

I’m still in the process of converting me wardrobe from a mess of things I may or may not wear, that may or may not have holes, into a small collection of staple pieces that I wear regularly. But I can’t stress enough how worth it the process is – I worry less about what I’ll wear, I’m more comfortable in all my clothes, and I already need to replace things much less often.