The Big 150: 13, Relationships: Describe something you’re grateful you learned from your parents.
Ok, something I’m grateful for that I learned from my parents. In truth, there are many things I learned from my parents for which I am incredibly grateful. It’s hard to pick just one thing because there are so many things they intentionally taught me or that I observed that have informed who I am as a person. There are even things they taught me that I don’t agree with that I’m still grateful for because of the perspective it gave me. So instead of just picking one thing since there are numerous from which I can choose, I’ll give you a brief highlight reel.
My parents helped me learn how to regulate my emotions. I learned that it’s okay to have a variety of feelings about things but that I am also in control of my reactions to any given situation, so I can respond in a way that’s acceptable or stay flexible enough that I can delay my response if needed. In my humble opinion, there are very few daily circumstances that require flying off the handle or having a meltdown. To be fair, though, some feedback I’ve gotten in various stages of life is that I can be very diplomatic in my responses, especially when it comes to answering questions I don’t want to answer or to how I handle situations of conflict. In my opinion, diplomacy is a skill that can be developed and can help anyone handle otherwise stressful situations; my closest friends will tell you, however, that if I’m being diplomatic, it’s probably because I’m handling my ‘THE AUDACITY’ feelings in a healthy, constructive way. There are plenty of people out there ready to throw a tantrum; I’m just not one of them.
My parents also taught me to listen twice as much as I talk. To quote my Dad - “That’s why God gave you two ears and only one mouth.” That saying, although annoying when you’ve heard it enough, is some good, practical advice. I don’t think people actively listen to each other enough. My parents taught me how to listen and respond to someone else in a conversation instead of just waiting for my turn to talk. Luckily, when I look at my closest circle of friends, this is a recurring theme. My friends are good, supportive listeners. Most of the time, at least from what I’ve noticed, my friends don’t actually want advice as much as they just want someone to actively listen to what they’re saying. People like to be heard and feel seen. That’s pretty much it at the end of the day. And I think, in its simplest terms, that’s what Love is, too – seeing and hearing the people in your life for who they are and not who you want them to be, and letting them know that they are more than enough by just being themselves. (Shoutout to my friends. I love you, goobers, in all your glory.)
My parents taught me that it’s okay to disagree and that disagreement is healthy. I think there’s an issue today where people are so quick to automatically dislike someone with whom they disagree. And listen, I’m not on some high horse here, it’s okay to not like people. There are people who exist who I don’t like (there aren’t many of them, but I can think of two almost immediately), but not liking someone doesn’t give anyone justification to totally rip them apart. What a waste of energy to spend your precious time tearing others down. We’re all guilty of it from time to time, but isn’t it easier to just be kind or to focus on yourself? I have friends with differing political views, friends who practice different religions, friends who think differently from me in a number of ways, friends from different races, from varying sexual identities, and from different classes. At the end of the day, they’re all people who remind me of the wise words of Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock. Why, you may ask? Because they all experience joy and pain like sunshine and rain.
Ok, and I admit that I am not a hippy patchouli girl who wants to sing kum-buy-yah with everyone in a field of poppies. Remember, I am a human being, and there are at least two people I strongly dislike that I’m okay never seeing again, so I admit that I don’t always want to indulge in difficult conversations where there is, realistically, no solution. But my parents taught me that sometimes the only solution is disagreement, and that’s okay. Things don’t always have to work out, and that’s life, and it sucks but it’s also great because it takes some of the pressure off.
This feels like a good place to stop. There are, admittedly, at least a hundred more things I am grateful I learned from my parents that I’d love to share, but time is valuable and I want to honor yours. Is there a lesson here? Emotional regulation, actively listening, and being ok with disagreement are all great things that have served me well in life and adulthood. They are great, positive things to have learned from my parents, but there are also things I learned that no longer serve me in life. If there’s a lesson at all, it’s that I’m grateful for the things I have unlearned, too. It has provided me the opportunity to give myself, and others, grace (and a little humor) when dealing with moments where I (and others) have fallen short or stumbled along the way. If anything, that’s probably the best thing my parents taught me – forgiveness and grace with a little humility mixed in.
To being grateful for parents who teach us and help us to strive, to succeeding and failing and (in Neil Patrick Harris voice) being alive,
P.S. - I forgot a big one, and it's one for which I am probably the most grateful of all (or at least tied for first). My parents taught me that, no matter what, I could pick up the phone and call them any time. If I need help with something, if I just want to talk, or if I want to pretend I'm Archy talking to them, they want to hear from me and know how I am and what's going on in my life. Although it may not seem like the biggest deal in the world, just knowing they want to answer on the other end is a luxury not everyone has, so I'm very grateful for that. Thanks, Mom & Dad.
ICYMI: The Big 150