Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 most important things my parents taught me

Another list as inspired by Kate Takes 5's weekly listography.  As you will know, my family is very important to me and of course at the centre are my parents.  It has been extremely hard narrowing down the multitude of things they have taught me to just 5, but I think these are pretty key.

(Mum I have to say, I really considered putting here teaching me to ride a bike because I think you deserve some serious kudos for running up and down the street holding me upright for so long, but I thought these were more significant).

How to cook
Food is big in our family.  We love experimenting, eating, talking about it.  In fact my father coined the now famous family phrase "if there isn't someone talking about, preparing or eating food in the room you know you are alone".  Our gatherings center on food and I have so many special memories that relate to it.

Mum primarily taught me to cook, although Dad has been instrumental along the way, just read about him teaching me to cook apple turnovers to understand.  I spent countless happy hours sitting at the kitchen bench helping, or chatting or watching.  As a result I'm fully equipped to keep myself nourished but more importantly I can feed others and I love the joy it brings when I produce something yummy.

I don't think I even noticed being taught manners, it was just a part of life, but as I've grown older, boy have I noticed how many people don't know the common courtesies or how to behave in a particular situation and even more I've noticed how uncomfortable it makes people.  Over the years I've had various friends quietly quiz me about how to deal with the array of cutlery, or how they should respond to a social situation.  They have always been extremely embarrassed to be asking, but if no one has taught you, how are you supposed to know what to do?

As well as all the usual table manners, saying please and thankyou as a matter of course and the like, Mum also taught us to be thank you note writers.  The thank you note seems to be a dying art, but I love it and after all, it is another excuse to buy nice stationery!

Money is to be enjoyed not hoarded
We were never a rich family.  We were definitely comfortable, with a lovely home, private school education and plenty of treats, but compared to a lot of the girls at my school, Mum and Dad didn't have the same kind of disposable income.

But what they did have they spent well and they taught me that living a comfortable, enjoyable life is much better than dying with a large bank account.  I've learnt how to budget, but also how to spend.  How to make priorities and that a life full of experience is better than a bank account full of money.  Looking at that gorgeous painting on the wall certainly gives me a lot more joy than looking at a balance on a screen and living in Canberra, having a well heated home is much better than shivering all the way to the bank.

I won't be leaving a fortune behind when I go, but I will have lived a life where I enjoyed what I earned!

Don't have an entire meal of champagne and fairy bread
This was just one of many truisims my parents taught me particularly during my teenage years.  Most of these lessons follow the same pattern, a story along the lines of - don't do X, because when I did it such and such happened.

Some of them are brilliantly funny stories but I think the thing that made these lessons so powerful was that they were real.  It wasn't my parents trying to stop me having fun, they were letting me know real consequences.  My parents have never pretended to be saints with no lives, rather they have let us into the complexity of their experiences so that we could learn from them and in doing so, they helped us make our own decisions with a real understanding of the consequences. 

Oh and yes Mum really did wipe herself out on champagne and fairy bread at my Aunt's birthday party and her description of multicoloured vomit is both disgusting and memorable. 

That they will love me no matter what
Growing up surrounded by truly unconditional love is an amazing thing.  The confidence and security it gives you I think is pretty much unparallelled.  There was never a question about how much my sister and I were loved and even more than that, I always knew there was nothing so bad that I couldn't tell my parents and that they wouldn't still love me.

So thanks Mum and Dad, you have given me the strength and skills to cope with whatever life throws at me and more importantly thanks for always being there when life is doing its best to test that!


  1. How to cook is quite a theme in the lists this week. My experience was the opposite - my mother was a hopeless cook, so I had to go out and learn how to do it properly :) she was good at lots of other things though. Great list. Really enjoyed it.

  2. lovely post, some of your lessons are similar to mine, looks like we have awesome parents (who also produced awesome offspring)!

  3. Just fantastic advice. I'll be using some of them on my family!

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  4. Really true list, I agree manners were always there so never really taught to us, and I also have the unconditional love of your family on my list, its so true. great list

  5. Lovely list - and thanks to mid30slife I even know what fairy bread is!

  6. Reluctant Housedad - my Grandmother couldn't cook, so Mum taught herself which I think it why she thought it was so important.

    Zoe Paige - thanks! We did end up with similar lists didn't we?

    Anne - I hope it helps, it certainly helped me.

    The Rambling Pages - you just can't beat growing up surrounded by love. That is an experience money can't buy.

    Kate - I was amazed last year to find out that fairy bread is such an Aussie / NZ thing. My English friend who I introduced it to was very skeptical about how fab it is until she tried it.