My parents are baby boomers. Everyone likes to talk down on the boomers because so much has changed to the point that what they preach is often not helpful anymore. But some of it is. I’m going to share with you some lessons my mom and dad taught me.
Do not interrupt
As children, my sisters and I were quoted this rule. If we wanted to ask if our friends could spend the night and our parents were talking to theirs and we cut in to ask our super important question, the answer would always be no on principle. We learned fast. Mom got to where she could hold up her hand while in conversation with anyone, child or adult, and we would immediately fall silent. It wasn’t meant to teach us not to talk, but to teach us respect. More folks need this today.
Try everything offered
Mom always made it a point to cook dinner for the family when we were growing up. Most of the time we liked what she made, and sometimes we didn’t. The rule at our house was never that we had to clean our plates. My parents knew even then how conscious we were as girls in society today about our weight. But we did have to try everything. Every Thanksgiving I remember being eager for all the good food and knowing that Mom was going to put one spoonful of turnip greens on my plate and I would have to eat it. This still happens today at Thanksgiving, when I am 27. But it taught me that I could be polite, that I needed to appreciate the work that went into a meal, and that a dislike of something wouldn’t kill me.
High standards with no special treatment
As kids, my sisters and I were held to standards, that looking back, I’m not sure how we met. We all had at least 2 extracurricular activities outside of school. We were expected to maintain A-B averages. We attended church as a family 3 times a week from elementary school through high school. If we had lots of homework, we were expected to get it done. My folks wouldn’t be calling the school to explain that we had played in a volleyball game a state over and hadn’t had time to write that report. We had better write it in the car on the way home. We didn’t skip church to study for tests; we should have started studying earlier. If we failed something then we got a talking to and if our grades dropped, Mom was going to send our little butt to tutoring until we got it pulled back up. There was no question about what was expected of us, we knew. We never thought our parents would try and get us more time or make things easier for us because we didn’t know they were hard; our folks acted like it was what everyone did and there wasn’t anything hard or odd about it.
Once we picked an after-school activity like dance or volleyball, we were all in. Mom always said from the get-go that there would be no quitting. This did several things. It forced us to stop and think about our choices before we made them. We wouldn’t jump into something because our friends were doing it or because the uniforms were cool. We knew that once we committed we were in it for the long haul, a whole summer or an entire season. For kids going to practice every day for three months was the equal of six years. We felt like we were signed up forever. So we thought long and hard before saying yes to something. This rule also limited us. We were not allowed to play more than one thing at a time. We were trained to focus on one thing at a time and give it our entire focus. No quitting. No changing. No giving up. kids and adults could use some more of that grit.
Boomers get a lot of things wrong. You can’t get a job by pounding the pavement these days and you generally aren’t a released felony if you have a tattoo that people can see even when you aren’t in a bathing suit. But some of the lessons they share are valuable and will always be applicable.