The other day Brandon and I were talking to a single-dad.  He was telling us some of his philosophies of raising his kids.  Actually, mostly he shared how much he disagrees with how other people raise their kids.  It was about a 15 minute conversation but I kept thinking about it days later.

I do not have kids yet but his thoughts inspired me to reflect about how my own parents raised me.  No parents are perfect.  The key word in the title of this post is “allowed.”  I learned the skills of an entrepreneur not because my parents taught them to me but because they allowed me to learn.

 

I have always been a leader. Let me tell you a story to illustrate.

When I was 4 years old, a lady told me my name is Amanda. Up until that point, my family and friends had always called me Mandy. I thought that was my name. I told this lady she was wrong. She told me to go ask my mom. When I found out my real name is Amanda, not Mandy, I was mad. I felt like everyone had been lying to me. From that day forward I have been known as Amanda. When we enrolled for Kindergarten, I made double sure I would be called Amanda. Only people who knew me prior to my 5th birthday or people who are family can call me Mandy. (That means 99.99% of you who read this post cannot call me Mandy – ever!)hello_my_name_is_amanda_postcards_package_of_8I took leadership over my name and what people would call me. At fours years of age… maybe I am a little bit too much Type A… but then again…

 

It hit me recently. My parents raised me very well.

I am incredibly fortunate. My parents embraced my leadership. They were definitely not “helicopter parents.” They let me figure things out on my own because they knew that way of parenting was right for me and my temperament and abilities.
I do not remember exactly how old I was but I was very young when I started to do my own laundry, cook for myself, decide how to spend my days during summer vacation, redecorate my bedroom, and so many more activities that were part of taking leadership over my own life.

As I got older, I also took leadership roles within our family.

Sometime around 5th grade, I forced my dad to start recycling more than just the aluminum cans he could trade in for cash. We started collecting paper, glass, and cardboard. That’s all our local recycling facility would take at the time. He continued even after I left for college. When I was about 13 or 14, I sat my mom down and forced her to create a budget. Then I would sit down with her monthly to pay her bills and check in on the budget. Additionally, we would compare planners to make sure I knew her schedule and she knew mine.

73855_1679072054824_3143873_n

My parents also allowed me to make my own decisions about extracurriculars. They supported whatever I did. They showed up to games and performances. In high school, they would bring me dinner at 5:30ish and then pick me up at 9:30 after music practices almost every night of the week. I learned a lot of entrepreneurial skills during those extracurriculars. The only thing I would change is learning more piano skills. My parents never forced me to practice much… But entrepreneurs do not need to play piano.

 

I think it all boils down to my parents letting me be me.  

I cannot think of a time when they tried to force me to be someone other than I am. Sure, they taught me lessons in respect and manners. In retrospect, those lessons did not stifle who I was. Instead, they helped me to be a truer expression of myself. To put it another way, to be me and let others be themselves without harming one another.

Sometimes, I hear people say that they do not want to be like their parents in how they raise their own kids. I have to say that, if I am blessed with kids to raise, I can only hope I do as great a job as my parents did. I know any kids I have will be different than me so I cannot do the same exact things but I hope I can at least give them the space to be themselves and grow their natural abilities and express their temperament in healthy, life-giving ways.

11429924_889160247796311_5778649169275831048_n

Again, it comes back to #smallmatters. The small things – like giving a 4 year old the permission to reject her nickname – add up to help us become the people we are.  Especially as parents (and aunts, uncles, mentors, etc.), the small things we do really matter.  How can we allow kids to learn and to express their natural abilities?  How can we allow ourselves to be more of who we really are?  Answering these questions can really make a difference!

Comment and share what you are grateful for your parents doing.