These Are The Values I Grew Up With

My family

We all grow up with a certain set of values. Our families of origin have a tremendous influence on our lives, and although some values may be later deemed unnecessary, or need to be adjusted, others are still viable and have great impact. I have lived my life in keeping with many of the values I was taught as a child. Most of them were passed down to my own children in one way or another.

  1. You have a duty to respect, love, and be present with your family. My father talked on the phone every evening with his mother after she was widowed. I'm not saying he found the conversations always stimulating, but he spoke to her every single night! He visited her every Sunday. Dad never missed a holiday at the cemetery. Does that sound ghoulish? When I grew up we took flowers every single holiday to the cemetery, and we took them for all family members buried there. My father's relatives were all buried close by, and it was a given that we all paid our respects. After my father died, I sent flowers to his grave for many years because I wanted to show him the same respect.

I never said they were stimulating conversations! 

  • Never live above your means. Do not go into debt. My dad owned his own business, and he refused to drive a luxury car because he did not want his employees to feel that he had more than they did. He was not a CEO who made 500 times what his employees made! ( I have to admit that I like luxury cars. Sorry, Daddy.)

  • Do not go into business with your family, it always ends badly. (I know first hand that dad was right about that one.)

  • Be humble, and modest. He worked hard to get what he had, he was a "self-made man" as they used to say, but he always said his good fortune was luck. Others worked just as hard as he did and would never reach his level of success, he said. Do not be proud, show less than what you have, and be thankful you were lucky.

  • Be generous with those less fortunate. I can remember times when an employee would spend his paycheck at the bar, and dad would make sure there was a Christmas for that family, or a Thanksgiving dinner. He was a very caring person, though he didn't necessarily want people to know that, and most of the time I found out about his generosity from eavesdropping because he didn't advertise it. He did always tell my mom ... (and I was usually in hearing distance)

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  • Do not ride a motorcycle. You will die or lose limbs.

  • No guns. The gun edict was absolute in our household. He wouldn't allow so much as a BB gun in the house. (My uncle bought one for my brother one year for Christmas. It was confiscated immediately and was never seen again.) He served in the Navy in World War II, and in the Army during the Korean War, so he knew how to use firearms. He chose not to. He told us that "having a gun is an invitation for someone to shoot you". Having grown up in such an atmosphere, I am not comfortable with guns, and do not want people to bring them into my home. Texas has just passed an open carry law ... the idea of people walking around with guns is frightening to me.

  • Be honest. Tell the truth. (My parents always knew when I was lying, anyway. I was voted the worst liar on the planet.) Character and integrity are destiny.

  • Do not steal. (I had to return a half-eaten Reese's cup when I was four-years-old. I never took anything without paying for it again.) Being a thief is about as low as one can go. Mom and Dad were very clear on this one.

  • Always put your spouse first, they are your partner in life. Your children will grow up and leave you, but your spouse will be there long after (if you are lucky). Both of my parents advocated this, and I have always believed it.
  • Core Value: Love (or at least respect) your family and family ties. Now, there were other ones, not values really, ... more like, do not ride horses (sorry, Mom), do not climb trees (sorry Mom), and do not hang out around dogs during a storm, especially no big dogs. Dogs attract lightning (sure, Mom). I know, the dog thing is batshit crazy, but she insisted it was true until the day she died. Both of my parents were kind of risk averse, which is probably why I like adventurous activities and large dogs. There was also "don't kill anything unless you are going to eat it" because we liked to fish. During the summer there was a fish fry every Saturday night at the lake. Of course, I don't fish now, I look at fish instead. I prefer seeing them alive.

    I grew up in Southern Ohio and there were many racial/ethnic values which did not sit well with me during the time I grew up and still don't. My Grandma warned me about dating "Papists" because the Pope was the devil. No Jews either since they "killed Jesus" (I know that is untrue, don't worry). Oh, and only a trashy white girl would date a black guy. I never heard that one from my parents, but I did hear that I should marry within the same race ... my own race (white). Hey, it was the 60s and 70s, you know? My mother grew up in Kentucky where there was segregation, and while she was not a racist, her parents were. I won't even tell you some of the things I heard them say! I was horrified by the prejudice from an early age, so it probably helped set me on my liberal path. My nuclear family was always pretty liberal, or non-political, and encouraged debate. There was nothing you couldn't ask, and with my endless curiosity, I asked a lot of questions.

    I'd love to hear about other "family values". Any pearls of wisdom from your family? Anyone else's mother think that dogs attract lightning?

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