I trailed a few steps behind my parents through the bookstore. Lingering in row after row of books, I did my best to keep up with them. My fingers traced the bookshelves as we wandered from fiction to the children’s books and then to the summer reading section. Little did I know these moments, along with the things parents teach you, would create countless good life lessons for my siblings and me.
Trips to the bookstore were memorable outings for my family and me. While the day might have ended with one or two new additions to the family library, the journeys and discoveries within the bookstores overflowed with valuable lessons. No matter what new book I might have ended up with, I was constantly reminded that the most important things to learn aren’t always found between pages.
My parents helped me see that these priceless lessons are in the moments, words, and experiences shared with others. Today, I still scour bookstores searching for my next read. Yet, while I search, I never forget the things my parents have taught me or what they still have to offer today.
Ten Good Life Lessons That My Parents Taught Me
There are hundreds of lessons my parents have taught my siblings and me over the years. Here are ten of those lessons that have continued to make an impact upon my life and worldview.
1. God Designed Our Family With a Purpose.
From a young age, I can remember moments when my parents reinforced the bond I shared with my siblings and cousins. Despite arguments, hurt feelings, and difficulties, my parents reminded us that God designed our family for a reason. His plan is perfect. His design is perfect. And while it might not always look or feel perfect to us, it is to Him. There can be joy and comfort in trusting Him with our families.
2. The Longest Conversation You Will Ever Have Is the One You Will Have Between You and the Lord.
I wonder how often you hear that little voice in your head or heart. For the follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit guides our lives and decisions. Once I became a follower of Christ, my parents helped me understand how to communicate with the Lord in a unique way. They let me know that this was an eternal relationship. Entering into this relationship with Jesus means that now I have created an infinite conversation with the Lord. Some days, there can be fear and doubt within that conversation. However, my parents taught me that there is eternal hope and joy in talking with God.
3. Have One Book That You Re-Read Each Year.
Self-reflection can be a fulfilling discipline. I fell in love with reading at a young age. For me, reading became a haven for self-reflection. My parents helped me see the value in re-reading certain books each year. Without fail, each time I returned to the worlds and ideas within those books, I discovered I had grown and changed in ways previously unseen. Re-reading a book each year is a lesson I continue to cultivate in my own life today.
4. Learn About Your Family History.
There are hidden wonders and powerful stories within every family. Growing up, I was fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents. My grandfathers shared stories about our family during nearly every lunch and dinner we had together. My parents taught us the value of listening, asking questions, and respecting the lessons from our grandparents. Even now, I find that I often feel the closest to my family when we share stories from our past and learn about our family’s history.
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5. Always Write a Thank You Note.
Since I was able to pick up a pen, my parents taught my siblings and me the value of a handwritten note. Not a single Christmas or birthday celebration went by without writing thank you notes. By cultivating the habit of writing thank you notes, we learned patience, trust, and how to show love to someone with words. Sometimes, I found this habit tedious and difficult. (Besides, my handwriting isn’t the best in the world). But, I am thankful for this rhythm in my life and the relationships I have developed through notes and encouragement.
6. Support the Post Office.
Some days I think my family single-handedly keeps the Post Office in business. I already mentioned the lesson my parents taught us about writing thank you notes. Little did I know that the habit of writing thank you notes would eventually help me find my wife! While she and I dated long-distance throughout most of college, we sent at least one letter or note every day. Sending and receiving mail brought joy to us each day. Over time, this lesson reinforced the value of encouragement through written words.
7. Learn to Value Interruptions.
Whether it is the buzz of a new notification or the sudden appearance of a sibling in your room, interruptions happen every day. I found interruptions to be irritating and unproductive until my parents helped me reframe my perspective. They showed me that Jesus lived an unhurried life. His most incredible moments of teaching and miracles often came after interruptions. Eventually, I learned to find joy in and value interruptions!
8. Sometimes, the Greatest Gift Is Eye Contact.
Body language can often positively or negatively affect a conversation. My parents taught me the value of eye contact within interactions. Establishing eye contact with someone in a conversation can let them know that you hear them, you are listening, and that you respect them.
9. Always Have a Question.
No matter where we went, my dad always seemed to have a question ready. It is one of the traits I admire most about him. I learned to have a rotating list of unique questions to ask strangers, teachers, friends, and co-workers. Not only does having a question help cultivate relationships, but questions help to let others know you care about them.
10. Learn the Value of Mentorship.
My parents surrounded me with a variety of mentors. Some of the most challenging decisions in my life were navigated through wisdom from those older than me. Similarly, my parents helped me learn to spend time with people younger than me. Interacting with the perspectives of those younger than me has continued to reinforce my own worldview. I have never learned more than I have when spending time with people older and younger than me!
These are only a handful of the life lessons my parents have instilled throughout my life. The joy of learning from parents is this: that it never has to stop. Even after I have left their house, I continue to learn from them in unmeasurable ways. Their love and care have had a tremendous impact on my life, and for this, I am incredibly grateful.