15 Things My Parents Taught Me That I’ll Pass On To My Own Children


There are certain things your parents tell you while growing up that always stick with you for one reason or another. Some phrases are the same classic lines that virtually all parents use, while other phrases are your parents own original way of getting their point across. As the oldest of four daughters, I grew up in a pretty big family for this day and age. I was raised in South Florida by my mom and dad. My whole family has always been really close. Like most parents I assume, my parents gave us some advice that always stuck with me. These 15 phrases made an impression on me, and I will be sure to pass them along to my own kids one day.

1. “You can always count on your family.”

Whether we were going off to college, having trouble with a friend, or just feeling low, my mom always made sure we knew that my family was there for us. Family has always been extremely important to my mom, and for that reason, it became important to me. It is nice knowing that no matter what, I always have my family to rely on. I love the relationship I have with my three sisters as well as my parents. My sisters and I tell each other everything, and I tell my parents virtually everything as well (minus a few minor details ;)). When I have a family one day I always want to reassure my own children that they can always count on their family in any situation, no matter if they are home, or living a million miles away.

2. “Don’t do anything stupid!”

I will always remember my dad saying this to me everytime I was going out. It’s the type of phrase you roll your eyes at as you walk out the door. But it is also the type of phrase you think about right before you are going to “do something stupid.” My parents aren’t idiots. They know that having four teenage/twenty something year old daughters means that we are going to go out and party and have a good time. But they also know that overall we are all good kids. They warn us but then let us make our own decisions, making us even more determined not to disappoint them.

3. “Get an education.”

Education has always been my mom’s number one priority. She made sure we knew that school was our job and getting bad grades wasn’t an option. She wanted to feel as if she did everything in her power to make sure we were set up for success. She said it was mandatory for all of her kids to go to college. After college, we could do whatever we wanted. She never wanted to feel as if she didn’t push us to have every possible opportunity within our reach. I’m glad she cared so much.

4. “You are beautiful.”

Beauty is such an important thing in our society. People are always trying to do everything they can to make themselves more “beautiful.” My parents have always told us how beautiful we are. My dad always made sure he told us that we are much more beautiful without makeup on, because there is nothing like natural beauty. Having your parents tell you they think you are beautiful is something that every girl needs to hear growing up. Yes, every parent thinks their own children are perfect, so why not let them know?

5. ‘It’s nice to be beautiful, but it’s more beautiful to be nice.”

Like I said before, our society values beauty. But my parents made it clear that beauty is not the most important thing. If you happen to have good looks, lucky for you. However, in the end looks don’t really mean much if you are not a good person. I will never forget my dad’s famous words, “it’s nice to be beautiful, but it’s more beautiful to be nice.” Simple as that.

6. “Girls can be a dime a dozen.”

My mom loves saying this one. I am sure it is not easy raising four daughters. My parents always wanted us to respect ourselves. I will never forget sitting at the table during dinner and hearing my mom tell us about why we shouldn’t be promiscuous high school girls. She told us that in the end, guys don’t respect the ones that run around because those girls don’t respect themselves. She set the bar high for us but I am all the better for it.

7. “Check out that lizard!”

Getting out in nature was essential in my dad’s technique in raising us. At the age of 9, my sisters and I were given a kayak. At the age of 12, my sisters and I were given a surfboard. We took tons of family trips to the Everglades, to kayak around Key Biscayne, or to just play frisbee at the park. TV? I barely knew what that was. I spent my free time running around the neighborhood playing manhunt or having water balloon fights. My dad was always pointing out the different wildlife wherever we were. To this day my dad gets disappointed if we can’t name the various kinds of birds in South Florida. As kids, he would take us in the backyard and show us the lizards. He would point out how the male lizard would do his little dance and pop out the weird red thing from his neck to attract the females. It seems like something so small, but there is no doubt I will take the time to show my kids the lizards one day.

8. “Your word is everything.”

If you say something, you better mean it. My parents told us that going back on your word lowers your character. If someone says something, you need to be able to trust that what they say is true. Once you break that trust, no one will believe anything that comes out of your mouth anymore. If you do something wrong, own up to it. In the end, staying true to your word is more respectable than lying or trying to cover up.

9. “Don’t use words like ‘gay’ or ‘retarded’ to say something negative.”

You hear it all the time. People are constantly saying things like “Man, I hated that movie. It was so retarded.” Or “Why don’t you wanna go out tonight? You’re just gonna stay home? That’s so gay!” My parents told us that it doesn’t sound nice to use words like that in a negative way. There happen to be people who are retarded and there happen to be people who are gay and it is not a bad thing. It sounds like you are putting those people down when you use those words negatively, even if that’s not what you mean. I listened to my parents. I don’t use those words and I will make sure my kids don’t say things like that either.

10. “Don’t be cheap and don’t date someone who is cheap.”

It is one thing to be smart with your money, but it is another thing to be cheap. My parents let us know the importance of being generous. Neither one of my parents came from a lot of money. They worked hard for what they have today. But at no point in their lives did my parents think it was okay to be cheap. My mom says that even though my dad didn’t have a lot of money when they started dating, he always treated her. That tells you something about someone’s character. My mom advises all of her daughters to never date a guy who is cheap because if you marry someone who is cheap, money will always be an issue. Be generous and money will come.

11. “The dirtier you are, the more fun you had.”

After a family day of biking, kayaking, snorkeling, or tree climbing, we would always be filled with dirt, seawater, and sand. But it didn’t matter because like my dad always said, “the dirtier you are, the more fun you had.”

12. “Don’t settle.”

My parents let us know that we deserved the best. Whether it came to relationships, jobs, or anything else, my parents always told us not to settle. If I had doubts about the guy I was seeing, my parents would tell me that it’s better to be single than to waste my time dating someone who wasn’t right for me. If I was no longer happy at work, my parents told me maybe it was time to move on to something bigger and better. Of course, there are times that are worth working through, but if something truly is no longer benefitting you, then don’t settle.

13. “Find someone who makes you happy.”

It sounds cliché but being with someone who makes you happy is all that matters. Looks, money, and most other things are not forever. But if you are with someone who is happy and makes you happy, you’ve got everything you need.

14. “Not everyone is as fortunate as you are.”

It is easy to get caught up in your little bubble of a life. That is why it is so important to take a step outside and realize that there are so many things going on that you don’t see on a regular basis. I am lucky to live the life I live, but not everyone is so fortunate. My parents made sure to reinforce the fact that we should appreciate everything we have.

15. “The Universe will provide.”

This is one of my dad’s favorites. Everything works itself out. There is no need to spend your time constantly worrying, because in the end, it will all be okay. Even if one little thing doesn’t happen exactly how you had hoped, in the scheme of things, it won’t even matter. As long as you are being a good person, keeping a positive attitude, and following your heart, then “the universe will provide.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Alanna Murphy

Author of Annala Memoirs of a Mermaid and Witch Sisters

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