If you have young parents, you know it has many more perks than growing up to be pretty much friends with them. It can teach you so much about life and love. My parents got married when they were in their very early 20’s. I was nine months old at their wedding – yes, I was a pleasant surprise. It amazes me all the time to think about what their lives were like when they were that age, because I’m that age now. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how your parents’ lives impacted yours, but here are some of the most important lessons you learn when you have young parents:
1. Enjoy being young. I know that my parents love their lives, but they did miss out on a lot to raise my brother and I. They didn’t get to go to college, they had to find basically whatever jobs they could do well, and where they made enough money that allowed us to live comfortably. Their early 20’s were filled with sleepless nights and diaper changes, mid-twenties with homework, carpooling and prying my brother and I apart when we were fighting. By the time they reached 30, they had surpassed most people in life experiences. When I think about it, I not only appreciate what they gave up, but it makes me want to enjoy my youth as much as I can – to wait until I am REALLY ready to take the next steps in life, whatever they may be.
2. Know how you should be treated and never settle for anything less. When your parents have been together forever, and started off very young, it teaches you what to look for in someone else. My dad treats my mom like a queen, and my mom treats my dad like a king. I mean, most of the time. I don’t know the details, but I do know that it was never always easy for them. They respect each other in every aspect of life. They support each other in every decision they have to make, and aren’t afraid to be brutally honest (all out of love). I know what to look for in the way a boyfriend/husband should treat me, and what it means to be in a strong, healthy relationship.
3. Never sell yourself short. Most young parents pretty much give up on whatever goals they have for themselves to make sure their kids have better lives than they did. My parents never got the chances to live out their biggest personal dreams, that’s why I make sure I do whatever I can to accomplish mine. They gave up their own lives to make sure I had that chance. The least I could do is follow my dreams, because they never could.
4. Dates aren’t just for the beginning of a relationship. A lot of relationships and marriages grow so distant the longer a couple is together. But, having kids young means they grow up, can take care of themselves and the parents are still young enough to want to go out. Weekend dinner dates and movies after work are a common occurrence. Even if they are forced to go out together for a reason that wasn’t intended to be a date, they turn it into one. Because of this, I know in order for a relationship to work, you need to show the other person how much you love them – even if it is going shopping, going out to dinner, or staying in and watching a movie together.
5. Life is hard work, but it’s worth all the sweat, blood and tears. Most young parents don’t get to have the fancy jobs. They don’t get to finish their degrees in the normal 4-5 years. They have multiple jobs, at the same time, and especially when they’re very young and starting out, they’re not well paying. I remember my mom worked nights at a restaurant after her day job in an office. She came home one night with a huge burn on her leg from dropping a plate of hot pasta on herself. Around the same time, my dad worked for a trash company, and dealt with pretty nasty stuff. I think that’s when I realized just how hard my parents worked to give us everything they possibly could. We went on family vacations, wore nice clothes, and had a home filled with love. We had each other, and that was most important.
So, no matter the age your parents are, thank them. If they were the age you are now when they gave you life, thank them hard.