The Terry Wright School of Parenting.

I received a random text this weekend from a friend asking if I’d ever thought about giving parenting classes. I was out to dinner with Sarah at the time and she asked if that person had the wrong number. So clearly the answer is “no”. (insert laughing until you cry emoji here).

The follow up text asked if I could recommend a blog or something that might line up with my parenting philosophy and I gave that a good long thought. Several days later I’m here with the answer: I ascribe to the Terry Wright School of Parenting.

Terry Wright is my mom and just about everything I know about parenting (and life) I learned from her. Here are a smattering of those things…

Never assume your kids are too young to be in charge of their own lives. I skipped kindergarten and entered first grade as a five year old because my mom knew I could do it. She never looked at mine or my sister’s homework or asked to see our work…that was our responsibility and expected we would pay the consequences if we skipped it. She attended all of our conferences and events but was also never the mom running up to the school to rescue us if we forgot our lunch/backpack/homework. Whether in first grade, fifth grade or high school, she expected us to be responsible, so we were. Most of the time.

Expect your kids to carry their own weight. My mom never cleaned my room a day in her life. I started doing my own laundry at 10. We had a two story house and my sister and I were the housekeepers, alternating each week who cleaned the upstairs and who cleaned the downstairs. I got a checking account and a $100/month deposit at 11. And before you get all excited about how rich I was, know that I had to buy my own clothes, personal care products and entertainment with that money. Even by 90’s standards that was pretty tight for a kid who wanted a pair of Guess jeans more than she wanted life itself. (I believe I found a pair once at the thrift store. Score!)

Be the hang out house. My mom is an introvert by nature and a self-confessed homebody but she loves nothing more than to have people in her home. Brent has told me for years that if our home is to be the hang out house we’re going to need to get better snacks but my experience in high school negates that school of thought entirely. As a mother-daughter duo in the style of Gilmore Girls (before GG were even a thing) we pretty much had ramen, rice-a-roni and popcorn and teenagers still flocked to our house. Whether we were hanging out in the basement or on the couch in my mom’s bedroom, we knew we were welcome.

You have a life too…live it. My mom was and is an avid reader and most of my childhood memories include her reading a book. She got an associates degree (valedictorian, baby!) when I was in first grade and bachelor’s degree soon after. When we moved to Panama she started her own preschool by recruiting neighborhood children to attend the storage closet she had literally scoured, organized and decorated into a classroom purely through the force of her own will. To say nothing of how she replumbed the connecting bathroom herself and nearly died of a puncture wound and subsequent blood infection. My mom simultaneously raised my sister and I while living the heck out of her own life. Is it any surprise that Meghan and I both started our own businesses with young children at home? Of course we knew we could do it. We had literally seen it done.

Model kindness and empathy. My mom held us to high standards of behavior simply by the example she set. She is not catty. She does not complain. And she is, above everything else, inclusive. The memory that stands out the most to me is from my sophomore year in college. My cousin and dearest friend of my childhood came out of the closet that year. It was 1998 and the world was not as it is now. He was terrified and not everyone in his circle could easily come to terms with this news. My mom immediately started researching and found that our teensy hometown had a chapter of PFLAG and she started going…sometimes with my cousin, sometimes alone. She was determined to be a loving advocate for him. And to this day, she is.

When life gets you down, claw your way back up. My parents divorced when I was in high school after a years-long struggle to stay together. This was not what my mom had planned for her life and she was devastated. But in the months and years that followed I had the honor of watching her grow into an even deeper and more authentic version of herself. She made new friends, tried new things, and did a ton of things that scared her (introvert, remember?). She drove cross-country Thelma and Louise style to pick up a used sports car she bought from her parents in California. She went on a first date and kissed him before he could kiss her, then ran upstairs to tell high school me all about it. She marched for peace against the start of the Iraq War, became an elder in our church (after first refusing as a protest over our policy barring gays and lesbians from leadership, which has since been reversed), she “adopted” an elderly woman who my daughter is now named after, and even briefly became a rabid college basketball fan. She is now married to a wonderful man who treasures the entirety of who she is and where she’s been. She taught me how to face adversity with bravery and aplomb.

In short, my parenting style can be summed up like this: do it just like my mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunt LuMarch 22, 2018 - 5:32 am

She is and always will be my person!!!

ellen pattonMarch 22, 2018 - 6:43 am

this post is fantastic. your mom is all sorts of awesome!

Your email is never published or shared.

There was an error submitting your comment. Please try again.