We are what you make us.

Family is so hard to define these days. It seems like everyone wants to scream, “we aren’t just friends, we’re family.” I’m certainly not going to try and say that isn’t a good way of thinking. Too often I feel like family can be as much of a shackle as it is a support. Some families can be toxic, but you can’t always see it until you can get the right perspective. Some families feed on negativity, or live inside their own bubble of reality that can ultimately lead to radical ideas and views that close out anything that may go against them. Which is where the shackle versus support comes into play.

Now I’m not going to say my way of thinking is right. From a logical standpoint I feel its pretty solid, but everyone has their own way of thinking on this. I feel a strong bond towards my family. My dad raised me to be the man I am, my mom taught me about the importance of the home end of things. Now before you get our your sexist picket signs please take into account that even though I’m 28, my parents are in their 70s. There is a bit of a generational gap that has plagued me my whole life. I was raised fairly old fashioned versus my peers. So take a minute to hear me out.

My dad was a teacher, shaping minds for many years. So he always seemed like he had the answers. Thinking back I feel as though when I’d ask him something, if he didn’t know the answers, he could tell me how to find them. He’d open a book, an atlas, or theorize if he had to. “I don’t know” never seemed like something he liked. The constant thirst for information. To absorb anything someone was willing to teach. I attribute that side of me to him. I’m always asking “why?” or “How?” because of him putting that in my mind. But not just to take things at face value, look up the info, find more information to back it up, learn the truth and how that information applies to life. I took it as doing my best to learn at least the basics of everything I could. Excel at what came naturally, and challenge yourself on what does not.

My mom taught me to respect the efforts of others. Such as always say thank you, please, and never feel entitled to something. When I was young she said to me that I shouldn’t expect to be taken care of by someone, and that I should always know how to do things that others do for me. Basically translated to I should know how to cook, clean, and take care of myself. I also was raised to always try whats on my plate, find something I like about it, and never be rude if I can avoid it. Manners were a big deal to both my parents, but I always felt I followed my mom’s lead. My mom also taught me skills that others probably would never think of. I can iron my clothes like a champ. Especially dress shirts. Every use of the ironing board and the reasons for its shape. I still iron all my dress shirts before wearing them, so lets see if any other guys have a clue how.

Getting specific, I think my joy of cooking and putting a smile on peoples faces comes from my birth mother. She always likes making food for others, trying new recipes. She wasn’t really afraid to try new things.

But while my parents passed on so much curiosity to me some parents will pass on hatred, or their beliefs without necessarily letting their children understand, “why.” An example is when I see people dressing their kids up in sports apparel. These kids don’t have a care in a world about the sport so young (I’m talking very young, like babies) but you’re pressing onto them the mindset that “This is our team.” Instead of ideas or traits, that can be used for everything, some parents will just try to mold what they want. It limits critical thinking to just say, “This is what we do.” Then later these children close their minds to so much, and there the bubble complex begins.

Having a strong sense of self is important. We have our core values that aren’t so easily changed. But the ability to modify them as we age is important. Like trying a food over years. If a 5 year old hates green beans, and doesn’t want to eat them. But that doesn’t mean he should never try them again. Maybe one day, they’ll take a bite and find something to appreciate about them. Even enjoying them someday.

I didn’t mean for this to run so long. So I’ll leave that information for you to think on.

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