10 Life Lessons Learned From Mom and Dad

Disagreeing with your parents is as easy as breathing; they're biased, protective, and outdated. While most of what they say is mumbo jumbo, here are ten of their tips I've come to embrace.

1. You never know whom you’ll run into. 

My mother’s ingrained in me the idea that my soul mate may be at the dry cleaner, gym, or deli down the street. “You never know,” she’ll say. You never know who will be on your flight or passing your driveway as you pick up the mail in your slippers. Whether it’s a future partner, friend, or boss, looking presentable on the off chance that you come face to face with Jake Gyllenhal or Barack Obama in last night’s eye makeup is something to consider.

2. Travel in jeans.

It’s most practical to travel in denim. Wherever you’re headed and however you’re getting there, you’ll probably want your blues with you once you arrive. In journeying in jeans, not only are you knocking off an item from your packing list; you’re protecting your legs from uncleanly seats. Denim’s durable, machine-washable, flexible (especially if an elastic waistband’s involved), and flattering. 

3. There’s no such thing as a secret.

Everything always gets out. Somehow people know, without reading your diary, the naughty things you’ve done. My guess is Facebook’s extensive Timeline doesn’t help keep your skeletons in the closet, nor do any other social media platforms that air your dirty, dirty laundry. Moving past the thrill of a well-kept secret and accepting there are consequences to your actions fosters both a stronger conscience and a healthier self-understanding.

4. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

What’s that? You want a raise? You don’t like your haircut? You rather eat your meat be more cooked? Speak up or else no one will hear you. My parents never tolerated complaining, suggesting instead being proactive; their go-getting attitude, I’ve come to embrace. People will respect you if you voice your concerns and desires, provided you know what you want, and often it takes slapping someone in the face (not actually) to be noticed.

5. Clean up as you cook.

Clean up as you cook, because the last thing you’ll want to do after a delightful meal is hit the sink with suds. However annoying it is to tend to your pots and pans as you make pasta, it’s worth it to lessen the post-dinner work and save time for lounging before the tele.

6. Don’t play with your hair (or your phone) at the dinner table.

To begin with, twirling your tendrils above a plate of food is lewd. And it’s rude: A bad habit you must shake beginning tomorrow. The same goes for texting at the table or avoiding eye contact when conversing with others. Being present and offering your full attention to those you’re enjoying your meal with is merely polite. 

7. Be nice to your family. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a supportive family that you don’t mind spending time with, it’s important to both figuratively and literally hold them close. Coming into adulthood, you want to “spread your wings” by establishing roots somewhere new. Eventually (fingers crossed), you’ll have your own nuclear set that’s gang-like in its loyalty and strength, but until that moment arrives, the family you have now is your Bloods (and Crips). Once making my mother cry by mentioning a move to Beijing, I saw her reaction as restrictive and irrational. Now, I’m more on her page as my desire to go far, far away lessens. 

8. Do everything in moderation.

No matter the issue, my father’s advice typically includes a mention of moderation. For so long, this word sounded like an automatic answer and I’d shrug it off. Now, moderation is a mantra I continuously employ. Finding balance, however long it takes and however many times it’s upset, seems congruent to finding happiness. You needn’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy - ice cream, red wine, running, work, The Real Housewives of New York - but you’ll enjoy them less if done in excess. 

9. Stay positive.

We’ve all heard our parents, coaches, and friends preach the power of positive thinking. While delusional thoughts of rainbows and puppies don’t always procure goodness, I’ve conceded to the importance of maintaining a glass-half-full outlook. Go-to phrases said by well-meaning others, like “There are starving kids in Africa” or “You’re not dying,” can be aggravating; it’s all relative and crumby situations rear their ugly heads, but negativity and self-doubt are counterproductive to moving forward

10. Golf ain’t so bad.

I never understood my parents’ love of golf until recently. As a child, I’d offer to drive the cart and considered myself a rebel in doing so. When given the option of a day on the range or at the beach, I’d opt for the latter without blinking an eye. This summer, however, has altered my perspective on this waspy sport of sticks from a drab waste of time to a nurturing hobby. Aside from belching bullfrogs, there aren’t any distractions on the golf course; it’s you and your focus, the fairway, and a good drive (the short game comes later). Plus, my knee-length shorts aren’t that bad.