This is in no way meant to offend my friends, or their parents. I just super appreciate my parents, and everything they've done for my brothers and me.
One of my earliest memories is of me standing in the bathroom, watching my mom wash my brother's mouth out with soap. Contrary to the shocked look on my friends' faces when I told them, I don't see anything wrong with it. Parents have been saying they'll wash out their kids' mouths with soap since the 19th century (around the time soap started being mass produced for home use). My friends' parents have definitely used
that threat on them. The only difference is that my mom actually did it.
And that seems to be a trend between their parents and mine. Something that my friend brought up is that he was almost never punished growing up. We found out that it's because his parents feared that punishment would drive him to do something stupid. It's a valid concern, especially when kids are in their stupid teenager phase. So, plenty of threats of punishment were made (or the ever-present "grounding"), no action was taken because it would be to harsh. But my parents had no problem following through on their threats. The reason this didn't irreparably damage us (like my friends' parents thought it would) is because we were punished for being "stupid assholes" (dad's words) and our punishment made us realize that we were being stupid assholes and, in most cases, stopped us from being stupid assholes in the future. You might recognize this as the point of punishment, whether it's for rowdy kids or mass-murderers: it's supposed to stop the behaviour. And it did.
I think the reason my parents were so impactful is because they knew that what they were doing was in our (my brothers' and my) best interests. So, if we didn't listen to them, it was our own damn fault. And we had to suffer the consequences that came with our misconduct. For example, when we got home from school, we would do all of our homework. Other kids would go ride bikes, or play video games with friends, but we would sit down with a healthy snack and finish our homework. There was no other option; that's just the way we did things. Obviously we questioned it (because we were stupid kids, too), but it was the only life we had at the time. As a result, we all got really good grades (up until we left home and got on academic probation, like clockwork). Meanwhile, one of my friends had no such set homework time. As a result, he slacked off in school to the point where his parents and siblings were racing to finish his assignments before the end of the semester (after begging his teacher to let him turn in the assignments months after they were due). Now, that friend has the work ethic of paralyzed koala, and grades to match. I mean: I may be lazy, but when I get to crunch-time, I get crunching. The same cannot be said about my friend.
When it came time to apply for universities, we were heavily encouraged to go out of town. And that wasn't just so that they can go enjoy being a married couple on their own, like they didn't get to do when they were first got married (although, they're doing the eff out of that now). Ever since we were little, we've learned how to take care of a house: cleaning, mowing the lawn, shovelling snow, &c. Since elementary school, we've made our own sac-lunches (the night before, at mom's insistence). When my brothers and I each turned 11, mom taught us how to do our own laundry, and then promptly stopped doing our laundry for us. (Tangent: whenever mom comes to visit, she insists on doing our laundry. I think she purposely shrinks our clothes in the wash so she can take them.) Mom taught us how to cook, and dad taught us how to budget and manage finances. My parents made sure that we knew how to survive well before we had to leave. Meanwhile, most of my friends still live with their parents, where mom does all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry (with no malicious intent). It's actually incredibly jarring to see some of my friend come to University with a tupperware of food their mom made for them. It's almost as if my parents groomed their kids to become adults eventually. I'm not saying that the three of us are perfect now, but if we had to adult, we could probably pull it off.
When we were doing homework in elementary school, if we didn't know how to spell a word, my mom would say: "look it up in the dictionary." We'd laugh about that, because you need to already know how to spell a word in order to look it up in the dictionary. Now that I think back on it, I have no idea how I know how to spell anything (how am I even an English major?). But the point isn't that mom raised poor spellers, it's that even for something she could have easily given us (I've spelt thousands of words for my students over the years), she wanted us to find the answer on our own. And my brothers and I have taken that to heart; whenever we need to answer a question, or solve a problem, we go about it on our own first. Usually we don't need to enlist the help of others unless we're really, really stuck. But even then, we're as stubborn as our dad when it comes to asking for help. Despite what I tell my kids, there is such thing as a stupid question, and I hear them all the time. But I like to think, because I grew up looking up spellings in the dictionary, I don't ask too many of those.
One topic that came up when I was talking to my friends is finances. I don't want to brag or anything, but my parents are really damn good at finances. I don't even know how half this stuff works and mom and dad are talking about lines of credit and investment properties the way I talk about nothing because I don't know as much about any field as they do about where their money goes. Conversely, my friends' parents straight up don't know how to save. Both my dad, and the parents of the friends I was talking to grew up in circumstances where money was super tight and they got a lot of lucky breaks (or at least their parents did, I'm pretty sure my dad just worked himself out of that mess). A lot of the time, when I go to my friends' houses, it's a mess. But it's not a mess because it's messy (like my house is, because I'm a failure to the mother that raised me to clean her house before the cleaning service came in), it's just filled with so much stuff. Correction: it's just filled with so much junk. Growing up, we had a lot of fancy stuff: painted plates on the wall, bronze dolphin statues, a freaking piano, tons of a computers, leather couches, &c. But we never had as much "just stuff" as my friends. And that's because, outside of birthday and christmas gifts (and the very occasional splurge), our parents didn't buy us everything we asked for. Obviously, they bought us what we needed; my mom still forces me to go clothes shopping because I'm somehow still a "growing boy". Anything extraneous we wanted, we paid for out of our own pocket (when we were young, half of our "allowance" went straight to the bank where we couldn't touch it: the other half would go to Jamatkhana and one school lunch per week). One of the friends that I was talking to recently got a pet. It's a high maintenance pet, and certainly not a cheap one. HIs family couldn't afford (financially, emotionally, &c) to get a new pet. But, his mom got it because she still can't say no to her kids. Whereas, my parents said no to us all the damn time. And we didn't have an issue with that because "no" is 50% of the possible answers you can get when you ask for stuff from your parents; that's just the way it is.
When my parents fell in love (if you can even call it that: they seem more like business partners that hold hands on walks), it was under the pretence of dad trying to take money from mom. That sociopathy forged a bond that's lasted (oh snap, um...) thirty years? Thirty-one years? And it seems to be going great. During my last conversation with an aforementioned friend, she mentioned the possibility of her parents getting divorced a full seven times, trumping the number of times I mentioned my parents getting divorced by eight (I asserted that my parents will stay together forever). And the same thing that brought those goofy-looking university students together in the first place keeps them together now and raise kids that turned out decently: everything they do is calculated. My mom very rarely gives into her emotions, and my dad never does (as far as I know). Note: they're not psychopaths; they have emotions, they just don't let them control their actions like some other parents I can mention. And it's this that makes them the strongest people I know: always able to keep a level head and do what's objectively best for themselves and their offspring).
Something that came up a lot was one of my friends' similarities to her mother. And every time it did, she just lost it: like borderline teary-eyed yelling. Now, on the surface, she has a very caring mother, though I may not agree with all (read: any) of her methods (but what do I know? I haven't pushed out any tiny semi-people) but she adamantly refuses to even be compared to her. I'm actually proud that people say that I'm "like my mother" or "like my dad" because the fact of the matter is that my parents are awesome. And I would love to raise my kids the way they raised us. The only problem is that they've set the bar way too high.