I grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Suburbia, USA. All the moms were soccer moms, who drove SUVs to shuttle their children around from place to place. The fathers of many of these respected families were high end businessmen and were bringing home the bacon. I played soccer since earlier childhood up until my senior year in high school, and my family owned an SUV. However, our family structure was a little different than most in the neighborhood. My dad worked at the airport loading and unloading baggage whereas my mom worked in her privately owned Allstate Insurance business. Needless to say, my mom was the one making the money and my dad was responsible for raising me and my kid sister.
This different family dynamic never bothered me because it was all I had known growing up. As I grew older my friends were always wondering why my dad was at home when my mom was working, and I would just tell them that’s how it worked. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I started resenting my father for working less and in my teenage mind doing less for the family. Being the naïve kid I started questioning his authority and rebelling against his rules, if he couldn’t work as much as my mom than he couldn’t tell me what to do.
Finally, my mom brought me into her room to explain why our family was structured the way it was. So elaborated that before I was even conceived my parents had to choose the direction they wanted to take their marriage in. My mom had the opportunity to work at Allstate Insurance making less money than my father was, but with a higher chance of promotion. They weighed their options and decided it was best for them to relocate for my mom. This switch meant my dad had to take up a new job working on the tarmac of the Charlotte International Airport.
He gave his wife the opportunity to pursue her dream of owning her own business while he stepped down no longer pursue a career of his own. My mom explained that decision so many years ago was what allowed our family today to be living such a prosperous life. By my father stepping down that showed more love for the future of the family than I could get through my head.
I am not religious and do not affiliate with any religious sects but my parents instilled in me the undying belief in the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated and it is the underlying root to every major religion in the world today. I hold this value, it is more than a belief, to everything I do and certainly to everyone I meet.
My dad acted the same way to a stranger on the street as he did to our powerful CEO neighbors. He instilled in me the fact that we are all people; some of us just got the opportunities others didn’t. My parents built marriage on this belief. They just had their silver anniversary and are still going strong. Respect should be given to everyone no matter what class they fall into; it is a very small and easy thing to give, but it is amazing how far it can go.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.