My dad taught me many valuable lessons by proxy, but I still felt free to be who I wanted to be and have therefore become quite a different person than him in terms of life views and personalities, but that doesn't mean I didn't pick up a few things during the two decades I lived at home.
1) The value of a dollar: we were never given an allowance. We got money at birthdays and Christmas from our relatives and were expected to make that money stretch over the year for thinks we might want. I don't remember every caring too much about that. But, occasionally I would want money for something and ask for ways to earn it, to which my mom would generally give me a list to choose from of a chore and its payment... like $2 to vacuum the whole house. We might earn a quarter for raking the yard or a dollar per bucket of digging up dandelions by the root, but that just taught me growing up not to be completely frivolous with my money because it only goes so far.
2) Don't be afraid of manual labor: my dad did construction, yard work, fixed things and was very hands on about keeping our house and yard looking amazing. He didn't hire people to do the hard stuff, he did it himself. This kind of goes along with the value of a dollar thing too, because why pay someone to do something when you can do it yourself. Then that money can be spent better elsewhere.
3) Don't turn your kids into ungrateful assholes: now this was a lesson it took longer to understand because kids are generally inherently selfish. We were expected to help out with no reward. You have kids who get an allowance for throwing away their kleenex when they blow their nose. What is that teaching them? I had friends whose parents would just shell out twenty bucks anytime they wanted to go to the movies, even when those parents didn't have a lot of expendable money. Then in turn, their kids were ungrateful assholes. Every spring my parents planted a garden. They had four kids to feed and understood the value of a dollar (duh), so they planted fruits and vegetables. However, they both taught summer school, so often my brothers and I were told to go pick beans or what not. Also, as we got older, we were responsible for trimming the hedges, etc. with the push mower and my dad would mow with the riding mower. We didn't get paid with cash for these services, we got paid through food and lodging and clothes... sure as a kid it might have seemed unfair (I don't recall feeling this way, but maybe I did), but why should they fork over their hard earned money so that we would do things that we should help do anyway.
4) Don't let people get away with embarrassing you: my parents are proud people and as well they should be. They worked very very hard for what they have and for the respect that people in their community have for them. One thing that my dad made very clear is that he did not want us to be embarrassments to him. Sure, that's a hard thing to do when you're a kid and again, kids are inherently selfish, but as an adult I've come to realize how important respect is. I've known women whose husbands cheated on them and being as how I came from a small town, EVERYONE knew. I'm not a believer in forgive and forget when it comes to adultery, so that would most certainly not fly with me. But there are other things that wouldn't fly with me in regards to what my spouse and children might get away with in public. I didn't work hard for the things I wanted and or have just so that those I love can make me look like a dumb dumb head to the public.
5) Your kids aren't first in line for the tv: I used to go over to my ex-in-laws house and their TV was on the Disney Channel 24/7 because their youngest wanted to watch it. This went on from when she was a kid until she went to college. The parents would just sit in the living room and watch it with her. WHAT?? That would have never flown with my dad. There was a pecking order to who was in charge of the remote and it went oldest to youngest. And with me being the youngest, the only times I generally picked what I wanted to watch was on Saturday mornings before anyone got up.
I have quite a few friends who let their kids control the living room remote. That doesn't fly with me, especially since they have TVs in their own room or there are other TVs in the house. I don't pay the cable bill so that I can watch Teen Titans Go on DVR for hours on end. I didn't become an adult so that I could waste my time being subjected to hearing Adventure Time in the background while I cook or do dishes... that's my Golden Girls in the background time!
6) Men CAN cook: Don't be one of those chauvinists who think men can't and shouldn't cook because it's a woman's job. Welcome to 2014, and good luck with your future relationships if you think that way. My dad is an AWESOME cook. He worked a full time job and still came home and made dinner for 6 every night. It wasn't just grilling either, it was utilizing every cooking appliance in the kitchen. I had a best friend whose husband was a good cook, but refused because it was a "woman's job." So, they ate pizza a lot and their fridge was filled with hot dogs. I always wanted to marry a man that can cook. I didn't, but at least my husband WILL cook. He tries. It doesn't bother me that he can't cause I know not every guy out there is good at everything. But I did make sure I found a husband who didn't believe that there were "men's jobs" and "women's jobs." He feels like all chores are created equal.
Conclusion: I have many other lessons I can list, but if I did, Father's Day would be over before you had a chance to read them all. These are just the ones that stick out the most with me as a parent. I do think that my approach is quite different than my Dad's was, but that goes along with having different personalities. Clearly he did something right if I find these to be lessons that I have adopted as a parent. I have no problem telling my kids no because I want to raise them to be good people and I've witnessed first hand things that other parents have done that turned their kids into giant d-bags.
SOOOOOO, Happy Father's Day to my dad and despite the fact it never seems like I listened, I actually WAS paying attention! Thanks for the help!