The merit in no reward

My Dad has taught me an awful lot of valuable lessons in life, I’m very grateful for that. He’s a very unique type of person. When my parents split, he was my primary caregiver until I was about 17.

He’s an author, he runs his own business. He’s a relationship counsellor. His career is based around self-help. He’s good at it.

Dad cares about people a lot, and he’s very charitable.

He is the type of person who would rather teach you to fish than give you a fish. He wants to see people be the best they can be.

It was always important to him that I was cultured, educated, and capable as opposed to being a bit of a ‘princess’.

He raised me in a way that I think is quite unique. I was always treated like a grown up to some degree, influenced to have understanding for people.

He gave me all he could give; and when he ran out of things to give me, he let go. Like when you’re teaching a kid to ride a bike, you support them half way down the path and you let go and watch them as they ride freely and surprise themselves with how well they’re doing. It was an intensive course in being an adult, I’d say.

He would sit with me doing homework for hours on end until I got the maths right or understood the concept I was studying in philosophy. If I was having a hard time with friends at school, he would sit with me and calm me down until I saw sense and understood that it wasn’t worth getting upset over. He encouraged me to build my business at a young age, so he set me up a website and recommended me a bunch of books to read.

He didn’t want me to be dependent though, because to him- that’s not love. He wants me to be able to cope with whatever life throws at me, he wants the best for me, and he wants me to be proud of myself. He doesn’t want me to be lost without him. That is his perception of love.

When I turned 18, he let go pretty much all together.

I had to learn to cope on my own and teach myself to adult.

There was a lot of growing pains. It is hard when you don’t think you’re flying at first. You feel like you’ve been dropped in the deep end and you can’t swim yet.

No matter how many tantrums or fits of rage I had, no matter how much I kicked and screamed and generally broke down, there was no saviour. It was hard for my Dad to see me struggle, but if he hadn’t have left me to it then I never would have surprised myself and discovered that I could in fact swim. He knew that he already gave all he could give.

Now, I am self-sufficient. I rely on no one, I make my own money, I find my own way, and I love it.

My Dad is happy, he has a wonderful relationship with his girlfriend and her kids. His life is going really well.

We’re not particularly distant, but I’m just grown up now. There’s no need to be as close as we were.

I am grateful for my Dad’s uniqueness, because it helped me grow. It was harder to understand at times when I was younger.

Children are generally hyped up and rewarded a lot by their parents.

When all your friends are getting a similar treatment, being praised for little things, being gifted a lot, having a bit of a song and dance made of them, it makes you wonder why you aren’t getting that.

The ego chatters and you think ‘am I not doing good enough?’, ‘am I not loved?’.

I think it’s really sad that I used to associate material gain and gush with love. Love is a subjective thing, I’m grateful that I don’t associate my worth with objects or appearance. I’m grateful that I don’t expect things.

I feel like I’ve been rewarded with perspective. Something I personally value more.

My Mum is a giver in a different respect. My Mum gifts me with flowers often just to say that she appreciates me, like her Mum did for her. I appreciate the flowers she gives me and the simple little things she does for me so much more, because my Dad taught me that I’m not entitled to them. I see these little gestures as an act of love and kindness. I understand the way that different people express themselves. The feeling of happiness I get when someone does something small for me is elevated.

My Dad taught me how hard it is to work and how difficult it can be at times to make money for yourself. Now when someone gifts me something I think, ‘wow, how many dirty floors and shitty customers did you have to deal with to give that to me? How many hours at work that you didn’t really want to do did you put in just to show me that you care about me?’. I appreciate the gift of someone’s time as an act of love in itself.

When people gift me with things, it’s because they care for me so much that they went out of their way and did something that they didn’t have to do to showcase their appreciation. I guess my sense of gratitude is higher because I see it like that.

Generally, my Dad used to reward me by telling me that I did a good job, or that I’ve come a long way. I should be proud of myself. He made a point not to tell me how wonderful I am all the time because he didn’t want me to doubt myself later down the line when I was an adult who wasn’t congratulated for doing minor things. He never gifted me in grand gestures because he wanted me to know that I wasn’t doing any of these things for anybody else. I wasn’t passing exams for my teachers, I wasn’t learning, working, growing, generally busting my ass for the sake of anybody else. I was doing it because I will now be able to say ‘look what I have done for myself. Look what I can do now that I’ve learned all that.’. I make myself proud, and although other people’s praise means a lot to me, I know that I don’t do it for them. I don’t need the approval. My own approval is enough.

I’m not saying that anybody’s view on love or approach to parenting is wrong. People grow and learn in different ways, and different people are receptive to different treatments. I’m just sharing a perspective that I’m appreciative to have been raised by.

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