Nobody's perfect, and I can think of a lot of ways that my childhood was less than ideal. But this is a list of things that I'm glad my parents did.
  1. Took vacations centered around the environment/history/education
    I don't think this was necessarily on purpose - it's just what my parents like. I've been to a ton of National Parks, many vacations have been centered around Civil War battlefields and forts, and we would go to the beach around October/November just to check out the migratory birds. We went at a breakneck speed, sleeping 11pm-6am most nights (I often got up earlier with my dad to catch sunrises). It was a good time, minus all the meltdowns.
  2. Made it clear that my academic success was up to me, not them
    They still obviously cared, and raised me in a home full of books and learning. But by the end of elementary school/beginning of jr high, it was clear that they weren't about to bug me to do my homework or hound me to get my grades up. It was up to me to motivate myself, and I did. I graduated high school with a 5.0+ GPA and am still going strong in college. My determination/motivation definitely stemmed from this and I'm extremely thankful 🙌
  3. Ate dinner as a family at the table
    Sadly this petered out once my mom went back to work when I was ~14. I miss it, and that's how I know it was a good thing. It definitely reinforced the family unit - the tv had to be off, "no reading at the dinner table" applied to everyone, and even if we didn't talk much, we were still together.
  4. Let my sisters and I take mental health days
    Being a teenager is hard, and my mom got that. If we were really tired or felt burnt out or just didn't feel up to school, we could just ask for a mental health day and then go back to bed. We supposedly only got 1 a semester but I didn't abuse the privilege and my mom didn't keep count so I got away with more.
  5. Encouraged us to read and play outside
    I really, really miss being an 8 year old in the summertime. We would go to the pool everyday with our family friends, my sister wasn't too cool to not play outside with me yet, and I didn't have a phone or a tv in my room and I spent a lot of time reading a lot of awesome books. My mom took us to the library and bought us books and insisted that we play outside, and it was a great foundation for mental/physical health.
  6. Gave us chores
    I think I got handed too much responsibility once my mom went back to work, but before that I had specific chores that I did everyday. They were just to keep me from getting spoiled - I cleared the table after dinner, fed scraps to the chickens, and had to clean my own room. It was a good character builder 💪🏻 (and I didn't come to college having never made my own bed or done my own laundry 👀)