Why I owe my parents everything

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I saw a meme the other day from someone that basically equated to this statement.

“I don’t owe my parents anything”

I dug deeper into why someone would say that. Some people felt like their parents mistreated them which is a valid point. If my parents mistreated me I would probably have the same sentiment. But I felt a larger number of people just had this notion that they didn’t want to deal with their parents.

I guess I don’t understand that. If there was abuse or neglect then yes you have a right to disavow your parents. But if they raised you the best they could and provided what they could I feel you owe your parents something. 

Maybe you don’t have to give up everything to take care of them. And if they are older and can’t take care of themselves you don’t necessarily have to let them live with you. But you should do everything possible to help them out.

I could be blinded by the fact that my parents did everything to help me. I am not saying they did everything for me but they set me on a path to being a decent human. They raised me to be kind to others and they set an example that probably few parents can live up to. 

Here are some reasons why I feel like I owe my parents everything:

They taught me to love everyone

heart in the sand. I owe my parents everything because they showed me love
My parents taught me to love everyone

You see a lot of people these days who show up for church and pray and then go home. And that might be the extent of their beliefs. Not my parents. We went to church often and we learned at home how to love everyone.

My parents would help anyone, mentor anyone, and do just about anything for anyone. It really didn’t matter if they knew the person for a long time or just met them. I can remember my parents teaching marriage classes and counseling young couples to make sure they were ready to take the next step.

Even today when they are advanced in their age and don’t get around well they volunteer their time at the church food pantry. Their love for others never stops.

They showed me how to handle finances

Growing up I knew my mom and dad didn’t have a lot of money. But I can’t remember a single instance of ever feeling that way. They didn’t spend money on my brothers and me because there was no pressure to do so.

We grew up understanding the value of saving and spending wisely. Never being cheap but always find the most frugal way to purchase things. 

Mom would go to the butcher shop and buy loads of bulk meat and bring it home and put it in the freezer. I always thought it was kind of strange but as I grew older I realized that she was able to purchase all of that at a reduced price and then we could thaw it out as we needed it.

Rarely did our family have a new car. Dad would always find a deal on a used car and make it go as long as he could. I almost inherited his old truck that literally had holes in the floorboard. The only reason I didn’t get it is that it finally just gave up and my dad decided to move on.

They showed me how to help others

My parents showed me how to help others
My parents showed me how to help others

I talked about how much my parents would go out of their way to show their love. They would always be up for volunteering and helping whenever they could. And I can’t remember once them complaining about having to help at another event.

They were scout leaders for both my brothers and me. Any time we had something at church and needed volunteers they would always step up and be ready to help.

Their enthusiasm for helping others is part of the reason I will always go out of my way to help them. Even though they may not ask up front if I ever see a need around my parent’s house I would try to take care of it.

They showed me how to be a good parent

I see some people struggling with being a dad. And sometimes when I dig in I find out that either they grew up in a single-parent house or there was some issue with their parents.

I’m not saying my parents were perfect. They made mistakes. I make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But my parents made parenting look so effortless. And having 3 boys myself I know raising 5 boys was not an easy task. 

Both of my parents worked. My mom was a preschool teacher so yes she worked often while we were in school but she did a lot more. My dad always worked a full-time job but yet he found time to volunteer and spend time with us.

But I couldn’t tell you a single time I felt like my mom and dad were not around or checked out as parents. I can’t think of any instance where I said man my mom and dad dropped the ball there. Maybe it’s a bias and I have blocked out those memories. But when I talk to my brothers they feel the same way.

They bailed me out

jail cell
They bailed me out when I needed them
They bailed me out when I needed them

When I say they bailed me out I mean literally. As in they got me out of jail.

When I was young and stupid I ended up in jail. I was 18 and scared and had no idea what to do. I was railroaded by the local sheriff’s deputies who convinced me I didn’t need a lawyer and my only option was to spend the night in jail.

And I did. And I don’t regret it. I now know how that feels and because of that experience, I would never want to go back.

The thing is my mom bailed me out. She didn’t have to put up money but they released me to her based on who she was. Everyone in town knew who my mom was. And if for some reason I didn’t show up to court she would have to answer for it.

I think about that often. I think about how I probably would have never been in that situation if I just would have listened to her. But there she was picking me up from jail. She didn’t have to but she did.

They corrected with firm love

I was far from the perfect child. I was in trouble a lot because I lacked common sense as a kid. I made mistakes and got myself in trouble often.

But every time I was in trouble my mom and dad would punish me accordingly and explain why I was in trouble. Did I get whooped? Yes. But not often. Most of the time I was punished I lost a privilege and then that was the end of it.

I can remember a time in my high school years. I was supposed to go camping over a weekend with a friend. We had the bright idea to skip school on Friday to go up early and set up camp. 
That morning it was raining and we all met at my house. We were just sitting around waiting for the rain to stop and my mom pulled up.

I panicked.

It was too late to act like we were not there because my friend’s truck was out front loaded up and she knew what we were going to do. My mom came home early because she was sick. She just looked at me and said “Well I guess you are not going camping”.

I was mad but I understood her position. I should have just gone to school and we could have left right after. I mean it was raining after all so we didn’t gain any time by skipping school.

After having to stay home Friday night and most of Saturday my mom came in and explained why she was mad. Then she did something surprising. She said I could go out but I had to be back by 10.

Honestly, I don’t think I would have ever been that soft on my kids. But she explained that she felt missing out on the camping trip, which I really wanted to do, was punishment enough, and if I wanted to go out I could.

I remember those times. The times that she could have been so harsh but instead she simply corrected and showed love.

They showed me mercy

They showed me mercy
They showed me mercy

After my mom bailed me out of jail you would think I would have learned my lesson and just stayed away from the person that got me there.

My mom got my brother to agree to let me live with him so I would be away from that situation. But the stupid younger version of me was not a smart person. And I ended up back with the people that got me in trouble in the first place.

I moved away on my own. Living with a girl that was the primary reason I was in trouble. I thought it was love but it wasn’t. It was just me being ignorant.

Then the girl cheated on me. 

I was lost. I didn’t have anywhere to go. My friends had all long moved on. I burned a bridge with my brother who I had previously lived with.

So I called my mom.

And once again the love and mercy that she had still shocks me to this day.

No questions asked. Just “When are you coming home?”

It wasn’t the only time she showed me mercy and there were other times I saw this same love and mercy shown to others. And I have to think about that anytime my mind says to forget about someone who did me wrong.

They looked past my mistakes

If you haven’t figured it out yet you know I am a flawed person. I would be lying if I said it was only younger me that made mistakes. 

But every time I made mistakes my parent looked past my mistake and saw a future of growth. If it wasn’t for them I would never have been a father multiple times. Or I may have even been an absent father.

My wife and I had our first son out of wedlock. We were both young and it just happened. I can remember telling my parents and thinking well they are going to say I am just on my own now.
But once again they just gave me some words of wisdom and offered their support. 

I knew right away that I wanted to marry my wife. Even my mom said you don’t have to rush into marriage just because you are having a kid. But I had to make things right and the more I thought about my future wife the more I realized I wanted to marry her.

Then my mom offered something that surprised me. They offered to let me and my fiance live in the apartment attached to their house after the baby was born.

Without that help, we probably would have struggled and our relationship would have fallen completely apart.

If your parents raised you and kept you alive do you owe them anything? I would say in most cases the answer is yes. I find that a lot of the people fall into a few camps when they say that they don’t owe their parents anything. 

  • Their parents mistreated them in some way.
  • Their parents separated and it did not go well.
  • They had no issues but they don’t have kids yet.

Once again when I say you owe them I am not saying you have to spend your entire life savings to take care of them. But if there is a chance that you can move your parents in when they need care it’s the least you can do since they allowed you to live in their house for 18+ years.

Some will argue that it’s their job to do that. But after fostering I see some people don’t feel like there is an obligation to raise kids and be good parents.

If my mom called me today and asked me to come over and help her or do something for my dad I would drive the 2+ hours immediately. But she won’t do that. She knows that we have our own families and our own responsibilities and if they need help they will call a friend or a professional to take care of it.

But if I am at their house and she says this thing needs to be done and I can do it. I will. Why? Because I owe her everything. So the least I can do is a small task to help out.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel like you owe your parents anything? Maybe your kids are grown do you feel like you did enough to make them feel like they owe you something?

Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

All images courtesy of Unsplash

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