The Powerful Yet Hidden Influence of Parents

Tommy Leung wrote this on Aug 22, 2018
4 minute read

I was in a conversation about how parents influence their children through parenting.

Stories were shared.

I realized during this conversation that my parents had critical roles in shaping my life. It seems obvious to say it. Of course our parents shape who we are!

But I never took the time to think about it.

I love computers, reading books, and lifting weights.

They are pillars in my life. I’ve had a career as a software engineer. I’ve benefited from and learned countless lessons from weight lifting. The core of my personal growth and informal learning have come from books.

There’s as good a chance that I would have never developed these interests and life habits if my parents didn’t encourage it.

They didn’t encourage with words. They aren’t that touchy-feely type. They just acted.

My Dad brought home our first computer when I was a teenager. His job had upgraded computers. They were getting rid of the old ones so he got to take one home.

This computer ran MS-DOS. There were no windows. You could type and create text files. That was about it.

I was intrigued with the device nonetheless. I remember typing down all the button combinations for Mortal Kombat on this computer. There was no way to get it out but I typed it in anyway.

My Dad then bought a modern computer that ran Windows 95 not long after. It was the family computer but I probably used it more than anyone else.

That computer was my gateway to a world and skillset that I am grateful for everyday.

“Parenting is the biggest sacrifice one can make, it’s putting your life on hold to fulfill the promise of your children’s tomorrow’s.”

- Frederica Ehimen

I became addicted to the Goosebumps series of books in my childhood. I don’t remember how I old I was but I had a shelf filled with them. It was my Mom who bought me these books on her way home from work. She did this regularly.

She saw that I loved reading Goosebumps and took it upon herself to buy me more. I eventually had 45 books in the series before I had enough. And my Mom bought me each and every one of them.

Would I be such a voracious reader today if she hadn’t done that? I will never know.

I have over 240 titles in my Amazon Kindle library. I’ve had the Kindle for a while but that’s still a lot of books. That doesn’t count the physical books that I still buy or the ones I’ve borrowed from the public library.

I cannot even begin to quantify what I’ve learned from books.

“Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.”

- Gary Smalley

I broke my arm in 5th grade. I had a cast for several weeks and when it came off my arm was weak. I needed to exercise it to regain strength.

One of the things I did was play basketball. I was a chubby kid and not very good at basketball. I’ve never been particularly athletic.

I grew up in a rough neighborhood but my Mom would take me to the park early on the weekends to shoot around. She’s even less athletic than me. But she took me there and shooting the basketball helped me regain my strength.

Around that time I found my Dad’s single 20lb cement dumbbell. My Dad isn’t athletic either but most men will have dabbled in weights at some point in their lives. The man who doesn’t want muscles is a rare one.

I started experimenting with the dumbbell and my Dad showed me the few exercise he knew of. I loved the notion that I could train and get stronger.

Shortly after that my Dad took the family to Modell’s and picked up a dumbbell weight set for me. It wasn’t a huge thing. Just 2 dumbbells with adjustable weights but it expanded my world of exercise possibilities tremendously.

I’ve been an avid weight lifter ever since. It is my preferred form of exercise but more importantly it centers me. Weight lifting is meditative and a time for me to destress and focus on improving myself. It has kept me disciplined and instilled a growth mindset.

Computers. Reading books. Weight lifting.

These are 3 of the most important things in my life. And I haven’t appreciated the role my parents played until now.

We don’t appreciate what our parents do for us as we grow up and they never ask that we do when we’re grown up.

“Appreciate your parents. You never know what sacrifices they went through for you.”

- Unknown