December 20, 2014

Rich Dad, My Father

My dad asked me if I was interested in blogging for him. I said, “On what?”

He replied, “Whatever you want! Something financial.”

I decided that I would blog on my childhood lessons, particularly but not limited to the financial ones. However, before I begin telling you the lessons I learned from my parents, there are four parts to their parenting that I particularly want to praise.

First, they were intentional.

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
– Aristotle

With my parents, everything that could be a lesson was one. For example, I learned proper social interactions from playing Barbies with my dad, comparative price shopping from purchasing groceries with my mom, generosity from open conversations with my parents about charitable giving, and basic manners from a child’s game at the dinner table. We had hand signals, secret catch phrases, and cues for aside conversations all invented so that my parents could privately and painlessly teach me lessons.

Second, they treated me as an adult with the vocabulary of a child.

Little girls are cute and small only to adults.  To one another they are not cute.  They are life-sized.
– Margaret Atwood

I cannot remember a time when I was treated as anything less than an equal in my family. Certainly, I recognized my parents as people of honor worthy of respect. However, my parents also treated me as equal. They answered my questions with honesty, included me in relevant decisions, and even taught me lessons that are traditionally “way above a child.” The only difference between my childhood conversations with my parents and the same conversations now is the vocabulary. “Comparative price shopping” is a phrase too large for a six-year old. However, “buying the cheapest item” is easy to understand.

Third, they taught me the wisdom of an adult.

“We ought to esteem it of the greatest importance that the fictions which children first hear should be adapted in the most perfect manner to the promotion of virtue.”
– Plato

When I was in elementary school, I remember being shocked that my friends’ parents did not play with them. What other way is there to play Barbies but role-playing with your father? How could you enjoy finger painting if there was not a mother to explain it to in the end? They used the things I enjoyed doing to teach me how to live life well. They told and showed me the truth through fun.

Fourth, they encouraged me in anything I wanted to do.

We should not teach children the sciences; but give them a taste for them.
– Jean Jacques Rousseau

They exposed me to everything… I did gymnastics, basketball, ballet, soccer, horseback riding, clogging, fiction writing, drawing, painting, voice lessons, flute lessons, piano programs, graphic design, website design, and computer programming all because of my parent’s encouragement. I expressed a bit of interest in something and the next thing I knew I was signed up for a program, attending a class, or given the means to try it. I was taught very early on that my hesitation was the only reason I wasn’t doing great things yet.

I did not realize until I was older how unique my parents were. I credit them for making me almost everything that I am. They gave me my logical way of thinking, my sense of purpose in the world, and my joyful childhood approach to life. When people hear my dreams and ambitions, they respond, “Cleary a Marotta!”

David John Marotta may just be an economic columnist to you or perhaps you have the blessing of having him as your financial planner, but to me he is an amazing father and a best friend. And in future posts, I’d like to take my opportunity on this blog to show you some of lessons he and my mother taught me that make them both so spectacular.

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About Megan Russell

Megan Russell+ is the Systems Analyst for Marotta Wealth Management. A Cognitive Science graduate from the University of Virginia, Megan loves neuroscience, formal logic, creative writing, kittens, and her childhood. Her favorite blog series: Wealth Inequality in America.

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