I have mentioned it before, but I am 87 at heart. I find very little interest in the “fun things” people my age take part in. I find my joy in reading, writing, watching the morning news, and coffee/tea. That being said, I have hard time relating to people in their twenties, or younger. I am often considered the “mom” of the group, or the less appealing “stick-in-the-mud”. My old-soul is mostly credited to the way in which I was raised.

I was raised in a way that allowed me to make a lot of my own decisions which resulted in growing up a little faster than most kids. My parents didn’t let me run free or hold me by the hand each day, but they encouraged me to develop my own opinions and make my own choices. Occasionally these choices would lead to consequences, but I would soon learn my lesson and grow from the experience. I have never been an irrational child; I tend to think (and overthink) everything through before I make any decisions. My parents taught me that it is okay to question life and things that we are taught to help develop our own unique beliefs.

I am so thankful that my parents have encouraged this independence in their children, even knowing that their children may develop opinions and beliefs different from their own. Many parents raise their children to act and think just as themselves. This is an odd concept to me because we have all made mistakes in life, so rather than raising your children to make those same mistakes, shouldn’t you raise them to be better versions of yourself? 

Now, I know that I am not a parent, so I have not yet experienced the joy and struggle of raising children. However, as a 21 year old I have spent more time around children than most young adults. I’ve changed more diapers than I care to know, nursed sick kids, mended scratches, peeled gum out of hair, and calmed babies as they cry from the pain of teething. This surely doesn’t make me an expert, or give me the experience of a mother, but it does give me an awareness of the importance of parenthood.

Many people see children as a pawn in the game of life. Children are not a right, they are a privilege and a HUGE responsibility. You, as parents, are responsible for developing these blessings into the best people they can be. Too many parents raise their children with the “do as I say, not as I do” method. Instead, try leading by example and showing your children the RIGHT way. 

My parents have been wonderful examples in my life. They lead by example for each of us and show us how to live life with faith, determination, and positivity. I am not saying that we have turned out to be the perfect children, but we have lived pretty incredible lives. We are each responsible, respectful, smart, and independent beings. 

Kids see and hear more than you may think, so as parents, ask yourself if you would be happy with your children taking the same actions that you take yourself. Don’t raise your children to be a carbon copy; help them be a better and unique individual.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for encouraging me to be an individual and instilling high morals and values in each of us. 

Taylor Cannon

Taylor was born in San Diego and grew up in Kearney, NE. From a young age Taylor has been environmentally cautious and concerned about social justice. She recently graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. Taylor has a passion for photography and volunteering. She hopes to encourage others to take action and become involved in both their local and global communities. Learn more about Taylor's photography at her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taylorcannonphotos