For All the Moms and Dads Out There

By Jedediah Bila

Jedediah Bila

I remember the first time I really understood the value of my mother’s advice. I was thirteen years old, standing in the hallway of my school, about to give a class presentation before a teacher who wasn’t all that fond of me. I had politely declined that particular teacher’s invite to join a school club on one occasion. From that moment on, let’s just say I wasn’t her cup of tea.

I was a very shy kid—hard to believe, I know—and the concept of addressing a room full of my peers and that particular teacher was not something I was looking forward to. So there I was, nervous as all heck, pacing in the hallway, knowing full well that I’d be faced with my teacher’s less-than-agreeable expression throughout the duration of my presentation.

I remember running downstairs to phone my mom from the principal’s office. I can’t recall exactly what I said—likely some medley of panic-stricken worries—but I’ll never forget her reply.

“Just be yourself,” she said. “If you’re honest, and real, and speak from the heart, you have nothing to worry about.”

Mom was right (as she often is). The presentation went great, the cranky teacher rolled her eyes but succumbed to giving me an “A,” and I walked away from that experience with the knowledge that if you stay true to yourself and what you believe, things will always be okay.

I remembered that middle school instance last night as I sat in a Manhattan restaurant and listened to a man and a woman at a nearby table sound off about how the importance of good parenting is “overrated.”

“I just don’t think it makes that big of a difference in the long run,” the gentleman said. His female companion agreed, and they went on to discuss how “parents don’t really shape kids all that much.”

I’m not sure I could disagree more.

I have learned a wealth of lessons through friendships, relationships, and school experiences. However, a large part of the way I have approached those things came from the foundation provided by my parents. I embraced discipline in high school because mom and dad taught me the value of discipline from the very first day of kindergarten. I was receptive to leadership opportunities in college because mom and dad had spent years reminding me that good leadership stems from confidence, commitment, and the ability to really listen.

I value trust because my parents taught me the importance of earning that trust, of giving it back, and of never making promises I can’t keep. I value honesty because they taught me that the greatest treasure you can give someone is the security of knowing that you really do mean what you say. And I value loyalty because they taught me to never turn my back on those who have shown me trust, honesty, and all the wonderful things that come with true friendship.

Good parenting is hard. Parents are just people, and they will make mistakes just like the rest of us. But their power to do good is remarkable. I have such immense respect for parents who put their children first, who devote their lives to providing the best lives they can for their children, and who make it their business to instill values of trust, honesty, loyalty, commitment, and personal responsibility in their children’s hearts.

The power that parents possess to inspire their children, to help them build a solid foundation that will forever ground them in life, and to help them learn how to face tough challenges and rise above tough falls must never be ignored or demeaned. The lessons they teach their children are absolutely priceless.

The thing I feel most blessed with is the knowledge that no matter what life has handed me over the past thirty-two years, I have had the two people I trust and adore most in this world right there to walk through it all with me. I call them Mom and Dad. They don’t always agree with me, but they never stop reminding me to follow my heart, use my head, and always be true to who I am. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

To all the wonderful parents out there—you give your kids the greatest gift in the world every day just by being you.


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9 years ago

Fantastic Article! Well said!

Doug MacDonald
9 years ago

Good points for any parent

8 years ago
Reply to  Doug MacDonald

Of course it’s not fraud to be on your paetrns insurance. It’s actually a smart way to save money. Just be honest about everything. As for the second question, what in the world are you talking about? Do you seriously think that’s a smart thing to do?

9 years ago

What a wonderful column and for you to thank your parents. I have often told my daughters, that I too make mistakes and may not be the parent that lets them do everything they want — but I did give them roots to be steadfast and wings to soar. They have made us proud in their endeavors and also becoming productive human beings. As a librarian I see everyday what non-parenting produces and it is scary.

9 years ago

the couple in the nyc restaurant are a product of the liberal left, “it takes a community to raise a child.” and the current philosophy of the schools, “the child belongs to the state and we let them return to the parents after school.” they also think that what parents teach must be undone in school partiularlly if the parents teaches the children that one is to love God with all their heart, mind and soul.

9 years ago

Thank you for this wonderful article. It’s a treat to read your uplifiting words.

Mr T in Phoenix
9 years ago

The couple you overheard probably had never had any children. Obviously childless couples know more about parenting than parents do.

9 years ago

Great article and great comments. Something I read today has stuck in my mind. It’s an old Jewish proverb, “a half truth is a whole lie.” Glenn Beck reminds us of what Thomas Jefferson said, “question with boldness, hold to the truth and speak without fear.” I collect quotes because they help us to understand traditional values in short, memorable, succinct words. It also helps parents get ideas across to children in an interesting way. Parents are the single strongest influence on their children and hopefully they are being raised in a family with a both a mother and a father.

Bee Warrens
9 years ago

Great article. I do take exception to one statement though:
“parents who put their children first”
Parents whom put their relationship first and love each other have a bigger positive impact than the ones (such as alcoholic families, new parents,and others) that focus on the children first. Otherwise the little ones tend to “run the family”. My family of five children plus foster children were raised with Christian principles, knew my parents loved each other and that GOD was the center of the universe not us.
Looking back, my dad was a strict disciplinarian in our home, but we became mature, responsible, contributing members of society.
Although my parents have passed on, my children are raising my granddaughters in a way that honors their memory.

Kim Turnage
9 years ago

Your article serves to highlight the current crisis of the family. Our government has turned against traditional families and traditional values. Of course parenting is considered “overrated” by that couple and many more. The goal of the “nanny state” is to have everyone dependent on government-that means parents aren’t needed to raise, teach, or nurture. The state is supposed to provide everything the child needs from cradle to grave. Women were convinced they didn’t need husbands to have children, now those children are being told they don’t need the parents either! Welfare, abortion, etc… have produced generations of rudderless takers who only want more.

9 years ago

Paarents have a tendency to look back and say, “Why did I say that or why did I do that?” But, I tell God I did what I thought was right at the time, so I think God chalks that up as success.

My youngest son told me a while back that he had thought I knew everything. That came as a shock, but I’m happy he did think that. It probably gave him a great deal of security.

I love my children and am proud of their accomplishments. But my one desire is that they remember that I wanted the very best for them! And that I wanted them to know God as I know Him. I think they do!

Thank you for the “unpolitically correct” article. i loved it.

9 years ago

A great deal of what I learned from my parents was by example. The didn’t say one thing and do another. I followed their example and now have a 41 year old daughter who never gave us a moment’s grief and is a solid responsible adult.

Mike Rundle
9 years ago

You, Miss Bila, are a National Treasure..your columns are always a Must Read!

9 years ago



9 years ago

Wonderful article. When asked who my heroes are I always say my parents. They gave me life, love, support, a good sense of humor and the best advice at the right time always.

9 years ago

Hopefully, the couple described in this article aren’t breeding. Parents with their type of thinking are the ones whose idiot kids have been stinking up Wall St for the last 4 weeks.

Children aren’t born with a compass. It’s a parent’s responsibility to instill values that, in turn, lead the child to wish to excel in desirable fields. Without guidance and discipline, children will devolve to the lowest level.

By the way, Jedediah, I had an advantage over you in public speaking because my father was a preacher and it always seemed to be the most natural thing to address a bunch of people. If you’re shy, start by staring over their heads, then focus on the odd person who may be smiling at you or looks friendly.

Dave Holland
9 years ago


9 years ago

God, parents, country, and apple pie–a great recipe and what a fantastic article! I absolutely enjoy your writing.

9 years ago

I found out how great my Dad and Mom was.I was really blessed by them.The older I get I realize how great they were.

Hans Schippers
9 years ago

Fortunately for you, I’m a happily married man, but if I weren’t, and I were 20 years younger, you’d be my first choice, dear lady. It’s so refreshing to read the words you write. My wife and I are in total agreement. We raised 6 children using this philsophy and they turned out pretty good. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Gary Canzoneri
9 years ago

I am a parent and a leader in my profession.
I just wrote a note to myself after reading your story.
The note reads: “A good leader is confident, willing to commit, and a good listener.

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