“One of the greatest titles in the world is parent, and one of the biggest blessings in the world is to have parents to call mom and dad.” – Jim DeMint

It is only when you become a parent yourself that you realize what an enormous sacrifice and how much hard work it is to raise a kid. Then you start feeling guilty that you never really appreciated what your parents did for you. If you get a chance before they leave forever, tell them what you feel and how much you will miss them. Here are 8 things I wish I could tell my parents.

1. I am grateful for the role models you provided

Strong ethics and hard work marked you as special. They were your hallmarks. You gave me the role models to follow and I will never forget that, and will teach my kids the same. You taught me that there were no short cuts and you encouraged me to study hard. You did not get too upset when the report cards read, “He should try harder.”

2. I love the way you helped others

You went out of your way to help neighbors and friends who were experiencing difficult times and you demonstrated your values by taking action. If our neighbour lost her keys, Dad was there to tell her to retrace her steps. It worked every time!

3. I now know your standards were never too high

When you taught me that there was only one way to do anything – the right way – I thought you were far too strict. But there was never any question about shaming us in public, which is so popular nowadays. Now I know what is always right and that shoddy shortcuts and manipulative tactics will never pay off in the long term.

4. I love the way you encouraged us to work and earn money

You demonstrated a hard work ethic. I was allowed to work at the age of 17 in a laundry for two months, which was difficult, but taught me many life lessons I will never forget. Then I had an astonishing range of summer jobs such as bar person, lab assistant, door to door salesman, and fruit picker. This taught me the value of money and how to save for emergencies.

5. I am grateful you never intervened at school

I had problems at school, but you never intervened because you taught us to fend for ourselves. There were cases of bullying, sporting failures and disappointing exam results but you were never going to intervene on our behalf. We knew that we had to stand on our own two feet. You allowed us to fail and learn some tough life lessons. We were astonished when parents of delinquents and bullies were constantly ringing up the Principal to protest about the suspension of their little pets.

6. I am grateful for the chores we had to do

I complained at the time, but now I know the true value of helping out around the house. My mother worked, so we all had to muscle in and get things on the table by a certain time. We learned great skills and my ironing, cooking and gardening skills are still admired. Thank goodness you never spoiled us.

7. I thank you for the gift of reading

We were encouraged to read from early on. I still have my first Ladybird book, “Dick Whittington Goes to London.” Other kids never read anything and they grew up to be bigoted and badly behaved. Reading was an eye opener to the real world and I will never forget that wonderful gift you gave us.

“From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover that you have wings.” – Helen Hayes

8. I thank you for teaching me about gratitude

“Count your blessings,” was my mother’s refrain. Every day, she reminded us to be grateful and that is the most important lesson my parents ever taught me. She just knew instinctively that was the secret to happiness and success. She would laugh now at the research which shows that adolescents who are taught to be grateful do better at school and suffer from less depression and envy. Everybody knows that, but she actually practised it and I am so grateful for that. Thanks Mom!

 “Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he puts in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?”- G.K. Chesterton