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Just Like Mom


Article by John Zendrosky

Photography by John Zendrosky

In my practice as a financial advisor, one of the first questions that I ask clients is simply, “What did you learn while growing up from Mom and Dad about money?”.

And at that point, I just let them talk. People will tell me about how the lights would go out and how their parents worked multiple jobs. They will tell me about how an illness or early death made life incredibly hard. They will tell me that they lived a ‘normal’ suburban life but that their parents only ever told them cliché sayings around money and never dove in. Occasionally, I hear of parents who truly nailed financial education and involved their children in many steps of the process!

However, I ask this question and follow up with an even better one. “In ‘X’ number of years, if I asked your kids that same question, what would you like for them to say?”

That one gets people thinking.

People tend to be in two camps, either wanting to do the exact opposite of what they saw demonstrated by their parents or they want to emulate that exact same example that was set for them.

One thing that you do not have to talk to me for long to discover that I am passionate about is the outdoors. I was not always that way. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC, I never went camping in a tent or went overnight hiking, etc. The extent of my nature involvement was when our parents would trade in their Williamsburg, Virginia timeshare to try new locations every spring break as a family.

I remember traveling all the way up and down the East Coast and visiting places like Mount Washington, Gatlinburg, the Poconos, and many other locations. One thing that I dreaded on these trips, as a moody teenage boy who just wanted to stay home and waste away on my handheld Gameboy system, was the dreaded waterfall trips…

You see, my mother was (and still is) a huge advocate and lover of a good waterfall hike. Some hikes were simpler than others, but they were the bane of my existence. Sure, the waterfall was pretty, but the walk, the time involved, and the dedication of my day were all downers.

And then something silly happened, I grew up.

Though my body does hurt more after a long hike these days and I now have a wild toddler to wrangle, waterfall hikes are a favorite part of any road trip for my family. I love the hike itself. I love the time spent on the mission. And I love sticking my feet in the refreshing water.

I even went to a college named after the 186’ waterfall on campus, pictured above, Toccoa Falls College!

Those hikes, as much as I hated them in my teenage years, shaped me tremendously. I have been to see waterfalls in 12 of the 25 countries I have been in, I would spend free days hiking and tasting fantastic wines, and I even have a Thomas Kincaid puzzle or two involving waterfalls. I love it! It’s become a hobby of mine, just like it was for Mom.

What is It that you remember fondly about growing up that you’ve chosen to emulate from your parents? What did you hate about growing up that you’re now the opposite of today? What have you just pieced together that you do/avoid in your adult life since reading this? Always feel free to share, connect, and leave some wise words!

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