Don’t forget your raising
“Don’t forget your raising.” That’s what my high school principal, who was well acquainted with my raising, wrote in my yearbook twenty-six years ago. My daughter stumbled upon this quote as she laughed her way through my senior yearbook. After she finished looking at pictures of a much younger version of the Dad she knows today, she began to read aloud what old friends and teachers had written. Of all the things she read, her attention kept coming back to that simple sentence, “Don’t forget your raising.” Four words had captured her attention which led to the inevitable question, “Dad, what does that mean?”
I remember asking myself that same question the very first time I read it. I have to admit as a teenage boy with a very short attention span that I didn’t spend too much time thinking about exactly what this meant for me. Funny thing is that over the next twenty-six years I never quite forgot that sentence. I’ve thought about it often and now I was sitting with my daughter faced with the same question.
How did I answer her? I didn’t want to push it off like I did many years ago. This time I really wanted to know what my principal meant so I found his number, called him up, and asked him. Mr. Scarbrough did indeed remember writing that simple sentence in my yearbook. After many years as a teacher and principal, he was witness to thousands of young people beginning their lives after high school, some successfully and some unsuccessfully. He saw the difference between success and failure, in many instances, was the ability to “remember one’s raising.” He went on to tell me that the expression centers on one’s values that have been taught and lived out in front of me on a daily basis; values such as honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, compassion, perseverance, and empathy.
Later that evening, my daughter was quick to ask me if I had called Mr. Scarbrough. As a father, it was rewarding to share the conversation with her. I told her it doesn’t matter if you’re a wealth manager, a high school principal, a home builder or a high school student-your values matter. We talked about how those values can be a guide, a set of standards, or a blueprint for how we treat one another. Our values help us create an environment where the greater good is valued over personal gain at others’ expense.
As you read the headlines or watch the nightly news, it’s easy to see lots of examples of people forgetting their raising. Most of us have been taught the values needed to succeed by our parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and community. They have given us a roadmap to a full life that holds us to a level of accountability to live up to those standards. In the end, we should never risk forgetting our raising.