I think my parents did more than a phenomenal job in raising my brother, sister and I. We were probably the healthiest people on the block; armed with our Columbia jackets and tangerines in our pockets, we would take the block by storm.
We watched an hour of television (if it was raining) each day. Nothing more, and sometimes less if we had a busy day.
We played outside no matter how the weather was. We didn't rely on movies, television shows and video games in order to get through a boring day.
Our free time consisted of reading books, playing pretend and having conversations with each other. Never in a million years did I think this was an abnormal life or a bad way to be raised.
Somehow, throughout my life, I have run into plenty of people who bash the way my parents raised me.
I've been laughed at, excluded from conversations and even been told rude comments, like, "You didn't watch TV? What kind of person are you? " Or my favorite, "So like, what did you do all day?"
Well, my friends, I will tell you what I learned from being a "sheltered child."
The Art of Conversation
There are plenty of people who were skeptical of my family for our lack of television watching or short list of favorite movie references. From a young age, I was taught how to be well-spoken and converse with people of different groups.
I am now an expert at knowing my audience, as well as topics about which to talk, or keep quiet. This skill is super important, especially when thrown into uncomfortable situations. More importantly, I learned what not to say, and how to adjust my tones in order to be respected.
I make my friends and family laugh by my wit and creativity, not by what was said by a famous comedian or actor.
Finding My Niche
From an early age, I learned to find my own talent by what made me happy, and to not be swayed by a character in a television show or a movie.
I learned that "happily ever after" comes with hard work and perseverance, and I learned that princess movies are a nice thought, but romance and love don't always happen that way. Teachers and mentors I met through my experiences influenced my talents and hobbies.
Living My Life
I learned to enjoy myself by getting outside and being active. We were not aware of Gameboys and DVD players, so we looked out the windows. My siblings and I spent most car trips playing the license plate game.
Stories would be made up to go along with pedestrians we passed or buildings we saw. Our mother's theory was to look outside because you never know what's going to be out there.
Don't get me wrong; I love a good episode of "Criminal Minds." However, I'd much rather be outside, connecting and reaching out to people, than be inside watching a show about people connecting and reaching out to others.
To the friends and acquaintances I have met in my lifetime who think the way my parents raised me is the incorrect way, I feel sorry for you. I doubt you have seen the amount of landmarks I have seen in my life, the amount of rainbows, the amount of sunrises and sunsets and the amount of life I have experienced.
While watching my sister raise two beautiful girls, I have learned that this sort of life is still possible in today's society. Neither of my nieces have seen a princess movie -- ever.
My older niece may be one of few 4-year-olds who is not wrapped up in a favorite princess. For Halloween, my niece wasn't a Cinderella or a Snow White; she was Elinor from the book, "Soar, Elinor!" For this, I have become inspired.
Here are two moldable children, who can be affected either positively or negatively, untouched by pervasive pop culture.
My advice to you, future and present parents, is don't let your children waste away in front of the television. Sure, your children will be well-versed in pop culture, but let's face it: Pop culture today is certainly despicable.
Go pumpkin picking, on a hike or just talk. You may learn something.