Five Midwestern Values I Want to Teach My Son

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I was born and raised in Minnesota. My husband is from Wisconsin. We’re raising our seven-year-old son in Los Angeles and trying hard to instill in him the values we grew up with.

I want him to know that having to shovel out your car and scrape the ice from your windshield before you drive to your waitressing job is a tough morning, not running out of Greek yogurt.

I hesitate to call our values “Midwestern” because – although I identify myself that way – the values my parents instilled in me and the ones I want my son Riley to have are simply (in my opinion) human ones. That being said here we go:

1. As your parent, I think you are extraordinary and amazing. The rest of the world does not. You have to earn the good opinions and respect of others.

2. The first brand new car you own, you buy yourself.  There is nothing like the pride you feel buying something on your own. Spoiler Alert Riley:   You are not getting a brand new car with a bow on it for your 16th birthday.  Unless you buy it yourself and then I will totally throw in the bow. Buck up my friend, the only car my parents gave me was my mom’s old Ford escort that didn’t go in reverse. I got that car when I was a junior in college. As much as I hated only being able to park in spaces I could pull out of, perhaps it taught me to always look forward. Thank you, Mom and Dad. I went to the premiere of the Reba show in a Toyota Tercel that was duct taped together. But I will never forget driving onto the lot after the show went to series in my brand new Jetta that I bought MYSELF. Again thank you, Mom and Dad.

3. I am not your friend. I am your mother. I love you enough to not be your buddy or your pal. You will have lots of friends but only one mother and I take that job seriously. I don’t want to be cool, or one of your gang. I want you to be afraid of getting in trouble. I want you to say things like ” No way, my mom would kill me” Someday when you are grown up with your own family I hope you will see that by doing that I was always your best friend.

4. Your word is everything. If you give someone your word it’s as good as any contract. In a world where people look for loopholes or get out of things by saying “I never signed anything” I want you to always follow through. If you say you are going to be there, be there and be 10 minutes early.

5. The world is bigger than just you. You are a small part of a community. Don’t be that guy that walks in the middle of a parking lot not noticing that he is preventing people from parking or moving or pulling out! Don’t be that person that stops right in front of an escalator to answer their phone so everyone behind you can’t get on! Notice and be aware of others and their needs.

6. Be kind. I don’t care if you ever win a Pulitzer or invent a car that won’t let you turn unless you use your blinker (but I hope you do). I would rather you be kind sometimes that’s harder to do. And I was never more proud of you than when your teacher told your dad and I that you were kind to everyone. Now get to work on that car that won’t let you turn unless you use your blinkers.

Melissa Peterman is an actress, comedienne and working mom. She hosts hilarious new game show, “Bet On Your Baby,” airing Saturday nights on ABC. Melissa also stars in ABC Family’s “Baby Daddy” and “Dancing Fools.”

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