Published on December 5th, 2013 | by Nathaniel


Generational Progress: Shocking… but Your Parents Once Had a Life Too

ParentsCollageSomewhere in a minute, hollowed cavity of your brain resides the sometimes unbearable truth that your parents- yes, the same ones who still think “Twitter” is a verb, Facebook activity must be accompanied with conversational dialogue, and “Instagram” is a form of Morse-Code- had a life before you. Let the denial sink in …Still sinking, right? I know it’s hard to believe that the same parents who you’re convinced time-travel back to 1986 to get their fashion-sense could have possibly, maybe sorta, existed independent of you. If you can accept this inconvenient reality, have you ever thought about how much generational progress your parents have made?

I’d like to believe that every generation has the intention to experience and provide their children with a better experience than they grew up with. Too often, we take our upbringing for face-value, only recognizing the things we lacked- the things that our parents shoulda, woulda, coulda given us.

As a first generation Ghanaian/ American, I’ve been blessed (and tested) by having two parents who trekked continents to get here (Imagine bringing your friend home only to find your mom or dad eating fried fish heads with their hands…). Both of my parents had to have the courage to leave their entire family and forge their way, country after country.

Nurse MomMy mom lost her father before she could even walk. She grew up in Capecoast, Ghana as one of six children whom her mother was striving to support. Selling in the street markets became a way of life for her and her siblings. But she had a vision that she was going to leave Ghana. After considering every possible avenue, she knew that education was her only route. So after months of compounded prayers, patience, and blessings, she received acceptance to nursing school in Europe and became the first and only one from her immediate family to move abroad. In midwifery and nursing school, she was always one of a couple, if not the only black/African student. She lived and traveled through, Scotland, England, and other countries before moving to the US where she would live back East, down South, and finally call California home.


My pops grew up in Accra, Ghana as one of eight children. He had an estranged relationship with his own father and witnessed a cold and tumultuous marriage between his parents. He was often ridiculed and put down by his dad. When he decided to leave Ghana, he had to beg his father for pocket change. He arrived in Europe with no resources or family and had to forge a way using his intellect. He attended school in Germany, learning to speak and write fluent German. He also learned to speak fluent French and understand Latin. Over the course of his educational career, he traveled or lived in Italy, Modolva, Nigeria, Togo, Holland, Brussels, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Belgium, Scotland, St. Kitts, Denmark, and Sweden… just to name a few. And through it all he’s fought through sickle-cell anemia, multiple strokes, a heart attack, diabetes, high-blood pressure, and vision problems.

mom and dad

But growing up I hadn’t experienced this “enlightenment.” So naturally I wondered why my parents didn’t have a “normal” marriage, why I never saw them kiss, why they rarely spoke, why they got divorced, why my dad was always away at school, why he moved away, why my mom was so strict, why she was always working and probably a hundred other why’s… But all of these “why’s” pale in comparison to the progress they’ve both made in their respective ways. Before they had kids, they were adventuring the world, creating and solving problems, and running away from and toward their purpose. Maybe it’s not everything they wanted or desired, but they are two incredibly gifted, resourceful, loving, and dynamic individuals who have both jumped through hurdles to achieve and offer their children something better.

“One of the most moral acts is to create a space in which life can move forward.”
―Robert M. Pirsig

Think about your upbringing? What hurdles have your parents been through? What struggles have they overcome? How have they made generational progress?

Comment below- we’d love to hear them 🙂

Twitter: @NathanielSimons

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One Response to Generational Progress: Shocking… but Your Parents Once Had a Life Too

  1. Pingback: If You Don’t Remember Your Family’s Failures You May Repeat Them - Being Encouraged

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