I’m the middle kid in my family. I have an older sister who is much prettier than I and a younger brother, who was a dream come true for my father, who always wanted to have a boy to carry on the family name, so it’s no wonder that I’ve always been the rebel, the troublemaker in the family. I suppose that I just wanted attention, but I also had a strong desire to live my life my way.
Growing up with a strong-minded entrepreneur who had a very clear idea in his mind about what was best not only for the company but for every single member of his family was not easy for me. I imagine that dealing with a strong-minded child was not easy for him, either.
My father’s biggest loves in his life are his kids and his business, so he has always tried to keep us together. We started working in the family business as children helping out on the weekends. Later, as teenagers, we rotated through different positions giving holidays to employees and working part-time during college managing one of the service areas of the company.
I loved it. I hated it. I loved the learning, the responsibility, and feeling useful and proud of my family. I hated the lack of freedom, feeling that I did not have a say in what I wanted, and how demanding and difficult to please may father could be.
When we had arguments, my father would end the discussion with, “You don’t understand how much a parent loves a child until you have one.” I think I understand now that I’m also a parent.
My father asked us to take on jobs such as waiting tables, pumping gasoline, and cleaning cars. His expectation that we would work as hard in the business as he did was his way of loving us and teaching us the value of money, appreciation for what we had, humility, and respect for other people regardless of their background. Our successful company was not a present; it was the result of hard work and dedication.
My father did not make things easy for me. I had to fight hard for want I wanted. This was also his way of loving me. He just wanted to protect me, but his strong desire to control my life was my biggest motivation to be brave, follow my instincts, and not settle for less than what I wanted.
Today is Thanksgiving, and I have many things to be grateful for: my family, my husband, my kids, my friends, my wonderful life… But what I have to be the most grateful for is growing up in a family business with a strong father who cared deeply about me. Thanks to him and to all the good and bad moments we have gone through, I am who I am and I have the life I have today. I couldn’t be more grateful for that!
Thanks, Dad, for being the wonderful father you are. I love you.
Happy thanksgiving to everybody!
Written by Carmen Lence, Family Business Consultant and coach