Parents. The first people you see when you're born. The only people who know you better than you do. Sometimes you love them, sometimes you hate them. Parents teach us everything we know. But they are times when they've taught us things without even realizing. Here are seven things my parents taught me without realizing.

1. The importance of independence

My parents taught me independence at an early age. I was potty trained early, making my own meals, and even waking myself up before the first grade. But I guess the real question is did my parents purposefully teach me these things early so that I would be independent later on in life, or because they were tired of waking me up every morning?

2. Discipline

Discipline — and no, I'm not talking about getting "spanked" or "beat" or anything. I'm talking discipline as in knowing what you do now will affect you later. Or that if you do it right the first time, then you won't have to do it later. My parents were good on letting me make my own decisions so that I would see my own outcome and learn from my own mistakes. Even though it sucked at the time. it definitely paid off in the end. And for that, I thank them.

3. That a smile and a wave goes a long way 

My dad always told me, "Smile at everyone you see no matter what." Honestly, I thought it was just a courtesy thing or something my dad wanted me to do just to see how many times I smiled in one day. Looking back, I can definitely say that smiles are actually rewarding. I still use that same little rule that my dad taught me today, and honestly, it makes me feel good, even if some people don't smile back.

4. Things come and go

I was never one of those kids where I got everything I wanted. If I did want something, I better wait until Christmas or find my own money to get it. I'm so happy my parents taught me this because I realized things fade. For example, while everyone had Silly Bandz or miss me jeans, I had to wait to get them. But by the time I was about to get them, some new thing had come out, and I had totally forgotten about it in the first place.

5. Money does NOT grow on trees

The value of a dollar. Everyone has their own definition of it, and my parents definitely had theirs. My brother and I weren't getting anything unless it was absolutely essential to have it. This is a very important rule to remember because... college, man. It's hard and we're broke. If you use your money wisely and buy the right things at the right times, you're set.

6. How to balance a busy life

In high school, I was involved in two sports, a job, and other extracurriculars. My day would start with volleyball, crammed with an eight hour school day, finished off with track with a side of a five-hour work shift. Now that I'm in college, two to three classes a day is like heaven. I have so much more time to do stuff, I almost don't even know what to do. But balancing my time is one thing I will never have to worry about.

7. The value of family 

At the end of the day, family is all you have. I've learned from many trials that without family, you're nothing. The old saying "you can choose your friends, but not your family" is really special. If everything happens for a reason, then your family is your family for a reason. It's actually insane that out of the billions of people in the world, you have YOUR mom and YOUR dad and YOUR aunt/uncle or whatever the case may be.

At the end of the day, parents really are special. Even though mine differ from yours, we all still know the warm feeling that only family can bring. Maybe next time you'll thank your parents for the lessons they taught you, and even hug them a little tighter.