In interviews over the years, Bill Gates has revealed three aspects of his childhood that helped shape him into who he is today, including the slightly unconventional way he was raised by his parents, Mary and William Gates Sr. The Gates family made a point of being involved in community work and philanthropy, making sure that their kids participated too. They also gave their son a significant amount of independence, but wouldn’t let him give up just because he didn’t excel at something.
A lot of factors had to come together to make Bill Gates into the billionaire philanthropist he is today including the way he was raised. His parents Mary and William Gates, Sr. weren’t afraid to be a little unconventional when it came to raising their son. Gates has revealed three aspects of his childhood that helped shape him into who he is today.
- They Stressed the importance of community
The Gates family made a point of being involved in community work and philanthropy, making sure that their kids participated too. “Mary was a firm believer in an idea from the ‘Book of Luke’: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,'” Gates Sr. Said in an interview with Forbes. “From the beginning, she instilled it as an important value in our family.” It’s clear that this is something their son has taken seriously in his adult life as well.
- They gave him a significant amount of independence
The struggle between parents’ authority and children’s autonomy is nothing new, but the Gates parents were more willing than most to give him a significant amount of independence. They enrolled Bill in a private school known to give their students unusual amounts of freedom. It was at this school that Bill discovered computers.By the age of 13, Bill’s parents permitted him to visit the University of Washington at night to use their computers. They also allowed him to leave home for chunks of time, like to go to Olympia, where he was a page at the state legislature, and Washington, D.C. to work as a Congressional page. He also took a break from school his senior year of high school to work as a programmer at a power plant in southern Washington. All this was before he dropped out of Harvard University to move to New Mexico to found Microsoft.
- They wouldn’t let him give up just because he didn’t excel in something
When you’re raising a smart kid who’s good at a lot of things, it can be easy to let them drop out of activities where they don’t excel. But that’s not what the Gates parents did they made sure he continued to participate in swimming, soccer, football, and playing the trombone even if he wasn’t the most gifted in those areas. Though it probably would have been easier not to attend kids’ soccer games or have someone in your house learning how to play a brass instrument, Bill’s parents understood that it was important that he learned that he didn’t have to be good at everything, and that failure is perfectly normal and acceptable.”At the time I thought it was kind of pointless,” Bill Gates said “but it ended up really exposing me to leadership opportunities and showing me that I wasn’t good at a lot of things, instead of sticking to things that I was comfortable with. It was fantastic, and now some of those activities I cherish. They had to stick to it because I pushed back a lot, but it was fantastic advice.