Shaheen Wirk on How Parents Provide Family Stablity After a Divorce
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In Chapter 1 of 17 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, hedge fund analyst Shaheen Wirk shares how his parents were divorced when he was seven years old and how the divorce did and did not impact the family. He shares how his mom and dad were able to maintain a strong family foundation even after separating. Wirk notes how this concept of family has been something that has evolved in his life. He shares how his father used to make he and his sister do workbooks on weekends before play.


Erik: What childhood experiences have been most fundamental to shaping who you are today? Shaheen: Well, I’ll give you one that I just thought of because I was asked about this the other night at dinner. So my parents are divorced, they got divorced when I was 7. And I was asked if I thought that that had somehow affected me adversely. And I said that I thought that it hadn’t because, I said I was very lucky, I grew up, my parents both stayed there. I always had a mom. I always had a dad. I never doubted that my parents loved me. And so—and I never questioned whether I had one or the other. And that was hugely formative because that’s a situation writhe for a lot of unwanted sequela but—that had a big impact on me just how my parents—not their divorced but how they carried it after the fact, you know? And I told a story about there was literally one time where I felt like I didn’t have the intact parental unit, and that story sticks out to me not because it happened because like I can only think of one time, where I felt like I was missing something. That’s—you know, that’s amazing. That’s a tribute to my parents. So that had a big impact on me, that sticks out. I remember the first time we lost a dog. That was hugely—it was hugely impactful in the sense that I couldn’t believe how much my parents were impacted by it, how much it hurt them, obviously I was a kid and I lost my pet, and I was pretty upset, but they were pretty upset too. And it just sort of made me have an appreciation for family. Family can be wider and broader than—it’s not just people you call mother, father, brother, sister, it can include friends and it can even include pets, like I think my concept of family broadened, and that’s something that I very much think about today. I don’t think of my family just as the three people who are genetically closest to me. So another thing my dad did, which in retrospect was totally crazy and awesome. And I’m gonna do it to my kids. So he went to like the store and he bought workbooks. Yeah, I remember, he came home, and he bought just stacks and stacks, just math workbook, a reading workbook, whatever. He threw them in the laundry room and like we go in the laundry room and there was—yeah, there was so many workbooks. And my dad had a rule like every weekend, me and my sister on Saturday had to do—finish a workbook before we did anything else, before we could go play with our friends, before we could like whatever. We had little homework assignments, and it was the most natural thing in the world, because we were young and didn’t know better, we just got up Saturday morning, went down to the laundry room, got a workbook, okay, did some math whatever, but it taught us a lot of things, you know. One, it got us ahead in school, because like the other kids our age weren’t doing workbooks, but also just the simple concept of like that was our job, you know, like, it was—you know, he was like, hey, I get up and I go to work, and this is your job, you’re gonna do a workbook, and it was at such a young age, we just accepted it. And I think it was a good thing, you know?