From following their dreams to learning from their mistakes, there are so many life lessons I want my children to learn before they grow up. Some are things I can teach them. Others they have to learn on their own. All are equally important, though. Keep reading to see what they are.
Important Life Lessons I Want My Children to Learn
A while back, I shared 10 things that parents need to teach kids that they can’t learn in a classroom, along with tips on how to impart these little bits of wisdom. To me, the things on that list make up the “core values” that we should impart if we want to raise healthy, happy, and well-adjusted children.
I’ve been thinking a lot, though, about the other lessons I want my children to learn. Some of them are similar to those core values, those big lessons that ultimately make them better people. Some are smaller. Little tidbits of wisdom that may not exactly create kids who change the entire world, but that matter just as much to their world, their future lives. As their mom, these little things are just as important as the grand core values.
As I said above, some are things that I can teach them. Others, they have to learn during their own journey through childhood. In no particular order, here are the most important lessons that I hope my kids learn, along with some of my favorite parenting quotes that go along with them.
By the way, you may also like 10 Things Kids REALLY Need to Learn Before Graduating School. That post focuses on the different skills (cooking, grocery shopping, etc) that we need to “adult” properly.
1. Follow your dreams, even if they change
I don’t just want my kids to find the courage to go after their dreams, I want them to know that dreams can change, and that’s okay. That just because they started off wanting to be, say, an archeologist, it’s okay if down the road they realize that they REALLY want to be a historical fiction writer. I just want them to be open to letting their dreams change.
2. Focus on learning, not just education
Sure, I want my kids to do well in school and get a quality education. But more than that, though, I want them to focus on learning. I want them to love it, to find joy in learning something new every single day. I want them to value knowledge more than a grade-point average.
3. Make mistakes…
I hope my kids make mistakes. Big ones. Not anything that would harm them physically or emotionally, of course. No parent wants that for their kids. But if they’re making mistakes, then it means that they’re trying.
4. …and learn from them
Making mistakes is part of growing up. It’s how we learn and evolve…but ONLY if we actually learn from them, too. So, I hope my kids learn from their mistakes. I hope they focus on the lesson and not the pain. Use that lesson to better themselves or find a new path to their dreams.
5. Choose kindness
This is one of the most important values I learned from my parents that I want to pass on. It goes without saying that I want my kids to be kind. It’s something most parents want, right? I want more than just kids who are kind. I want my kids to choose kindness. Choose it over being right. Choose it over winning at someone else’s expense. Choose it whenever it’s an option period.
6. Love your family & make time for them
I want my kids to remember that family is everything, and that love is the most powerful force in the entire world. I want them to remember that while we may not always agree on everything, we will always, always, always love each other. I also want them to know that it’s important to make time for family because we never know how much of it we have together.
7. Choose your friends wisely
I hope my kids find the kind of friends who become like family. Best friends that are just like brothers and sisters to them. But I also hope they choose wisely. That they realize it’s better to have a tight circle of true friends than hundreds of fake friends.
8. Be responsible
We just talked about raising responsible kids the other day, so I won’t elaborate on this much. I’ll just reiterate a bit. I want my kids to value hard work, and to remember that we’re each responsible for our own destiny.
9. Value the RIGHT things
I want my kids to remember that the most important things in this world are those that you can’t buy in a store or hold in your hand. Time spent with loved ones is so much more valuable than fancy cars. Being kind and generous is worth infinitely more than buying a big house. THINGS fall apart. Memories last forever.
10. Think before you speak
Over the last few years, it’s become apparent that many adults never quite learned this vital life lesson. I want my kids’ generation to do better. I want them to always pause and think about their words before they say them, to know that it’s okay to stay silent sometimes.
11. Actively listen to others
I hope they also actively listen to others. I think that if we, as a society, actually took the time to fully hear one, we’d avoid so much conflict. More misunderstandings occur because we only listen until we hear something we disagree with. Then we immediately start forming our rebuttal in our minds instead of waiting to hear the rest.
12. Don’t bottle up your emotions
I hope my kids laugh often, but I want them to know that it’s okay to cry, too. I hope that they’re filled with joy, but I want them to know that it’s okay to feel sadness, too. I want them to be brave, but also know that it’s okay to be scared sometimes, too. Most of all, I want them to feel the full range of human emotions and express them instead of bottling them up.
13. Value honesty in yourself and others
As parents, we always want our kids to be honest with us. It’s probably one of the very first life lessons that we teach them. I don’t just want my kids to tell the truth because I said so, though. I want them to truly value honesty both in themselves and in others.
14. Always be yourself
As Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” I hope my kids take that to heart. I hope that they let their big, bright personalities shine through. That they embrace their quirks as much as they do their talents.
15. Don’t let others change you
I want my kids to know that it’s okay to change for themselves. We SHOULD change as we grow up and learn new things. I just don’t ever want them to change for someone else or let this world dictate who they should be or who they become.
16. Let people change
I hope that my kids remember that just as their life lessons alter who they are, different lessons do the same for others. I want them to accept that people really can change…but only if we let them.
17. Cheer for your opponents
When it comes to things like games, job promotions, and such, anyone can cheer for their team. It takes a special person to cheer for their opponents, too, though. I hope that my kids are gracious enough to be happy for others, to cheer them on and celebrate their opponents’ victories even if it means that they (my kids) have lost.
18. Find your bliss and do what makes you happy
Everyone should have a passion, something that brings them immeasurable joy. I hope that my kids give themselves the opportunity to discover that passion. To find their bliss. To do what makes them happy as often as humanely possible.
19. Ask for help, and help others
To paraphrase the 16th-century poet John Donne, no one is an island entirely of themselves. In other words, we’re all part of each other. We’re all on this big, weird journey together, and no one can reach their destination alone. I want my kids to know that it’s important to help others and that it’s just as important to ask for help when they need it.
21. Never pick up what you can’t put back down
When my friend was giving her son “the talk” about addictive substances, she summed it up into one simple sentence that I really liked. She told him, “Never pick something up that you can’t put back down.” I think that’s good advice for all things in life, don’t you?
22. Be positive as much as possible
I don’t expect my kids to always look on the bright side of life. Some clouds really don’t have a silver lining. But I do hope that they chose positivity over negativity when it’s an option. I hope that they see a glass that’s half full…and half full of possibilities.
23. Never judge people based on appearances
I hope my kids remember that appearances are deceiving and that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. That they never judge a book by its cover and get to know people first. I think this is something WE need to remember, too. We grew up during a time when “clothes made the person” and people with purple hair or piercings weren’t “professional” enough for a job. I LOVE that our kids are growing up in a world where less emphasis is put on exterior “dressings” and more on what’s inside.
24. In fact, don’t judge others at all
Better yet, I hope that they choose to judge others at all. We don’t walk in others’ shoes, so we can’t possibly know what they go through or why they are the way they are. We don’t get to decide someone else’s story for them.
25. Don’t let anyone else tell your story
Just like we shouldn’t try to write someone else’s story, we also shouldn’t let anyone write ours for us. I want my kids to write their own stories from start to finish, to hold on tight to that pen, and never let anyone try to take it from them.
26. Conquer your fears
I want my kids to choose a fear, then conquer it. Then choose another, and another, and another. I know that there are going to be things that they’re scared of that they can’t conquer, but I want them to at least try.
27. Ask questions, even when you think you know the answers
I hope my kids always ask questions when they don’t know the answer, but I also hope that they ask even when they think they know it. They just might find out that they’re wrong, and that’s just as important a lesson as finding out that they’re right.
28 Admit it when you’re wrong
If they are wrong, I hope that they can admit it. It takes a brave and confident person to admit when they’ve made a mistake. Too few people in this world have that level of confidence right now, it seems.
29. Never act like you’re better than anyone else
Another one of the life lessons that I think we adults need a refresher course in is that no single person on this planet is better than another. It doesn’t matter how much money, power, or fame you have. You’re still exactly as valuable as I am, and vice-versa.
30. Remember that respect is earned, not given
I want my kids to learn the difference between showing respect and actually respecting someone. One is given freely, the other is earned. I hope they will choose to show respect to others but at the same time reserve true respect for those who have earned it.
31. Exercise your mind as much as you do your body
A healthy body is important, and something that I teach my kids every single day. I want them to eat right, exercise, and treat themselves with respect. But I also hope that they exercise their minds just as often and give their imaginations a good workout every single day.
32. Live like tomorrow isn’t promised
I want my kids to learn all of these life lessons, but if they only take away one thing from everything I’ve taught them, I hope it’s this one: live like tomorrow isn’t promised (because it’s really not). Love deeply. Be true, be wise, be passionate. Cherish every single moment. Make memories. Make an impression. Leave a mark on those you leave behind.
If my kids can do that, if they can focus on treating themselves and everyone that they meet like today is their last day on this planet, then all of the other life lessons will fall into place.