Life Lessons Many Parents Fail To Teach Kids

October 14, 2019  |  
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There are some lessons in life that can’t necessarily be taught through spoken word. You just have to learn what the right way is handle to something, by doing things the wrong way. Of course there are lessons parents try to tell their kids young, but they mean nothing to them at the time. So many such lessons are just finally ringing true for me now, and as I get older everything my parents said back in the day makes sense. That being said, if we can try to get kids to understand some concepts from a young age—if we can perhaps let them learn from small, inconsequential mistakes when they’re just children—we can keep them from learning those lessons through making huge, life-changing, can’t-take-back adult mistakes. Here are life lessons many parents fail to teach their kids, but should definitely teach them.


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Hard work doesn’t always pay off as hoped

It’s good to encourage kids to work hard, but here’s the kicker that every adult knows: hard work doesn’t always pay off the way you hoped it would. Life is rarely formulaic. Sometimes, you will work your butt off, face immense setbacks, and still have to find it in you to keep working, just having faith that you’ll be the victor one day. And it may take five times as long as you’d hoped. It’s important for kids to know that, so they don’t quit soccer when they just win second rather than third place in a tournament. Or quit a job when they get passed up for a promotion.

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But hard work will pay off in some way

In the end, hard work will pay off, just not in ways we’d expect. We have to have faith that our work is at work for us, in ways we don’t know. Maybe you get passed up for a promotion, but someone else at the company—someone looking to start her own company—noticed your hard work, and wants to bring you on as upper management at her new business.

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The right thing is almost always the hardest

Tell them that early. Tell them that there is a reason it feels difficult to pass up the invitation to the “cool girl’s” birthday party to keep the plans they’d already made to hang out with their good, long-time friend. It’s because doing the former is the wrong thing, and doing the latter is the right thing. So many people spend their whole lives just pursuing the path of least resistance, never understanding why they don’t quite feel as good as they’d hoped.

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Good deeds aren’t always rewarded

Doing the right thing won’t always mean a reward. Hey, your child may pass on the cool girl’s birthday, to keep her word to hang with her other friends, and then that friend may ditch her to do something else. That doesn’t mean that your kid made the wrong choice. In life, we can’t do the right thing in hopes of some reward or even some acknowledgement. We do it for ourselves.

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Sometimes, good deeds are punished

Sometimes, good deeds are even punished. We all know that, right? You do the right thing in letting your landlord know that your dog chewed the carpet, and then he starts blaming you for other issues that you didn’t cause, taking advantage of the situation to keep your security deposit. We have to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing, not because we expect others to respond in any particular way.

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But in the long term, doing good pays off

In the long term, doing good pays off. Some people may take advantage of it. Some people may turn their nose up at it. But ultimately, it’s the only way we find other people who like to do the right thing, and slowly build our network of solid humans whom we can trust. They’ll be there for us and we will for them, as a sort of protection against humans who are, well, not so great.

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You’re entitled to nothing

Every single thing your kid will want in life—each and every one—is something hundreds if not thousands of other kids not only want, but are also actively pursuing. And some may be more qualified. Some may be less qualified, but know the right people. We’re never entitled to anything, no matter how right we think we are for the opportunity.

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So be very grateful for everything

Since we aren’t entitled to anything, we should be nothing but incredibly grateful for everything that goes our way. We didn’t get it because we were entitled to it. So many, many things beyond our control could have changed, just an inch, and made it so we didn’t get things our way. Gratitude is always the way to go.

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Save your d*mn money

Ugh. I wish my parents had told me to just save my money. I wish they had actively found ways to encourage me to hold onto my allowance rather than blowing it on clothes and movies. Of the many financial lessons to teach kids, that’s a big one. I could have done so much with that money today.

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Don’t act out of anger

Teach kids to never act out of anger. Teach them at a young age to just take ten when they’re feeling angry. If you don’t teach them that young, then smashing their sibling’s Gingerbread house at age ten becomes punching a person at age 30 and going to jail for assault.

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In fact, diplomacy is a tool

On the opposite side of anger sits diplomacy, and that’s a wonderful skill to teach kids. If they can learn, early on, to assess the needs and wants of everyone in a given situation, and try to find a resolution that most appeals to the most people involved, they’ll be set for life.

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In conflict, think of the desired outcome

When dealing with arguments—whether it’s with friends and siblings today, or bosses and roommates as adults—teach your kids to ask what they want the outcome to be. Sometimes, saying exactly what they feel and think wouldn’t result in the desired outcome. That’s an important lesson.

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Be willing to be wrong

There’s almost never an upside in pretending to know more than you know, in lying about experience level or skill set, or in pushing to prove you are correct in a matter on which you are not knowledgeable. That’s all called cockiness. Your kids should go into most matters in life with the attitude of, “I’m confident in what I do know, but also well-aware that I have lots to learn.”

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Growing pains are a good thing

Tell your kids to embrace the pain that comes with that first heartbreak, or losing that first job, or making a best friend mad. Those pains are signs that it’s time to reflect on what they learned. Feeling good again is only on the other side of digesting that pain, and reflecting.

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Forgiveness is one of the best virtues

Teach your kids to forgive people—even people that don’t apologize, simply because holding onto anger isn’t good for them. Also, there will be times in life they’ll be the ones who need forgiveness, and they may not get it if they never showed forgiveness.

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