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10 Tough Lessons We Need to Teach Our Kids

Recently I read a news story of an altercation that occurred between two men. To the best of my recollection, one man was taking a walk with his young nephew and the nephew spotted a shiny balloon attached to one of the mailboxes along their route. The little guy wanted the balloon, so he took it.

10 Tough Life Lessons We Need to Teach Our Kids from Pat and Candy

Here’s where the problem came in:

The homeowner came out and told the kid he couldn’t have it. The uncle was furious. After all, it was just a balloon and the owner didn’t really need the balloon. And it got ugly uglier from there…

The comments associated with that story all sided with the nephew. Mostly they blasted the homeowner as being stingy. And, yeah, it does seem a little over the top to get into a fight over a balloon, but what blew my mind was that no one – not one comment that I read – stated the obvious: The balloon belonged to the homeowner who had the right to decide if he wanted to give it away or keep it.

What the heck are we doing? We’re raising a generation of kids who have no idea that the world doesn’t revolve around their wants.

As parents, we have the unique opportunity to change that mentality – one parenting choice at a time.

With that in mind, I’d like to share a few points I think are important for us to teach our kids. Feel free to share your additions (or rebuttals) in the comments.

Granted some of the following will need to be taught in age-appropriate increments, but, for the love of Pete, let’s teach them.

Their future spouses, employers/employees, and co-workers will be ever so grateful.

1.  Life’s not fair. 

2.  Just because you want it doesn’t mean you should ~ or can ~ have it.  Just think of the effect that concept might have on their future credit card bills alone!

3.  Constructive criticism is a good thing. Our kids should be willing to accept criticism that moves them toward improvement without being defensive. It’s important to learn early that growth comes from a humble heart that’s willing to learn.

4.  Nobody cares if you’ve had a bad day. Well, of course, family and friends do care what’s going on in your life, but having a bad day shouldn’t excuse mean bratty behavior.

5. You can’t win ’em all. No, seriously. Don’t let your kids buy into the baloney that “we’re all winners.” Sometimes we lose.  And it’s important to learn to lose with grace and not take away from the actual winner’s moment. By that same token…

6. Be a gracious winner. We’ve all experienced the awkwardness of being in the presence of a sore loser, but quite honestly a gloating, strutting winner ranks right up there in the “get over it” category. While it’s certainly normal to feel proud of our accomplishments, it’s not ok to purposely make someone else feel like dirt.

7. Every single choice you make has a consequence.

8. Nobody owes you anything.

9. Show others ~ EVERYONE ~ the level of respect that you would like to be shown.  Now, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it in return; the only person you can control is yourself.  What matters is that YOU are showing it to others…

and that ever-important…

10. It’s not about you!

I know it’s a big goal…but let’s see if we can start a grassroots-level movement to be a kinder, gentler society…

Can you think of any lessons I missed?  Please add them below…

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Candy is a southern girl who enjoys the simple things in life. Dirt road drivin’, Sunday afternoon nappin’, back yard swingin’, and sunset watchin’ are a few of the things that make her smile. She’s been married to her best friend and the love of her life for almost 25 years and is navigating motherhood with her 4 children, aged 23, 19, 14, & 11. Homeschooling for over 18 years now, she is also a bit of a word-nerd (ok, maybe more than a “bit” – she actually considers making lists of homophones to be entertaining), a lover of books and chocolate, a survivor of cancer, an author, and a hula hoop maker.

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36 Responses to 10 Tough Lessons We Need to Teach Our Kids

  1. Mother of 3 June 22, 2016 at 8:07 am #

    I was just floored by this! I immediately assumed everyone would have sided with the homeowner. I would be mortified if my kids tried to take someone else’s balloon off of their mailbox (or tree or whatever!)… it may “just be a balloon” but it’s still stealing!
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Simplifying SummerMy Profile

  2. Dawn October 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    Cultivate gratefulness. At the end of every day say thank you for three things. It could be something as simple as “I didn’t miss the bus” or “We had tacos for lunch” or “I remembered that 6 x 7 = 42” Studies show gratefulness leads to greater positivity and contentment.

    • Candy October 8, 2015 at 6:24 am #

      Absolute truth, Dawn! I like your word choice – “cultivate” gratefulness. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Latisha August 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. Think how much better our world would be if we did teach our kids these tough but true lessons. Even I wish I had learned and practiced these lessons growing up. Then a lot of things would be so much easier for me to deal with as a grown-up. I truly want to teach my children these things.

    Thanks for sharing this at TGI Saturdays.

    • Pat August 8, 2015 at 8:12 am #

      Latisha, they say hind-sight is always 20-20. It’s usually said kind of with a “oh well!”, shrugging-your-shoulders attitude, but I think if we can learn from that, it can actually be a good thing! I grew up so differently than how I was raised, too, and I’m with ya’ on wanting to pass on the lessons to my kiddos…
      Thanks for stopping by…hope to see you ’round these parts again! 🙂

  4. the crunchy mommy June 7, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    OMG all the “yes-es” in the world to this post!!!!

    i feel like parents/adults are so pre-occupied with being friends with children that we forget that we’re supposed to be raising them!

    • Candy June 8, 2015 at 6:54 am #

      I agree! I recently wrote an article that offered 5 tips for parenting teens. One of the tips was “Parent first. Friend second.” And I know that is so hard, but sometimes it’s necessary.

  5. Joyce June 3, 2015 at 6:19 am #

    The sense of entitlement is rampant. Likewise is the idea that everyone else is to blame for anything that goes wrong. I might have to add to the list … Take responsibility for your actions.

    • Candy June 3, 2015 at 7:47 am #

      Exactly, Joyce! Thanks for your input. 🙂

  6. Rebecca June 2, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks so much for this post – it is so needed !! We need to instill in our kids these qualities to help them be successful in adult life. I’ve worked in the school system and know that this is sadly lacking in most children. Keep up the good parenting advice. Visiting from Hope in Every Season.

    • Candy June 2, 2015 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks for your encouraging comments, Rebecca! I simply cannot imagine working in the school system today. My hat’s off to the many caring men and women who give of themselves each day in our schools.

  7. Michelle @ Moms AreFrugal April 25, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    This was great. Especially the last one “Its not about you”. The homeowner did not have to give up his balloon. No matter how small the child needed to be taught that it is not his. Bottom line.

  8. Cathy March 16, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    Love these words of wisdom, and they are oh so true! I would love for you to share this over at my new link party Making Memories Mondays going on now!

    • Candy March 17, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks for the invite, Cathy! I’ll head over there in a bit. 🙂

  9. Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com March 16, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    I love your list. It’s so important to educate our kids on how life really works (not being fair, there being consequences, etc).

    One of the other rules we have is about giving grace. I guess if I had to sum it up, it would be “always give grace” — we talk about this in context of being kind to others, showing love to them, and of course, the golden rule too.

    Visiting from Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up!

    • Candy March 16, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

      Love your rules, Betsy! We focus on Ephesans 4:32 a lot around here and that definitely goes right along with what you’re teaching. 🙂 So glad you stopped by!

  10. Patrick Weseman January 31, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    Amen on that. As a teacher and a parent, I try to teach my students and kids those lessons. As you can gather, I am not too popular.

    I believe that if they can learn that stuff in a controlled environment then it will help them later in life.

  11. Terri Presser January 22, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Exactly. What a great list, lets start a revolution. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  12. Pali @Knitting Rays of Hope January 21, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you- this is a great list and reminder! We teach our children this, but it’s nice to see it written in black & white! I am going to pin this right now!

  13. Donna Reidland November 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm #


    Loved your life lessons! I agree whole-heartedly. As a counselor I see the “fruit” in people’s lives, marriages, and families when they fail to learn those lessons.

    As you said, their future spouses, employers and co-workers will thank you!


  14. Betyy October 29, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I like the one that nobody owes you anything. I have seen those that have that attitude that parents and everyone else owe them.

  15. Tania Vaughan October 24, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Great article – seems like common sense to me but I remain completely shocked by the amount of parents that don’t feel this kind of parenting is relevant or worse that it stifles their child and doesn’t allow them to be free. Kids need to learn to respect freedom before they can have it. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  16. JES October 20, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    Candy, this post was featured this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. Excellent and thank you once again for sharing it! 🙂

  17. Bobbi October 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    I still need to work on my 18 year old with these lessons. Didn’t take well. 🙁 The other kids did pretty good. Great lessons not just kids should be taught. People these days need reminders!

    You were the most clicked link at Teach Me Tuesday last week! Congrats! Stop by and get a “Featured” button. Sure do appreciate you linking up! Can’t wait to see what you link up this week! Hope to you see ya again!!

    Have a great week 🙂

  18. JES October 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    AMEN!!! These should be part of the 10 Commandments for Child Raising. I am SO glad to hear someone else thinking these things! Thanks for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays! This was excellent!

  19. Sarah Ann October 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Candy ,

    This is a GREAT post! As a teacher, each year students get more and more entitled and their responsibilities at home dwindle even more. Most are not taught boundaries and limits and students grow up thinking life is about them. Every parent should strive to teach their kids this very crucial list. Thanks for sharing with the Saturday Soiree Blog Party!

  20. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup October 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Very well stated! I couldn’t agree more or think of a thing to add.

  21. Misty October 14, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    This is so true! Sadly many of these things are not being taught today. Thank you for the reminder!

  22. Jenny @ Women With Intention October 14, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    I agree with every one of them! Hopefully some people take notice and decide to take the time to teach their kiddos! 🙂 Found you at 3GLOL!

  23. Kimberlee October 13, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Great list. I think society is so focused on the newest, latest and greatest of material things that they forget to focus on people and others and meaningful relationships – which is important.

  24. Stasia October 13, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Thank you for sharing… this list is great!:)

  25. Gentle Joy October 11, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    This is so good! Our “entitlement” society isn’t doing anyone any favors. Our lives are supposed to be about more than pleasing ourselves… we need to teach our children the right things… thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  26. KarenTrina October 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Finally! Somebody brave enough to state what should be obvious. #10 pretty much sums it up- It’s not about you. Unfortunately, too many kids have been raised to think it is all about them. Thanks for speaking truth.

    • Pat October 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      Karen, that’s what comes from living in a child-centered culture! Ugh…a generation of spoiled chilin’ 🙁
      I know that sounds harsh, but it doesn’t take spending too much time with a bunch of kids to feel that way, too!
      Truth is hard to hear, but we will all be the better for it!

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