Top ten things that my children should know

by Mary Ann on March 25, 2011

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Some of the Johnson grandkids

The other day I came across a wonderful homeschool site called “weird, unsocialized, homeschoolers”. Now this mom has a sense of humor!

I am constantly amazed at all the great parents out there raising good families. There are so many ways to successfully educate children and so many ways to run a successful home. It’s our job to decide what works for us and then move forward with confidence, make course corrections as we go and then move forward again.

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Always horseing around!

Well, on this great blog was a list of the top ten things that she wanted her kids to know before they left home. They were the things that appeal to most parents when they contemplate their kids leaving home: how to plan a balanced menu, how to cook a

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Barry and fiance, Abi

healthy meal, how to sort and wash laundry, balancing a checkbook, balancing a budget, filing taxes, how to fill out a job application/write a résumé, how to change a flat tire, basic household repairs, and how to love God and their family. This is a very good list and I believe that in our family we touched on all of them. That got me to thinking about my top ten now that I have actually raised my children. In hindsight it is far different than the list would have been when I was raising my seven.

1. Understand that the buck stops here. This wasn’t on the list on the above mentioned blog but it sure is on mine. I wanted my children to know that they were responsible if their grades were bad (yes, I did have 5 go through public school), if their rooms were a mess, if they were out of money, if they didn’t have any clean underwear and so on.

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Newlyweds, Kash and Marie

My children are all adults now and I feel confident that this lesson was learned. At least it appears to have been learned. Maybe they finally really began to believe it once they left home but it couldn’t have been a shock!

2. Know how to pray. Believe me you can’t get through this life if you don’t know how to ask for

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help from the man upstairs or your higher power or whatever you prefer to call it. Not all of my children follow my faith but I know for sure that they all know how to pray. In fact just recently my daughter said, “If we didn’t know where mom was we just looked in her room because that was where she would be, praying.” You try to raise seven children and you will learn to pray too!!

3. Understand how to make things special. Now this may seem like a silly thing to have on my top ten but making things special goes a long way to keeping kids happy, hubby’s happy and mom’s happy.

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Jodie and Jenny

I remember breakfast one block from home, in the park, cooked and eaten off the tailgate of the truck. It was a lot of work to cook breakfast a block from home but it was special.

I can’t count the times my husband would call all the kids downstairs to see a candlelight dinner I had prepared for him and I. He wanted them to see how it was done.

Every New Years we sat on the floor as a family seated around a huge platter of fish, veggies, cracker and cheese. Doesn’t sound like much does it. You just ask my kids, every year for 40 years and it is still special.

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Jenny and Seth

4. How to say “I am sorry”. I taught this to my children by saying “I am sorry” to them and their dad hundreds of times. Gee, I made a lot of mistakes.

5. Know the difference between picking up and cleaning. We can all pick up, over and over again. That is what it takes to raise a family but eventually someone has to clean and it can’t always be just me!

6. How to work. I wanted them to know how to do a full days work for a full days pay, so to speak. I am proud that my children know how to work honestly and fairly; how to keep at it till the job is done right and well.

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Last years newly weds, Kate and Brady

7. How to play and laugh. I failed in this. I myself didn’t  know how to play but if I had it to do over again I would put this on my top ten. I would want to play with my children and teach them that play and laughter are the sweetest stuff of life.

8. How to be a gracious and charitable person. This is a life lesson that can bring peace to yourself and all those around you. I could only model this as best I knew it. I am in fact, still perfecting these traits for myself and so are my kind and gentle children.

9. How to be present. When I asked my husband what he would put on the list he said this one. Amazing! He wishes that he had been more present and had taught them the satisfaction that comes from receiving and giving this gift.

10. How to be grateful for everything both good and bad, because all things help us grow and become better people. A grateful heart is an open heart, a heart ready to learn.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny March 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

The greatest lesson I learned from my parents was gratitude. I was taught this, actually, through giving generously to others. This automatically saturates you with gratitude. The second greatest lesson I received was self-sufficiency. Not only can I govern my entire life, but I can take responsibility for almost everything in my life.I learned that my family members are my roots, and watering them make me bigger. I learned to love in purple and serve in mustard yellow…I learned to laugh in orange and to cry in bright blue. My parents have brushed the most beautiful colors across my life masterpiece. An ocean of thanks to them………….


Mary Ann March 26, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Only you could respond in such a way. You are pure sunshine and we love you. Thanks for reading your mama’s blog : )


Karina Palmer August 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

This was wonderful and will have me thinking the rest of the day 🙂


Mary Ann August 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Hi Karina, Thank you. Frankly the original article i read got me to thinking a lot about it too. I often wish I knew all that I know now when I started but that is not how the process works, is it. : ) Living and learning, making mistakes and course correcting, that is the process. Thank you for commenting!


Karina Palmer August 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I want my kids to know that they can do hard things, that good growth and wisdom comes from persisting and pushing through tough things, whether that be adversity, trials, schoolwork, studying, relationships, sacrifices, physical challenges…

“I can do hard things” has been our family motto this past year. We incorporated it into our family night routine where we do a family cheer along with reading the scriptures and praying together.


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