What Do You Want to Pass On to Your Kids?


The question was asked in my favorite Facebook parenting group (yes, I’m in several; yes, there are ones good enough to deem “favorite”): What skills do you want to pass on to your kids?

It was likely more eloquently phrased with background and explanation, but that was the gist.  Answers pinged in quickly, as parents of all ilk had thoughts.

They started simply enough:

“How to do laundry”

“Basic car maintenance”

“Sewing skills useful enough to mend items before discarding them”

Then philosophies and education started to flow in as well:

“An understanding of our nation’s government”

“How and why to manage your finances”


I read many of the answers patting myself on the back, not because I am necessarily teaching those things to my kids, but because they are skills I [mostly] possess.  Do I have to intentionally teach them to my kids if they see my partner and me doing them constantly?

We had just moved a few months prior and all of our Christmas decor was still in storage. The tree cookie cutter was a free gift at an event. Trees for days. #winning

I am handy and cook almost all of our meals. My partner is VERY handy, though his cooking skills are limited. It had me questioning if our parents are the reason for our adult-ing successes. What had our parents passed on to us?

My childhood was atypical and far from perfect, but the things my parents passed on to me were not basic life skills.

Cars went without maintenance, buckets were placed under sinks, duct tape was on-hand for all uses. And the cooking I remember in my childhood was my grandma’s. My parents had not taught me basic life skills. Instead, without daily lesson or instruction, they managed to teach me basic human skills.

Two years ago when my mom was dying, she and I had a conversation that led to my making a list of things “she had done right.” (You can read the whole story here.)

I expanded on that list when I wrote her eulogy a few weeks later.

With my mom and my daughter, two months before she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

As I consider the question again when faced with the Facebook group questions, I include the things my dad also gave me, as well as my in-laws. My partner has more loyalty and integrity in his big toe than a lot of people I know have in their hearts, so clearly, his folks were doing something right as well.

With all that in mind, my answers to the question “What skills do you want to pass on to your kids?” have nothing to do with furnace filters or credit scores:

  • Compassion for all people
  • Respect for all animals
  • Love and care for planet Earth
  • Acknowledgment of a Higher Power
  • Curiosity for the unknown
  • Enjoyment in adventure
  • High sense of value and self-worth
  • Importance of relationships

This is a heavy and demanding list. One I still work on daily, one I will never fully achieve. Some days, being a good human simply means staying alive.

My kids are five and seven right now. I’ve got, hopefully, plenty of time left on the clock. But if I don’t, I won’t care one whit if they never learn to hem their pants or change the oil in their cars. I know already that I’ve taught them how to love, and that pretty much sums it up.