5 Keys to Raising Wise Children

5 Keys to Raising Wise Children

When I was growing up my parents often reminded me they were raising me to leave home. By default, our parenting skills are often rooted in how we were brought up. Raising wise children is often the end result of the whole parenting experience. My parents, like every other parent out there, had the ultimate goal to raise competent, capable and independent adults.

When we are intentional about our parenting we are not just leaving it up to chance, but working together with our kids to help them become the best version of themselves. I’ve found five important keys to raising wise children.

Kindness Matters

Of all the characteristics to help our kids develop kindness is one of the greatest. Our culture has slowly put more emphasis on personal happiness and achievement rather than the care or concern for others.1 Raising our children to be caring and kind teaches them to be moral, humble, patient and compassionate – doesn’t the world need a little bit more of that? Kindness is learned by example. We teach more through our example than any other way.

Emphasize how important it is to be kind – more important than making the team or getting good grades. Remember, arrogance is used by the weak while kindness is used by the strong.

Encourage Independence

As each of our children reached different developmental milestones it also meant an increase in independence and responsibility. Every consideration should be age/maturity appropriate, but always be on the lookout for ways to encourage your kids to be more than just an appendage of you and your spouse. By the time our kids were in high school they were getting themselves up in the morning, making their own breakfast and lunch, taking full responsibility for their school work, doing their own laundry and helping with the occasional meal.

I was a big proponent of teaching life skills that would prepare them for the world when I wouldn’t be there to do it for them. Sometimes it was too much too soon and we adjusted, but we were always moving towards the independence line.

Nurture Confidence Not Fear

Our belief in our children’s capabilities increases their self-confidence. Do you remember the Olympic commercials where the mom is cheering on her hockey-playing son from the sidelines? The commercial showed flashbacks to where he was just learning to skate and playing his first hockey games. We aren’t shown if she questioned the safety of the sport or her apprehension that he might fall – repeatedly. But we can safely assume whatever concerns and fears she had, she didn’t allow them to keep him from conquering the world.

Never let your fears hold your kids back.

Failure IS an Option


Any mother can relate to the fear of watching her child fail, but that paralyzing fear doesn’t do anything to help raise a confident and well-adjusted adult. Widen+Kennedy, an international advertising agency, has adopted the phrase “Fail Harder” as their mantra.3

Failing means that we are trying, and the harder we fail the harder we are trying. As parents we teach our kids to try, we watch them fall on their faces, help pick them back up and encourage them to try again and again. It’s these moments of failure and encouragement that help them gain the confidence to go and do something extraordinary.

Never Too Early, Never Too Late

When our children are young it seems we have all the time in the world to teach and prepare them for what might lie ahead, but before you know it your kids will have kids of their own and the opportunity seems to have passed. I remember being told something along these lines as a young mother, and now here I am on the flip side looking back.

When our children are but babes in our arms they are learning from us. Our tone, attitude and very presence teach them – good or bad – about how to become an adult. As we become more intentional in our parenting we are better preparing our children for what lies ahead.

In the same regard just because your child is now an adult doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to offer. Keeping an open relationship where your adult kids might come to you for advice or instruction is important. As the wise prophet Isaiah said: “line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”4

At times I think my kids thought I was the meanest mom in the world, and I guess I am okay with that. They know I love them no matter what, but they also know I want them to be the best they can be. Time has taught us that the only real failure is to not learn from one. Teaching our kids wisdom is an ongoing lifelong process.

What keys have you found important in raising wise children?

kids with dog by front door

1Joyce, Amy. “Are You Raising Nice Kids?” The Washington Post. July 18, 2014 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/
2Klassen, Abbey and Morrison, Maureen. “How Dan Wieden Learned to Fail — And Other Advice for Small Agencies.” AdAge. July 25, 2013. http://adage.com/article/agency-news/dan-wieden-s-advice-small-agencies-learn-fail/243329/
3Isaiah 28:10

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13 thoughts on “5 Keys to Raising Wise Children”

  1. Love this post! We also try to let our kids make their own mistakes. But they know they can always come to us. And they do. I was raised to be independent (didn’t want to eat at school when my mom was working, age 9, with a neighbor keeping an eye on me) and we raise my girls to be the same. I notice I do struggle with the “failure is an option” part. Being a perfectionist myself, I need to work on that.

    Thanks for this great blog post, Lori!

    1. It is hard to think of failure as an option but I think of how many things I wouldn’t even try because I don’t want to fail. There is so much to learn from failure.

  2. I really love all of these! I feel as though my natural parenting style followed along with this, especially encouraging Independence. My kiddos happen to very independent and they try really hard to do things themselves, and when they can’t they know mom or dad will help. I feel as they get older I am working harder on the kindness part though!

  3. Amen to all of these! My husband always reminds me that we are raising men and women for this world and to treat our children like they are fully aware of all the rules and to encourage them to do whatever they have their heart set on (with wisdom and common sense of course!). Lord bless our efforts in raising these children! 🙂

  4. Tamara @ Parenting 2 Home Kids

    Thanks for these great life lessons. Failure is an option was an important lesson to teach my perfectionistic son. I once took him out to dinner for making a mistake, because he needed to know life would go on.

    1. What an awesome idea! I was just reflecting on some of my own fears of failure. It is a hard one to teach when the fear is paralyzing. Life does go on and when we learn from the failure all is not lost. Thank you for the comment!

  5. homegrownsimplicitylife

    Thank you for sharing! My mom really stressed independence when I was a child and I appreciate her for that now as an adult.

  6. Great post! I feel like I am still learning on how to do all of this well, so I appreciate your comment that you adjusted when things weren’t working. And I love that last section – though we are teaching our kids all along, it’s never too late to change for the better! Thanks for the encouragement. (So glad you are keeping this blog!) 🙂

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