12 Most Important Things My Children Need for a Successful Life

12 Most Important Things My Children Need for a Successful Life

The idea for this post hit me square between the eyes this morning as I read all the news about the tragic death of Steve Jobs, perhaps our greatest innovator and entrepreneur–who was also a real family man. As I listened again to the commencement address he gave at Stanford University (back in 2005), these words struck me: “Death is the destination we all share–no one has ever escaped it.” Powerful and so true. If you take these words seriously, you begin to think about your own mortality, life and more importantly, what is meaningful.

As a parent of teens and pre-teens (Bryan 15, Abby almost 12 and in this photo) death terrifies me. I think if I had not had children it might not be the same, but I’ll never know and I’d never want to know. So, what a perfect and timely blog…what 12 things I want my children to have for success in life. Here they are:

1. Faith in God, Trust in God and Love for God

I want my kids to read the Bible and find ways to know God through Jesus Christ. I am the daughter of a retired (and awesome) Presbyterian preacher and a wonderful Christian Mother (she grew up Methodist) and that was instilled in me at a young age and has been with me all my life. It is the foundation for a good life–the fountain of faith, hope, courage and love. I’m happy to say my kids are on that path and are actively participating in meaningful ways in our church and the community at large. Our community and world would be a much healthier and safer place if more of our children had this foundation. Additionally, it’s important to share that with others.

2. A family who supports and loves them unconditionally

Too many families are estranged and torn apart for the silliest of reasons–I don’t understand it and never will. Families and siblings are supposed to support and love one another. I want my kids to always love each other and work at communicating and spending quality time together–even when they are grown with their own families. I want them to remain close all their lives. I think family is becoming even more important in this world of crazy that we live in. Family is a place for support no matter the challenges we face. Be there for one another, always.

3. Really good friends

You don’t need a ton, just a few. As I age, I know that the really true friends in life are those you count on one hand. You are blessed if you have many. And remember what my Mom always told me: “You must be a friend to have one.”

4. Time

It is the one thing you cannot ever get more of. Don’t waste it. Be productive and selective with your time. If you apply this across the board in all you do, you will have a good life.

5. Laughter and joy!

Thankfully my kids get their sense of humor easily and prank calls and practical (but not hurtful) jokes are a part of our normal household. Watch out for April Fools too–as my kids age, I hope they never lose the ability to laugh at themselves and with others. Humor is truly medicinal and we need more laughter in our world–especially in all our children.

6. Healthy self-respect

If you don’t respect yourself, how will you respect others? For me, respect for myself means respect what I feel deep inside, my opinions and knowing when to walk away from something or someone. I have learned not to be overly self-critical and to trust my hunches.

7. Have an open heart but use your brain

Too many people make bad decisions (especially in business) because they let their heart be the guide. Remember that God gave you a brain to help your heart know what to do. Use your brain as much as you use your heart.

8. Don’t ever be a jealous person

Jealousy is (in my opinion) one of the worst sins. I have seen it tear apart friendships, marriages and businesses. Jealous people will never truly love you–they don’t know how. They only truly love themselves. Don’t marry one, don’t get into business with one, don’t even travel with one who is jealous. Rather, surround yourself with people who genuinely want to see and make you happy.

9. A college degree and education

It is important to try and achieve goals and this is one I’d want for my children as it leads to friendships and open doors of opportunity.

10. The ability to travel and see the world

Circumstances did not allow me to travel the world when I was younger and I’m trying to do better now. My trip to Italy a few years ago really opened my eyes to what’s out there. (As a side note, I could happily live in Italy–what a beautiful country with beautiful people!) I hope my children get to travel to more fabulous places because I think it broadens your mind and introduces you to other cultures that makes you a better person. Travel is probably the best education you can give a child.

11. A career that you are passionate about

I love my career. I didn’t always love every job I had, but I knew each step was an important milestone in my professional journey. I want for my children to understand the significance of having a career that is fulfilling. The world is getting so crazy that I fear jobs and careers will be increasingly difficult to come by. I hope not but pray that when my kids are grown, they are doing what they love most each day, for it shapes who you are as well.

12. Learn to forgive

This is very important to me, especially now. Harboring negative feelings and holding a grudge or resenting someone is poison to your soul. Forgiveness sets you free and uplifts your soul. I would want my kids to know how to forgive and why it’s important in every aspect of your life. We must forgive each other to live in a world of peace and progress.

There are other things on my list (like exercise and good food) but as I’m limited to 12, I will stop here. In summary, it occurred to me this morning that blogging is a good thing because you are establishing your footprint about who you are…As Steve Jobs says, we are all on the path to being gone one day. Because I’m blogging, my kids and their kids can read what I am saying long after I’m not able to say it anymore. Thank you for reading this and I hope you’ll visit my blog at www.howell-marketing.com and follow me on Twitter @HowellMarketing.

Amy Howell

http://www.howell-marketing.com

With over 25 years of PR and marketing experience, Amy Howell serves as CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies (HMS). HMS is a PR and marketing firm that combines traditional and social media to offer clients integrated and effective engagement and communications, brand monitoring, media relations, employee communications, crisis communications and creative, strategic business planning and implementation.

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21 comments
CatherineTatum
CatherineTatum

Really good post. Thanks for sharing. It is true that children and even grandchildren are the ones that sometimes teach us the most!

CynthiaKSeymour
CynthiaKSeymour

Such incredible and Timeless Wisdom. As a mom and a woman of faith, I could not agree more! Parenting is challenging in this day and age and strong values are the key to the happiness of all. Thank you for your thoughtful post!

BrandFlair
BrandFlair

I would add enablement vs. entitlement!

brandcottage
brandcottage

A really lovely post Amy. You nailed it all. We have traveled extensively as a family since the kids were very young and it's the greatest education for anyone. I also want my kids to have compassion and empathy for others. It is far more rewarding than caring only about oneself. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure your kids are great, given their role models.

Patricia

dbvickery
dbvickery

A very enjoyable post, Amy, and I know my wife @kfvickery will enjoy it. We have 18-yr old and 16-yr old daughters, and we have maintained a close family. Vacations are together, the game of Taboo is a trip (and I'm not normally a game person...prefer a book), and the oldest's college entrance essay was on Family Dinners. We considered ourselves blessed that she would write about it and how important it was while growing up. Nowadays you get a lot of "I am SO Facebooking that"...whipping out the smart phone and then tagging the culprit ;)

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

Great list, Amy. I believe there's another thing that will bring success to our kids...giving back to the world. Charity. Mentoring. Repairing the world is another way to say it. It will make all the success they have more meaningful!

janetcallaway
janetcallaway

Amy, aloha. What a way to knock it out of the park with your first 12Most post. Even though I don't have children, I can certainly appreciate the wisdom and benefits of your words. Aloha. Janet

LaceyWash
LaceyWash

Love it Amy- Great blog post as always! I can certainly appreciate each one of these 12 Most as they were lessons to live by in my own home growing up and will be for my own children some day!

danielnewmanUV
danielnewmanUV

Amy, I love this post and can relate to all of these.

My children are the most important thing in my universe bar none. And the things that you mention closely align with the values and ideals that I give to them.

Thank you for your contribution here and to the entire community!

All the best...

douglaserice
douglaserice

Amy, thank you for this post! I love them emphasis you place on faith as a cornerstone in the development of children. I am a Christian and would be lying if I didn't seek out God's guidance in everything I do. Psalm 139:23-24 is my daily prayer. In today's day and age, it seems awkward and maybe even offensive to discuss religion, especially Christianity. But, if there is any good in me, it stems from the desire I have to be pleasing to the God of the Bible. Is it okay to say that as a business professional? It's true. As a child, I was introduced to a local youth group that changed my life. The kids I hung out with prior to that are now in prison, in abusive relationships, hooked on drugs, etc. It's scary to think that I could have ended up like that. Faith is vital. In a world of anti-religious sentiment, I am a testament to the good that religion can play in the lives of our youth. Don't think you're being preachy if you take your kids to church; you might just be saving their lives.

BrandFlair
BrandFlair

Fantastic post Amy. All 12 hit home. This is one to print and hang at home!!!

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

@dbvickery @kfvickery I love your comment! I'm not a game person either but we love the game of "killer" that I learned at church camp as a kid in Texas. We have taught it to other families and it has spread around our crew of kids who love it. So important to spend wholesome time together as a family! Thanks.

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

@janetcallaway Hey Janet! Thanks so much. My children have taught me a lot (and that I don't know everything:))

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

thank you so much Lacey! You have no worries at all! Your family has set a great example in you!

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

@danielnewmanUV Daniel: Thank you so much. I really didn't "get it" in life until I had my kids....They teach us so much and you realize what really matters most! (12 most). Ha! Thanks for the comment/support!

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

@douglaserice Doug: I'd rather watch how someone treats others than listen to them quote scripture. Most successful business people are great christians and I think some people use religion as a crutch or to throw people off...I've known plenty of people who proclaim to be religious but act totally opposite. The older you get, the closer to death you get--a fact that Steve Jobs put front and center. If we're all on our way to death, we should make each day count and thank God for all our many gifts! PS: I do think in business and as a professional, you demonstrate your faith thru actions (not words). Sometimes people force prayer in business settings that seems self-serving to me and can make others uncomfortable. Like a banker who wants to pray with you? Might be good to hide your wallet! #humor. Thanks for the comment!

Amy Howell
Amy Howell

@BrandFlair John: Thanks so much for the ask and for the great work on the post. I love it!! Thanks for including me and promoting this. I love the 12 Most community!!! You are the best.

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