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


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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