99 Things I Will Teach My Children

I love a good list. Who doesn’t? First I barely got to 50 things. Then I almost couldn’t limit this to 99 things to teach my children. Maybe your 99 things are different, but this list… this list, along with all of the side items it inspires (to me), pretty much embodies what I want my kids to learn. If I added in the rabbit hole it sends me down, I might have a second set of 99 things, and possibly a third… fourth? I want them to learn to be adventurous, learn to splurge (on occasion, when the occasion calls for it), learn to save (so they can splurge later!), and above all else, learn to be good human beings.

99 things to encourage your good child to be a good human being

  1. There is no shame in failure, only in refusing to try.
  2. A boyfriend/girlfriend does not validate you.
  3. The universe wants you to be happy, but you need to facilitate your own happiness.
  4. Live for today, because you aren’t promised tomorrow;
  5. but don’t forget to plan for tomorrow just in case.
  6. Wear what makes you comfortable;
  7. but don’t look like a slob.
  8. Treat your friends when you can;
  9. but don’t overextend yourself when you can’t.
  10. Learn to manage a bank account.
  11. Learn to use a credit card too (I’ll help you do this once I figure it out for myself).
  12. Cars can will break. Learn to change a tire.
  13. Learn to change a battery while you’re at it because they’re expensive enough without paying for labor.
  14. Learn to pitch a tent alone – It’s harder than it looks.
  15. Learn to start a fire and not burn down your tent.
  16. Learn to cook a meal – You never know when you want to impress someone by feeding them. Or you know, not starve by feeding yourself. 
  17. Budget – No one likes to do it, but you’ll be living in that tent you pitched if you don’t.
  18. Mend a hole – That shirt/dress/pants/whatever you love will last a little longer if you can mend it.
  19. Learn to sew a zipper too – The seamstress charges a small fortune for this. Save that fortune and sew your own.
  20. And learn to sew a button – this takes literally five minutes. Four of them are spent looking for a needle & thread.
  21. Shine your shoes – It looks nice and trust me, people notice even though it isn’t 1920 anymore.
  22. Do your own laundry – Don’t be the smelly adult. No one likes the smelly adult any more than they liked the smelly kid.
  23. Don’t overfill the washing machine, it’ll walk away.
  24. Learn to change a diaper – Do this before you have kids of your own. Your spouse will thank you.
  25. Learn to swaddle a baby – Your new baby will thank you. They don’t like flailing. Unless they do.
  26. Exercise properly – Because it will make you live longer, and our goal is to live forever.
  27. Learn how to shave – even if you never do. 
  28. Learn how to treat and train an animal.
  29. Minds are like parachutes – They work best when they are open.
  30. Offer no excuses – Own what you’ve done (A reason, even a good one, is still an excuse).
  31. Demand excellence all around you.
  32. Provide excellence in exchange.
  33. Be involved. I don’t care what in. If you decide to be a Young Republican, so be it, but be it passionately. 
  34. Your passion should be backed by true knowledge. 
  35. Own your emotions, don’t let them own you.
  36. Explore. The world is your backyard.
  37. Buy a one way ticket to somewhere you picked because it was the next outbound flight and discover yourself while you’re there.
  38. Come home with a story about your adventure.
  39. Moisturize. Moisturize years before you think you need to and you will never need to.
  40. Expect the best, people tend to live up to expectations.
  41. Don’t be disappointed if they don’t, offer help for next time.
  42. If you inexplicably dislike someone, run away quickly. Trust your intuition.
  43. What the crowd says, thinks, and does isn’t necessarily right. Be yourself above all else.
  44. Thoughtful gifts aren’t always expensive gifts.
  45. Fight fiercely, or don’t fight at all.
  46. Take pictures, but live in your moments too.
  47. Live your passion, whatever it might be;
  48. but make sure you have a job that won’t leave your passion broke.
  49. Learn how to drink scotch. Or wine. Or wine coolers. Or water. But whatever your choice, learn to drink it with class. Except 40s. You can’t drink a 40 with class. 
  50. When you find the person who makes you want to do everything you can to make them happy, hold on tight, but don’t lose yourself. 
  51. Personal hygiene. Use it. It will help you find the person (or people) you want to spend your life with.
  52. Don’t forget to call your mama. She misses you when you aren’t there.
  53. But don’t call her every five minutes, she wants you to live your life to the fullest.
  54. Remember a sweater.
  55. Indulge, but not to the point of excess. Unless you are a billionaire. Then excess all you want, and bring me along.
  56. Second place is the first loser.
  57. But good on you for trying, try harder next time.
  58. Life doesn’t give out participation awards.
  59. So do your best and don’t come in second.
  60. Always wear clean underwear – You never know when someone will throw you under a bus.
  61. Don’t make decisions when hangry – They’re probably the wrong decisions.
  62. Keep an emergency/first aid kit in the car – You’ll use it more often than you think.
  63. Keep baby wipes in the car too – Same reason.
  64. Things usually won’t fall into your lap; Chances are if you think that happened, the person worked really hard to get it.
  65. Don’t ask someone to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.
  66. Go to Disney World as much as you can because nothing bad happens there. 
  67. Learn to wake yourself up for school, appointments, work, whatever, without relying on your parent, friend, caregiver, whoever. 
  68. Always read. Read as much as you can. Even FanFic. Expand your imagination through vast lands.
  69. Splurge on the good chocolate.
  70. Butter will ooze out of homemade caramel. But it tastes so deliciously good. Make this at least once as an adult.
  71. Learn how to clean up after yourself. A pile in the middle of the floor doesn’t count.
  72. Neither does shoving stuff under the bed, in the guest bathroom, or in your sister’s room while she isn’t home. 
  73. Bicycles do not belong on your bed. They will end up there if you do not put them in the garage. 
  74. Don’t drink soda in the house. It’s okay once in a while, but not every day.
  75. Veggies are delicious cooked or raw. Even peas and carrots. 
  76. Newsies (or whatever your favorite live stage show is) is worth spending hundreds of dollars on even if you don’t have it. Indulging occasionally is a must. Indulging constantly is a good way to go broke.
  77. Take care of your body, you only get one. 
  78. Fish are peaceful and easy to keep. Always keep fish. I suggest a pleco.
  79. Have at least one job in retail in your life. Learn to handle yourself in horrible situations when customers are spitting mad in your face. 
  80. Not all animals are friendly. Take caution when near one. 
  81. Don’t keep users around you. That includes friends you consider siblings. They don’t deserve your kindness unless they return it. 
  82. Don’t be a bum. Seriously, it will get you nowhere.
  83. Go to college. You may not get a job right away, but you’ll have the education to back yourself up.
  84. Blue collar jobs are included. People will always need plumbers and A/C technicians. They won’t always need a CEO of a start up company that doesn’t actually do anything.
  85. It’s okay to be sad, but don’t stay sad forever. If you need help, go get it or ask for it.
  86. Your family is here to help.
  87. Encourage your children in everything they do. 
  88. Don’t be a packrat.
  89. Visit all 50 states. (remember #35!)
  90. Then go visit the rest of the world.
  91. Volunteer. 
  92. Don’t get a tattoo without thinking about it first. 
  93. Knowing your body is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it should be required.
  94. Cherish your parents, even if you end up having more than one set. 
  95. Not everything is worth something. Some things belong in the land fill. (because #88)
  96. Don’t pick that up, you don’t know where its been. Good advice whether it’s candy, or picking up people in bars. 
  97. Always ask. The worst that can happen is the answer is no.
  98. The answer being no isn’t the end of the world. 
  99. Make your own list, because your mother doesn’t know everything even if she thinks she does. 
Lazarus Long said it best, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” I’d like to think I’ve lived up to my favorite fictional character. Mostly.
Have anything to add to my 99 things to teach my children? 
99 Things I Will Teach My Children

About Jennifer 39 Articles
Jenn has been described as “the archetype of the next generation matriarch” – whatever that means. She resides in not-so-sunny south Florida. With her children grown, she has dogs now and dreams about living in a tiny house visiting every North American Punky. Jenn runs the technical aspect of Punky Moms. Whenever there is a tech problem, she fixes it. She is the great and powerful Oz.


  1. LOL @ babies don’t like flailing unless they do. So funny. This list is amazing, I actually read each and every thing on the list and found myself thoroughly entertained.

    • I’m so glad! I had a lot of fun writing it! I had one baby who hated to be swaddled. I can’t remember which one, I’m thinking it was the oldest, but I couldn’t keep him in a blanket/carrier to save my life.

    • We mend a lot of things, but OTOH, you need to know when it’s time to let go. But I am on a mission to downsize and find myself in a tiny house before I die, so that’s a huge factor in my “get rid of it” mentality right now.

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