Listen to your mother: 11 parenting lessons every man should learn from his mom


Moms raise little boys who turn into young men and eventually become parents themselves, raising their own kids. So, what do they learn along the way? Since dads today are so much more hands-on with childcare than previous generations were, a lot of their parenting lessons come from mom. Here, 11 bits of advice from mom, shared by dads on the TODAY Parenting Team.

1. There's a big world out there; change it. (Willie Geist)

"As a young social worker in 1970s Chicago, my mom would take me with her on eye-opening home visits to ...some of the most dangerous, hopeless places in America. She wanted me to know early on there was a big world beyond our leafy street, and that I’d be expected to reach out into it. The spirit of unselfishness, charity, and sharing of blessings was instilled before I even entered kindergarten. I take great pride now when I see my own children reaching out a hand to a friend or to a stranger in need. I’d like to take credit, but it all goes to my mom."

Courtesy of Willie Geist
Willie Geist as a boy with his mom Jody Geist.

2. Always keep your word. (Doyin Richards)

"Kids need to know that the adults in charge of raising them are trustworthy and accountable. If we aren't, how can we expect them to be? If I tell my daughter that we'll watch Frozen together at 7:00 p.m. and the basketball game I was enjoying goes into overtime, I'll just have to "let it go" and watch Elsa freeze up her kingdom for the 13,035th time."

Doyin Richards
Doyin Richards call his mom, "one of my best friends."

3. Have a sense of humor. (Doyin Richards)

"Even today I can remember my mom laughing when we tried to separate the sanity from her mind as rambunctious kids. It never worked, because she always found humor in the craziest moments. Now that I'm a dad, I find that I'm the same way with my girls."

Doyin Richards
Doyin Richards keeps the laughs coming with his own daughters.

4. Accept the consequences to your actions. (Warren L. Shearose Sr.)

"The most important life lesson I learned from my mother was not to run when she was trying to whoop my [bottom]. I tried it once and it didn't work out too well for my rear end. Sometimes you just gotta get it over with."

5. Stay positive, even in the dark days. (Justin Ricklefs)

"Divorce. It was over 20 years ago but many days it feels like yesterday. It still hurts. It's still raw. It's still not the way it should be. But through it all, you kept getting out of bed. You kept showing up. You kept hoping and expecting that the sun would push up the darkness."

Justin Ricklefs
Justin Ricklefs with his mom and siblings.

6. Teach kids to do chores early. (Louis K. Avery)

"I realized there was a method to her so-called madness and I love her dearly for those lessons of independence and now I do the same to my lovely seeds. Of course, just like me they were resistant, but once they found out I wasn't going to flinch they joined my team."

7. Be courageous. (Matthew Mugo Fields)

"She decided to leave Barbados, our Caribbean homeland, and immigrate to the United States, leaving my brother Glen and me behind. Unable to bring all of her three children into the country, and not wanting any of us to be alone, she made the heart wrenching decision to leave two of us behind while she, and our oldest brother Wayne, went on to pave the way for our eventual reunion. This act of incredible courage and selflessness was the most difficult and risky thing my mother had ever done, but she knew there was a chance it would change our lives forever."

Matthew Mugo Fields
Matthew Mugo Fields's mom made a new life in America for her three sons.

8. Believe in your kids. (Joshua Straub)

"Do my kids know I believe in them? I’m not sure mom consciously tried, but her truth approach to parenting eventually taught me that I had what it took to make it on my own. The more adventures we had, the more I knew she believed in me."

Joshua Straub
Joshua Straub and his mom love their camping adventures.

9. Resilience gives hope, so be resilient. (Justin Ricklefs)

"Like the time when the first business I started failed, with a newborn baby girl at home. Or like the time when we had two miscarriages back to back. Or when my own marriage hit a tough spot and we had to dig in deep in the counselor's chair. See mom, your resilience was likely a self-defense mechanism at the time. A reaction to the tough pill that was making its way down."

10. Pay it forward. (Matthew Mugo Fields)

"My mother insisted that we do for other children what she and others in the community had done for us. Indeed, adherence to this principle of giving back what I have been given has shaped my path as both a parent and an educator."

11. Allow your kids to fail. (Joshua Straub)

"My mom... didn’t coddle me. She made sure I felt the natural consequences of my behaviors. I’m grateful for that too. In doing so,she taught me the realities of the world we live in. As a dad who can err too much on the side of grace, this is a question I ask of myself quite often."

Kavita Varma-White is the mom of two teens and lives in Bellevue, Washington. Follow her on Twitter @kvarmawhite.