If You Could Give Your Kids ONLY 3 Pieces of Advice…


This question was posed as an “Icebreaker” to our Forum meeting a few weeks ago.

Think about it.  Of all the DOZENS of great ideas you’d like to give your children, what would be the TOP THREE?

Here are mine:

1.  THINK for yourself – To live a fulfilling life, you have to think independently.  This is how you can create a world of limitless possibility.  Question everything!  It’s OK to listen to “conventional wisdom” and advice that people give you, but YOU have to ultimately form your own opinions.  This is what the best LEADERS do, whether they are leading a company, a family, or their own lives.

2.  Always maintain your INTEGRITY – In the end, you have only 2 things:  your memories and your name.  And your name and reputation live on.  By keeping your promises and doing the RIGHT THING, you will sleep soundly at night and have peace of mind.

3.  Find your PASSION and give 100% – Life is very short.  You don’t have much time, so make the most of it by doing what you LOVE and giving your ALL.  It’s not easy to find your passion. Maybe the search will be painful and long, but you will find it at some point.  And the feeling of satisfaction knowing you have given 100% brings tremendous contentment.

My Forum Brothers all had awesome Advice as well:

Find Yourself.  Be True to Yourself.

GIve and Get Love.

Be Present – Take in the Moment.

Work Hard

Enjoy Life

Be Respectful

Listen Carefully to Advice Along the Way

Modulate Your Emotional Highs and Lows

Embrace Difficulties and Hardship – They are a Catalyst for Growth

Love Your God and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Find a Life Partner Who Shares Your Values and Life Experience

In Your Profession: Be Good at It, Enjoy It, and Make Sure It Pays Well

What Top 3 pieces of advice would YOU give to YOUR kids?

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe!

Featured image courtesy of aldrin_muya licensed via creative commons.


71 thoughts on “If You Could Give Your Kids ONLY 3 Pieces of Advice…

  1. As soon as you can push a mower, start working. Save every single bit of money you make. By the time you’re 18, you’ll have learned work ethic, social customer skills and you’ll have at least $50k or more in your savings. Buy yourself a modest house to fix up and put it on the market. You’ll have money left over for a car and to start or improve a business. Work for yourself, always. Go Green (wind/solar energy, all electric car, keep a garden, etc) and look out for any way to minimize your cost of living. You only should have to pay for some food and the land tax once you’re set up. And communication/entertainment. The cheapest phone plan you can find is a 5yr internet phone service. If you’re not at home, don’t take calls, you’re busy with your life. You don’t need a cell phone, someone else will always have one. Don’t use your credit except for life threatening emergencies, build your credit with extremely short term house loans but only when you have money to pay it back already. Build your empire before choosing a mate, or you’ll lose it all. People are greedy. Don’t sugar coat your life with bullshit, be straightforward always. Stay away from drugs and doctors.


  2. I like ur advice its best for alk specialy for kids.i am a teacher in kindergarten so please if u can send some messege for kids.keep the good work.God bless u.


  3. I am a 15 year old HS student and my dream is to become an entrepreneur. I don’t really have the support of my family though. This was exactly what I needed to remind me that everything is worth it and I shouldn’t let go of my dreams and passions. 🙂


  4. Thanks for the discussion Tien – excellent!

    A bit late but – My top 3:

    1) Integrity – If you lose your good name, it is the one thing that is very difficult to get back. Your values should guide your choices as you need to be able to live with your decisions.
    2) Self belief – Believe in yourself – be prepared to back yourself in your endeavours. If you are not prepared to back yourself, why should anyone else back you? A fundamental, rock solid belief in oneself is the foundation of success.
    3) If you believe in what you are doing and the goal you are working towards, then never give up. Persistence is an absolute key. In fact I often say that persistence and self belief are the difference between success and failure.

    My wife Ethel’s top 3:

    1) Education is the foundation for your future
    2) Self respect
    3) Treat people with courtesy and manners always (as you would like to be treated)

    So between us that gives us 6 – probably cheating a little but we like giving advice to our childrens’ dismay!

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

    Thanks again




  5. Great pieces of advice! I particularly like your first idea and wished someone had told me when I was a small kid. it’s definitely one of the best suggestions a parent could give to his/her children.
    Often education only focuses on transmitting information and we are only taught what others have thought while neglecting the fact that we could think by our own. However, the most important thing is in fact the latter and the former should only be an instrument towards forming our own opinion.


    • Thanks very much for the comment. The essence of human existence is our ability to think independently. We all get caught up in others’ thinking, dogma, noise from advertisements and TV and other media, and forced teachings. If one can learn to think for oneself at an early age, it’s a huge advantage to living a fulfilling life.


  6. 1. Develop mind, body & soul meaning stay curious, stay fit, explore faith and spirituality.
    2. Follow your passion – the rewards may be financial OR NOT, it won’t matter.
    3. Cultivate Open-mindedness. Dogmatic ideologues are killing our country on both sides.
    Posted by David Graham via LinkedIn, May 10, 2012


    • Hallow advises don’t work. If U want to give certain advices to Ur children, first U have to truly follow them. If Ur children observe U behaving like a true or good human beings, they will learn those traits observing U. If Ur dishonest and advice Ur children to be Honest, 99% they won’t be. I never advised my children but had been following the path of Humbleness, Honesty, Integrity and passion for learning and helping others. My children have followed me so well that wherever I go, I am being recognised as father of So and So. I never took help from anybody ( monetarily) and my both the children are also like that. My daughter and Son, both brought me laurels in
      their respective fields and are extremely sincere, humble to the core, honest and persons with integrity. My daughter ( +41) is a ‘Software engineer and Son(37) is a very talented Surgeon.


  7. One of the easiest thing in the world is to ‘Advice others’, be they Ur children, Neighbour, Wife, Colleagues or any body else, one can get billions of advices but none would be effective unless they are suggested by someone who practices them too.
    If the purpose of this discussion is with the intention to improve Ur children with ‘Good advices’ , Show or quote any single name who has improved because of ‘Good advices’ despite ‘Parents being bad and not following those advices themselves’.


      • Dear Tien,
        Thanks for Ur reply. I believe in improving ‘Self’ first. There are two ways to success..” Outside In” and ” Inside out”.
        In first, U do everything with a focus on earning money, name and ultimately, “Fame”, but when U get all, U find Urself ‘Unhappy’ despite getting everything because ur ‘Inner self remains’ same.
        Through other route..” U focus on every day Introspection of Self with an aim to improve self and Ur acts. This makes U an effective person in every sense and in every walk of life.” The ultimate result U get is.. Name, Money, Fame etc. coming to U automatically. U don’t chase them, they chase U and hence U always remain satisfied and happy with a crystal clean concious.


  8. 3/17/2012 – From Gloria Petrone via LinkedIn

    As you age you are constantly changing. Placing yourself into a forever after situation can stop your tomorrows. If it’s suppose to last…..it will. If not……turn the page and see.

    Get all your general education credits over with before choosing a major. Never take two hard classes together.Take some hard classes at night. Less students and, sometimes, easier.

    If you wish to be treated like an adult, act like one. Be responsible, do the right thing. Make your own money, stop acting like you are entitled. The self sufficient and resposible get treated like adults. It’s not a matter of age.


  9. Hi Tien, interesting question!!

    1. Take advice from your parents as they have been here a lot longer
    2. Hug them every now and again
    3. ….and if you win big on the Lottery, remember who raised you!


  10. I totally disagree. Reason is not what advices U have suggested, are incorrect but If U really want Ur children to be a good human being, then U have to become a good human being with all the traits U have mentioned. For most of the children, Parents and specially Father is the role model ( not that mother’s contribution is less or to be under estimated, but only because of the fact that they see their Father less).
    If U are urself not a person of Integrity, Honest and passionate etc. ; no matter what U advice and how much U advice, 99% they will have ur traits in them.
    Whatever I have said, I have practised this since my adulthood and I can
    boast of my children, because I find myself in them.
    From the beginning, I have been a very passionate and avid learner and executor , never lied, never followed anything ‘Unethical’ , never compromised with my ‘ethics’ and never tolerated any injustice. My both the children are like me, have earned name and fame on their own.


  11. My kids are adults, so ‘advice’ is a tricky word…but the 3 things I would like to share with them are —
    Have a sense of self-worth; it’s the most precious possession you can ever own.

    Always look at what tomorrow can bring… look back only for the happy moments and the learning curve.

    Be grateful… for this life and all of its gifts.



  12. Hi Tien: I know I added mine already when you initially posted this, but I think I want to add one more. It’s a simple one.

    “Know that I love you, and no matter, I will ALWAYS have your back.”


  13. I teach my kids that they need to care more about their life than their parents or anyone else. I don’t care about the mistakes they make but do care about how they respond.

    So far, they’ve been able to do well with a lot less parenting than I’ve seen among my peers. Of course, it could be my wife doing all the work while I play with them.


  14. The three that come to mind for me:
    1) Be happy with yourself- You will never be happy in life until you are happy with who you have become.
    2) Marry not just a lover, but a friend. The best marriages and the happiest marriages are between couples that actually enjoy each others company, always.
    3) Keep an open mind- closed minds don’t learn.


  15. There is one that sticks out immediately. I would ponder the other 2 a bit longer 🙂
    Trust takes years to build and seconds to break so make sure you are true to your words and actions. You will be held to them until the day you leave this earth.


  16. Thanks Tien for starting this. My top three would be:
    – Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
    – Treat others as you would want to be treated, and
    – Assume people mean the best, rather than the worst, in what they say (even a complaint is based on a desire to ‘help’ or a misunderstanding, it is just said negatively 🙂

    Work ethic, love of life, and joy flow from these three.


  17. Stephen Cheney, via LinkedIn on January 7, 2011:

    Seriously speaking, there is Life and there is Death: make sure to live and not just exist; and experience as much as you can before you die. For from experiences can come fulfillment and the shaping of our own character.

    We are all unique and only you can be yourself. Explore not only life outside, but also explore yourself to know who you are. Seek your own answers to the great questions: as to each person, their own answers Are the answers that count.

    Life is full of disappointments: they are distractions; progress forward anyway. Every choice that you make affects and changes the future little by little. Small waves in a great sea, we all of us journey to the other shore.


  18. Thank you Robert Coleman, for your Comment vis LinkedIn on Jan 6, 2011:
    1. Support leaders that let you keep what you earn.
    2. Make sure your love is your best friend before you commit
    3. Get an engineering degree so you can understand the world, not just frolic in Oz.


  19. 1. Find God ASAP and get a relationship going.
    2. Seek answers to the big questions – How did I get here? What/Who is the source of my existence? What is my destiny?
    3. Realize as soon as possible – your life is not all about you.


    • Thanks for your contribution, Kevin. Great stuff! #3 will take a while, and I’m not sure anyone ever gets to #2, but seeking the answers, as you say would be a great journey.


  20. Thank you Maryann Lawlor for your Comment via LinkedIn:

    No means no.

    Always protect yourself.

    Never do anything that you’ll regret 30 days from now.

    (What can I say? We have two sons! =) )


    • From Garrett Thurson via LinkedIn on January 6, 2011:

      I don’t want to come across as erudite here but this is an interesting question and Gaby, reading your response I couldn’t help but think of the passage from Bart Giamatti, the former and late commissioner of Baseball, and once president of Yale. I used his passage as a part of an argument for Latin being an integral pillar of a curriculum of an exam school, the start up of which I supported.

      I thought you might enjoy the passage; furthermore, if you find any value to this reference please don’t hesitate to use it in your materials in the future.

      ‘Ask not, noble Dunn, what prompts us to study a “dead language,” for the language is not dead. It lives in all the romance tongues, as one of the great roots of English, in the life of the Church and the West. It also lives in all those who from Ennius to Baudelaire wrote in part or entire in Latin. That is two thousand years of culture, alive today.

      ‘We study Latin because without it we cannot know our history and our heritage. And without that knowledge, we cannot know ourselves. Nosce te ipsum , brave Dunn. If one can read that, one can—in one’s life—begin to do that. The link between Latin and our lives is deep, and abiding.

      ‘We also study Latin to enrich our understanding of our language. You have already begun to learn certain etymologies. Knowing Latin teaches English. We learn what English words meant and mean still when we love their Latin roots. We also learn grammar, an ancient art and science that tells us how to put together our thoughts, and hence our lives, with clarity, dignity and gravity. Claritas, dignitas, gravitas.’

      † Excerpt from “The Value of the Study of Latin,” Kathleen Calderone and the Latin Students of Saxe Junior High School, Published and distributed by The American Classical League Teaching Materials and Resource Center, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056 – Bart Giamatti was also the Seventh Commissioner of Major League Baseball.


      • Dr. Gaby Cora, MD, MBA • I love your post Garrett. It must be the “shrink in me.” The legacy I would leave my kids is the same I’ve worked on with my patients and clients. Same I would suggest my best friend or colleague. High achieving parents often struggle with their amazingly bright children. They push them to accomplish more and more and it becomes clear the kid is trying to please the parent rather than look within, know themselves, find their path, be themselves, and enjoy the ride. Peak performers will say: but don’t you want them to be the best? And I say, if this is what they want, certainly. And the only way you can find yourself is by knowing who you truly are. Once you know who you are, being yourself is the most authentic expression of that integrated self. When you are aligned, joy overflows. I call this The Power of Wellbeing.


  21. Love this topic!

    1. Maintain integrity
    2. Remember who your friends and family are
    3. There are always new things to learn


  22. Thanks, Stephen Coppola, for the Comment via LinkedIn:

    1. Be honest with those who deserve respect.
    2. Set and follow realistic dreams.
    3. Find joy in as much as you can including the smallest of details.


  23. Thanks, Mark Bregman, for the following Comment on LinkedIn:

    1. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

    2. There is another side to what you are experiencing. Meet others at their model of the world, and reframe the negatives in your own life.

    3. One step at a time is good walking.


  24. Thanks Douglas Tengdin, CFA, for the following Comment on LinkedIn:

    1. Integrity: honest to others, to yourself, to your profession, to your family–in a whole-hearted, integrated completeness.

    2. Competence: be an expert at what you advocate. There is no reason no to master what you undertake.

    3. Service: consider the needs of othsrs as more important than your own needs.


  25. Thank you, Manny Pulido for the following Comment via LinkedIn:

    Tien, Here are six pieces of advice by Eric Dumas that I have always found useful and used.

    1. Dwell on the future, not the past. What’s done is done, the future is the only thing you can have an impact on.

    2. Ask God for forgiveness and move on. God always forgives the faithful.

    3. Focus on the positive and use it. Reflect on your gains and build on your strengths. Let go of your failures.

    4. Count your blessings, nurture your faith. Thank God everyday for who you are. Move on through this earthly existence as best you can.

    5. Nobody is perfect, not even you (or me). There will always be failings and temptations. That is what the Devil does for a living!

    6. Enjoy life! Leave a legacy for your children to follow. That’s all we really can do.

    Author: Eric Dumas
    Retreived from


  26. Great adds by our friends here. I particularly like the comments on humility, picking how you spend time and who you spend it with, and everything Marissa said as always 🙂

    Very happy to have you all as friends and teachers, happy new year to all!!


  27. Great piece Tien. My contributions:

    1: Live life from a place of gratitude and compassion. I remind my kids to have compassion for the weak, the sick, and the elderly because at points in their lives, they will be all three.

    2: Have a strong moral compass. Know who you are at your core. What do you stand for? What do you value? Do your best to remain true to your values. What matters is not what you do when everyone is watching. What matters is what you do when you are the only one watching.

    3: I remind them often to take the high road. Finish graciously, gracefully, and strong. Bless & release grudges, bitterness, and resentment.

    4: Don’t be afraid of difficult conversations or tears. Both are necessary to move forward from difficult places.

    5: I often tell my kids to cherish the word “friend.” Facebook has marginalized and de-valued the beauty of the concept of friend. True friends are rare and are essential food for our hearts, souls, minds, and spirits. We are the average of those closest to us. Choose your inner circle carefully.

    6: Family matters above all else. Always.

    I know this breaks the three-only rule…. What do you expect from an over-achiever?

    Happy New Year Tien. Grateful for your true friendship and blessed to have you in my inner circle.


    • Your kids are very very lucky to have you as a Mom and role model. Love the thoughts, especially number one, having gratitude and compassion. I read recently that one of the best ways to be happy and content is to look at everything, and every situation with true gratitude. My kids are probably sick of me constantly drumming this into their heads, but I think it’s very important for those who are very fortunate and who grow up living in a “bubble” (like our kids, right?) feel true gratitude and appreciation for what they have. Happy New Year to you, Adam, and the boys!


  28. Thanks for the blog about ideas to give your kids. I would suggest another about skills to give your kids.

    When I was young, my parents made me take piano lessons. At first I hated it, but then I grew to love playing piano. I had excellent teachers who trained me to play at a high level. When I became an adult, I bought a high quality grand piano and then began teaching. At first, I did it for the tax deductions, as I only had one or two students. But over time, I grew to really enjoy teaching piano. Now I have a studio of about 10 students who pay me $70 for a one hour lesson.

    Not only do I get tax deductions on things I would spend money on anyway (such as piano tunings, music books, concert tickets, etc)., but I earn quite a bit of money. Because I’m a good teacher and I enjoy it, it’s actually easy money, and it has greatly helped me during periods when I needed the extra income.

    The benefits of teaching are enormous — it keeps my skills tiptop, I have fun, and I have friends in the greater piano community. The fun of teaching is that for a full hour, the student must do everything that I tell him or her, I get to talk about whatever I feel like talking about, I teach when I like and how much I like, and I have total control over the curriculum. Few people can say that their job gives them that freedom. In fact, I know quite a few people who teach full time and thoroughly enjoy working for themselves.

    I believe everyone should have a skill that they can use to earn money when they become an adult. It could be yoga, dance, meditation, writing, or even just tutoring. Or, it can be a skill that is needed in today’s economy that people don’t think about, such as tv or small appliance repair, car repair, computer repair (either hardware or software) locksmithing, or any other skill that your child may enjoy. If you are a good handyman, you will always have an income from people who can’t fix things around their own house.

    These skills not only give your child a sense of accomplishment, but they also can feel unique, because few other of their peers may have the depth of knowledge or skill. But you are also giving them a means to make some money when it is needed. We can’t always assume that we will have a full time job, or, we might feel trapped in a current job that we dislike. By earning money on the side, it gives you some degree of freedom to quit a job that you dislike or pursue other interests that don’t pay very well. And there is no downside! It never hurts to know how to do things that others can’t do.


    • Thanks Randy for the beautiful reply. Your parents gave you the gift of music and piano, and you have taken it to another level! Your point about the skills building confidence and competency and making a kid feel unique are so true. And you’re right: there is no downside! Hope you and your family have a great New Year!


  29. This was written by the Maryknoll sister, Ita Ford, to her niece just three months before her own death by a death squad in El Salvador in 1980, and was given to me by my aunt when I graduated from college. It has always stuck in the back of my mind, and I have subsequently given this to my nieces and nephews on their graduations.

    “I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you.
    Something worth living for — maybe even worth dying for,
    something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead.

    I can’t tell you what it might be — that’s for you to find, to choose, to love.
    I can just encourage you to start looking and support you in the search.”


  30. All of these are great. One that would probably make my top three: “Be very careful who you spend your time with, and actively select to be with those people that you want to be like.”
    Important stuff, especially for the new year. Thanks for passing along the wisdom, Tien.


    • Thanks Jack! That’s great advice!! It’s amazing how hanging with and working with the right people can make one so much stronger, better, and more successful. And the converse if true too. Happy New Year! Hope to see you soon!


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