Teach Them These Three Duties

Life is vexing, especially when you’re little. As children, we constantly find ourselves in situations for which we have no experience, for which we have not been prepared, for which there does not seem to be a clear or obvious answer. Some of these are big situations like being bullied or breaking an arm, some are small like being nervous to go to your first sleepover or being jealous of something you wanted that your best friend got instead. Sometimes it’s a blessing, sometimes it’s the curse of misfortune. 

How are they supposed to respond? Well, it’s your job to show them. Because as disparate and vexing and unique as every moment of life happens to be, each of us has a set of duties that we can apply to any and all situations. 

You can teach your kids that whatever they’re facing, they can respond with 

-hard work


-helping others as best we can. 

It’s not always going to lead to success, of course, but it will always lead to something they can be proud of. It will always serve them well. Whether it’s a sudden reversal or a sudden bounty, whether they’re at fault or an innocent bystander, what life demands—what we as their parents expect of them—is work, honesty and compassion. 

Good character and acts for the common good, as Marcus Aurelius said. 

Teach them this and they’ll never be lost or at a loss. They’ll know exactly what to do. 

These three duties are adapted from the “How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything” chapter in The Obstacle is the Way. You can pick up a copy of the book everywhere books are sold, and we even have signed copies over in the Daily Stoic store.

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