This Will Make Your Life (And Kids) Better

It’s not easy, this thing we’re trying to do. You’d think it would be: Billions of people have done it through history and the survival of our genes literally depends on it…yet here we are struggling. In need of all the help we can get.

Obviously, that’s the premise of the Daily Dad email. Seneca’s line was that we ought to try to acquire one thing a day–a quote, a story, a relationship, an insight that makes us better. We try to deliver that in each email.

Well today, we wanted to put together a list of stuff that has been of use to us here at Daily Dad over the years. Some books. Some items to carry with you or to keep on your desk. Some make for great holiday gifts. Some you might want to share with new or expecting parents.

Check them out…and share them if they work.

How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes  by Melinda Wenner Moyer

Melinda Wenner Moyer is a writer and a thinker after our own heart. Knowing about her background in science journalism, Moyer was asked all the classic parenting questions. What kind of sleep training is best? Formula or breastfeeding? Screen time, good or bad? Then Moyer had her own kids and got interested in a much more important question: what can we do to make sure our kids don’t grow up to be assholes? You know, kids who aren’t spoiled, who are kind, who work hard, who are respectful, who are empathetic. We’ve cited her work before in  this Daily Dad email  and  this one , but this wonderful book is worth reading for any parent.

The Boy Who Would Be King  and  The Girl Who Would Be Free 

Over at Daily Stoic, one of the most common questions we get is: How can I teach my child about Stoicism? First, you have to understand the topic so well that you can explain it to a child. That’s why we first created  The Boy Who Would Be King , an illustrated and timeless fable about the journey of a young Marcus Aurelius and how he became one of the wisest and most virtuous leaders in history. Second, you have to live it, speak it, write it, act it. That’s what parenting is all about—modeling the traits and beliefs we want our kids to embody. So we followed up with  The Girl Who Would Be Free , an all-ages fable about the upbringing that helped Epictetus survive slavery and go on to become one of the great philosophers of all time. We tell the story of Epictetus through the lens of a female character in hopes of making the fable slightly more accessible to young girls and women, whose Stoicism is often ignored.

Tempus Fugit Medallion 

As parents  it feels like we are always rushing . To get the kids to school, to soccer practice, to get dinner on the table. We often view these tasks as something that gets in the way of “quality time” with our kids. But one of these days you will wake up and your sweet innocent baby boy will be asking you to buy him a razor to start shaving. Or to help pick out a college. Or pay for his wedding. Because time flies. And  those simple moments  where he was just sitting and eating cereal at the table will be gone, never to return. Remember, it’s all quality time. Even the ordinary moments.

Outdoor Kids in an Inside World  by Steven Rinella

Nobody wants an inside kid–a kid who can’t step away from their screen, who says ew when they see dirt, who doesn’t know how to hold their own on the playground or know a thing about the wonderful world around us. Well, this book is a great resource for parents in the perennial struggle against screens and comfort and everything else. “One of the beauties of hunting and fishing,” Rinella writes in  Outdoor Kids in an Inside World , “is that they force kids to reckon with failure and to struggle against their own impatience.” Being cold and wet. Being bored. Being tired. Being quiet. Screwing up ( as the Jimmy Carter story we told a little while back illustrated ). These are things our kids need to experience (not that it has to be hunting and fishing exactly). Getting your kids outdoors and learning skills life will demand from them on a daily basis.

Luctor et Emergo Medallion 

No dad wants to see their child struggle. You work long hours to provide for them. You make sure they wear a helmet, and don’t hang out with the wrong crowd. But that struggle is actually what makes them better. Seneca’s essay  On Providence  is entirely about the virtue of struggle. The gods, Seneca writes, “want us to be as good, as virtuous as possible, so assign to us a fortune that will make us struggle.” Without struggle, he says, “no one will know what you were capable of, not even yourself.” Your child comes with unlimited potential. The key to unlocking it isn’t removing all the hardship. It’s understanding that a child’s life should be good, not easy.

Reading for Our Lives  by Maya Smart

We’re all trying to raise readers right? Well, it’s not just about reading to them when they’re little. It’s not just about getting them into a good school or insisting they do their homework. It’s about being involved. It’s about making reading a family affair. It’s about letting them benefit from your experiences—all the ideas and books you’ve been exposed to in the time you’ve been on this planet. You raise a reader by being a reader…and by being a good reading guide and companion. And this is a process that takes a lifetime. You can listen to Maya and Ryan talk about that process in more detail in  this interview from the Daily Stoic podcast .

The Daily Stoic Premium Leather Edition  and  Desk Calendar 

In each of  his letters to his friend Lucilius , Seneca would include a quote, something to chew on, a thought to guide the day. “Each day,” he told Lucilius, you should “acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes, as well.” Just one thing. One nugget. And that’s what most of Seneca’s letters to his friend are about. They have a quote in them. Or a little prescription. Or a story. It’s a wonderful way to practice Stoicism, as well as a bit of advice that has persisted through the centuries. And, with websites, Instagram posts, inspirational posters, tattoos and the like, it has arguably reached its apogee here in the 21st century. It’s why we include at least one quote on every page of the  Daily Stoic Page-A-Day Calendar  (perfect for your desk or bedside), and  The Daily Stoic  book (which is also available in a  Premium Leather Edition  to withstand the test of time). One little thing to make you smarter, wiser, calmer. This is the way to improvement: Incremental, consistent, humble, persistent work.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse  by Charlie Mackesy

Sometimes you read a book and it just hits you in a place you didn’t even know was a place. You read something that’s just magical and whimsical and beautiful and moving. Whatever it is, it does what art is supposed to do, which is that it touches that something that makes us deeply human. And  The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse  is such a book. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter how old your kids are, it’s a beautiful book. It’s simple and straightforward but at the same time, it’s deep and profound. The drawings are great. It’s just an awesome book.

Meditations  by Marcus Aurelius (Premium Leather Edition)

You wouldn’t think of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius as a parenting book. But General James Mattis recommends it to other military leaders. Coaches recommend it to other coaches. Founders recommend it to others setting out to start a business. Presidents like Harry Truman read and raved of it. And you will too. As Brand Blandshard put in 1984, Meditations is a collection of “the ideals and aspirations that a rare spirit lived by.” Isn’t that what all of us parents are looking for? The ideals and aspirations to both try to live by and try to instill in our children. As we talk about here, kids don’t just turn out as good people. They are nurtured into good people. They need to be guided by your example. They need to be taught the ideals and aspirations that other rare spirits lived by. Then they may one day be worthy of lasting and permanent interest. And on the top of lasting and permanent—over at Daily Stoic, we created a premium leather-bound edition of Meditations. Like the tradition of handing down the Family Bible, this premium edition was made to stand the test of time and to be passed down from generation to generation.

Goodnight Moon (With Plush) 

Anyone with small children knows that getting kids to bed can be a challenge. There’s the tantrums, the negotiations, and the flat out refusals.  As we’ve talked about before , routine and structure can help. And for generations of parents, Goodnight Moon has helped provide that bedtime routine. It’s deceptively simple–a bunny saying goodnight to objects in his room. But it has captivated children for 75 years.

Glux,  Specs Blots,  Specs Sphere 

Fidget toys have become popular to give to kids. It keeps their hands busy and ideally pacifies them. But maybe on those tough days when the kids are melting down in the drive-through, it’s you who need pacifying.  Behavior is the language of children . They can feel the tension you bring into the room. They know what your angry face looks like, even if you never say a word. Working that tension out on a piece of plastic is always better than on the ones you love.

Daily Dad Podcast 

As helpful as they are, trying to find time to read these emails every day can be challenging for busy parents. That’s why Ryan records every email we send out for the Daily Dad Podcast. Listening to these short meditations while on the way to pick up the kids is a great hack for those time-crunched days. And on the weekends we release extended episodes where Ryan dives into the personal lessons he’s learning with his two young sons. It provides great insight into how he practically applies the lessons he’s writing about every day.

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