A List Every Parent Should Make

While in the midst of settling into our new home, selling a home, teaching, and other activities, I am squeezing in a quick blog post before July departs. As a parent, I try and do my best to provide every lesson, activity, and opportunity for my kids. Coming from a family of list makers, one night, these thoughts turned into a list, a list of what, in my opinion, every American kid should experience.

  1. Spend the day at the ocean: Take your pick; there’s one on each side of our beautiful country. Kids should get the opportunity to explore the waves, sand, and see just how far our world extends.
  2. Visit a National Park: Again, take your pick! We are blessed with an affordable park system that extends throughout the country. Check them out! Which one is your favorite?
  3. Tour a Battlefield: As a 17 year old who thought she knew everything, I was dragged along one spring break to tour battlefields. At first, I behaved as a typical teen, arguing with siblings and regularly declaring my boredom. Then we arrived at Gettysburg. The best way to explain what happened was I felt a presence, which reached through my selfish, immature behavior and left me with an experience I will never forget. I felt something there. Something powerful, old, and bigger than I will ever be. It is a memory that I will never forget and one I hope my children have the opportunity to experience. Trust me! Take your kids to visit a battlefield.
  4. Hold down a miserable summer job: Every kid should have the opportunity to work one of those memorable, uncomfortable, low-paying jobs. These jobs provide the pride in a hard earned paycheck and a reminder to work a bit harder the next school year.
  5. Complete a service project: Kids can make this as formal or informal as they want. They can help through their school, youth group, or even taking the time to help a neighbor clean the gutters and rake the lawn, but every kid should know the joy in helping another.
  6. Go camping: Again, make this as formal or informal as necessary. Buy all the equipment and explore the great outdoors, or if camping is not high on your list, pitch a tent in the back yard. Look at the stars, listen to the silence, make s’mores, and make memories.
  7. Play a sport: Remember kids don’t have to excel at a sport, attend fancy camps, or purchase the best equipment. Playing a sport teaches teamwork, keeps kids busy, and promotes healthy, life-long habits.
  8. Participate in a non-athletic extra curricular activity: Pick one, any one. Encourage your child to find an extra activity, chess club, band, choir, FFA, the possibilities are many! They will make friends with similar interests, and who knows? They might just find an activity that stays with them for life.
  9. Learn to keep a budget: Kids have many opportunities to learn the basics of money management. It might be the simple task of buying Christmas presents, maintaining a monthly allowance, or being responsible for extra expenses during the summer months. Teaching kids the financial basics now will only help them as adults.
  10. Learn that important lesson, “You can’t have it all.”: Perhaps you cannot provide all these things for your child. That’s ok. Share your dreams, the things you wish to do with them. Tell them why these events are important. Maybe one day this list will be completed as adults, or you will create a new list together.

Did I miss anything? Please feel free to share what’s on your “Parent’s List.” As always, thanks for reading!



  1. Enjoyed this blog a lot…so important. We too tried to do some of your ten…we had to do small groups, as getting all 9 of us out & about at one time was difficult. Tom always taught being kind..good..& helpful to others & elders was so important. Thanks for the great ideas.

  2. We have a few of these items left to do with the kids, but we have completed/worked on many of these. Money management is a tough one! Emily is a saver, but AJ can’t keep a dime in his pocket for 5 minutes! Oceans, Battlefields and summer jobs are yet to be completed! Although, we haven’t visited the battlefields, we did take the kids to DC this spring. We visited Arlington and watched the Changing Of The Guards. They were impressed by the cemetery itself, then the Changing of the Guards made it so memorable. And the war memorials…their curiosity just floored me. Always asking questions about the wars. They were so excited to look up a name on the Vietnam Memorial that dad had given them…and so proud when they found him. The entire trip is something I know they’ll be talking about for a long time.

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