Small Stories of Big Life Lessons

A father carrying his son on his shoulders at the beach.

Through their words and actions, parents guide their children to maturity, teaching valuable life lessons along the way. (Image: Epicstock via Dreamstime)

Through their words and actions, parents can guide their children to maturity, teaching valuable life lessons along the way.

One day, a child who was 2 years old ran into a table and got a big bump on his head. He cried loudly for a long time. His father came out of his room and walked over to the table, loudly asking: “Hey table, who hurt you and made you cry so hard?” 

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The boy stopped crying and looked up with tears in his eyes. His father caressed the table and asked: “Who did that to you?” His son looked at him: “Oh, Daddy, it was me.” His father asked: “Did you apologize to the table?” The boy said: “I’m sorry,” and bowed to the table.

From that lesson, he learned responsibility! 

Another day, when the child was 3, he started crying for no good reason. His father asked: “Are you uncomfortable?”


“Why do you cry then?”

“I just want to cry.”

“Well, I don’t mind if you cry, but I‘ll find you a suitable place to cry so that you won’t disturb others. After you have cried enough, you tell us, and then you can come out.” 

Frustrated little boy crying and covering his face.
The boy said he felt like crying, so his father found him a place he could cry freely. (Image: Oksix via Dreamstime)

His father instructed him to stay in the bathroom. Two minutes later, the boy knocked on the door and said: “I’ve cried enough.” He was then allowed to come out. 

Now, the same boy is 18 years old and he does not use his emotions to manipulate others or take his anger out on others.

Rash action

A father walked by a bridge with his 5-year-old son. Seeing the clear water under the bridge, the boy said: “It’s beautiful water and I want to jump into the river and swim.”

The man was surprised for a moment, but then said: “Well,  let’s jump in together, but first we need to go home and change our clothes.” After returning home and changing their clothes, his son noticed a pan of water.  

His father said: “My son, when you swim, you have to put your face in the water, right?” He nodded and his father continued: “You need some practice to see how long you can put your face in the water.”  

After only 10 seconds, the boy lifted his face out of the water and said: “I’m choking in the water. It’s not comfortable.”   

His father said: “Yes, if you jump into the river, you’ll feel even worse than that.” 

“Daddy, let’s not jump into the river then,” his son responded.  

“Okay, we won’t do it then.”

Since then, the boy has learned to be cautious and think twice rather than act rashly.

When a boy wanted to jump in the river, his father used the opportunity to teach him one of many life lessons.
When a boy wanted to jump in the river, his father used the opportunity to teach him a life lesson. (Image: Olha Rohulya via Dreamstime)

Be a hero

One day, a 6-year-old boy walked by McDonald’s with his father after school. 

“Dad, McDonald’s!”

“Ah, McDonald’s! You want to get something to eat there, right? My son, it’s easy when you want something and you go out and get it. Anyone can do that. But if you can control your urges and not get something even though you want it, you’ll be a hero. Would you rather be an ordinary person or a hero?” 

The boy answered: “A hero.”

“You’re sure about that, right son?” 

“Daddy, I really do want to be a hero.”  

“Okay, hero, let’s go home!” 

Ever since then, the boy has learned to control his urges and not give in to temptation. 

Brick or knife?

One day, an 8-year-old boy fought with his classmates and came home crying. He felt wronged by his classmates and responded with anger and more anger! He cried more and more loudly.

His father asked: “What do you plan to do? Do you want Daddy to help you?”

“Daddy, find me a brick, and I want to hit them from behind tomorrow.”

A close up of an old pile of bricks.
His son wanted a brick to take to school to throw at his classmates. (Image: Glen Jones via Dreamstime)

“I see, I can do that. Anything else?”

“Daddy, get me a knife, I want to stab them from behind.”

“Good! This way you can vent more anger. Daddy can get it for you.” 

The father went upstairs to get things ready. Meanwhile, his son seemed to calm down a bit. 

About 20 minutes later, the father brought him a lot of clothes and blankets that he had gathered. 

“Son, have you made up your mind — brick or knife?” 

“But Dad, why are you bringing me so many clothes and blankets?”

“My son, it’s like this: If you hit them with a brick, the police will take us both away for about a month in prison, so we’ll take some jackets and blankets with us. If you use a knife and stab them, we’ll be in prison for at least three years, so we’ll have to take more clothes with us for all four seasons, right? But that’s the law. So you decide and Daddy will support you!” 

“Dad, we have not done those things, right?!”  

“But son, you’re very angry about it.” 

“Hey, Dad, I’m not angry anymore, and in fact, I was wrong,” my son blushed. 

“Well, Daddy supports you!”  

Since then, the boy has learned that choices have consequences. 

Failing math

One time when a boy was 9 years old, he was failing his fourth-grade math class and became depressed. His father asked him: “How did this happen? You failed your math test.”

“It’s because I hate my math teacher. Her class is boring.”  

“Oh, really; I want to learn a little more,” his father said, showing great interest. 

His son had a lot to say, but it boiled down to the fact that his teacher disliked him.

Group of school kids sitting and listening to the teacher in the classroom, as seen from the back of the room.
The boy said his teacher disliked him, so he hated her and math class, too. (Image: Koba Samurkasov via Dreamstime)

“Oh, I see. When someone likes you, you like her; when she dislikes you, you hate her. Are you an active or a passive person?”

His son replied: “A passive person!”

“Are you a strong person, or a weak person? A gentleman or an ordinary person?” 

“I am weak, and an ordinary person!” 

“What do you want to be — a gentleman or an ordinary person?”

“A gentleman. Daddy, I know now! Whether my teacher likes me or dislikes me, I can like her, respect her, and be a strong person.” 

The next day, the boy happily went to school. After that, his mathematics skills improved and he learned the difference between being a gentleman and an ordinary person. 

Addicted to video games

Once, when a boy was 10 years old, he was obsessed with playing computer games. His mother had spoken to him many times to no avail. One day, his father said to him: “Son, I heard that you love to play games.” He admitted it and lowered his head. His father asked him: “How do you feel after each game?”

“Lost, empty, bored, and ashamed.” 

“Then, why play? It’s because you can’t help it, right?”  

Teenager playing a video game on a PC.
The boy told his father he couldn’t stop playing video games all the time even though he wanted to. (Image: Jjfarq via Dreamstime)

“Yes, Daddy.”

“Good! Let Daddy help you!” His father put the computer in front of him and handed him a little hammer.

“Son, smash it!”

“Daddy!”  The boy was confused. “Smash it! Daddy will be fine without a computer, but not without a son.” The boy cried after he smashed the computer.

From that experience, the boy learned the meaning of principles.

Call your mother

When a young man was 11 years old, his parents lived in a foreign country while the boy stayed with his grandmother. 

His father called every day to send greetings to the grandmother. One day, the boy answered the phone.

“Hello, Daddy!”

“Hello. Where is grandma? Let me talk to her.” 

An Asian man talks on his cellphone just outside the Apple store in New York City.
The man called his mother every day. (Image: Nsbeer via Dreamstime)

“Daddy, why do you call grandma every day?” 

“Do you think that’s strange? But she’s my mom!” 

“What about me? I also like to talk to you!” he said. 

“You find your mother and talk to her,” his father told him. 

Oh! Ever since then, his mother has received a call from the boy every day at 6 a.m., rain or shine — it’s been 8 years! 

Using a little drama to teach a lesson

When a young man was 12 years old, he was burdened with a lot of homework and was filled with anxiety. One evening, he walked into the house and his aunt said: “Hey, buddy, you broke my plate yesterday.”

“No way, I did not!” he replied.  

His grandma added her own comment: “I saw you, and I know you did it!”

“I didn’t! You’re wrong!” The boy sat on the floor, crying. 

A broken plate sitting on a wooden table with a knife an fork.
Nobody acted like they believed him when the boy said he didn’t break the plate. (Image: BRRT via Pixabay)

Five minutes later, his father came out of his room and asked: “What is going on here?” 

“Dad, aunt, and grandmother have wronged me!”  

“So big deal, someone has wronged you. You feel defeated and cry on the floor. You’re not a man! A real man will stand up even if the sky caves in, but you cry over a broken plate. The worst is yet to come. All the way through life, you will be wronged, betrayed, and humiliated. So you want to stay on the floor and cry when things don’t go your way, right?”  

The boy stood up with his back straight and said: “Dad, I understand, now. What should I do?” 

“Now, ask yourself, do you have a lot of spare time or a lot of homework to do? Just remember, ignore the little things and finish what you should do.”  

The boy picked up his bag, bowed to his aunt and grandma, and calmly went to his room.  

All three adults smiled because he was able to learn something important from the little drama they created and they hoped that one day he would recall the incident and understand what they had done for him.

Translated by Yi Ming and edited by Kathy

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