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9 people share the best life advice they ever got from their mom

Collage of a mother duck facing three rubber ducks, representing her children. A speech bubble with a heart is coming out of the mother's mouth, symbolizing the advice given by mothers to their children.
Photographs by Chandler Cruttenden/Unsplash; Timothy Dykes/Unsplash; Collage by Kaz Fantone/NPR
Collage of a mother duck facing three rubber ducks, representing her children. A speech bubble with a heart is coming out of the mother's mouth, symbolizing the advice given by mothers to their children.

Updated May 14, 2023 at 10:50 AM ET

Earlier this year, we asked Life Kit readers for the best advice they ever received on any topic. We got hundreds of responses, and in many, we saw a common advice-giver: mom.

However you're spending Mother's Day, we wanted to celebrate the multitude of ways motherhood can shape our lives by sharing words of wisdom from all sorts of mothers — moms, stepmoms, and grandmothers.

Here's what y'all had to share.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

1. Avoid too many cooks in the kitchen

"My mom used to tell me: 'The more people who become involved in a disagreement, the less likely it is to be resolved.' " – Jenny Hougendobler

2. Don't rely on a partner for money

"Don't ever rely on a man for your financial security. This was advice from my mom in the 1960s. She was a career woman and a feminist. My dad was sporadically employed. When I started working, she encouraged me to contribute the max to my 401k before I really understood what a 401k was." – Meegan Holland

3. 'It all comes out in the wash'

"My grandmother used to tell me, when things got bad in my life, not to worry because 'it all comes out in the wash.' " – Ralph P. Fontcuberta, III

4. Remember the golden rule

"My mom always said, 'If you treat people the way you want to be treated, you'll never have trouble sleeping.' " – Roberta Bruhn

5. Keep yourself grounded

"When I was raising teenagers, [my mom] told me that teenagers are on a roller coaster full of ups and downs — but that as tempting as it would be to get on the ride with them, it would be better for all of us if I stayed on the ground." – Kelly Ramsey

6. 'Don't be afraid to ask for help'

"Twenty years ago, I was a single mom raising two kids, ages 8 and 6. I had a full-time job and a long commute. My stepmom told me, 'Don't be afraid to ask for help.' It worked. A little bit of help here and there from a friend or neighbor took the edge off a challenging day." – Gail Webber

7. Beauty isn't everything

"While not super helpful in the moment, [and] usually said when I was concerned about clothes, she was right. Growing up as a teen girl, the focus on beauty was extreme, and my mom's feminist perspective has helped shape my lens of the world." – Sarah Switzer

8. It takes all kinds of people

"My mom always said when I was complaining about someone, 'It takes all kinds of people to make a world.' " – Judy Peters

9. If something scares you...

"My mom told me that if something scares you, you should probably do that thing." – Andrea Brannon


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