Moms Share the Biggest Life Lessons They've Picked Up from Their Kids

Over the course of the pandemic, these parents have learned quite a bit from their youngsters.

Mother playing with kids on couch
Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty

Mothers are always in role model mode. But when you observe your kids closely, they too are continually offering new ways to exist in this world.

While closing out the year and looking ahead to the next one with renewed optimism, Shape asked two brilliant Brain Trust experts — and open-minded moms — to share the perspective shifts they're lifting from their little ones. (

Dendy Engelman, M.D.

Dendy Engelman, M.D. is a cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in New York. Mom to Gadsden, 5, and Ellis, 3.

Parents Really Need to Play More

"My kids love to dance and sing and perform for us. It's easy to forget, but a balanced, healthy life includes fun, laughter, and just playing around. Everything doesn't have to have a reason behind it or an end goal."

Children's Resilience Should Be Bottled and Consumed

"After my kids experience something disappointing or hurtful or a failure, they vent their feelings, sure. But then they get up and try again or move on. They forgive others, and most important, they forgive themselves."

When Panicked by Change, Think WWKD

"By witnessing and appreciating their curiosity and excitement to learn and expectations, I'm also learning to value and adapt to each stage in life. It's a true delight to see them celebrate the little things we adults often take for granted or panic over because it's new. Change can scare adults. Adopt a kid mindset, and you realize we need to swap our perspective and get psyched instead."

Take a Chance, and Trust

"My kids trust me to catch them when they fall and keep them safe, so I encourage them to try things. Of course they do, we think. But it makes me wonder why it's so hard to have that trust as an adult. I'm learning to trust that others have my back. It makes life more enjoyable."

Love Big

"There's a huge lesson in the power of greeting with a dramatic sweet hug, as if we haven't seen each other in weeks instead of hours."

Anate Brauer, M.D.

Anate Brauer, M.D. is a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility in New York. Mom to Madeleine, 9, Noa, 7, and Sophie, 4.

Laugh Heartily

"My daughter has the most contagious belly laugh. One day I asked her how she breaks into such spontaneous joyous laughter. Her answer: 'Mommy, laughing helps you live.' My 7-year-old is wiser than I am."

Stop Running

"I'm always running — to work, to home, to my patients, to the operating room, to ballet. I often get annoyed when my kids stop to look at a ladybug while we're rushing to walk the dog. In 2020, they taught me to stop running. I remind myself to observe. Life is happening all around us."

Family and Friends Are One and the Same

"Our kids love playdates. Yet somehow they kept social during lockdown with family dance and tea parties. My oldest told me, 'Mommy, my besties are right here — you, daddy, and my sisters.'

Adapt and Accept

"I was so worried about Zoom school, but my kids did it. I was so worried about mask wearing, but they did it. I was so worried they would get bored stuck at home and fight to the death, but they became best friends. My husband and I scrambled to accept this reality, with lots of tears and anxiety behind closed doors, but our girls taught us to adapt and accept — and live."

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