How to Raise Your Kids Like Seneca Did

Although we know nearly nothing about Seneca’s family life or how his children turned out, we know at least that he gave good advice. We know that as a wealthy, powerful, and famous man, the deck was stacked against him. These are corrosive, corrupting influences, particularly on children. Yet it was clearly quite important to Seneca to raise a normal kid—and to encourage everyone else to do the same thing. 

Below is some advice from Seneca on parenting:

  • Spur them to conceive of great things for themselves, but curb them from arrogance.
  • Let them enjoy some comforts of wealth without indulging their every whim.
  • Show them how to get up when they fall—don’t pick them right up.
  • Instruct them, don’t just punish them.
  • Praise them, but not excessively.
  • Allow some relaxation without fostering laziness.
  • Reward them when quiet what was denied them when they cried for it.
  • Expose them to good role models.

Seneca understood that parenting is a balancing act. You want your kids to be confident but not obnoxious. To feel special but not entitled. Comfortable but not spoiled. You want them to be happy, but also know how to handle disappointment and rejection. To not have to struggle but know how to overcome. To be self-sufficient, but also know how to be a team player. To be carefree, but also value hard work. 

For us, that means we must always keep in mind the end goal, not just what will make this moment easier for them or for you. Assess each situation and strike a balance so your kid will too.

P.S. This was originally sent on December 12, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.