Everything You Need To Know About Parenting In 9 Mark Twain Quotes

Classic advice.

by Ross Walker
Originally Published: 

You may not have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn since high school, but now that you’re a father, it’s time to dust off those Mark Twain novels from the high shelf. Because while Samuel Langhorn Clemens was the person who dealt with raising his children (and mustache maintenance), it was his nom de plume who spoke about this whole parenting thing with humor and a surprising amount of modern candor. Besides, how else are you going to get your kid to whitewash the fence?

On Where Your Baby Came From

“Familiarity breeds contempt — and children.”

On Having More Than One Kid

“Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don’t you ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain’t any real difference between triplets and an insurrection.”

On Kids Saying The Darndest Things

“The darling mispronunciations of childhood! Dear me, there’s no music that can touch it; and how one grieves when it wastes away and dissolves into correctness, knowing it will never visit his bereaved ear again.”

On Being A Difficult Child

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.”

On The Teen Angst Phase

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.”

On How You Get Then To Listen To You

“Always obey your parents — when they are present. Most parents think they know more than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.”

On Being Great Communicators

“The most useful and interesting letters we get here from home are from children 7 or 8 years old. This is the petrified truth. Happily they have got nothing to talk about but home, and neighbors, and family — things their betters think unworthy of transmission thousands of miles. They write simply and naturally, and without straining for effect. They tell all they know, and then stop.”

On Irresponsibility

“One of the very advantages of youth — you don’t own any stock in anything. You have a good time, and all the grief and trouble is with the other fellows.”

On When To Break The Rules

“It is good to obey all the rules when you’re young, so you’ll have the strength to break them when you’re old.”

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