Mia’s Sixteen Cents: The Parenting Lesson My Daughter Taught Me


Over the weekend, I had to do the family grocery shopping for the upcoming week. Since Jason was home, I was looking forward to leaving the kids with him and grocery shopping by myself. But at the last minute, Mia decided she wanted to go with me. Flustered – although admittedly I could have said no – I told her to hurry up and put on her shoes and that I wasn’t going to buy her anything. What I didn’t know this weekend was that Mia was going to give me a parenting lesson I won’t soon forget.

When we got to the store I got ready to get out of the car, but Mia was going through my console looking for some change that she had put in there earlier. Angry, I told her to hurry up; that I didn’t have time for her to be looking for a couple of pennies.

She showed me the change – sixteen cents to be exact – and I told her that she could take it in but it wasn’t enough money to buy anything AND I reminded her again I wasn’t buying her anything anyways. She said okay. I told her that if she dropped any of it, that I wouldn’t pick it up because she should just be leaving it in the car since she wasn’t getting anything.

In short, I was being a total bitch.


We did our shopping, and she must have been holding on to that sixteen cents very tightly. She didn’t drop it. When we got to the check out counter, I busied myself getting everything out of the cart, making small talk with the checker, and fumbling to find my debit card to pay. I hear Mia saying “Mommy! Move the cart there” but I ignored her, too busy to see what she wanted.

I paid, they finished loading up the cart, and I started to push the cart away from the checkout stand when Mia said “Wait Mommy! I want to put my money in there!” I had forgotten about her change, and irritatingly asked where she wanted to put it.

“Right there!” she said, pointing to the clear plastic donation box that was sitting on the checkout stand.

Every time we go through the line at the grocery store, the kids ask what the box is for. I tell them it’s for little kids whose parents don’t have enough money to buy them food. If they find change left in the little change dispenser that sits next to it, they always put it in there.

The Parenting Lesson Mia Taught Me


My sweet Mia, who had to deal with me being such a jerk about her sixteen cents, had planned to put her money in that box before we even got out of the car. She wanted to give, to help someone who needed the money more than she did. She wanted to do exactly what I’ve been teaching my children to do…to do what we can to help others.

I backed up the cart so that she could lean over and put her sixteen cents in the donation box. The smile on her face brought tears to my eyes..tears like the ones I have in my eyes as I write this.

Mia reminded me to slow down, to be more present and enjoy the little things. She taught me to pay more attention, to see her as a young person instead of just as a child. She taught me that she does hear and hold on to what I tell her and what she sees me doing…the good (and I’m sure the bad).

She taught me that we can and will learn from each other. I guess parenting lessons can be learned from our kids too! She also showed me what an amazing person she is becoming.

The mommy guilt hit hard this weekend, but my heart also burst with pride for her. Hug your kids today – you might not always know it or get to see it, but they are doing amazing things everyday. Things that they are learning from you.


  1. Natalie, that was just beautiful. Mia is a sweetheart, and I'm so glad you shared this story. Such a great lesson. NotJustAnotherJennifer recently posted..DeliriousMy Profile
  2. Such a lovely story. Our kids can teach us so much. In our harried days, it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that they are learning so much from us and from the world around them and that they want to do good! Brittany recently posted..Saving Water and Saving Lives with Flush for Good {Win $200 Giftcard}My Profile
  3. I love this story. Sweet girl wanting to help others. I hate it when I act like this with my kids, but I love when they turn around and show me what a putz I'm being. Jennifer recently posted..Earliest MemoriesMy Profile
  4. Hugs to you! What a lovely story - and a great lesson. It brought tears to my eyes as well and I could totally hear myself talking to my kids (I'm not buying you anything is usually the first thing I say when they want to come shopping...) Kerstin @ Auer Life recently posted..That Zen FeelingMy Profile
  5. What a sweet story! I'm sure the guilt hit you hard, it would have for me too. Try to enjoy knowing that your daughter is learning from you and giving to others. So many times we don't even notice that our kids are actually taking in what we are telling them but then they surprise us in wonderful ways. Twingle Mommy recently posted..Trick of Drink? Is This the new way to Halloween?My Profile
  6. Mia's 16 cents plus someone else's and someone else's and someone else's can certainly add up fast. Lovely lesson for all of us! Tonya recently posted..Almost OursMy Profile
  7. What a wonderful holiday story and what a sweet kid you have Natalie! PramgaticMom recently posted..Top 10: Books for Kids Set in the AppalachiaMy Profile
  8. Mia sounds like a very sweet girl. Very cool that she is so giving and caring at such a young age.
  9. Wow. What a beautiful, special girl you have there. Sometimes I think we need to let go of the Mommy guilt and just grab hold to the lessons the teach us and be proud of them. They make us better people. Laura at Mommy Miracles recently posted..Glimpses of HalloweenMy Profile
  10. Oh gosh. I love this. Kids are amazing and pure. xo tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..Halloween Changes, Tweens and FoxesMy Profile
  11. Oh, what a sweet, thoughtful gesture! Greta recently posted..Project 365 (Week 44)My Profile
  12. I love this so much. Such a sweet story; it brought tears to my eyes. Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..PauseMy Profile
  13. You're obviously doing a great job with your kids, Natalie! xo Alison recently posted..Mango Coconut BreadMy Profile
  14. Oh, Wow. I am totally crying. What a beautiful lesson. My children have taught me to slow down too, but somehow I always forget until they teach me again. What a sweet, wonderful girl you have! Thank you for sharing this experience! Stacey recently posted..Will you come to my party when I turn 60?My Profile
  15. Thanks Mia, and you Natalie, for a much needed lesson! And I agree with your other commenters - let go of the mommy guilt and keep the lesson, and be proud of your awesome little girl. Heather recently posted..It Isn’t All About Being NormalMy Profile
  16. I can so relate! Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day that I forget to be present. And I forget how a little kid sees 16 cents and sees possibilities, yet we see it and think not enough. Great post!
  17. She is such a sweetheart! I get cranky with my kids and forget that they are always watching- I'm hoping more of the good than the bad sticks around! Shell recently posted..Gift Ideas for Boys: Lincoln LogsMy Profile
  18. This is beautiful. Your little girl is something to be proud of, and I so related to your description of how you were toward her when trying to get her into the store. I do that to my kids all the time. MJ recently posted..Poor.My Profile