Mom Shares 3 Lessons On Parenting She Learned From Asking What Made People's Childhoods Magical

It really is the simple things that create lasting memories.

mom making memories with her daughter Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

As we become more and more aware of how childhood trauma and parenting work, many want to ensure that their kids have as many happy memories from their young years as possible — or ideally only happy memories, period.

But Emily Wehner, a content creator and mom of two small kids, says we all might be overthinking it when it comes to trying to fill our kids' heads and hearts with happiness. An experiment she launched taught her that, in the end, it's the simplest things that matter most.


The mom asked people what made childhood magical for them and was surprised and moved by the answers.

"I've been thinking and talking a lot about childhood recently," Wehner said in a video she posted earlier this year, going on to express a feeling likely familiar to most parents. "I just want to protect my kids' childhood as much as I can."


I feel REALLY lucky that I loved my childhood. Tell me the little things you loved about yours!

♬ original sound - Emily

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"I feel like I grew up in kind of like a fairy-tale childhood situation and I feel really lucky about that," she said, describing the kind of idyllic upbringing that has largely disappeared nowadays — a close-knit community where kids and parents alike were all friends and each day was filled with fun and exploration.

It's something she's hoping to replicate for her own kids, so she asked people on TikTok for their thoughts. "I want to hear what you think made your childhood magical," she said. "So tell me, what did you love about your childhood?"

Wehner shared 3 parenting lessons she learned from hearing what made childhood magical:

The answers she got to her question — and there were TONS of them — were somewhat surprising. It wasn't the great big, huge trips to Disney or extravagant Christmas gifts that stuck out to people, but rather the smaller gestures parents might not expect to make a huge impact.


The little things do seem to matter. 🫶🥹✨ click the playlist below to read through all the comments

♬ original sound - Emily

Wehner said she was legitimately moved to tears by the many responses, which left her with three main takeaways about what impacts kids most.


1. 'It's the little things that make childhood feel magical'

"There were comments about going camping in your backyard or your parents would surprise you with a trip to a hotel that was literally like a mile down the street," Wehner explained.

@emily_wehner Growing donuts was a simple and easy way to make some magic for our kids. We love our @Micro Kickboard Scooters scooters and helmets so much! Our kids use them every single day and they were the perfect mode of transportation to check on our donuts. 🍩 #microkickboard #childhoodmagic ♬ original sound - Emily

Others' memories were even simpler — things like the scents of cookies being baked or songs their parents would play. 

"The sweetest comments are the ones that are like, 'My dad played this song before we went on a road trip,'" Wehner said, noting that it was the song, "not even the road trip," that stuck with people most.


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2. Traditions

"Birthday traditions, holiday traditions, those were big," Wehner said. But none of them were big grand gestures, she added. 

"Just like little things like breakfast in bed on your birthday," she explained, or "magical Christmas traditions like sleeping in front of the Christmas tree and things like that."

Notably, it's not the presents for either birthdays or Christmas that stuck with anyone. The best things in life really are free, it turns out.


3. The way parents, caregivers, and other family members made them feel

We've probably all heard the famous quote from Dr. Maya Angelou that people will rarely remember what you do or what you say, but they'll always remember how you made them feel. Wehner's results certainly bore that out.

"There were so many comments that were like 'my mom was the magic,'" she said, "'She would listen to me, and she would play with me, and we would do all of these fun things, and she was the magic.'"

Wehner said this one in particular resonated with her personally. "I often am like, will they notice? Does it matter, these little things that I do?'" But after reading just how much relationships mattered to her viewers, it definitely changed her mind.


She's even gone to the trouble of compiling all this "childhood magic" into a document for other parents, which you can view here.

There's so much pressure nowadays to be the perfect parent, to shield kids from anything negative, and to "go big" in order to counteract the hard or sad parts of growing up. But Wehner's experience shows that it is and always will be the love and togetherness that truly constitutes giving your kids everything.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.