Family & Education

Dear Next Generation: ‘My Baker’s Dozen’: Advice to My Grandchildren

TIMEJanuary 4, 2022

I spent 22 years in the U.S. Army and another 20 years in the Pentagon as a contractor. Based on my personal experience and my reading of history, this is what I am trying to pass on to my grandsons:

1. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never quit.” A saying we had in Ranger School—“A winner never quits and a quitter never wins.”

2. You will make mistakes, you will hurt people, sometimes you will fail, but try to limit these things. And always take personal responsibility.

3. Be proud, but not too proud to ask for forgiveness. And forgive those who have wronged you if they ask for forgiveness.

4. Learn from your mistakes and never stop learning. Read. Read all types of books. You should always have a book at your bedside table.

5. Always remember that whatever is asked of you, others have had to face far worse.

6. Never lie to yourself.

7. Try to have a sense of humor. Maybe you won’t have one, but you can certainly be pleasant and fair to others. It’s important that others don’t mind working beside you.

8. Take care of your family, financially and with love. And please take care of yourself. Do this and then think of saving the world.

9. Be good at your job, whatever that job is. Reread number No. 4 above. Accept that there will be some who are simply smarter than you, but you can outwork them.

10. You don’t have to love everyone, but treat everyone with respect and demand to be treated with respect.

11. Be self-disciplined. Live by your personal code. It’s a cliché, but there’s something to be said for having grit.

12. Accept that much of life is out of our control. Randomness can sucker punch us, but strive to make good choices. There are no guarantees in life, but making good choices increases the probability of good things happening to you.

13. Start saving money early. Only someone very rich or a fool says money isn’t important. Therefore, understand the fundamentals of investing for the long term. You don’t want to be a financial burden to others when you are a grandpa. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to travel and to have your car fixed if it breaks down?

Craig Jones, North Carolina


I grew up in Southern California in the ’50s as an only child. So yes, no cellphone, no internet, no computers, not even much of a TV. But my friends and I always had fun.

But sometimes we got into trouble for doing dumb stuff. Stuff that later I felt sorry for doing. So here’s my advice. It’s good to have friends you can hang with, but be careful what you do with them and who you follow. Also, be careful when your friends give you advice. They’re growing and learning just like you, and sometimes they aren’t making really good decisions.

Also, I know it’s hard at a young age, but try to have a sense of direction. It doesn’t even have to be a real big deal, like what you want to be when you grow up. But try to set some small and medium goals. It’s dangerous to just kind of float and follow the crowd.

Lastly, try to help others wherever you can, and whenever you can. You’ll feel better about yourself for doing it. And, limit screen time, i.e., phone, TV, computer. Try to talk to people face-to-face.

That’s all for now. Take care.

Joe Simmons, Arizona


I wrote this advice shortly after my wife passed away. She was the heart of the family. We have three kids, eight grandkids, and two great-grandkids.

5 Rules for Our Kids, Grandkids, and Great Grandkids

I love my family so much and have never stopped trying to leave you with something of value. It sure didn’t turn out to be money or property. There are some thoughts from a lifetime of striving I want to share.

1. You have a duty to know God and the laws of God that made this country different—why you have smartphones, video games, and a car to move your butt around … and the toilet paper to wipe it when needed. [There are] so many ways to be driven from your faith walk. Rise above it.

2. I hope you enjoyed growing up! You have a duty to learn what you are good at and your gifts and talents to serve others and support a family one day. The elder three have done quite well and made me proud. Nana sure was proud of you. As new opportunities arise, you learn you have more gifts and talents than you originally thought.

3. You have a duty to your parents and family. Nana and I were blessed with dedicated kids, and we gave what we had to build them. There is great satisfaction in serving others.

4. You have a duty to be kind and generous. Create things of beauty and worth. Don’t ruin or destroy the dreams and work of others.

5. Always be true to yourself—not what the mob thinks (it usually doesn’t think!).



Aka Gerald V. (Jerry) Todd, California


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001