Life Lessons from Ma & Pa Ingalls

Life Lessons from Ma & Pa Ingalls on
A collage of photos including an old cabin with a snowy background and a picture of the front cover of, "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Life Lessons from Ma and Pa Ingalls in The Long Winter

Most of us read the Little House on the Prairie Series when we were children, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading them as an adult, I highly recommend doing so. They’re chocked full of wisdom and give a fascinating glimpse into the life of the American pioneer.

The Long Winter was especially fascinating to me as they had to endure seven months of blizzards with no supplies coming. The town was caught unprepared for such a long, relentless winter, but they came together and did what they had to do in order to survive.

We’re incredibly spoiled and blessed in our modern lives. Most of us wouldn’t have a clue how to survive a winter such as the Ingalls had to endure.

Even though most modern people have gone soft, so to speak, the human spirit is still the same and I know in hard times people would still come together and do what it takes to survive.

Most of us know that we’ve lost quite a bit of knowledge and skill through the years, but can you believe that ma and pa thought that things were too progressive, even back then?? Check out the quote below to see what I mean.

“If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light,” Ma considered. “We didn’t lack for light when I was a girl, before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.”

“That’s so,” said Pa. “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves- they’re good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ’em.”

Its crazy that they thought kerosene and coal were too progressive. I mean what would they think of our culture today? Would they consider us fools for depending basically 100% on everyone else for our livelihood? I’m sure they would be quite shocked at our lack of basic knowledge in survival.

Are you prepared to survive without electricity, running water, and the grocery store? It kind of chills me to think of what would happen if we all had to fend for ourselves in this country all of a sudden.

I know people would pull through as best as they could, but we would most definitely be at a disadvantage because we depend entirely too much on others to keep us alive.

Our ancestors had to deal with lots of obstacles, grief, and heartache. In the Little House Series it seems like they suffered one loss and setback after another, but their fighting spirit and unbreakable endurance kept them going. This quote from Little Town on the Prairie has stayed with me and is still quite true today:

“The prairie looks so beautiful and gentle,” she said. “But I wonder what it will do next. Seems like we have to fight it all the time.”

“This earthly life is a battle,” said Ma. “If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures. Now Mary, I’m ready to fit the bodice.”

I mean could there be any more relevant advice than that? We all have troubles in this world and we always will, so it’s better to accept them and be thankful for your blessings. Amen Mrs. Ingalls.

I think we would all do well to take this advice to heart and learn to be thankful for what we have and learn to accept our hardships as part of life and deal with them the best way that we know how.

These two quotes are only the beginning of wisdom and life lessons that can be learned through The Little House Series and I hope you will take the time to read them to your kids or even just to yourself and see what you can learn through looking to the past.

Have you read The Little House Series lately? If so, what wisdom have you found in them?

Check out these resources to learn more about The Ingalls Family:

Do you want more information about old-fashioned living? Here are a few resources:

This post was originally posted in June 2011, but has been updated and revised for your convenience.

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  1. I love both series, too. I read a few of the Little House books when I was young and have been wanting to read them now as an adult. I think it's time. Thanks for posting this!
  2. I love the books, but I haven't read them since I was a little girl. I actually saw them at the library last week and was contemplating when Addi would be old enough to read them to. I might go ahead and start once we finish The Secret Garden (what we are reading now).
  3. When I was younger my mom bought me the entire paper back set!! I read them all and I really loved them! My mom still has the set in storage, but it was certainly an absolutely wonderful series! I love how self sufficient they were, and how much they loved the simple things in life.
  4. Me and my daughter read through the series over the past two years. I enjoyed the books as much as she did. As we were reading we often talked about what life would have been like in that time period and compare it to what life is like today.
  5. Funny timing as I've been reading the Wilder Life and now have a strong urge to re-read the series. Last I read it, I was nine!

    Lovely post and beautiful blog!

    Be well ~Andrea~
  6. I love the Little House Books! I actually read the "Long Winter" every winter. It's such an easy read I usually zip through it in one day so I choose a very cold day and re-read it. I'm grateful for central heat and that we usually just get a few inches of snow here in Georgia!
  7. Ahh yes! Great Motivation! I was comtemplating, bringing it back our for the next wave of kids, we went through the whole series with the older kids - now it is time to do it with the younger ones (it was before their time). I think they would LOVE it and I will see it with a fresh set of eyes actually being on the homestead now, instead of dreaming about it. :-)
  8. I have the "My First Little House" books for my girls and those books have taught me soo much:) And my girls LOVE them:) Growing up I wanted to be just like Laura and Mary, now I want to be like their momma:)
  9. I adored Laura Ingalls series when I was a girl, but honestly, it was more of an adventure than a survival series. However, just from the quotes you posted, I'm thinking I should revisit them and read them aloud to my daughters! Thanks for bringing our attention to her books again!
  10. Yes, I've read the books as an adult. I've used them in our homeschool. They were part of the reason I wanted to start re-learning a lot of the skills that were so common to women during that time. I also teach my girls these skills.
    Does reading this make you want to be more self sufficient?
  11. My hubby gets irritated at me because I watch 'Little house' every chance I get. He is always saying, "we've seen this a thousand times"...and he's probably right, but I love them. I also have the entire set of her books and read them when I was little, but should probably read them again. I'm sure I'd gather more advice now that I am a wife/mom. Thanks for the suggestion.
    (found you at womenlivingwellwednesdays...and am now following!)
  12. I didn't like them as a child, but I think I would now. I just finished The Waltons on DVD (which I disliked growing up) and loved it. The father gave such good advice and I loved how the kids would react to situations - so unlike how kids on tv act today (I expected John Boy to react with "no fair, don't I get alone time to write?" and instead he apologized for not considering the needs of others first).

    Thanks for the nudge to read the Little House books. I'm sure they are much better than the show (though I loved to hate Nellie on the show! How could anyone be that mean?!).
  13. Those books were my favorite growing up! I think I had them read to me/ read them myself at least three times by the time I was 10. :) Let's just say my mom and I were/are addicts. :) We went to her home in Ridgeway, Missouri where she wrote all her books. Plus between the two of us we own all sorts of books about Laura and cook books. I can't wait to share them with my own future children someday. It's amazing what you can learn from them. So many things that I am interested in now can be found in those books, like making chesse, butter, sourdough....
  14. I love reading the Little House Books --I begin reading the series almost every winter. My favorites are The Long Winter, Little House In the Big Woods, and Farmer Boy. It amazes me how much one can learn from these books!
  15. I read the whole series for my children, first for the three eldest, later on for the younger ones. We read them in Dutch. I've never seen the DVD's, but what I heard from it, I think the books are better, because there is more room for quietness, satisfaction and wisdom. Things like that aren't easy to show in film.
  16. I loved these books as a child (I practically had them memorized!) but as I have been reading them aloud to my children as an adult I am also amazed at the wonderful nuggets that can be gained from them. I read them aloud a couple years ago and we are currently going through them again- we are reading "On the Shores of Silver Lake" right now. We ended up hitting the Christmas chapters about perfectly and as always I enjoy reading about their very simple but completely enjoyed celebrations. We are striving to have that in our lives too!
  17. Omg I love this post! It's so true...everything is so fast paced nowadays, and we're trained to be consumers. We need to get back to self sufficiency. Who knows when everything could crash? This makes me want to read those books again.
  18. Love, love, love Little House! Great post. I think we are too dependent on things now a days. We have been studying Little house with our homeschool group and plan on discussing this in one of our sessions.
  19. Year ago, over 20, we read the Little House series as a combination winter history/reading lesson with the boys. We all took turns reading out loud. Somehow it became a tradition for us and until the oldest left for college we would get the set out every October and read it together. I still do this every fall and am always pleased to learn something new or remember something I forgot. You are right, we are spoiled and could all do with some remembering of the old ways.

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