10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life

by | Jun 15, 2017

The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

—Laura Ingalls Wilder

Charles Ingalls, or Pa, as his children lovingly called him, taught us a great many lessons on living a good life. He was a man of character, strength, good morals, and fortitude. These lessons are echoed in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing as illustrated in Laura’s beautiful quote above. Pa lived a life that was deeply anchored in his faith.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

He lived life with his characteristically joyful gusto, that blazing pioneer spirit that dreamed big dreams, and envisioned a better life for his family. Pa Ingalls certainly taught us a lot about life. His legacy lives on like the trails he blazed, his hard-working skills, and the simple life he created with his family.

1. Faith and an Unbreakable Spirit – Pa had rock-solid faith. The Ingalls survived crop loss, blizzards, fires, grasshopper plagues, and many other setbacks but they were determined to stay positive through it all. When his crops were ruined in the storm, he cried out to God, yet still trusted him to make a way for the family. Pa and Ma were devoted to the church and community, and the real Charles Ingalls served as School Commissioner and Justice of the Peace in De Smet, South Dakota.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

Pa had a hopeful perspective that encouraged everyone. He was optimistic and brightened everyone’s outlook on life.

2. Marriage, Family, and Love – Pa Ingalls loved his wife and his family passionately. He protected them fiercely, and provided for them in any means that he could. He taught them lessons by the way he lived, and with his heart-to-heart talks with them by lantern-light.

About Michael Landon - his life and his work with Little House on the Prairie

In Little House on the Prairie, Pa shows us his deep love for his wife Caroline when he builds their home by hand, and says he wants to “give her real glass windows as she deserves.” Pa was a wonderful leader who led with kindness and heart.

3. Cash on the Barrel – Pa taught us to be frugal and wise with our money and to owe no one a debt.  In one episode after Hanson’s Mill is closed and he is out of work, Pa says the family will no longer charge at Oleson’s store, and that it will be “cash on the barrel” (cash only) for purchases.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

4. Selfless Concern for Others – Pa had concern for the well-being of others, particularly those who were the most vulnerable. In the TV series, he sets a great example of this by adopting Albert, James, and Cassandra (played by Melissa Francis). Pa is highly sensitive to his environment and is generous with his time and energy for the good of others.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

5. The Simple Life – “Well all’s well that ends well,” Pa replied (Little House on the Prairie).  Material possessions come and go.  The Ingalls had to uproot themselves a number of times, leaving many possessions behind, but one thing always remained the same; as long as they were together, they were home.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

Pa showed us in words and deeds that the best things in life are free. He lived a quiet, simple life full of contentment and peace.

6. Contentment Is True Wealth – In the Season 2 episode called “The Richest Man In Walnut Grove”, we hear Mr. Oleson and Pa talk about a wealth that is deeper and more meaningful than monetary wealth, “Charles, I think you’re the richest man in Walnut Grove.” Mr. Oleson says. “I know I am.” Pa replies.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

Although money is scarce and times are tough, it is the simple pleasures of home that bring the Ingalls joy and happiness.

7. Hard Work and Keeping Your Word – In the Season 1 episode called “A Harvest of Friends”, Pa teaches us the meaning of hard work when he goes to work repairing a roof and stock feed for the local feed store. After he is injured, and has to stay in bed and cannot complete his repairs by the due date, he ignores the doctor’s orders and finishes the job anyway. He keeps his word, and in the process his friends all pitch in to help him lift the heavy feed sacks.

Michael Landon will always be remembered for his wonderful acting as Charles Ingalls, as well as his part in bringing Little House on the Prairie television series to the world.

Pa also works hard at the lumber mill and builds a lot of things his family needs. . All built by hand with his skill as a woodworker, such as  rocking chairs, baby cradles, a wooden saddle for Laura’s horse, and the traps he uses to catch fish.

8. Music Soothes The Soul – “…and he took his fiddle out of its box and began to play. That was the best time of all.” (Little House in the Big Woods) Pa always played his fiddle for his family. He sang, danced, and played songs both bright and jolly and sorrowful and slow. He brought joy to the Ingalls’ home and to the friends that came to visit through his music.

Pa playing the fiddle - 10 Things Pa Taught us About Life in Little House on the Prairie

In a 1937 letter to her daughter, Laura describes her father: “Pa was no business man. He was a hunter and trapper, a musician and poet.” You can learn more about Pa and his fiddle here.

9. Gifts from the Heart & Resourcefulness – The Ingalls gave gifts to each other that were not only resourceful (using only what they had on hand, and not wasting anything), but they also put a lot of thought into their gifts. They were mostly handmade gifts that they knit, built, sewed, baked, or crafted. In “Christmas at Plum Creek,” the girls receive one shiny Christmas penny each, and some red knitted mittens.

10 Things Pa Ingalls Taught Us About Life - Inspired by Little House on the Prairie

Pa even made things that they needed by hand. “Everything from the little house was in the wagon, except the beds and tables and chairs. They did not need to take these, because Pa could always make new ones.” (Little House in the Big Woods)

10. Bravery and Courage – “He liked a country where the wild animals lived without being afraid.” (Little House on the Prairie) Pa brought his family by covered wagon to unsettled land. They had to cross rivers to get to their new homestead. In the Pilot episode of Little House on the Prairie, we see Pa leap out of the wagon to help pull the horses across the water. He almost falls beneath the wagon. He faces those rough waters to get his family to safety. Pa was the epitome of bravery.

Michael Landon loved the script for Little House on the Prairie's pilot movie and asked to play Charles Ingalls.

Charles Ingalls taught us these and many more lessons. He spoke to us all in his words, actions, heart, and spirit. He was a wonderful husband, father, friend, and pioneer.

What is your favorite life lesson learned from Pa Ingalls? Now you can relive all of these moments when you purchase the beautifully remastered TV series on blu-rayDVD or Digital HD! Or keep everything in one place with The Complete Series Gift Set, which includes 48 discs and eight hours of bonus material.

Amber is a believer, a homesteading Mama, and illustrator/owner of Cloud9 Design. She blogs about homesteading, and living simply at Cloud 9 Design.


  1. Fran

    I’m a fan of Little House all my life and some of the best quotes I tell my kids as a mom are from the show. Great lessons and great life skills. The show just never gets old.

  2. T. Harris

    MICHAEL LANDON, Was the man to play the roll.
    My mother-in law grew up with his sister as a best friend in New Jersey
    telling about the abuse he took from his father and left for Hollywood.

  3. kamryn johnson

    i love charles and the ingalls family. they teach that love, life, and loss are real and they are important. but they also teach that it is important to stay strong and stand up for what you believe in. i will forever love and cherish Little House on the Prairie

    • Ron Planting

      Helemaal met u eens Kamryn Johnson, prachtige woorden kijken naar Little House brengt vrede en geluk in je hart.
      Totally agree Kamryn Johnson, beautiful words looking at Little House brings peace and happiness to your heart.

  4. Delaine


  5. Myra Van Vorhis

    So many wonder lessons to be learned by all even today. Love the shows and books. We can all learn from them!

  6. Nancy

    Pa was an inspiration to all of us . Just loved the man he was and the values he lived by.

    • Katherine

      I read my 4th grader a chapter or two after lunch for nearly 30 years…I watched the originals and reruns a d have a few cds ..my favorite or right at the top is when Laura goes up on the mountain a d ask God to take her a d send her brother back…what a powerful episode…

  7. Debra

    Little House the Prairie is my favorite all in my life.

  8. DeeAnn

    There are little things in the books that show Pa’s wit and sense of humor. In The Long Winter, when he’s making the checkerboard, Laura says, “Curiosity killed the cat, Pa.” And he replies, “You look healthy to me.” And in LTOTP when he does the common taters on the ax at the social.

  9. bernie

    I love little house I have the first 5 volume of book and I do have some CDs on the show. I look up things on the computer every day I hope a new book will come out soon.

  10. Joyce Jacobsen

    Always loved the ‘Little House On The Prairie” stories, have watched them over and over for years. When our children were growing up we watched as a family every week, our children have watched them with their children. Have read the books many times. My husband is just like Charles, so talented in every way. Wish things could be now the way they were than. Thank you for fond memories.

  11. Febe Potts

    My son Robert just LOVES the “Little House on the Prairie” program. His favorite character is Laura Ingalls. The program is so real, heart warming, and full of love that their is always a lesson to be learned and love to share.

  12. Lynn. bradshaw

    She recently passed away ☹

    • Belle

      That is so true

  13. Sherrian Watford

    Pa reminds me of my Pa, I was raised on a farm by a farmer! I so relate to little house. Instead of half pint I was called ‘Toogie’ My Pa made me who I am today and I am proud of it!!

  14. Patricia

    There are many wonderful historical sites where one can dress and practice these traditional crafts. In Oregon we have several including the Philip Foster Farm, in Eagle Creek OR. It’s a great way to honor what we learned from Laura Ingalls.

  15. Aronna

    Ms Oleson is 93 years old today..

  16. Aronna

    So loved. Me.Olsson and Nellie..they were so funny..Me.Olsson is 93 years plethora..

  17. Aronna

    So love the show ..I watch everyday and take myself back like I was actually living n g in that time.Life was so simple .the ppl were so helpful to v one other..All those days are gone for some.I often wonder is there anywhere in America today where ppl actually live like this?


    My loving muzanneemories ,are of my neighbor Ms Rinker& her granddaughter allicia along with my daughter Suzanne enjoying one of granny rinkers great dinners and watching Little House//that was in the70s and the girls begged us to make them long skirts with old fasion print long sleeve high neck blouses and off they went to 4th grade..before we knew it many little girles were wearing the new Little House, clothing..The girles have lost contact over the years,,and Mrs R passed on in the 80s,,but thanks to the Little House series I have a very sweet memories at 77…sure miss M.Landon,,God Bless his dear sole…good memories of the past..M. Dunn

  19. Kristina

    In “I’ll Be Waving As You Drive Away” Pa says “There’s always a job for a man who’s willing to work”
    It has been my motto since the first time I heard it.

  20. Mary Sumpter

    I love watching re-runs of these shows. Sadly they are not showing on the Hallmark channel at present. I do hope they come back.
    It is so heart-warming to see family life as it should be lived.

    • Elizabeth

      They show them on Hallmark Drama

  21. Vicki Ritmanich

    Grew up watching his shows & still watch them enjoying & learning from all. They took nothing for granted. Mr Edwards brought sweet potatoes for Christmas & Caroline was SO HAPPY!

  22. Donna Armstrong (facebook Donna Johnston)

    i have a whole bunch of lhotp dvds and I watch one almost every night as I am laying relaxing in my bed. I absolutely love that family. they have the same attributes that my parents taught all ten of us children. we are also very close. my favorite episode is CHRISTMAS AT PLUM CREEK.

  23. Diana Goodmurphy

    While reading On the Banks of Plum Creek, Pa had traded the horses for the little dugout. Laura was upset to lose the horses. She wrote that Pa said “What must be done, is best done cheerfully.” It has become the mantra of our grade 2/3 class this year. When life gives us hardship, and hard decisions must be made, it is best to be cheerful and move one. No sense wallowing in despair. It has been a great life lesson for all of us this year.

  24. Kerri Jenkins

    The love of family and friends and honor and respect show in this show are what draw me back time and time again. The hard work ethic and willingness to do whatever needed to get the job done. There wasn’t a lazy bone in Ms or last body and I loved how everyone pitched in. A mans word and a handshake meant something and now adays you can rarely count on them. Nobody expected something for nothing and everyone expected to work for ANyTHiNG they needed or wanted. The taught their children how to treat others and how important being in church was and that it was the Lords day. We saw pa and ma both discipline with love and sacrifice (2 of my favorite episodes are Christmas in plum creek and a Christmas they never forgot) they were so grateful for every little thing! We need more shows that teach these values and less or none of the shows today that disrespect family, parents, values, work ethic, people ,those in authority etc.

    • cheryl ann shaw

      Well Said. And I agree. I am thankful the show was there to teach us good values. I am going to live by this pioneer way of life . we can teach by example and maybe share our results with each to learn better ways to instill this lifestyle. Perhaps this can save this world from the icky way the TV now portrays life.

  25. Debra Bonanno

    When I watch Little House I feel like I’m almost there. I wish I was there in most ways.It’s one of my favorites and I hope more people would watch it and enjoy it as much as I do.Thankyou

  26. Lois Choate

    This show is heart warming and show you how the world could be.We would be better to still live this way.Love has gone from the family. Little House is all about love and family

    • Delaine

      True 100%

  27. Millie Sleasman

    Been thinking about my boyfriend when he calls me Caroline and most times I laugh about lot of things in life

  28. Christy

    I loved watching the shows. Sometimes I wish I could go back in that time and see how it really was then.

  29. Patti

    As a child I had a very critical and emotionally absent father who was too busy at his job to know what we were about. Pa for me was a present and caring father who put his family first and taught great and valuable lessons to his children. I had none of that so I have been lost and wayward much of my adult life. My reprieve was to read Little House books as a child and later watch Little House-it was/is my saving grace for the day where I could dream about (and often be sad for) the life and parents I might have had. Most people who know me know what a passion I’ve always had for the books and the tv program-and they kid me about it still 🙂

  30. kathi

    Amber, Thank you for such a beautiful rendition of Little House. ‘Pa’ was every girls dream father.
    I myself being a ‘daddy’s girl’ miss mine terribly.
    I look forward to exploring this website and send my appreciation ahead of time for what
    I know will be a joy to absorb:-)

  31. Bonnie Demkowicz

    I learned from his love and respect for God and his family.

  32. monica marquez

    siempre me encanto esta serie, me encantaría conocer su familia sus cosas en donde filmaban, creo q debe haber sido un hombre muy creyente porque hizo bonanza en la q denotaban su fe, la familia ingals y por ultimo antes de morir camino al cielo, de muchas forma el fue nuestro ángel quien nos enseñaba que pese a lo malo de la vida si se podía ser un buen cristiano, una buena persona,el lo hacia parecer todo tan fácil.
    no hablo ni escribo el ingles, no se si era esto lo q avía q hacer pero su recuerdo me inspiro.

  33. Kathy Rich

    I liked his laugh, and his kind heart, and he had a hard working attitude.

  34. Valerie crispell sutcliffe

    Honesty. Keeping your word. Making up with siblings and apologizing when needed. Forgiveness and treating others the way you want to be treated. Also “the Lord will provide” was like their family motto.

  35. Nancy Clukey

    One of my favorite shows.

  36. Nancy Clukey

    My favorites life Lessons are “The Richest Man in Walnut Grove” and “Cash On The Barrel” I love Little House On The Prairie.

  37. Terrie Burke

    I can remember the time when PA loaded down the team and in a snow blizzard took a woman, who had lost her husband and had 3 children that were going to have no Christmas at all. Him and Laura went to the the woman’s house and took them wood for heat, and some shoes, and a blanket. Everything turned out good for everyone. That was a caring, thoughtful act of kindness. But there’s a lot more of these acts of kindness.

  38. Peg Kidon

    When Nellie ridiculed the kind of work Pa did (to Laura), and said he smelled like a horse, Half Pint was found weeping in the barn by Pa. She couldn’t bare anyone saying mean and nasty things about her beloved Pa. He explained to her that whatever work one does, do it the best you possibly can, and that is all that is required. So true!

  39. Evelyn

    I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie 🙂 I have learned a lot of positive things from watching these episodes and how to live a positive life in every aspect. I still watch Little House on the Prairie every day and I can watch them over & over and never get tired. I leave my TV recording all the episodes throughout the day to see them in the evening. I actually need to buy all of the Collection 🙂 It is nice to watch especially right now in the times that the world is in because we can see how positive life can still be and to have good morals for ourselves and our future generation <3

    • cheryl ann shaw

      Perhaps I am a little crazy, but this has been so inspiring for me. Long story, but I been racking my brain for a couple years on how to answer this “calling” i received and I am just glowing with faith now. Thank you for this page and sharing such positive feelings. There is Hope. We dont need to make america great again. We just need to honor the legacies that made it great to begin with. I apologize if I appear to be using this webpage inappropriately. My intentions are to build on this sites community and spread to as many as possible. I just know this is going to work and I am in Awe. I love this life.



  41. helen huntley

    i love this show i still watch it…especially the younger years it has really touched me how hard they worked back then…i still quote pa and ma to this day especially the show “the richest man in walnut grove” loved it <3

  42. carolyn hall


  43. Patrisha Bridges

    Thank you for the memories of Little House on the Prairie. Charles Ingalls played by Michael Landon was my television”dad”. I always wanted a dad like Charles Ingalls (Pa). Michael Landon brought Charles Ingalls to life in the perfect depiction in the television series. Thank you again for having this blog.

  44. Linda Nash

    I love Little House On The Prairie I use to watch it all the time no matter if they were reruns I would still watch them I have all of their books and 2 season’s of the shows Im going to get more of them when I get more money I love that show so much every time I watch I pretend I m in the show with just like when I read the books

  45. fernando jose sanches gomes

    besides good lessons of living and being a streght faith also and so my GOD bless uns all

  46. Josh

    I was raised in foster care and didn’t have a fair life as a boy. I turned to TV shows to find any sense of ‘family’. Charles Ingalls was my TV father for a long time. I stopped everything to watch any episode that aired. I’d be glued to the TV while it was on. I wished I could find a family like his…

    • Melissa

      Me too. I put his picture in my wallet and carried it with me.

      • cheryl ann shaw

        Oh my goodness that is so heartwarming. It is amazing what goodness can be transpired by just one person starting one good deed. Your comments inspired me. I believe it IS possible to change the world. We need to start spreading the Michael Landon Gift we received to the world.

    • Beverly

      Thank you for the blog ~ Have always loved the Little House series; but, didn’t read the books until many years later. My dad was a good dad ~ he grew up on a farm in northwestern South Dakota ~ Laura’s first book was published the year he was born ` 1932. Living on a small (80 acre) farm in Western WA ~ we lived a simple, but good life. Learning many of the same skills a century later. They are still important & useful today. I’m so thankful these have taken root & still positively impact peoples lives even now. 🙂 For five years, we had Laura’s Birthday Party first week of February ~ It was always a big hit. 🙂

    • Lisa

      I also watched this show and the Waltons and wished my family were like theirs. I still feel a sense of comfort when I watch these old shows.

      • Rose

        Me too and I love the Waltons!!!

    • Rose Cash

      I can absolutely relate
      A Daddy like Charles Ingalls would have been the utmost support any child could have been blessed with. I too was a foster child in 5 different homes
      Not to mention looking for love in the same ole places as growing older. Not to mention still looking for a “Charles INGALLS” Today ❣️
      God Bless. ✌️



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