10 Things Ma Ingalls Taught Us About Life

by | May 12, 2017

“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how and when and where.”

Caroline Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie

Caroline Quiner Ingalls, beloved Ma to her five children, taught us many lessons on mothering, homemaking, faith, and life. She was a woman of modesty, tenderness, patience, courage, and compassion. She was a great teacher, a wonderful cook, and a hard-working pioneer woman. Full of perseverance, courage, and faith, she was a caring and loving wife and Ma.

Laura Ingalls Wilder captured the perfect essence of her Mother, Caroline Ingalls, throughout her writing.

10 Things 'Ma' Caroline Ingalls Taught Us About Life

Caroline has been an inspiration to so many mothers over the years. She brought out the good in others through her encouraging words, her character, and the way she lived her life. Throughout the Little House on the Prairie books and television series, Ma always finds a way to teach valuable life lessons.

Let’s celebrate and honor Ma by remembering the life lessons we learned from her.

1. A Life of Faith – Ma lived her faith every day and used it as a pillar of strength. When Charles Ingalls moved the family in search of a better way of life, Ma faced her fears and trusted God even when she wanted to stay in the Little House in the Big Woods and be near her family. We also see this faith in action in the episode, A Matter of Faith.

2. A Patient Heart – Ma was such a patient Mother, and she taught this virtue to her children. Even when faced with anger at Mrs. Oleson, or when she was upset about injustice, she stayed calm and composed. In the Country Girls episode, we see Ma selling eggs to Mrs. Oleson, who is trying to pay her four cents less for the eggs. Ma is firm but kind to her in response, showing patience.

10 Things Ma Taught Us - Patience and Caring

3. Hard Work and Education – Ma was a hard worker and instilled that work ethic in her children. She did pioneer chores daily with none of the modern conveniences like electricity and running water that we have today. When clothing wore out, she used the pieces and scraps to piece together beautiful quilts. Ma milked the cows, churned the butter, planted and tended the garden, and ground the wheat into flour.

Ma raised her daughters to value the importance of education. Before she was married, Caroline was a certified teacher. She was glad to have the opportunity to send her girls to school when they moved to town in the episode, Country Girls. Ma wanted them to be educated and civilized even though they lived, at times, on the edge of the frontier. And this legacy of teaching was passed down to her second daughter, Laura.

10 Things Ma Taught Us About Life - Resilience.

4. Teaching Positive Self-Image – Ma raised her girls to be mindful of their appearance and to be neat but not to be prideful or vain. In On the Banks of Plum Creek, when Ma makes vanity cakes for a party, she explains to the girls that the cakes are all “puffed up” like a vain person, but that inside, they are just empty and filled with hot air. What a beautiful visual lesson she gave her young girls, and this is needed in our culture today. Her teacher’s spirit is seen in full force in the episode School Mom from Season 1.

What Ma Taught us About Life

5. A Wise Word Given – Ma always has the wisdom to impart those around her. If her girls or Pa were worrying and over-thinking something, she simply said, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” “Least said soonest mended” is another of Ma’s meaningful quotes. Another clever bit of advice from Ma was, “This earthly life is a battle. 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.” Ma’s timeless wisdom speaks volumes.

6. Calm in the Face of a Storm – Whether the family endured a blizzard as in Season 1 Episode 22 – Survival, a tornado, or any other harrowing circumstance, Ma always was a woman of calm strength. The family really pulled together in hard times, and Ma was the glue that held the family together. In The Long Winter, the Ingalls survive seven months of bitter cold and strong blizzards and endure having no wood, no kerosene, or coal to warm them and very little food. Ma stays upbeat and unruffled and feeds the family what they have and encourages them.

7. A Hospitable Home – Ma opened their home to a great many friends and offered them a kind word, a warm meal, and the comfort of conversation around the table in front of the crackling fire. Even with very little money, the family made the most of every holiday and remembered the true meaning of time spent together with friends and family.

10 Things Ma Ingalls Taught Us About Life

8. A Loving Wife and Mother – Ma loved her husband and children with such passion. She took great measures to show just how much she adored them. She laughed with them, danced with them, and read with them. She took the time to make dolls from scratch for her girls and beautiful quilts to keep them warm. Because of Ma, the Ingalls home was a place of unity, love, and learning.

9. Glass Half Full – Ma always looked for the good in others, even if it was hard to find. When Mrs. Oleson made her angry, she held her words and taught her children the same when dealing with Nellie and Willie. In the television episode Christmas at Plum Creek, Ma tells Laura, “Don’t say “hate” – don’t even think “hate”! I’m sure Nellie has her good qualities somewhere.

10. Count Your Blessings – Ma raised her girls to be grateful for life’s simple pleasures like the sound of rain, a basket of freshly laid eggs from the hen house, a bouquet of wildflowers from the garden, and a happy home. She counted her blessings and lived a life of deep contentment. When they moved into the little dugout house in On the Banks of Plum Creek, Ma looked on the bright side and was optimistic and appreciative of having a home. Laura recalls her Ma saying, “It’s small, but it’s clean and pleasant.

10 Things We Learned from Ma Ingalls

We can learn so much from Caroline Ingalls. In an excerpt from Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist entitled “Mother, A Magic Word,” Laura writes poignantly about her Mother, and we can see just how much her Ma meant to her.

What is your favorite life lesson learned from Ma Ingalls? Now you can relive all of these moments when you purchase the beautifully remastered TV series on Blu-ray, DVD, 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. Karis

    How could I pick just one life lesson? I love that Ma Ingalls always put her family first, made do with what she had, no matter how little it was, and was content with it and taught her kids to do the same, persevered through all kinds of hardships both big and small, and, to sum the rest up, I love everything about her character. She was an amazing mother, husband, and just woman in general! How timely that I’m reading this just barely 2 days after Mother’s Day!

  2. Amy E. Parry

    What a wonderful series. My mother would read the books to us kids at night. And I still have my book set, worn and yellowed. I, too was allowed to watch” Little House” and “Waltons.” Wholesome shows. I enjoy watching them to this day.

  3. Amy Meier

    I have always loved how Caroline carried herself, and always looked beautiful, no matter what dress she was wearing. The beautiful person she was, she carried with her with dignity. I love that she watched her words, and always tried to find the best in others.

  4. Belinda Hall

    I Loved this show so much as a young girl. I’d Never Miss an Episode. It still brings tears to my eyes everytime I watch this show. Thinking of all the Hard Times this Family Indured. Buy,never Gave Up. Im 52 yrs old now. I always wanted to live like they did…Morals & Values. Family Love, Kindness, compassion, an Hard Work. They were “The True Pioneers Of America”.

  5. Lolita

    I still watch Little House on the prairie until this very day .I too was one young person who learned values and morals love and respect and did not allow any one to bulley some one around me . I tell people today that Charles Ingalls was like a father to me because if I would have had a father in my life I would want him to be like Charles . I was Laura because I’m very young strong girl I thank God for Little House on the prairie ..

  6. peggy Ann Knecht

    The lesson that is my favorite isn’t listed. I think that Ma also taught her child about strength of character. It takes a lot of strength to have someone get you angry, and not act on that anger. Ma didn’t give Mrs. Oleson the satisfaction of seeing her get angry. it takes strength of character to do that. i love this show!

  7. Lori Plymesser

    I love the 10 things Ma Ingalls taught us about life, always watched the show from a child into my adulthood seeing the last season. We as a family also watched The Waltons, two very love-knit family shows that will never fade out in my home.

  8. Wartkes Hagopian.

    My love to all mom’s wishing them long life full with love and happiness and good health. God bless all moms. love .wartkes Hagopian.

  9. Jenn Thomas

    My grandmother, Mary Thomas, was born on the Indiana prairies in 1906. She didn’t have running water until the late 1920s, electricity later than that. As a girl, Gramma gave me Laura’s books, and I only just realized recently, what she was giving me was her OWN childhood. What a treasure!

  10. Yasumasa Zetsu

    Thank you for your email.
    It’s a TV show decades ago, but it still seems fresh.
    It is the historical background of the old pioneer era, but the movement of people’s hearts does not change.
    Get over the coronavirus.

  11. Sheila Howell

    I remember this show when I was a little girl. I am now 52 years old. The values and morals of life are still embedded in my spirit until this day. Now that my Mother has passed on I can remember all the life lessons she taught me as Caroline has taught her girls and pass them on to my grandchildren. I love the show, always. Peace Be With You

  12. Mahbooba Akhter

    Me too ! What a wonderful childhood it was & I am grateful to my family too.

  13. Roberta DeVizia

    Always admired Caroline’s willingness to submit to her husband in very difficult circumstances, moving being just one example. And did you ever notice how often Pa would spontaneously invite people over for supper? Ma had to cook for a lot of people, not just her family!

    • Cheryl

      She and Pa did function very much as a team–for instance, as many times as he asked her to make another move, he never moved the family anyplace where she truly didn’t want to go. He also listened to her on such things as settling someplace where there was a school for the children, or when she asked that the move to South Dakota be the last move.

  14. Diane Deatherage

    I grew up with Little House on the Prarie and the Waltons. Having grown up in a less than perfect home, I learned values, morals, and ethics from these two shows.
    So in essence, Carolyn Ingalls raised another child a hundred years later. God bless

  15. Leisa Rowe

    I just now read “10 things Ma Ingalls taught us about Life”. She was always so inspiring and always kept her cool even under stressful moments. She never really yelled at her children but firmly told them she was upset about something they did. If only every person could be like her we would have a better world!

  16. Yasaumasa H. Zetsu

    My child is my motivation to work harder. But my child is a child of my cousin.
    And a sense of security for the together as a whole family.

    Thank you !

  17. Tammy

    Love the show it always brings tears to my eyes Everytime I watch it. My daughter is 11years old and she enjoys the show as well. Her name is is Carolyn .it is a show that will live forever.

    • Awatef Abu Gassa

      Love this show so much. A lot of wisdom in the story touches my heart with love family teaching kindness and more it’s amazing.

  18. sarah cornwell

    My favorite show. Love all the characters. Good family values.

  19. Eleanor Moore

    I loved the shows
    I would like the DVD
    How much

  20. Eleanor Moore

    The cd of all the shows

  21. Becca

    I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and when we homeschooled, we did an entire series on the books. Ma Ingalls has been an inspiration for me and the way that I’ve raised my children and the kind of wife I strive to be.

  22. Cindy Davis

    One story about Ma Ingalls that has always blessed me and I’ve shared it with my children and now my grandchildren.
    It was at Christmas. There was a terrible blizzard. Laura was concerned how Santa would make it to their home. Charles stood at the fire place and looked at their barely filled stockings. He looks at Caroline and says he feels bad that he can’t give the children anything for Christmas. Caroline’s reply; “Charles, it’s his birthday not ours.” That is something I have never forgot and have told it countless times. Something so simple and so very true.

  23. Donna Hughes

    Caroline taught me to be patient, encouraging and loving with my kids, family and friends. Also, be thankful for what we have but to not dwell on what we dont have. I find Caroline as so gentle. Whenever the girls are upset, whether it be because of heartache, someone being mean, or even about something they did that was wrong she was always able to get the point across in a gentle loving manner

  24. Karen

    I respect your attention to the books – they were amazing

    I agree about Ma Ingalls
    she was strong and soft at the same time

    a wonderful role model

  25. Lisa

    Still one of my very favorite shows of all time.

  26. Carmela atria

    I have the whole series. I love this show so much.

  27. Holly E Nielsen

    Who didn’t love Caroline Ingalls. I recently recieved the entire season set of Little House on the Prairie. I have and always will be a big fan of the show,and anything else related to the show.like reunions,interviews etc.

  28. Joy Wyse

    Love LHOP. Just started watching on the internet every evening at dinner time. Some of the programs bring tears to my eyes and others make me laugh. So very very refreshing to watch again.

  29. Marie Powell

    One of the best shows that was on television . Clean family show . Still watch it when it’s on . Love this show .

  30. Pat Engebretson

    Happy Mother’s Day ma you taught us all good things.



  1. Keeping Backyard Chickens for Fresh Eggs - Little House on the Prairie - […] hours of entertainment and delicious eggs you were able to provide for yourself. So let yourself be inspired by…
  2. Little House on the Prairie – Episode Guide – Season 8 - Little House on the Prairie - […] After adopting two more children, Charles and Caroline must adjust to managing five young children. The family tension mounts…
  3. About Michael Landon - Little House on the Prairie - […] growing up. He wanted “Little House on the Prairie” to portray his idea of beautiful family life, which he…
  4. About Karen Grassle - Caroline Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie - […] but Karen Grassle had a thriving career beyond that. Explore more about the amazing woman who captured our hearts…
  5. The Ingalls Family - The book family vs. the real family - […] On the NBC TV series Karen Grassle portrayed Ma Ingalls. Grassle’s version of Ma was calm and soft-spoken with…
  6. Practical Skills We Want to Learn Because of Little House on the Prairie - […] learn new skills. Even though most of us will never become homesteaders like Laura and her Pa and her…
  7. The Childless Mother – Caroline Ingalls 2.0 - […] https://littlehouseontheprairie.com/ma-ingalls-taught-us-about-life/ […]
  8. Little House on the Prairie® Inspirations Index - […] 10 Things Ma Ingalls Taught Us About Life […]
  9. DIY Maple Sugar Candy - […] Laura, Mary, Carrie, Ma and Pa still lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they traveled by sled through…
  10. Simple Living Inspirations Learned From The Ingalls Family - […] rather in the happiness they felt by being with one another and helping people in need. One of the…
  11. Little House on the Prairie® Community Story Index - […] 10 Things Ma Ingalls Taught Us About Life […]
  12. Little House on the Prairie Inspired Photo Shoot by Danielle Pousette - […] always let us “Little House on the Prairie” right after school. I learned a lot of life lessons watching…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *