Baby

Elon Musk on Kids & Parenting (25 Insightful, Inspiring Quotes)

By February 28, 2021 October 8th, 2021 No Comments
elon-musk-graphic

Billionaire Elon Musk is the world’s most important and influential entrepreneur. Tesla, the company for which Musk is most well known, spends no money on advertising and yet has a market cap that hovers around $825 billion. A single tweet from the man who brought us PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, Neuralink and The Boring Company can cause—has caused—billion dollar shifts in the stock and cryptocurrency markets. That’s power.

Musk, 49, was Robert Downey Jr.’s inspiration for Tony Stark. A father to six children, Musk is the kind of guy that every man-crushed dad dreams of emulating. Beyond his enviable attitude, insane work ethic, and undaunted spirit, Musk is also often asked to share a thing or two about parenting, raising and educating children.

Here are his most insightful and inspiring quotes on children and parenting. That some of them are offered from a global and existential perspective speaks to the nature of the man himself.

01. “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “If I’m not in love, if I’m not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy. I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me. It’s not like I don’t know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. Fuck. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that? When I was a child, there’s one thing I said, ‘I never want to be alone.’ That’s what I would say. I don’t want to be alone.” – Elon Musk in “Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow,” RollingStones, 15 November 2017

02. “I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “Is there anybody you think I should date? It’s so hard for me to even meet people. I’m looking for a long-term relationship. I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.” – Elon Musk in “Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow,” RollingStones, 15 November 2017

Elon Musk Quotes on Kids & Parenting

03. “Of anything in my life, I would say kids by far make me the happiest.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | Audience member: “I want to know how do you live through the stress that kind of conversations we just heard that you went through, and kind of ambitions that you carry, and then how do you adjust to the everyday work-life balance, etc., things in your life. So, a little bit of your personal side actually.”

Interviewer: “You’re very busy. How does that work?

Elon Musk: “Yeah, I am sort of in work triage mode a lot of time so I don’t know, it seems to be… As long as there’s not like a crisis simultaneously at SpaceX and Tesla, it’s okay.

“But, you know, companies are, I mean, the situation in any given company, particularly one you know if it’s sort of growing fast and sort of quasi-start-up, it’s somewhat sinusoidal, so that, I mean, it’s okay if the waves don’t crest together, you know?

“When that does happen then that’s a huge strain. But right now things are like you know motoring along okay and I have like the contacts loaded for both companies and I can sort of see a path to a good outcome so I feel pretty good right now. But there’ve been super stressful times in the past.”  – Elon Musk, Code Conference, 2 June 2016

04. “I always try to reserve time for my kids because I love hanging out with them.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “And then, I always try to reserve time for my kids because I love hanging out with them. Like, I mean, kids are really great. I mean they’re like the, 99 percent of the time they make you happier. They’re, kids are awesome, you know?

Interviewer: “Then there’s that one percent.”

Elon Musk: “One percent, you know, like yeah, one percent. But of anything in my life, I would say kids by far make me the happiest.” – Elon Musk, Code Conference, 2 June 2016

05. “A lot of times, kids are kind of in their own world so they don’t want to like talk to their dad for hours on end.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “It’s great. So, hanging out with them. A lot of times, kids are kind of in their own world so they don’t want to like talk to their dad for hours on end. So I can be in the same room with them, they can talk to me from time to time. But, you know, I can get some emails done, just get some work done and then whenever they want to talk to me they can.

“And then we try to do things like, you know, travel places. And actually we play video games together or ah, actually on Monday we went to the new Harry Potter Land at Universal. It was quite fun. Whoever was in charge of Harry Potter Land did a great job, it’s really good. I highly recommend it. The butter beer is amazing.” – Elon Musk, Code Conference, 2 June 2016

06. “Once you have a family, you start taking risks not just for yourself, but for your family as well. It gets much harder to do things that might not work out.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT |“The final thing I would encourage you to do is, now is the time to take risks. You don’t have kids, your obligations—well, some of you (laughter), you probably don’t have kids. But as you get older, your obligations increase. And once you have a family, you start taking risks not just for yourself, but for your family as well. It gets much harder to do things that might not work out. So now is the time to do that, before you have those obligations. So I would encourage you to take risks now, and to do something bold. You won’t regret it.” – Elon Musk, USC Marshall School of Business Undergraduate Commencement Speech, 2014

07. “Kids are awesome, by the way. You guys should all have kids.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | Interviewer: “And, you have 5 children.” Elon Musk: “I do. They’re awesome. Kids are awesome, by the way. You guys should all have kids [points to the audience]. Kids are great.”

Interviewer: “How much do you see them?” Musk: “I don’t see them enough actually. But I… What I find is that I’m able to be with them and still be on email, because they don’t need like constant interaction except when we’re talking directly. So I find I can be with them and still be, you know, working at the same time.” Interviewer: “Wait, wait. Are you saying that you can do email while you’re with your children?” Musk: “Yeah, absolutely, sure. [“Wow”] I mean not all the time, but a lot of the time. That’s why it’s handy to have a phone. You can sort of do email in interstitial moments. In the absence of that I would not be able to get my job done. Interviewer: “Wow. That’s impressive. We are…. I have 5 children. I can’t do email while I’m with my children. It’s not good for the children and it’s really not good for the email.” Musk: “Well, I do have to have a nanny there. Otherwise they’ll kill each other.” – Elon Musk, South By Southwest Keynote, 2013

08. “I’m a pretty good dad.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “I’m a pretty good dad. I have the kids for slightly more than half the week and spend a fair bit of time with them. I also take them with me when I go out of town. Recently, we went to the Monaco Grand Prix and were hanging out with the prince and princess of Monaco. It all seemed quite normal to the kids, and they were blasé about it. They are growing up having a set of experiences that are extremely unusual, but you don’t realize experiences are unusual until you get much older. They’re just your experiences.” – Elon Musk, quoted in “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance

09. “Almost all of my non-work waking hours are spent with my boys, and they are the love of my life.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “Given the choice, I’d rather stick a fork in my hand than write about my personal life. Unfortunately, it seems that I don’t have any other option.

“Several awful things have been widely reported that are simply false, but a falsehood uncorrected may as well be truth.

“I really wish there were not this level of attention directed towards personal matters in the first place, but the legal filings in a California divorce are public information, my ex-wife (Justine) is an extremely prolific blogger, and certain journalists seem to have a creepy fixation on my personal life. Much as one may wish for privacy, in the 21st century it just doesn’t exist.” …

“The final straw that prompted me to write this was an off-the-cuff comment in a recent New York Times article….” – Elon Musk, 8 July 2010, “Correcting The Record About My Divorce”

10. “There are a lot of resource conflicts when you have five kids. Statistically speaking, one out of five has a good chance of being unhappy at any given point.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “There are a lot of resource conflicts when you have five kids. At any given point, somebody’s taking somebody’s toy. [‘Did you just take that from your brother?’] [‘Yeah but I want to see what game it is.’] [Elon laughs.] See this is what I’m talking about. Somebody took somebody’s toy. Statistically speaking, one out of the five has a good chance of being unhappy at any given point.” – Elon Musk

11. “This is your dad speaking.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “[Can you hear] my voice? Does my voice sound familiar? Who am I? This is your dad speaking. Hello. Hello Baby. Hello Baby X.” – Elon Musk to newborn baby X Æ A-12 Musk, May 2020

12. “I think it’s better being older and having a kid. I appreciate it more.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “He was born on May the 4th…. Actually I think it’s better being older and having a kid. I appreciate it more. Babies are awesome.” – Elon Musk, on the Joe Rogan Experience, 7 May 2020

13. “I’m just saying that smart people should have kids as well.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “There’s this point that Mike Judge makes in Idiocracy, which is like smart people, you know, should at least sustain their numbers,” Musk said. “Like, if it’s a negative Darwinian vector, then obviously that’s not a good thing. It should be at least neutral. But if each successive generation of smart people has fewer kids, that’s probably bad, too. I mean, Europe, Japan, Russia, China are all headed for demographic implosion. And the fact of the matter is that basically the wealthier—basically wealth, education, and being secular are all indicative of low birth rate. They all correlate with low birth rate. I’m not saying like only smart people should have kids. I’m just saying that smart people should have kids as well. They should at least maintain—at least be a replacement rate. And the fact of the matter is that I notice that a lot of really smart women have zero or one kid. You’re like, ‘Wow, that’s probably not good.’”- Elon Musk, quoted in “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance

14. “If my wife and I have a bunch of kids, she would probably stay with them on Earth.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact. Ideally I’d like to go for a visit, come back for a while, and then go there when I’m like seventy of something and then just stay there. If things turn out well, that would be the case. If my wife and I have a bunch of kids, she would probably stay with them on Earth.” – Elon Musk, quoted in “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance

15. “The lack of people is obviously a threat to civilization.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | (Elon seems to be being asked what challenges lie ahead. Due to the way the interview video is edited, it’s difficult to tell in exactly what order Elon shared these thoughts.)

“I think if we’re saying what are the threats to civilization: The lack of people is obviously a threat to civilization. We are going to face, in the mid part of this century, and particularly the latter part of this century, a demographic implosion the likes of which we haven’t seen, including the Black Plague. The math is obvious. When did China ever experience a 50% reduction in its population? Never. I mean basically, pre-writing, because no one’s ever written of such a thing. Even the Black Plague… they might have lost like a quarter, but never half. And yet, Spain, birth rate of 50%. It’s as though someone went through and killed half the population, or at least of the future population. Something better happen to turn this around. Because otherwise, you have an inverted demographic pyramid, and it’s gonna [topple motion with hands.] At this rate, the only thing that will be left will be robots.

“Three generations of 50 percent birth rate, you know, 50 percent replacement rate, gets you to 12 percent of where you were. And those poor 12 percent, all they’re going to be doing is taking care of their grandparents. I mean, eventually there just won’t be people. At that rate.” – Elon Musk, Noema Magazine, January 2014

16. “Where exactly are you going to find 600 million people to replace the ones that were never born?” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | (Elon seems to be being asked what challenges lie ahead. Due to the way the interview video is edited, it’s difficult to tell in exactly what order Elon shared these thoughts.)

“I think demographics is a real issue where people are not having kids in a lot of countries. And very often they’ll say “Oh we’ll solve it with immigration.” Immigration from where? If Europe has an average—or if many parts of Europe have an average of—50 or 60 percent of what’s needed for replacement, or China for that matter. They’re at half replacement rate. Where exactly are we going to find 600 million people to replace the ones that were never born?” – Elon Musk, Noema Magazine, January 2014

17. “I think people are going to have to regard, to some degree, the notion of having kids as almost a social duty. Within reason, I mean, if you can, and you’re so inclined, you should. It’s like otherwise civilization will just die. Literally.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | (Elon seems to be being asked what challenges lie ahead. Due to the way the interview video is edited, it’s difficult to tell in exactly what order Elon shared these thoughts.)

“I think people are going to have to regard, to some degree, the notion of having kids as almost a social duty. Within reason, I mean, if you can, and you’re so inclined, you should. It’s like, otherwise, civilization will just die. Literally.

“The birth rate is strongly correlated to—well, it’s inversely correlated to wealth, inversely correlated to education, and correlated to religion. So the more religious you are, the less educated, and the poorer you are, the more kids you will have. And this is true across—between countries, and within countries. In the US, the highest birth rate is in Utah, with the Mormons.”- Elon Musk, Noema Magazine, January 2014

Elon Musk Quotes On Inspiring & Educating Kids

18. “Create artificial adversity.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | (As a kid, Musk was belittled by his father and harassed by a gang of kids and was once “almost beaten to death.”) “They might have a little adversity at school, but these days schools are so protective. If you call someone a name, you get sent home. When I was going to school, if they punched you and there was no blood, it was like, ‘Whatever. Shake it off.’ Even if there was a little blood, but not a lot, it was fine. What do I do? Create artificial adversity? How do you do that?” – Elon Musk

19. “The rule is they have to read more than they play video games.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “What do I do? Create artificial adversity? How do you do that? The biggest battle I have is restricting their video game time because they want to play all the time. The rule is they have to read more than they play video games. They also can’t play completely stupid video games. There’s one game they downloaded recently called Cookies or something. You literally tap a fucking cookie. It’s like a Psych 101 experiment. I made them delete the cookie game. They had to play Flappy Golf instead, which is like Flappy Bird, but at least there is some physics involved.” – Elon Musk

20. “It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | Interviewer: “So how would you educate your five boys?”

Elon Musk: “Actually, I created a little school. It’s small. It’s only got 14 kids now and it’ll have 20 kids in September. It’s called Ad Astra, which means to the stars. That’s maybe a bit different from most other schools, is that there aren’t any grades, like there’s no grade one, grade two, grade three type of thing. I’m making all the children go in the same grade at the same time like an assembly line. You know, because some people love English or languages, some people love math, some people love music, and [have] different abilities at different times. It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities.” – Elon Musk, TV interview, 24 April 2015

21. “It’s important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem, not to the tools.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | “So I think that’s one principle. Another is that it’s important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem, not to the tools. So this would be like, let’s say you’re trying to teach people about how engines work. You could start by… a more traditional approach would be to say we’re going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches and you even have a course on screwdrivers, a course on wrenches, and all these things. And that is a very difficult way to do it. A much better way would be like, ‘Here’s the engine. Now let’s take it apart. How are we going to take it apart?’ Oh, you need a screwdriver. That’s what the screwdriver is for. You need a wrench, that’s what the wrench is for.’ And then, a very important thing happens which is that the relevance of the tools becomes apparent. ….

“The kids really love going to school. I think that’s a good sign. You know, I mean I hated going to school when I was a kid. It was torture. So the fact that they… like they actually think that vacations are too long, like they want to go back to school.” – Elon Musk, TV interview, 24 April 2015

22. “[As a parent] You want to encourage curiosity, you want to encourage tenacity.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | Interviewer: “Well, I just brought up children. So I have three children so I’m always curious as to how other parents raise their children. With five kids, you have five kids, on top of everything else you do, what are the lessons you share with them and how do you encourage them? Maybe you don’t want to encourage them to be like you. But how do you encourage them to, to be curious, to be bold?”

Elon Musk: “Well, I do encourage them to ask questions you know? Like a lot of kids go through this kind of “Why” stage. You have this sort of chained why’s. So let’s say, ‘Why, you know, why is something this way?’ And then you answer, and they say, ‘Well, why is that?’  ‘Why is that?, why is that?, why is that?’ And I think answering those questions gladly and really encouraging them to ask more questions is definitely a good idea. You want to encourage curiosity, you want to encourage tenacity. And, you know, just sort of, just kind of reward them with praise when they demonstrate good traits.” – Elon Musk

23. “I think generally with education, you want to make it as interesting and exciting as possible.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | In a February 2021 Clubhouse interview, Elon Musk is asked what is “the best way to think about educating a five-year-old in today’s world” and “think about his education over the course of the next five or 10 years.”

Elon Musk: “My observation is that my kids were mostly educated by YouTube and Reddit, and I guess, classmates and, I guess their lessons as well, but judging by the amount of time they spent online, it seemed like most of their education is actually coming from online.

“I think generally with education, you want to make it as interesting and exciting as possible. What are all the things that, say, a good video game does to keep someone engaged and interested. If kids can be super engaged in video games, it’s weird for them to not be super engaged in education as well.

“Like one of the things that’s, I think very fundamental is to explain the ‘Why?’ of things. Like, so we’re teaching you this, but we’re going to explain why we’re teaching you this and why it is relevant. We’ve evolved to forget things that are irrelevant or have low relevance probability.

“It makes sense. Otherwise, we’d remember all sorts of nonsense things that weren’t very important to our future. So if relevance is [not] established clearly, then people will have a hard time remembering it by its nature. Because it appears to be irrelevant. It might be relevant, but if it’s not explained to them, they won’t know. And then if you stress, say, problem-solving, some sort of engaging narrative for the problem-solving.

“It’s like better to say, ‘Okay we’re going to teach you how an engine works by taking apart an engine and they’re putting it back together.’ And then let’s find out what tools are needed for, in order to take this engine apart and put it back together. Okay, we need screwdrivers and wrenches and allen keys, and we need a winch and a bunch of other things. And then you understand the relevance and this is much better than having, say a course on wrenches or a course on screwdrivers.

“You just start with a problem and say: ‘What tools do I need to solve this problem?’ That establishes relevance and gives a compelling narrative thread.” …

“If you have a narrative thread or like, why is it established relevance there? And there’s a story to it, and then you say, If you turn off that bolt without the wrench, and then let’s see, how can we make this engine better? What do we need to do? Okay let’s calculate, you know, if it’s a gasoline engine, you know, what’s the—how do you get to a higher RPM or a better compression ratio?”

“I’m using an outdated analogy of engines, but you could say: ‘For an electric motor, what steps would you need to take to get higher torque? Or higher power out of this electric motor?’ And then you can explain, it’s obvious why things like Maxwell’s equations become necessary in that situation.”

24. “If somebody wants to be me or do the things that I’ve done, I would say most probably you’re mistaken.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | February 2021 Clubhouse interview. Interviewer: “Elon, you would not believe the number of parents and people with kids that have asked us about tonight. And I think the two questions are connected. One is, if you’re having a kid and you want to teach them to become a polymath, like you have become, what advice do you have for parents? And the next one is, here you are with so many companies that you have created that I can’t even list them off the top of my head. Why doesn’t the world have, and this doesn’t mean to sound psycho fanatic, but why doesn’t the world have more Elon Musks?”

Elon Musk: “I don’t know. I might be getting too much credit here. So, for me, these things I’ve done have been because I felt a strong compulsion to do them, so it’s not like nobody was pushing me to do it, but I felt a strong compulsion to do them.

“There are pretty long sections of my life that have been very painful and difficult, and I’m not sure if people would want to do that, you know?

“If somebody wants to be me or do the things that I’ve done, I would say, most probably, you’re mistaken. You do not want to do that. You’d have to have some kind of rage demon in your skull that you got to get it done. There’s no… It’s like when people ask me, ‘What encouraging words do you have for entrepreneurs who want to do a startup?’ Well, my response is—If you need encouraging words, don’t do a startup.” – Elon Musk, February 2021

25. “Building and problem solving. Those are the right skills to work on if someone’s interested in going beyond Earth or in space in general.” – Elon Musk

QUOTE & CONTEXT | Audience member, Tracey: “Hi Elon. My name is Tracey and I’m not here for any reason related to my career or to my area of study. I’m actually here as a very cool and only slightly overbearing mother to my 10-year-old daughter Harper and a sister to my [her] 14-year-old brother Ben who are both in the audience today, and who think of you the way that I guess I thought of Madonna at the same age. 

[Laughter, applause from Elon and audience. “Wow. That’s some high praise there. Thank you, thank you… You should see my dance.” – Musk]

Tracey: “In the spirit of that, I wanted to get your advice for two kids who are very interested in space engineering and entrepreneurialism.”

Elon Musk: “Yeah, well you know, there’s a lot of technical problems to solve. So I guess it would be sort of start studying kind of engineering and physics and biosciences and that kind of thing would be the way to go. Yeah.

“There are gonna be a lot of problems to solve to make a city work on Mars. We were thinking of, just as sort of a semi joke, putting a job description on our website for ‘Urban Planner’ and in brackets ‘Mars.’ But um, there’s going to be just a tremendous amount of problems to solve that’ll be. There’s just a lot of building. Building and problem solving. So those are the right, you know, skills to work on if someone’s interested in going beyond Earth or in space in general.” – Elon Musk, ISS R&D Conference in Washington D.C., 19 July 2017

Elon Musk Entrepreneurial Quotes Applicable to Parenting & Children

  • “If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.” – Elon Musk
  • “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk
  • “Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.” – Elon Musk
  • “There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future?” – Elon Musk
  • “If something is important enough, you should try. Even if the probable outcome is failure.” – Elon Musk
  • “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” – Elon Musk
  • “Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk
  • “Life is too short for long-term grudges.” – Elon Musk
  • “People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.” – Elon Musk
  • “I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems…. It’s got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious.” – Elon Musk
  • “I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.” – Elon Musk
  • “I don’t have all the answers. I’m not saying that I have all the fucking answers. Let me be really clear about that. I’m trying to figure out the set of actions I can take that are more likely to result in a good future. If you have suggestions in that regard, please tell me what they are.” – Elon Musk

James Anthony has written on self-improvement for 22 years, with his work appearing in five national magazines and on the websites of more than 100 U.S. Drs, MDs, and board-certified surgeons. This article contains the author’s opinion only and isn’t sponsored. To suggest corrections or clarifications, reach us by email at info[at]alphabeautics.com.

Leave a Reply