Lots of hard work and no special treatment: Here's how Elon Musk's mom says she raised successful kids

Lots of hard work and no special treatment: Here's how Elon Musk's mom says she raised successful kids

maye musk elon musk mom

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"My parents treated us like adults who could be trusted, and their influence is evident in how I raised my children," Maye Musk, pictured here with her eldest son and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • The best way to raise successful children is to expose them to hard work and encourage their interests, Elon Musk's mom, Maye, wrote in an essay for CNBC Make It.
  • Much of Maye's parenting style - from implementing hard work to avoiding luxury experiences - was inspired by her own upbringing.
  • Elon, Maye's oldest child, went on to build a $23.6 billion fortune after cofounding PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Workaholism runs in the Musk family.

Hard work was a guiding principle of Elon Musk's childhood, his mother Maye Musk wrote in an essay for CNBC Make It, and it's one of her favorite parenting tips.

"People often ask me how I raised such successful kids," Maye wrote for CNBC Make It. "I tell them I did it by teaching them about hard work and letting them follow their interests."

In addition to Elon, the single mother also raised two younger children - restaurateur Kimbal Musk and filmmaker Tosca Musk. Emphasizing hard work was a principle she picked up from her own parents, Maye wrote for CNBC. Maye's father paid her and her twin sister to fold and mail promotional bulletins for his chiropractic practice when she was a child. Starting at the age of 12, she also worked as the office's receptionist. Maye later did the same when she became a parent, putting her three kids to work at the nutrition practice and modeling school she ran.


"Children don't need to be protected from the reality of responsibility," Maye wrote for CNBC. "My kids benefited because they saw me work hard just to put a roof over our heads, put food in our stomachs, and purchase secondhand clothes."

Maye also made her children take responsibility for their own career paths, requiring them to select their own colleges and complete admission and student application forms without her help, she wrote for CNBC. But pushing responsibility alone isn't enough to guarantee that kids will turn into successful adults, according to her. The registered dietitian and model also discouraged other parents from spoiling their children by giving them lives of luxury. Musk wrote that she allowed her children to live in poor conditions during college including a "mattress on the floor, six roommates, or a dilapidated house," only intervening to make sure they were physically safe.

Elon has taken a different approach with his own kids, raising them in a Bel Air mansion and sending them to the invitation-only private school he founded, Business Insider previously reported. The automotive executive did design the school's curriculum to make sure the children could focus on topics they're interested in, according to Entrepreneur.

Other parents of billionaires have echoed similar sentiments about working hard

Elon Musk isn't the only billionaire whose family emphasizes the importance of hard work.

Bill Gates said his parents pushed him to persevere at activities he didn't naturally excel in, like swimming, soccer, football, and playing the trombone, Thrive Global's Elizabeth Yuko reported. The elder Bill Gates also pushed his future billionaire son to pursue his own interests even when they didn't agree - including Bill Jr.'s eventual decision to drop out of Harvard to found Microsoft, told The Wall Street Journal's Robert Guth in 2009.


"[Bill Jr.'s mother] Mary and I were both concerned about it - I think she a bit more than I," Bill Gates Sr. told The Journal. "Her expectations and mine were very ordinary expectations of people who have kids in college - that they get a degree."

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