I love Maye Musk. The supermodel matriarch of the First Family of Tech has some seriously cool takes on motherhood, which totally jibe with my own approach to being a mum. It’s no coincidence her three kids have ended up where they are today! Elon is the world’s wealthiest individual—oh, and saving the planet along the way. Kimbal is a world-renowned chef teaching underprivileged children to create fruit and vegetable gardens. Tosca is a film producer and director with her own entertainment company.

You look at a family like that and think, Jeez—there was some seriously good parenting going on in the background there. The Musk children have an estranged relationship with their father Errol—it’s Maye from whom their success stems. How did she do it?

Encourage them to work from an early age

Maye became a single mum to three children when she was 31, and had no choice but to continue working full-time. She slogged away to keep a roof over her kids’ heads, put food on the table, ensure they had clothes on their backs. Secondhand clothes, that is—they couldn’t afford new. This spoke volumes about Maye’s tenacity and determination, and it’s not surprising to learn that she herself began working for her dad Joshua when she was 8 years old. They lived next door to his chiropractic clinic, and he paid Maye and her twin Kaye 5¢ an hour to assist him in mailing out his monthly bulletin.

Treat them like adults

Joshua would dictate the bulletin to his wife Winnifred, who wrote it in shorthand before typing it up. Maye and Kaye made copies of the stencils, then settled on the living room floor to fold the bulletins, seal them into envelopes, and stick the stamps on. They did this every month—and they mailed out 1,000 at a time. When they were just a little older, Joshua had the twins working on the clinic’s reception. The 12-year-olds signed patients in, made them tea, and provided a homely social atmosphere as they waited to be seen. Joshua even had them developing X rays!

The point of all this? Maye’s parents demonstrated trust in their children, and it’s an approach to parenting that she took into her own motherhood. Maye had her children helping out with her nutrition business from an early age. Elon would even explain to his mum how the computer worked. I can just see it now… a tiny, high-pitched Elon Musk laying out the intricacies of word processing to his stressed and bustling mother. Love it.

The Musk children learned a huge amount from seeing their mum work hard and persevere to give them a happy home life in which they could thrive. She recognised their talents early, and would consciously nurture them not only to give them confidence in their own abilities, but also to bring wider tangible benefits to her business, and therefore to the family. Take the time they were living in Bloemfontein, when Maye put an 8-year-old Tosca to work at the image and modelling school she was running—teaching students how to walk, leading etiquette classes, choreographing runway shows! To the modern parent this sort of thing might seem unthinkable—and that’s why I love Maye’s style. She saw the immense potential in each of her kids, cultivated their skills—and they all had an amazing childhood because of it.

Let them decide what they want

Maye raised her children as her parents had brought her up: to be kind, honest, conscientious, polite—and, of course, independent. She didn’t just teach them the importance of hard work—she demonstrated it time and again through her actions. She never scolded them, never treated them like babies. (And I bet even when they were babies she spoke to them like adults!) She never told them to study, never checked they’d done their homework. As the Musk children grew up, they took on more and more responsibility for their own lives. They didn’t just apply to their respective universities without help—they completed their scholarship and student loan applications on their own, too. At university they would live in pretty poor conditions—six to a dilapidated house, mattresses on the floor, that kind of thing. But the Musks didn’t mind all that much. They weren’t brought up to expect luxury—and you know what? Even if your kids are brought up in luxury (perhaps because you’ve achieved an incredible amount in your life and are reaping the rewards), they still don’t need to expect luxury. It’s a mindset, nothing more.

When you boil it all down, the success of Maye’s parenting approach comes down to one thing: she instilled responsibility. Responsibility is ultimately what gives us meaning—that and our children, for those of us who are lucky enough to be parents. That’s why I admire her so much: it takes vision and belief in one’s own abilities to go against the grain and see children’s potential where those around us see only vulnerability, a need to be protected. There’s a difference between making sure your kids are safe and coddling them, stymieing their development by wrapping them in cotton wool when all the time they could be flourishing in ways you could scarcely even imagine.Maye empowered her children with responsibility—responsibility for their own futures. How you do that in your own life will manifest in any number of ways, depending on your family and home setups, your background, your history—a myriad of unique circumstances that only you can truly know how to navigate. And sure, you’ll make a ton of mistakes along the way—but as long as those mistakes are formative, both you and your children will prosper. You will prosper as a parent, as Maye has—and your children will prosper in whatever path they take in life.

Read our blog on How to Raise a Genius.