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Is this sentence correct? I'm not so sure about the bold part.

The boy just kept about, trying to do what his parents always taught him to do, helping others and contenting with the life he led.

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I would make two points about the bold section. First, if the part in bold is meant to describe what his parents taught him to do, you probably don't want to use present participle because what his parents "taught him to do" is "help others" (as opposed to "helping"). In that case, it should be separated with a colon or dash to indicate that it refers to what his parents taught him:

...what his parents always taught him to do: help others and content...

If, on the other hand, the part in bold is merely adding to the list of things he kept doing, you could leave it in present participle.

Second, the word "content" or "contenting" as a verb should have a direct object. That is, it should be followed by the noun that is being made content. In your case that would be "himself." In common use, "content" as a verb is often used to refer to one's self, but there are cases when it could mean to make someone else content. He tried his best to content the protesters. In that sentence, "the protesters" are the direct object.

See more examples here.

In your example, adding "himself" would give you this:

helping others and contenting himself with the life he led.

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    Changing the tense like that really requires a colon or a dash to make it clear the final clause is defining what his parents told him, not what he is doing. "The boy just kept about, trying to do what his parents always taught him to do: help others and content himself with the life he led. Apr 15, 2017 at 22:02
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    I think a much more natural construction for the sentence is: "The boy just kept trying to do what his parents had taught him—helping others and being content with the life he led." Apr 15, 2017 at 22:03
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    @PhillipLongman very good point re separating the clause, I edited my answer to incorporate your point and clarify depending on the intent of the writing. I agree that your suggested construction appears natural, but since the question is asking whether the proposed construction is right, I wanted to leave it as unchanged as possible, since using "content" as a verb is totally fine and saying "he contented himself with X" is a pretty common use. Apr 15, 2017 at 22:11
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    Sure. I was more focused on the change of tense from present progressive to simple present. The last clause can be either a command from the past in simple present tense—"Help others and content yourself with the life you lead"—or a clarification of specifically what he is doing in present progressive—"helping others and contenting himself with the life he led." Both are valid, but I thought the later was closer to what the OP was going for. Apr 15, 2017 at 22:29

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