I can still remember how excited my husband and I were to get our first barbecue grill. It was an old one we inherited from his parents. We couldn't wait to fire it up and get some yummy food grilling. There was just one catch: Shamefully, neither one of us knew how to use the grill. It was rather disappointing. It just wasn't something that had ever crossed either of our minds. We never thought to ask, and our parents probably assumed we knew how.
This has come to my mind often as I spend each day helping my own kids learn and grow. I have the responsibility to teach them life skills both big (financial planning) and small (using a barbecue grill). I want to make sure my children are well prepared to enter adulthood.
Here are 10 lessons your kid deserves to be taught before becoming an adult:
1. How to change a tire
This will most likely be necessary knowledge at some point. Teach your kids, male or female, how to change their own tire. You wont always be there to come to his or her rescue, nor will anyone else.
If you are human, you wear clothes; and those clothes need to be washed. Teach them there isn't a laundry fairy that washes, folds and puts away their clothes every night. There is more to washing clothes than just throwing them into the washer, adding soap and turning it on. Teach them laundry techniques and proper care.
3. Basic sewing
Not only does having a basic knowledge of sewing help you repair a lost button or tear in your shirt, but it teaches an appreciation for how much work goes into just about everything we enjoy; whether it be the clothes we wear, the shoes we put on our feet or the pillow we rest our head on.
4. Lawn care
I grew up with a slew of brothers. I can't remember ever mowing the lawn, and I for sure never touched the weed eater. But my home isn't just my husband's. I should, and want to, contribute to making it look nice. I have had to learn how to help him. Teach your kids the nitty gritty of it too. Dont just teach them how to mow the lawn; teach them how to fertilize it and water it properly.
5. Basic home repairs
If your daughter slams her door and breaks it off the hinges, make her help you fix it. If your son puts a hole in the wall, make him help you repair it. Show your children the time and dedication that goes into taking care of a home.
6. Car maintenance
You might not know how to fix your own car, but you can teach your children the importance of taking care of theirs. Teach them the warning signs and explain what could happen if they don't pay attention. If you can teach them how to change the oil, that's great. If you can't, make sure they know when to take it in for maintenance.
7. Basic cooking skills
Sure, your kid is a pro at making boxed macaroni and cheese; but does he or she know how to make a good, healthy meal? Make sure your children will be able to feed themselves and their future family a nutritious home-cooked meal. Every adult should know how to work the stove, oven, microwave, slow cooker and even the barbecue grill. Show them how to grill a steak, bake a cake and chop and sauté vegetables, for example. They don't need to be a gourmet chef; they just need to know the basics.
8. Budget/financial planning
Too often kids see that their parents have "everything," and they assume they will have everything as well. That is not the case. You had to work hard over the years to get where you are. Make sure your children see that. Teach them the importance of budgeting and planning. Money isn't everything, but it sure is something that plays a big part in adulthood. Without the understanding of money and how it works, your kids will find life quite difficult. Planning and budgeting is vital, regardless of how much money you do or do not have.
After working at the local emergency room for eight years in the registration department, I became alarmed at the amount of kids 18 years old and older that didn't know what insurance they had, or what it even meant to be insured. It is a simple thing, but an important one. Make sure to share with your kids what to do when they need to see a doctor, whether planned or unexpectedly. Discuss what a premium is, and what deductible, copay and out-of-pocket mean.
No list centered on life skills would be complete without including respect. We want our kids to feel empowered, capable and confident. What we don't want are self-absorbed, cocky, entitled kids. Teach them to respect others. You might even want to practice job interviews or certain life scenarios with your kids. Help them learn to express themselves with confidence and teach them to be respectful in doing so. Life will be easier that way.
It is a parent's job to teach and prepare their kids to be productive, positive members of society. Make sure they feel prepared to take care of themselves, and eventually a future family.