40 Lessons to Teach Your Kids Before They Leave Home

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

“Millenials” have been the butt of a million jokes about incompetence. The generation born between 1981 and 1996 is considered entitled, ultra-liberal, and naive about how life works. But maybe they’ve gotten a bad rap because what no one ever points out is that maybe the issue isn’t with these young people but with how they were raised. I know that my own millennial daughter is competent, frugal, and independent.

As a parent, the most important job I will ever hold is “mom” to my two daughters. And if I’m not teaching them the important life lessons they need to survive and thrive in this crazy world, I’m not doing a very good job at all. Of course, once they get out there, there are a million variables, but how they deal with those variables has a lot to do with whether they were raised to think independently or raised to wait for rescue.

While I raised girls, I think it’s essential that we teach our kids skills outside the typical gender roles. Boys need to know how to cook. Girls need to know how to fix things. Maybe it won’t be their lot in life to do things outside their traditional roles, but take it from someone who never planned to become a single mom, things don’t always go the way you expect.

As my younger daughter prepares to leave the nest (*mom sobbing*) I feel confident she’ll be just fine because I’ve taught her to the best of my ability the things she needs to know to be a successful adult.

The skills you teach your children while they’re your captive audience will see them through many things – not just everyday life but also through a potential disaster.

Everyday skills every young person should have

Here are the lessons that I think every parent needs to teach their child, whether you’re raising boys or girls. Before leaving the nest, they should be able to:

  • Cook inexpensive, nutritious meals from scratch
  • How to use up leftovers
  • Get from point A to point B using public transit or under their own power
  • Budget limited money so that the most important things are paid first
  • Mend and repair items instead of replacing them
  • Take a course in First Aid, CPR, and anything else applicable that is offered.  The more you know, the calmer you are able to remain during a crisis.
  • Have a good basic First Aid kit and know how to use everything in it
  • Know some home remedies for various common illnesses: teas for tummy aches, treatment for flu symptoms, how to soothe skin irritations, and how to care for a fever
  • Drive.  Not only an automatic transmission but also a standard transmission
  • Change a tire.  You don’t want your teenage daughter stranded on the side of the road at the mercy of whoever stops to help. My daughters were not allowed to drive the car until they demonstrated their ability to change the tire with the factory jack.
  • Perform minor maintenance, like checking the oil and fluid levels, filling up the washer fluid, checking tire pressures and topping them up if needed, and changing the windshield wiper blades.
  • Use basic tools for repairs
  • Cook a healthy meal from scratch
  • Cook a “company” meal – everyone needs one delicious meal that’s a little fancier they can cook when they have a guest
  • Grocery shop within a budget and have healthy food for the week ahead
  • Speaking of that, how to budget in general, so that they don’t have “too much month and not enough money”
  • How to clean
  • How to do laundry, including stain removal
  • How to think for themselves and question authority
  • How to budget for holidays and vacations
  • How to manage their time to get necessary tasks accomplished by the deadlines
  • How to tell the difference between a want and a need
  • How to be frugal with utilities and consumable goods
  • How to pay bills
  • How to stay out of debt (not easy with the college credit card racket that you see on campuses across the country and rampant student loans)
  • How to pay off debt if they have it
  • How to keep safe: they need to have basic self-defense and weapons-handling skills.
  • How to navigate with a paper map – not Google or their car’s GPS
  • How to make extra money fast if an emergency arises

Emergency skills every young person should have

Some of the skills above will cross over into emergencies, like First Aid. Outside of the basics of everyday life, your kids leaving home should know:

  • How to light a fire
  • How to cook safely over an open fire
  • How to keep warm when the power is out, whether that means safely operating an indoor propane heater, using the woodstove/fireplace, or bundling up in a tent and sleeping bags in the living room
  • How to keep themselves fed when the power is out – they should have enough supplies on hand that they can stay fed at home for up to two weeks: cereal, powdered milk, granola bars, canned fruit, etc.
  • How to deal with the most likely disasters in their area
  • About the dangers of off-grid heating and cooking, such as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in unventilated rooms.
  • How to purify water
  • How to keep safe both at home and when they’re out. Be sure they know the difference between cover and concealment
  • How to do laundry by hand and hang it to dry
  • How to keep things sanitary without running water
  • How to acquire food: foraging, fishing, gardening, hunting

It’s our job to make sure our kids are competent when they leave home.

There are really too many skills to list when it comes to preparing your kids for everyday life away from mom and dad. What other skills would you add to this list of basics?

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Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • A useful skill is to learn how to think “outside the box”. What can you use if you don’t have the”right” tool or “best” scenario. It can be taught be example or by asking , ” If we didn’t have “this” what else could we use or do. Because we raised kids on a snug budget our children learned how to be resourceful and seek out options which has benefited them as they have become adults. In their jobs , purchases like homes and other areas of their lives. A “how can I do this ” verse ” I can’t”.

  • Some topics worth adding to the “40 lessons” list:

    1. The history of purchasing power, in what forms it has been preserved in over the ages, and how counterfeiting criminals, both out of, and in, government have learned to steal it — while leaving you with the appearance (but not the substance) of money — and some how-to of preserving your purchasing power in the face of criminal debasement of the currency — just as was done in ancient Rome before their collapse. There is a reason why a first class US postage stamp in the 1950s cost 3 cents. Today it costs 55 cents. Then explain how that relates to why Mommy can’t afford American medical bills.

    2. How to learn one or more foreign languages.

    3. Enough world history to realize that 1) all civilizations have a shelf life, and 2) many of your ancestors may well have come to America via the ultimate bugout in their lives — as voting with their fingers was not a workable solution, so voting with their feet was the only remedy to flee economic collapse, political corruption, or flat-out war.

    3. Enough American history to understand what the actual grievances were that are listed, but not explained in detail, in the Declaration of Independence, and how many of those grievances have been revived here via our “own” government. King George III would have been envious. Example: the principle of jury nullification. It was well established as a sacred right of Englishmen in the 1680s trial of William Penn for preaching in the streets without a license from the Crown. The jury foreman and several jurors were convinced that the law being applied against Penn was unjust, and spent several weeks in a cold British prison for their refusal to convict. Finally the government gave up and turned them loose. Otherwise Pennsylvania would have been named after somebody else.

    The related grievance in our Declaration mentioned colonials being hauled away to distant shores for trial (where the courts were beholden to the Crown’s demands, instead of holding local trials before a jury of one’s peers — who very often believed the law being applied was grossly unjust, and would refuse to convict). That right of jury nullification was so sacred that it was mandatory in criminal trials up through the 1890s that judges were required to inform jury members of that sacred right — to pass judgment on the law being applied, as well as the facts in the case. In the mid-1890s a US Supreme Court decision ruled that judges no longer had to reveal that right to jurors, even though the right remained. The original founders’ intent in the US Constitution was that juries were intended to have the final word — NOT the Supreme Court. And of course, tyrants and wannabees throughout our history have done their worst to bury such rights — including distortion and/or deletion of such history in government school textbooks.

    The tyranny today is so bad that judges often require prospective jurors to swear that they will accept the law unquestioningly as presented by the judge, and evaluate only the facts in a case. No explanation of course is offered as to why such tyranny is being imposed on those prospective jurors.

    4. Explain how for thousands of years, plant-based medicine was all there was, and it saved countless millions of lives. There are solid medical benefits to the frankincense and myrrh story of being brought as high valuables to the Christ child. In this country the native Indians had a very sophisticated knowledge of native plants and which ones could be used for various ailments. Doctors up through the teen years of the 1900s had such plant-based medicine in their professional encyclopedias. But this was competition to the upcoming petroleum-based and synthetic (so-called allopathic) remedies the Rockefeller empire was promoting. And so began the century of war against naturopathic medicine, which continues today in America. For many kinds of ailments, to avoid the cut, burn or poison methods of the medical mafia in America, one often has to travel to other countries via “medical tourism” where time-honored remedies are not outlawed, and their practitioners are not bankrupted, outlawed, or flat-out murdered.

    5. Explain the difference between Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” view of American society versus the post-Orwellian era today where “1984“ and “Animal Farm” were just tyrant wannabees’ beginner user manuals. Explain how incredibly difficult it is to avoid the surveillance and censorship state that has been erected around us.


  • Always know where the exits are in unfamiliar places
    Always keep to the edge of large crowds
    Always carry a bandana on you…100’s of uses for them
    If something seems too good to be true it usually is

  • Kids need to know how to get a job, write a resume, fill out an application conduct an interview. Kids need to learn how to have manners and use words like; please, thank you, sir and ma’am.

  • Along with the above mentioned items, I would add situational awareness and people skills. “Street smarts ” as I call it. The world is full of people that will be happy to separate you from your money and belongings, sometimes your life.

  • All very useful ideas. There is a woeful shortcoming in another necessary area: everyday needs such as addressing a letter, writing a check, writing a receipt, filling out form 1040(and why you need to), how to file in alphabetical order. There are college students that have NONE of those skills, they look at you with that dull dumb look that says you are speaking another language they’ve never heard.

  • While I agree wid all the opinions expressed, as a male, I wud say I have raised my daughter widout a sense of entitlement. I know and taught her too how to cook, clean, take care of herself, not in debt, whatever…As one can see, I am HARDLY a feminist. 🙂 I stayed ALONE for over 9 years learning to live by myself and obtain survival skills. I hope my kids have inherited the same too!

  • This is a parent’s job. Unfortunately, these things have been outsourced to others who have the least impact on a young mind. Look no further than public education where feelings are far more important than learning how to survive by oneself.

  • First of all give them a spiritual and moral foundation.. It is amazing how few people know what the Bible actually says anymore. Take them to church and Sunday School for instance and discuss issues with them instead of letting the boob tube babysit them. Let them know the value of work and that the world doesn’t owe them a living.
    Also as someone else mentioned- how to write letters, checks, filing, counting money back after a sale etc.

    And how to shut off water, gas and electric and check breakers etc. How to take care of a car- I know someone who didn’t know they needed to change the oil when they were young and ruined their first car.

    Daisy your list was pretty good- hard to think of everything at once, I’m sure you would add more.

  • This is a great list.

    The one item I think definitely needs to be on there is transmitting an awareness of the risks of vaccination, both for the child and their subsequent kids.

    Some of the items on the list will help inform this issue, such as “How to think for themselves and question authority” and “Know some home remedies for various common illnesses: teas for tummy aches, treatment for flu symptoms, how to soothe skin irritations, and how to care for a fever”. But I think that the risks have gotten so dire that some explicit coaching is needed here.

  • Being able to balance a checkbook is of paramount importance IF you are going to have a checkbook.

  • You hide behind a misnomer that should be “insanity because’, Had to put fresh batteries in my audio amplification devises after all your shouting. Heart attacks are not your friend and you are asking one to ‘come out and play.’

  • Hey Insanity Claus….go back on your meds…Only have one thought to add to the impressive article and ( most) comments here… Teach them the skill of objective thinking, where decisions are based on facts, not emotions.

  • Good post Daisy..I would come up inadequate in some areas. But one funny basic is.. how too strike a match (yes really ! ). My wife usually needs 10 matches as she doesn’t have the confidence to put her finger behind the match head as she strikes. But she usually gets there….
    There are videos on how to do it ..!! (For millenials with bad parents). But in looking for one I found a little gem .on how to light matches without a box.. by striking against other matches .https://lifehacker.com/strike-a-match-on-other-matches-if-you-dont-have-the-st-1773703191
    Well I just learned something! Often I find that the box wears out before all the matches are used.
    Years ago.. (2002 I think) I was reading about survivors in Sarajevo.. and what they needed most. They said..MATCHES, MATCHES AND MATCHES. So i went out and bought a stack..10 packets.. of cheap matches when they happened to be on special at the Supermarket. a $20 investment. I had compared the cheap ones (Brazil) with the expensive ones, and decided that the cheap ones where OK even if not as good. I stored them in airtight tins (cake tins) . Well ..Doom never happened and I still have them nearly 20 years later.. and they still work. The wood is a little brittle… but now you know..matches can store for 20 years.

  • I grew up with a Dad. Who wanted me to learn critical thinking. See a need and go look for a way to meet it.
    Mom taught me to clean, cook, sew and make patterns that fit properly, knit, crochet and make my own lacy patterns. She showed me basic sewing machine maintainance, and map reading.
    Dad taught construction skills, car maintainance, critical thinking, higher math, making and deciphering codes, and much more. He taught me blueprints and how to plan a building. I worked with him earning money from age 5 by nailing off wallboards as high as I could reach without leaving a mark on the wall. At 6 I was helping roof with 3 tab shingles.
    Together they taught money handling skills. At 3 1/2 my requests for a little spending money became a $.50 a month allowance. Candy, toys, secondhand store purchases all came from the 45 cents left after I paid my 5 cents tithes at church. I learned to save for things I really wanted. At 9 I’d saved allowance, earned money, birthday and Christmas money from faraway relatives and I bought imported German binoculars. I learned to save and budget. I knew secondhand was just fine for many things. I learned to bargain as both a buyer and a seller.
    I used to laugh that I was my fathers son and my mother’s daughter.
    I still give teens old cookbooks that have scratch recepies. The new ones are often focused on mixes. I buy cheap sewing machines. They get a through cleaning and new oil. Then check and set timing. They are gifts for young people wanting lessons. Learn to sew and you can keep the machine. My younger son can look at someone, cut and assemble the fabric and hand it to someone and it fits. He made his wife’s maturnit clothing and later her scrubs when she took CNA classes and worked awhile in a resthome. All the boys rebuilt cars and old Honda 50s. When done it was theirs. But it had to run and be safe to operate.
    Just saying we could help our kids really be ready for life.
    Many summers we’d travel a few weeks to visit national parks in different places or visit family. They learned to travel where we sometimes slept in our vehicle or a tiny trailer with just a bed and porta potty. We camp cooked. We made sandwiches. We warmed canned beans on the manifold like my dad had done. Sometime we were able to stay in nice motels. There are places to avoid like dark stairwells. Listen to your feelings. My daughter felt something was unsafe when she walked to get ice. She hurried back to get dad. The next morning we learned someone had been raped next to the ice machine.
    That’s the most important job we have as parents.

  • I would also add the following:
    How to balance a checking account.
    How to turn off the electricity, water and gas in an emergency.
    How to safely light pilot lights

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