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?