What to teach our kids before leaving home (that they aren’t taught in school)

In this world of entitlement and technology, I struggle with how to “train up” my children in the way they should go. It is almost a constant battle given the plethora of social media outlets, our privileged society, the rising divorce rate, and many other elements that lead our children into cluelessness. We have abandoned the very foundation of our educational system: The family.

Each birthday that passes I muddle through memories and wish time would slow down. There is just too much to teach them! We can’t rely on schools, churches, social media, friends, etc. to show them the do’s and don’ts, the wrongs and rights, the ins and outs of this life. Not if we want them to have our perspective, that is, and as a parent I think we have the right to inform our children of our thoughts and how we came to be at the place we are. Let’s face it, our wrongs will teach them as much as they taught us and our accomplishments will inspire them, possibly (hopefully), to attain a standard higher than they could have dreamed.

One day while starting to prepare dinner my oldest son asked me how I learned to cook. It certainly was not in school – Gag!  Do you remember those “government lunches?” That’s what I had termed them – government cheese and cardboard pizza. And Pinterest, well that was not even an idea at that time. Nope, I relied on Dorothy Johnson (RIP) and Karen J. Lord. Those two women taught me everything I needed to know to get started.  I had a knack for cooking, and after I was married I bought cook books and tried and tested many entrees after getting the basics down. However, I never did ask my protégés about anything else – balancing a checkbook, how to clean a toilet (Mom did that. Why did I need to know?), having kids (NEVER!), or the hundreds of other things you have to do as an adult. When do you exactly become an adult? When I googled “define adult,” I was faced with a pretty clear answer, right?

 A-dult: A person who is fully grown or developed.

I laughed for a moment thinking about that definition. Then I contemplated when exactly I became an adult. I mean, that definition is fairly vague, don’t you think?  I remember telling my boss one day that I would never marry and I would never have kids. I know some of you were there too? A year later I was married and I needed answers, and after we had kids I needed even more answers. Guess I was an adult at that point, but there was still a lot I did not know! From my experience, there are many things parents should teach their children before they leave the nest. These are just a few of the things I wish my parent’s had talked about with me and those that I will hopefully get to discuss with my miniature humans.

1) Residual Income: Who doesn’t want money coming in without much work? Keep in mind I said “much work.” We need to be clear that things still need to be tended to. Sure, there will be upfront costs to get started accumulating passive income, but if you don’t even know what it is how the heck are you going to gain from it? We need to teach our children about royalties and building assets, and the difference between active and passive income. Here’s the thing, had I known more about real estate as an asset when I was younger, I probably would have purchased a house to rent out and who knows where that would have led me.

2) How to put gas in the car: Case in point…just watch the video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xx-C03NdIU

3) Philanthropy: I am utterly amazed at the amount of nonprofits and other organizations that depend upon donors and volunteers in order to assist in their endeavors. I also had no idea the many types of civic organizations that one can be involved with. There are causes in the world…let me rephrase that…there is probably a cause in this world for anything you can think up. Get the kids involved early. Visit the elderly, tell them about Rotary and Ruritan, encourage them to volunteer in a field of study they enjoy, and lead by example.

4) Financial security: This could incorporate a wide variety of lessons and I believe the key is to start young. Lessons can be taught on buying groceries vs eating out, buying that first home, renting an apartment, buying vs renting a vehicle, and the list goes on. Utilize teachable moments to discuss financial stability and money management. You can search the web for “teaching kids about money” and obtain thousands of webpages. A few are below:

5) How to be domestic: This is important. One day your son or daughter is going to find a significant other, a roommate, or they may even wind up staying at home (Oh No!) and you know the old saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”  Cleanliness brings a feeling of satisfaction, being physically and mentally well (IMO). Teach your child(ren) to wash their clothes (fold and put them away), clean the toilet, cook, make the bed and other task that seem so menial but go a long way in giving responsibility and confidence.

And to conclude, I have devised a list of skills that require walking the line very carefully when talking with a young “adult.”  These topics can make the most solid parent/child relationship fragile but I think are necessities before they venture out in the “real” world.

Finding their moral compass, choosing a good partner/spouse, choosing good friends, when to say “yes” and “no,” and lastly, how to change a tire (oh, arguments can ensue over this!).

I will leave you with this quote from Ann Landers:

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

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Filed under Family, Kids, life lessons

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