This post about life skills every teen should know is going to help you prepare your teenagers for the future. A future where, in theory, they live in their own house, pay their own bills and are responsible for their own screwups. Right now, YOU, mom (or dad) take care of all your kid’s vital needs and a few of their desperate wants. One day, God willing, your little angels will flee the nest and you won’t be there to answer every question they have. Like how to boil water or does this shirt match with this tie. Unless you want your precious darlings going to a job interview wearing a t-shirt of cartoon animals, I recommend you bookmark these life skills every teen should know and get started teaching them a few things besides Geometry and tennis lessons!
Good Table Manners: I am not talking about basic common courtesies like not belching at the table. One of the most important life skills every teen should know is to how to eat at a FANCY restaurant. One day, they may go out to dinner with the boss or take a girl out for a fancy date. Teach them which spoon is for dessert and which is for coffee. Teach them to put their napkin on their lap and to take that darn hat off their head. Teach them that you do NOT text your friends in the middle of a fancy meal with their girlfriend. Check out The Emily Post Institute for details about table manners that will come in handy when your teens grow up!
Basic Car Maintenance: I am the first one to admit that I don’t know much about cars. However, I know how to bring my car to the shop and which thing under the hood is the battery. Teach your teens about the parts of the car. Here is where you put the windshield washer fluid, here is how you check the oil levels, this is how you call Triple A because your car won’t start. You want them to have a basic understanding of car maintenance and a general knowledge of where things are under the hood. Show them how to pump gas. Teach them that tires need to have the air checked occasionally, even if they don’t know how to do it by themselves. This is one of those life skills every teen should know that may very well save them a lot of money and a whole lot of hassle down the road.
Financial Skills: I remember when I was in high school and we learned how to balance a checkbook. No one has taught my teens this yet so I guess it’s up to me. It’s sad that no one teaches kids how to balance a checkbook but the minute they get on a college campus they are offered a credit card. Makes me very angry! Teach your teens about finances. Show them how to balance a checkbook, pay bills, and save for a rainy day. There are websites available where you can teach kids about investing in the stock market. Check out these Six Steps to Teaching Children About the Stock Market from the New York Times.
How to cook a healthy meal: Notice I said HEALTHY meal. Anybody can read the back of the boxed macaroni and cheese and get it to come out right. Heating up soup from a can is simple. One of the life skills every teen should know is how to take real food and turn it into a delicious meal. Hand them a cookbook and let them pick something to make. Take them to the store and buy the ingredients. Then, cook with them and help them create something healthy and nutritious. Just think how impressed their potential significant other will be when they are presented with a home cooked meal on the first date!
How to communicate with a human being: You may think this sounds crazy, right? But so much of our teenagers lives is digital that they have very little experience actually communicating with human adults. They need to learn how to shake hands firmly. Look the other person in the eye and hold their head up confidently. Teach them about personal space and reading body language. One day when they go to a job interview, this skill will come in very handy!
Our kids are smarter than ever with their AP Calculus classes and their Robotics clubs. But that knowledge is not going to do a single thing to help them become confident, healthy, financially stable adults. Parenting teenagers isn’t easy, however, we need to raise our teens with an eye towards the future. Not only do we need to teach them things they need to do TODAY, but also skills they will need tomorrow to become happy, healthy, and productive members of society.
Please share any other life skills every teen should know!