Reader question: What skills to teach kids for successful independence?

We have a great topic from one of our regulars. MotherJane Goose wants us to think about the life skills we are imparting on our kids. Here’s her question:

“@T…what are the things children will need to know to be successfully independent in life?”

“If the goal is for children to be independent ( which it is for me and my children) would parents not want a road map of what needs to be done? What skills should all children have by the time they head out to college? When do you start these skills? I think this also lends into what Mrs. K is trying to say, some parents do not see the need for lifelong skills.”

61 comments Add your comment

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
2:08 pm

Allow them to fail and deal with the consequences to the fullest extent…then offer them guidance and support on how to not make the same mistake again.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
2:12 pm

Oh…and start from day one.

TnT's Mom

July 26th, 2010
2:24 pm

We are trying to teach our boys things they will not learn in a classroom such as, changing tires, oil in a car, changing brakes and other household tasks. I have also taught them to run the dishwather, washer and dryer, being responsible for their own laundry. taking care of pets.

Another thing I want them to learn is to not be shy in talking to others. To not be afraid to ask for help or directions. Also meaning they are not afraid to do things on their own. My 17 year old has been going to the doc for a year now alone. I only send him alone for minor stuff, I go along for anything major. He takes his 12 year old brother weekly for allergy shots.

Along the lines of what Tiger posted, allow them to make decisions and suffer any consequences.

Photius

July 26th, 2010
2:31 pm

From day one: Discipline, structure, sports, exposure, books, and relentless pushing and drive from both parents with regards to what is expected. Consequences for actions – punishment when applicable. Having parents willing to apply punishment for poor actions/results and not giving in like so many do so the parents can feel better. Not paying for everything. Teen agers must work, start even younger for mowing lawns or something where mom/dad aren’t paying for it. Fear – point out losers in the world and explain why those people are no good and state it can happen to your own kid if the kid goofs up. Reward performance with positive re-enforcement, punish poor actions. Let your kids fail, get beat up, lose in sports, screw up – teach them to win. Set the tone by having parents lead by example and then demand the same from children. Competition – drive, expectations that do not bend to make the parent feel good.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
2:31 pm

Make them sleep in their own beds too.

Photius

July 26th, 2010
2:49 pm

Yeah…. eliminate this stupid new thing with parenting of allowing their children to sleep in the parents bed. NEVER.

Mary

July 26th, 2010
2:49 pm

Let them fall. Let them get hurt. Let them fail. It’s hard as hell to do it, but you simply must let it happen. Don’t constantly tell them, “don’t rock back in you’re chair, you’re gonna fall and get hurt” over and over and over. Let them fall and get hurt…..it’s the ONLY way to learn. It’s not cruel, it’s not punishment. It’s LIFE….they have to learn to get back up on their own and not have someone there to catch them….

catlady

July 26th, 2010
2:50 pm

While I love the comments here, let me add a few:

You teach independence to babies by having them sleep in their own cribs.

You teach independence when you allow age-appropriate decision making of toddlers and above (you set the parameters).

You teach independence when you guide your child to develop the feelings of self-efficacy (starting in infanthood, actually).

You teach independence when you ask, “What do you think?” or “What are you going to do about it?” instead of rushing in.

You teach independence when you allow failure and disappointment, and don’t rush in to fix it.

You teach independence when you expect your child to do things for others, for free.

You teach independence when you listen to your child’s ideas and allow them to branch out.

You teach independence when you smile when they show appropriate efforts to do it themselves (no matter that the bed isn’t perfectly straight, or the silverware spotless.)

You teach independence by modeling it.

Tell the truth

July 26th, 2010
2:54 pm

I answer my child honestly when he asks a question. I try not to think about “Is this age appropriate?” and just answer the questions. Last night, I had a frank discussion on what a “Sex Change” is with my 7 year old. He asked, I told him. He had lots of follow up questions. Some of the questions I couldn’t answer, and I told him I don’t know.

FCM

July 26th, 2010
2:57 pm

Critical thinking…..No MJG I am not being flippant. I find a serious lack of people in the world who can look at situations and make the kind of necessary decisions needed to act on them.

Sure there are tons of life skills that go into all that…being able to read, to comprehend, etc. But in the end that is what it boils down too.

DebDoes

July 26th, 2010
3:01 pm

Ask questions of your kids….’well, do you think that is a good choice….what if you did something this way or what do you think will happen if you do xyz…..best thing I ever did for my daughter was ask her questions, she made decisions after carefully consdering. Give allowances for chores, grade report cards, good behavior. Make kids earn money, don’t just give them money. They need to be taught at an early age that everything ‘cost’ and it doesn’t come free…most kids today just don’t get this one concept. Give them responsibility and enough ‘rope to hang themselves’. Let them screw up and learn the consequences of their actions. You will find more than not that kids want responsibilities and a chance to ‘prove you wrong’ as parents.

DebDoes

July 26th, 2010
3:06 pm

And one last comment about ‘working as teenagers’…uh no! I worked as a teenager and it ruined me. I thought I was making all the money I needed (at a newspaper, not fast food) and didn’t need to go to college. Years later, I would not let my daughter work outside of the home except chores, babysitting, etc. I wanted her to stay focused on her studies, sports, music and teenager things, not ‘making money’. She got a full dose of making money after college and then grad school….as it should be.

I disagree

July 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

Debdoes, I completelly disagree with you on the working as a teenager. Despite your anecdotal evidence to the contrary, I think its very important for teenagers to work.

I hope your daughter is able to find work after college with nothing on her resume.

abc

July 26th, 2010
3:13 pm

Make them have a job. It’s an important life lesson. Give them budgetary guidance so that they realize how much a buck is and how far it will go. Illustrate to them how the kinds of teenage jobs they can get (food service, quick marts, discount stores, etc.) can be the best they can get unless they apply themselves to something greater.

Make them pay for at least half of their first car. They need to learn the value of caring for major assets, and if they have skin in the game, they’re much more likely to learn.

Teach them to do laundry, cook and clean, and make them do it around the house. A college-age or 20-something that’s a total slob is a sorry sight to behold, especially if you’re their parent.

If you do things like that, then a concept of actions vs. consequences will come naturally.

Teacher

July 26th, 2010
3:17 pm

Please teach them basic core values. Respect adults. Don’t try to talk over someone. Be polite. Say “yes ma’am.”

Also, it seems that so many kids today don’t care about anyone but themselves. Teach them to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Teach them the difference between what is ‘needed’ and what is ‘desired.’

Finally, as a teacher, I really want you to teach them the value of an education – study every night even if there is no assigned homework. Learning is a life long pursuit.

Open eyes

July 26th, 2010
3:24 pm

If you really want to know what to teach your children, read the writings of John Taylor Gatto, former NY State teacher of the year. His profound insight into the true nature of education, the sordid history and true goals of the “public” education establishment, and the profoundly critical skills that children need to learn to be truly happy, successful, and independent will cause you to completely rethink your ideas on government run education.

In short, there are some extremely important skills that every child needs to learn, but there is no way they will every have the opportunity to learn them in a government school (and frankly not in most private schools either) simply because these skills are anathema to a central government that requires compliant, non-critical thinking, obediant citizens to survive and prosper.

What you really need to teach your children is everything the government fears.

Have the courage to read his writings.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
3:26 pm

@Debdoes..I’m interested…how exactly did having a job as a teen “ruin” you? When I was working in high school it was so I could financially afford to attend to college, my parents had a philosophy that if I didn’t have skin in the game, I wouldn’t take it seriously. Funny that you saw it as a way to NOT attend college. It’s interesting that we both had jobs in high school and came to different conclusions about college…..yet you blame the job for your philosophy and not your own shortsightedness.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
3:28 pm

@Open eyes….so you’re saying it’s impossible to raise an independent school without yanking your child out of school and home schooling them?

I had no idea i wasn’t independent….you know, being the product of public education and all.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
3:29 pm

“independnent school” should read “independent child”

JATL

July 26th, 2010
3:45 pm

Excellent topic and one that is sorely lacking today -especially with the helicopter parents! I agree with Tiger that children should be allowed to fail and make mistakes and learn from them. GIVE YOUR KIDS CHOICES AS SOON AS THEY CAN MAKE THEM! Please don’t shove them toward the choice YOU think is best -let them learn the consequences of making the bad choice once in awhile. Get your kids into recognizing the value of a dollar, saving and budgeting for needs and wants. My parents didn’t do a great job with that, and I am determined that my boys will have better money management skills than I did in my 20s and early 30s. Also:

* Know how to cook somewhat decently -a few casseroles, some meats, pancakes, pasta, etc.
* Know cleaning basics -how to clean toilets/showers; kitchens and sweep/mop/vacuum and dust
*Know how to do laundry
*Make them figure things out on their own in age appropriate ways all through their young lives -do research, be creative in problem solving, etc. Don’t rush into “help” or get them out of anything unless it’s a truly dire situation.
*MAKE THEM READ -if you make it fun early, they’ll love it and learn a lot from it!
****Let them do stuff on their own. I know helicopter parents, but your kids are wimpy and coddled! Let them ride their bikes in the neighborhood and go to the movies with friends or the skate park or wherever as they age. They’ll be fine walking home from the pool! It’s hard, but they have to be able to handle not having mommy or daddy right there to turn to.

***At least a little bit, get them into some type of sport or competitive activity so they learn that you can’t always win, and how to lose gracefully! Everyone needs to understand there’s always someone bigger, better, smarter, prettier or more skilled out there, but you have to make the most of what YOU have.

As far at teenagers working -oh yes, they need to work! My kids will also be required to spend at least one summer waiting tables somewhere. It really shines an informative light on human nature, how to bite your tongue and hard work -all in one!

Dar

July 26th, 2010
3:53 pm

Have to agree with Tiger on the job thing (trying to think if I have ever disagreed with him). I started babysitting at around 12, had my first “paying taxes” job at 16 and haven’t been without a job since – worked all through college (twice) and law school. The thought that working as a teen somehow held me back or that I could be any more successful than I am now if I had not worked is just…well…a mind-boggle. I am thinking it is actually the opposite, that working in HS, being responsible, paying for college and law school myself, has made me the success I am today. To each his/her own though. Your mileage may vary.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
4:00 pm

@Photius…”Fear – point out losers in the world and explain why those people are no good and state it can happen to your own kid if the kid goofs up”…..to each their own, but I don’t think someone else being wrong or “a loser” is essential to making anyone feeling better about themselves. We volunteer at the soup kitchen every once in a while now that the kid is old enough. There’s no need to pile on or pass judgement….the point gets across that being fortunate is a slippery slope that is easily lost….and he gets to help those less fortunate than him at the same time. I imagine you may say they don’t deserve the help because they’re “no good”, but it doesn’t hurt to be compassionate and that’s a lesson in its own right.

Photius

July 26th, 2010
4:10 pm

@Tiger, I agree with you entirely! Compassion, yes – helping those in need, of course. Pointing out that their Uncle/Aunt is a lazy bum – right on! Pointing out specifics of people on a one-way ticket to Palookaville, right on! Teaching a child to think differently and question authority as they get older is vital as well.

Open eyes

July 26th, 2010
4:10 pm

Tiger – Read Mr. Gatto’s thoughts and then decide if you are an independent thinker or if in fact the way you were raised by the school system has radically altered the way you view the government, society, and your relationship to both. Some seriously eye-opening reading.

Here’s a great example.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/gatto6.1.1.html

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
4:13 pm

@Dar….I’ve got something we may disagree on….all in the name of fun, of course. My CPA buddies and I have a running dispute with our lawyer buddies over whose exam was harder….we say the CPA exam (at least in the old format) is rougher because pass rates for first timers hovered around the 10% range, whereas the bar first timers have closer to 75% pass rate. Of course they counter that in reality the bar is harder, it’s just that lawyers are infinitely smarter than accountants, and that is the real reason they have a higher pass rate. Care to share your opinion? ;-)

Dar

July 26th, 2010
4:16 pm

@Tiger and Photius – I think you both make the same valid point. There are some people who are simply unfortunate…we shouldn’t attack them. There are others who make stupid choices, sometimes over and over again, and we should make sure our kids recognize the signs and stay clear of those people and their way of doing things. I have shown my son what success looks like and I make sure he sees the hard work and difficult choices that make it happen. I also give back to those less fortunate and explain to my son why we should help those who cannot help themselves. In the middle, I say, are people who repeatedly made bad choices (from not studying to choosing to abuse drugs) that have led to their current struggle. I may be blessed, but I sure worked darn hard for it and I wish the same for him.

Beck

July 26th, 2010
4:17 pm

I don’t know that I’ve ever agreed with Tiger (except w/ sarcasm) until today, but today you are spot on man!

Photius – it does sound very judgmental unless you know all of the circumstances surrounding the “loser” in question, and that didn’t quite come through in your explanation. Bernie Madoff’s a loser, for sure. But how many people would have thought that 3 years ago? It wasn’t until he was exposed that many saw him for the fraud he was all along. I’m saying this to say that just because you’re successful doesn’t make you a good person and just because you’re not successful doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

Care to elaborate?

jan

July 26th, 2010
4:18 pm

Everyone has great points and suggestions except not working as a teenager. We had an old Mitsubishi that each girl got to drive when they were 16. It they wanted something better they would work and save and at the point when they thought they had enough then they would put their money in on their own car and we would match their saved money. I agree if you don’t have something vested in your life then when do you find out you have to earn your own way. We were those strange parents who didn’t think you deserved a brand new car til you were working and could pay and be responsible for the luxury. Set age appropriate chores and limits.

Dar

July 26th, 2010
4:19 pm

@Tiger. One of my degrees is in Finance…I almost did the CPA thing and I know plenty of them so I think I have some room to speak. The CPA test is harder, without a doubt. And longer. And so are your continuing education requirements. I passed two bar exams with ease, one when I was 8 months pregnant and on meds. I like to think I am pretty darn smart, but I also know a less-than-difficult test when I see one. The real dummies are certainly weeded out, but there are many lawyers who make me shake my head and wish they would make the exam harder. Please don’t turn me in for this.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
4:20 pm

@Beck…I’m on a crusade to convert those to the “tiger ochocinco” dark side of thinking!

Michelle

July 26th, 2010
4:21 pm

Oh man, I worked in high school and it was the best thing I ever did! It really taught me responsibility! I cannot imagine what my life would have been like otherwise!

I think giving the kids choices and consequences are two things that are absolutely necessary. I’ve had some problems with “threatening” consequences and then not following through. I noticed about the middle of the past school year my little one becoming quite the brat. Then I realizesd, part of it was my fault! So, I’ve really tried hard to set boundaries and rules as well as following through on them. Sometimes it really, really sucks too! So far this summer he has missed a sleepover, a really cool field trip and supper one night! I’m really hoping though that by the time school starts, he’ll be more focused and ready to learn.

I think one thing that is important for our smaller kids to learn is that not being successful at something you try does not make you a failure. It’s ok to lose and not be the best. It’s important for them to realize that they did “truly” do their best and no matter the outcome, we still love them.

I cannot tell you how many times lately I’ve had to say, “I’m sorry you made a bad choice. Here is your consequence and I know you don’t like it. I still love you, but I’m not changing the punishment.” I’m hoping the next time he makes a much better choice!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
4:22 pm

@Dar…jeez..then our streak of agreement is still in tact!

TnT's Mom

July 26th, 2010
4:30 pm

I think the value of a teenager working is that they can learn and fail before more serious consequences. The 16 year old working who gets fired for showing up late and goes withoug a paycheck, suffers only lack of spending money or gas money instead of not being able to pay rent or eat.

Old School

July 26th, 2010
4:31 pm

Give children opportunities for altruism. Payment doesn’t always have to be monetary. We gave our daughters the use of a car as long as they had good attitudes, did their school work, kept their grades up, followed through with their obligations (example: if you start an activity, see it through and we’ll discuss it again at the end of the season.). The same expectations were in place if they took on an after school job.

Part time jobs can be great resume builders (think work ethics, responsibility, personal integrity) but not at the expense of their primary job: education and laying a solid foundation for life long learning. Friday & Saturday were date nights (with curfews). Sunday was a school night.

We have two happy, secure, successful, educated, & fully employed grown daughters.

We gave them roots. They’ve more than earned their wings.

FCM

July 26th, 2010
4:33 pm

My parents required that we each prove we had the insurance deductible in the bank (savings) before we could drive the car. We had to earn the $500 or use birthday money or whatever. They asked randomly to see the bank book…if you did not have that money you were hoofing it to work–or paying them a taxi fee. I plan to do that with my kids too. If they wreck the car they can fork over the $500—and in case your wondering if that happened, you had to save up the deductible AGAIN to use the car.

HB

July 26th, 2010
5:01 pm

My mom took your approach, Old School. She expected me to work hard and stay busy, but having an afterschool job wasn’t the only way she defined work. I had to earn spending money if I wanted to buy things, but I was not required to have a regularly scheduled position. I babysat, earning lots of money and learning how being the best puts one in high demand, while never having to worry about asking a boss for Friday night off so I could participate in marching band or having to be at work Christmas afternoon to tear movie tickets. I could turn down jobs when I had a paper due, or choose not to work the weekend after finals if having a break was worth more to me than cash. Not having a rigid work schedule also gave me more time for volunteering at church and in foster care projects.

I was expected to work hard at my primary job — school. I did, graduated top of my class, and earned enough scholarship money to cover 90% of tuition, room, and board at a private university. I definitely had skin in the game for college, just not necessarily in cash form. I didn’t want to see my years of hard work wasted!

DB

July 26th, 2010
5:12 pm

1. Allow them to fail. Allow them to fail MISERABLY at something that doesn’t matter when they are young, and they will get a bad taste in their mouth that will last for a lifetime. Hint to helicopter parents: Failing science or a book report in 3rd grade classifies as a “teaching moment” and does not go on your child’s “permanent record.”

2. Model the behavior you want your child to emulate when they are older. If you had one drink too many at dinner, hand your keys to your spouse without making a big deal out of it — make it the EXPECTED behavior. From the moment they took the car keys in their hand, I made it crystal clear: I will support them and love them through almost any mistake, but if they get a DUI, they are on their own. Getting a DUI is making a conscious decision to be STUPID, and I cannot abide that.

3. Teach the poor things to cook something other than microwave pizza. My daughter is cooking on her own this summer in her dorm, and laughs when other people are always popping into the kitchen to “see what smells good”. Nothing fancy — but she’ll cook a whole articoke or asparagus, chop up leftovers into a chicken bake, etc. She makes cookies from scratch, and can whip up a credible omelet if she’s hungry. She’s on an organic kick, now . . . :-)

4. I am a BIG believer in learning how to work as a young person, if for no other reason than to learn how to work for another adult other than a teacher or Mom and Dad. Having to report for work on time or getting yelled at, using their own money to buy their own clothes, wanted-but-not-needed school supplies (i.e., a fancier calculator than the minimum required), paying for their own gas, part of their insurance, and paying for their own entertainment is a reality check that is a GOOD thing for most kids, who grow up in a kid-centric world. None of my kids ever thought, “Whoo, hoo, I made $200 this week, I am RICH!” or had any illusions that this kind of money would keep them in the style to which they would like to become accustomed. :-)

5. Teach them how to balance a checkbook, first on paper, and then on-line. Having drank the Dave Rasey Kool-Aid :-), I also strongly discourage both of my kids from signing up for or using a credit card. If you want it, save for it. They each have debit cards for their own accounts.

6. Put them on a budget — and STICK WITH IT. If they use up all their first month’s money on going out to eat every night for two weeks and have to face two weeks of ramen noodles — so be it. They won’t die of rickets, and they will learn . . . :-)

7. Make exercise a lifestyle component. Teach them to enjoy using their bodies, and be respectful of what they put into them.

8. Make sure they understand the different kinds of insurance and what they need. Be open with how you make your own insurance decisions.

9. Teach them how to do laundry and how to read the fabric care tags inside their clothes.

10. Teach them how to change a tire, check the tire pressure, check the oil and fluid levels, and how to change a windshield wiper.

11. Teach your children that it is a privilege to be able to vote — and model that behavior at every election. Discuss candidates at family dinner, discuss the candidates’ positions and what you agree or disagree with. Let them know that they don’t have to vote like you do — but it’s important to exercise their right to vote.

12. Teach them how to write a decent thank you note. And teach them how to address an envelope!!! Email has eroded a lot of the niceties — teach them how to set up a letter format properly.

13. Teach them how to shop and how to compare prices — what is a “bargain”?

14. Teach them that sex is not a recreational sport, and that, sooner or later, sex will do what it’s supposed to do — make a baby. It’s not a question of IF. It’s a question of WHEN.

15. Learn how to manage your time. You have as much time as anyone else in the world, it’s what you do with it that sets you apart. Teach them to prioritize as young children, so that they will be able to plan for themselves when they are in college and in the workplace.

16. Learn how to cope with stress and unhappiness in healthy ways, instead of alcohol, drugs or inappropriate behavior. Life doesn’t always play fair — we need to know how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and get back into the game a wiser player. And sometimes, we have to model that behavior for our children, instead of hiding it from the. They need to see us dealing with setbacks in positive, proactive ways.

17. Teach them how to be assertive. Not aggressive — but teach them the art of politely standing up for yourself.

18. Teach them to love themselves, respect themselves, and honor themselves. Until they do that, they are going to find it tough going loving, respecting or honoring anyone else.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 26th, 2010
5:24 pm

@DB…I got a vasectomy a couple years after my kid was born….sex is TOTALLY a recreational sport for me now!

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Jeff

July 26th, 2010
6:44 pm

Cast my vote for Tiger’s camp again.

LydiasDad

July 26th, 2010
7:39 pm

Tell the Truth,

Why the hell is your 7yo asking about a sex change? You need to wonder who he’s talking to or hanging out with. That’s not normal.

Lisa Love

July 26th, 2010
7:56 pm

Dear Tiger Ocho…. “in tact” is, in fact, one word. Intact.

www.honeyfern.org

July 26th, 2010
8:13 pm

Tiger Ochocinco, I agree with allowing kids to fail. I also agree with the Open Eyes’s recommendation about John Taylor Gatto and schooling. Doesn’t mean no one is successful in public school, but he says some very valuable things in his writings that parents can apply in their parenting and also in their discussions with teachers. You can also use his writings and experience to demand change of your school district.

As a former teacher, I think one of the most important things you can teach your kids is how to find the answers to their questions. OF COURSE, certain questions require answers directly from you, but in most cases, it is more valuable long-term to encourage kids to look for their own answers, synthesize the information and develop their own opinions. It is incredibly inconvenient sometimes, but a truly valuable skill.

I also agree with the importance of work. I want my daughter to have more than I did, but I also want her to understand why it is important to do work as part of the family as well as work outside of the home to be independent and earn her own money.

And finally, compassion and kindness for other human beings. I think we are less compassionate now more than ever, and a little kindness goes a long way.

DJ Sniper

July 26th, 2010
8:26 pm

I love how most parents in here are advocating letting kids fail at things, and I definitely agree. There are far too many parents out here who have spoiled and coddled their children to the point where they don’t know how to handle even the slightest bit of adversity in life. They grow up to become adults who don’t know how to handle it either. How can you learn to succeed in life if you don’t fail at a few things?

motherjanegoose

July 26th, 2010
8:29 pm

WOW! You guys did a GREAT job today and made some wonderful points. I just got home, as I was stuck in Duluth near the intersection where the house got struck by lightening.

My kids have both had part time jobs since they were at least 12. My husband and I also worked. Each of my kid’s employers have told me, on several occasions…YOUR KIDS KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO WORK. I feel this will be an asset when they are finished with school and they head out to their career. Getting out in a different arena than home and learning how to work with others…is a big step towards success. Another reason why I wanted mine to go to an actual school and interact with people they may or may not like.

My kids also have saved a down payment on a car, which I matched and then made the payments themselves for 3 years. This allows them to recognize the responsibility of having their own bill that must be paid each month and to stash the money back accordingly. When they decide they need a car ( after college) , with a payment of $400 per month…they will know that it comes around each month at the same time!

Having them pay the check at a restaurant, bring some cash a few times, gives them math and people skills…my daughter tells me that MOST of her 18 year old friends do not bring enough money for a tip and if so…maybe a dollar…this really frustrates her. Most kids do not even know how to make change.

Navigating around town. I started this when my kids were 10-12. Show them how to look for visual cues when you are heading into the mall or where you parked you car at the grocery store. Let them navigate on the way out. My daughter took charge of the T last week in Boston, as she knows how to read the map and also navigate the airport. She also knows how to check in to the hotel, call for extra towels and ask the concierge a question.

Give them some YUCKY chores. We all have things we do not like to do but have to OR we pay someone else to do it. I tell mine, “I am sorry you do not want to do that…if you get a good job and make enough money…perhaps someday you can pay someone else to do it…that day is not today!”

Talk to them about decisions you are making. I have never had a mini van. Both of my kids thought we should have one. I explained that I typically pay cash for my car and a mini van is usually more expensive than a sedan…plus the insurance. We are not a sports family with lots of equipment and thus do not necessarily need the extra space. We usually fly for trips too. It is less expensive for us to have a sedan and rent a van ( when I usually have free days) than to pay for one all year. That is what works for us.

AMEN on the cooking and laundry…even elementary aged kids can sort laundry or make a grilled cheese sandwich with supervision. My daughter cooked our entire Thanksgiving Dinner ( except the turkey) and made up the shopping list for me to purchase the items. She was 17. Also, learn to eat new things. As an adult, you may have to eat out with clients and most business folks are not keen on chicken nuggets and mac/cheese.

I also have used coupons and shown mine how much can be saved. We honestly use at least $500 of restaurant coupons per year…about $10 per week. That is quite a bit of savings. My daughter gave a coupon ( from her work) to an adult I know and she looked at my daughter and said,
“You are your mother’s child….” My son let me know that he went to look for a few things at Ross…which is near his new apartment. I nearly fainted that HE would shop at Ross…a discount store! I also told him how to close his blinds and adjust his thermostat while he is out of his apartment…he will be footing the bill alone and does not need to be surprised.

I also want my children to know that it is pointless to sit around and envy others. I have heard so many people say, ” wow…it must be nice to…..” Guess what? If you have a million dollars in the bank, it is not like someone dropped it off in your mailbox. You either won it, inherited it or ( imagine it) worked for it!

Guess I will quit for now as this post may not even make it in….

motherjanegoose

July 26th, 2010
8:34 pm

Oh yes, compassion and kindness. Both of my children have been involved in charitable venues.
We have done this as a family and they choose their own venues now. This makes me proud as they have seen how important it is to help others too!

irisheyes

July 26th, 2010
9:15 pm

Just let them be kids! Don’t hover over them, worrying that the second they leave the driveway, someone will come and snatch them. Teach them about not talking to strangers, but trust them enough to ride their bike one street over to play at a friend’s house. Teach them how to entertain themselves, so you aren’t wearing yourself out trying to find “fun” things to do all of the time. Most of all, teach them that while they are an important part of the family, they are not the most important part, and sometimes compromises have to be made for the happiness of the whole family.

Alecia

July 26th, 2010
11:30 pm

This summer I have been working on making my 7 yr old more independent. Here’s a few things she has conquered this summer;
ride and take care of a horse, wash dishes, bake a cake(unassisted),putting air in a tire, and laundry. It’s funny to hear parents say that they do not have enough time to pack their kid’s lunch. What happened to the kid packing his/her own lunch? My kid has been making her own breakfast since 4 and packing her own lunch since 1st grade.

Allie

July 26th, 2010
11:32 pm

Teach them right from wrong, teach them to share and care, teach them how to make and stick to a budget, how to have a credit card and not abuse it, how being responsible with work & finances can often bring comfort instead of stressing from paycheck to paycheck. Teach them to be assertive without being obnoxious, to be independent, to know that most goals they set themselves can be achieved.

And, most of all, teach them to make their own way in the world, to forge their own path, to be someone they can be proud of and hold their head up at the end of the day.

Alecia

July 26th, 2010
11:49 pm

Forgot to add-Teach them how to negotiate. So many kids and young adults today are lacking this skill. It is also important to teach children not to take no for an answer and to question the outcome(certain situations). Encourage persistance.