Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?

Can your kids tie their shoes? Can they zip their jackets? Can they use a can opener?

Many kids across American cannot do basic mechanical chores and Associated Press writer Beth Harpaz wonders if we’re raising a generation of incapable kids.

From The Associated Press:

“Second-graders who can’t tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who’ve never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.”

“Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?”

“Susan Maushart, a mother of three, says her teenage daughter ‘literally does not know how to use a can opener. Most cans come with pull-tops these days. I see her reaching for a can that requires a can opener, and her shoulders slump and she goes for something else.’ ”

“Teenagers are so accustomed to either throwing their clothes on the floor or hanging them on hooks that Maushart says her ‘kids actually struggle with the mechanics of a clothes hanger.’ ”

“Many kids never learn to do ordinary household tasks. They have no chores. Take-out and drive-through meals have replaced home cooking. And busy families who can afford it often outsource house-cleaning and lawn care.”

” ‘It’s so all laid out for them,’ said Maushart, author of the forthcoming book ‘The Winter of Our Disconnect,’ about her efforts to wean her family from its dependence on technology. ‘Having so much comfort and ease is what has led to this situation — the Velcro sneakers, the Pull-Ups generation. You can pee in your pants and we’ll take care of it for you!’ “

The author of the article was personally affected when a visiting 12-year-old couldn’t get ice out of a regular ice tray as opposed to the automatic dispenser on the refrigerator.

Personally, I am thrilled when my 3-year-old can change from her tap shoes into her ballet shoes by herself at dance class because her 7-year old brother is still mastering tying his shoes thanks to years of Velcro. (Damn you Velcro — so convenient, yet such an enabler!)

When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten I noticed she would still have her jacket on at lunch even though the outdoor temperature had warmed up. I finally realized the poor child didn’t know how to unzip her own jacket!! I had always done it for her out of convenience. (That one is clearly on me! Bad helicopter mother! However, I have made sure the other two children, including the 3-year-old, can zip.)

Through the years teenage babysitters have surprised me with their incompetence in the kitchen. One didn’t know how to use the can opener. Another cooked the pizza when the cardboard still under it and yet another asked if she should boil the corn on the cob still in its husk.  I wrote it off to their mothers never cooking at home, but maybe this is about not being exposed to common mechanical tools.

I don’t think this generation is dumb. My 3-year-old knows how to use our digital camera and my 7-year-old downloads movies from Netflix on the computer to the X-Box hard drive to watch later. They create computer games on their own, do algebra in the fourth grade and could make a Power Point presentation in second grade.

I do believe the problem is not the intelligence of the children but with helicopter parents and technology doing things for them.

This may be opening a can of worms but I think that kids who go to day care learn how to zip their jackets, tie their shoes, put on the skates and wipe their bottoms sooner because the day care workers can’t do it for all twenty kids in the class. Because my kids were always home with me I tied their shoes and zipped their jackets (and wiped the bottoms) as we hustled out the door.

I am pleased to say that my second-grader’s class just worked on addressing envelopes last week so I know he can do that one! But now I want to see if my kids can get ice from an old fashioned tray. (I sense a sneaky test coming on!)

So what do you think: Are we raising a generation of incapable nincompoops? Are they actually dumb? Are we doing too much for them? Are we not teaching them basic life skills?

Do you think kids that go to day care learn these everyday life skills better or faster than kids that have stay-at-home moms or dads?

How do you explain he disconnect between the amazing things they can accomplish (like using my smart phone better than me) and the simple things they cannot?

Share with us funny (or sad) examples of stuff your kids can’t do!

136 comments Add your comment

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HB

September 29th, 2010
1:07 am

The lack of skills of teenagers described here (not knowing how to cook certain foods, crack an ice tray, or use a can opener) don’t particularly concern me. I remember not knowing how to use a manual can opener until my teens because we happened to have an electric one — no biggie and I could see the ice tray being unknown for the same reason. What’s scary here is the lack of curiosity! Putting a can back rather than find out how to open it? Keep a jacket on rather than try pulling down on the zipper pull like she’s seen Mom do every day? Kids typically go on a real independent streak around age two (”my do it!”). I bet the issue is less about technology and more about impatient adults who are quick to do these little tasks rather than wait long enough for the kids to do it or risk them doing something incorrectly.

shaggy

September 29th, 2010
6:33 am

“Are we raising a generation of nincompoops?”

Nincompoops are raising this generation, and as the saying goes, “the nut never falls too far from the tree”.

Children start as blank slates. Parents today are more focused on their selfish needs, than raising their own children. Many are convinced by entitlements that raising their children is someone else’s job altogether…yours and mine.
This is clearly expressed by the culture of celebrity that exists today. This generation is taught by example, to believe that there is more value in being popular (Lohan, Hilton, American Idol, pro athletes, etc…) than being smart, or courageous e.g., dreaming of being an astronaut
Now, just whose responsibility is it to teach them values? The television?

Jeff

September 29th, 2010
6:50 am

There are really 2 topics here. Everything is push button I don’t have an issue with.

Kids who don’t know how to do laundry @ 18 is the parents’ fault.

Shaggy, you’re 100% right. If a minor doesn’t know how to do something inportant, whose job is it to teach them those things? The parent.

deidre_NC

September 29th, 2010
7:05 am

my kids can do anything and if they cant they will figure it out. it is much easier (in the short term) to do it all for them for sure. but as they get older its just a pain in the butt. i do have to say-when i first moved here to the mountains things for me changes (a purposeful change) but when my oldest daughter and son came up to visit-my daughter went to cook a hot dog and came to me and said ‘mom wheres the microwave?’ she had no idea how to boil a hotdog! and the night came that it was my older sons turn to wash dishes and he just stood there at the sink-i had to show him how…they were 8 and 10 years old…and had always had a microwave and dishwasher. i cant think of anything else like that…i always had my kids do their share of cooking-cleaning etc…and they all learned how to tie their own shoes, in fact i wouldnt let them buy velcro shoes until they had the art of tying their shoelaces down pat. used to that was on the list of things they had to know before they entered kindegarten.i think one thing that has happened is so many parent work and are in a hurry to get going they just do these things for the kids as a time saver (which it really is). i have tried to make mine self sufficient and have pretty much succeeded. not that they are perfect by any means, but if the power goes out and they have to do things manually, they can. they can take care of themselves and have been able to since they were young (the older 2 learned how to cook without a microwave and wash dishes without a dishwasher very quickly)..and of course its the parents fault…who else is there to teach the little ones these tasks but the ones who are raising them? i dont think its always a case of a parent being neglectful…just busy and really not thinking–i never thought of the dishwasher/microwave things until they came up.

catlady

September 29th, 2010
7:16 am

Yes. Part of it is they haven’t been taught basic things at home (How to nod or say “good morning” when someone greets you.)

Part of it is learned laziness (”Make up his bed? Why should my son have to work like that?”)

Part of it is a sense of entitlement.

At any rate, it is the responsibility of the home to teach basic things like this, and many homes are failing miserably.

Claire

September 29th, 2010
8:13 am

When I came to college I could not believe the amount of people who did not know how to do their own laundry. I cannot count the number of times I had to show someone how to do it. Ironing was non existent- not only because of laziness, but because they simply did not know how. When a couple of guys who lived on my hall had to go to a funeral, they asked me to iron their pants because they did not know how. I set it up, showed them how to do it, then made them do it.

I can understand now knowing how to use some specific kitchen devices. Why would one know unless they had done it before? Not everyone uses every device in the kitchen. In fact, I had to have one of my roommates show me how to use the can opener she had- it was one that cut it on the side to avoid sharp edges, and I didn’t realize that so I tried using it the normal way. I don’t think anything’s wrong with that. You ask someone to show you how, then you do it yourself.

Living in the dorms doesn’t necessarily help, because one never learns to cook. I LOVED with I moved into an apartment, then a house, near campus because I could really cook. My roommates and friends were impressed that I could do what I could- but I had been helping out since I could.

I started doing my own laundry around 13. Of course, if I needed help, or was super busy, my mom would do a load for me every now and then, but it was my responsibility to ask and get it started.

One thing that really amazed me- when I went to a family wedding this past labor day, my 26 year old brother had no idea how to tie a tie. He was the only guy there, and none of the females had done it either. So, what did we do? Youtube. (I also learned how to crochet by watching youtube videos)
His girlfriend watched, tried to tie it, couldn’t. He tried, couldn’t. They had each tried several times on several different videos. He eventually came to me for help, and I got it on my first try- it was just following simple directions. No, it didn’t look perfect- it was really short- but I got it done.

Out of curiosity- when should guys be able to tie their own ties?

TechMom

September 29th, 2010
8:19 am

I think a lot of it is time. We are much so much busier that it is often times easier to just do it yourself. Our biggest downfall is likely cooking. I try to involve my son but quite frankly we do a lot of quick meals that don’t require a lot of prep and usually I’m throwing that stuff on the stove or on the grill while he’s showering after practice so we can eat at a decent hour. By the time I was his age (15), I had to cook dinner twice a week. I do laundry mostly on Saturdays and everyone has to help fold and put their own clothes away but I did teach him how to use the washer and dryer in 6th grade because I remember being baffled when I was in high school and one of my friends who lived across the street (a boy) asked me to come over and help him wash a load of laundry because his mom never had – it just stuck with me.

We live in a neighborhood where probably only 15% of the people do their own yard work. Even the families with kids old enough to do it themselves. And of the handful who do it themselves, I think some of the men are in competition to see whose lawn can look the best. Our son mows our grass as part of his allowance but threw a fit this summer when the riding mower wasn’t fixed and he had to push mow. You thought we were torturing him the way he whined and complained. So the next week, even after the riding mower had been fixed, he got to push mow again.

I do think we have to be more intentional about teaching kids and many of us are too caught up in get it done quick so we can go do the next thing that we forget we aren’t giving our children the tools they need to cope in real life.

Photius

September 29th, 2010
8:21 am

Today’s children are just like any generation of Homo Sapiens for the last 100,000 years – a few winners, a whole lot of losers; same as any age bracket during life. No, they are not nincompoops they just have not been exposed or taught. My greater concern is the emotional aspect from these self protective helicopter parents who hover and will never let the child spread their wings and fly, and perhaps actually make a mistake on their own! Many parents are simply over-protective and are doing their child an disservice for life preparation, yet this is what the parents desire because “I just love him soooo much”. Not all children are smart and clever or cute; they are like any segment of life – a few who are intelligent and motivated and a great swath of children who simply will never amount to anything. The older I get the more I am convinced that half of all parents should have been sterilized prior to having children. Morons breed more morons from multiple partners and the good parents don’t breed enough.

fred

September 29th, 2010
8:21 am

Part of good parenting is saying no to your kids once in a while. No I will not do that for you, YOU can do it yourself. Ask me how to do something and I will tell you or show you, but I will not do it for you once you are able to do it yourself. I do realize that it is often easier for me to just do it myself, but I am not going to raise a helpless half wit. My girls are not stupid and I will not let them get away with laziness. If they choose not to do something then there will be consequences. As a teacher I see high-schoolers who have little to no concept of what it takes to get to school on time. why were you late? my moms forgot to wake me up, my dad blah blah blah. Set your own alarm and make your own lunch instead of complaining about what mom put in it again. We as parents are failing our children if we do not teach independence.

Alecia

September 29th, 2010
8:24 am

I make a point of pushing my daughter to be independent. She is 7 and washes dishes. Sometimes I let her cook. If they can read, they can follow directions. I still oversee the oven/stove. Lunch, she packs it on her own and it gets a final glance over(check for stray sugary items). I laugh whenever a parent tells me how they do not have time to pack their kid’s lunch. If the child is in preschool perhaps this is understandable. If a kid is school aged(w/o disability) and cannot assemble a sammy, grab an apple, and a small snack, the parent is to blame. She is responsible for hanging up her clothes and placing the dirty ones in a hamper. Since preschool she has been zipping up her own jacket. Unfortunately, I fell for the velcro also and she started tying her own shoes in kindergarten.

I also have to agree with catlady on the socialization. So many of my peers are quick to buy a DS and consider their parenting duties done. There are folks that consider the DS to be a babysitter. More than 1.5hrs/day with screen is a dis-service to the child. If they are sucked into their handheld game, they are not interacting face to face. It is not uncommon to see a family out at a restaurant and the kids have a DS and the parents are on the cell phone or laptop.

FCM

September 29th, 2010
8:26 am

Hello Helicopter parents….stop doing everything for your kids and teach them to do it for themselves.

Tying shoes should be a skill learned 1st grade at latest. Don’t you think? I mwan if the child has gross motor skill activity issues that is different. I have a friend who’s neice has “issues” and she is 5 or 6 and just said her own name for the first time…that is completely different than the “average” kid.

My children (8 & 10) have been helping with the laundry for years. Granted until the last year or so it has been mostly folding and putting it away correctly. Still, as a parent I would be wrong to not teach them to do laundry.

Same with cooking. They each help in the kitchen. The 10 yo can take things in and out of the oven…the 8 yo just started getting to do this with the toaster oven. 10 yo cooks on the stove top with constant supervision, in the toaster oven with me just checking to make sure that it is set correctly and turned off when done. 8 yo is learning to start the toaster oven and can microwave food if needed.

To me these are just basic life skills. Like brushing your teeth.

TechMom

September 29th, 2010
8:28 am

@Claire – I cannot tie a tie- no reason to. My son however learned how in 7th grade because he attends a private school and that was about the time he switched from the little boy ties (that just hook around the collar) to a real tie. My husband showed him how several times and he just practiced till he got it. The funny thing is that just this past weekend, he went on YouTube and learned how to tie a tie a different way so that the “knot stays shaped better” (?? I had no clue what he was talking about.) But for once I was glad that he took the initiative to use technology to learn something.

By the way, I’m a fan of technology, obviously, and I don’t think it’s wrong to let use kids use the tools available to them to learn new stuff. My husband is not really mechanically inclined but we do what we can to save money. This summer, his truck needed new rotors and instead of paying the shop, he decided to do it himself and have our son help him. About an hour into the process, we were all sitting in the driveway watching a video on ehow to figure out how to remove the caliper.

Jeff

September 29th, 2010
8:33 am

Missed you FCM.

Claire, I knew how to tie my own tie (and did it routinely) by 9th grade.

TechMom

September 29th, 2010
8:37 am

Another funny experience- my dad made me learn how to change a tire and the oil in a car before I was allowed to drive. No problem for me, I love knowing how to do things and hands-on learning is the best. Last school year we were headed to a wrestling tournament and carpooling with another mom so it was she and I and 4 high school boys. The tire blew on the interstate. She started digging for her AAA card. I stopped her and said we could do it before she could even get off the phone with them. My son and I had it changed in about 5 minutes. We had shown our son how to do change a tire already and the two of us were able to work together to get it done very quickly. As an added bonus, he is in Scouts and they just completed the automotive merit badge. Who got to do the instruction on changing a tire? Our son – it was great to see him be able to pass along some useful knowledge to other kids.

JJ

September 29th, 2010
9:01 am

Every teenager should be mowing lawns, boys and girls too, theirs and the neighbors. Do you have any idea how much money can be made mowing neighborhood lawns? The kid next door to me charges $30 to mow, front and back (I do it myself though, but he helps me with the trim and the weed wacking). Imagine if he mows 3 lawns a day, that’s $90 in his pocket CASH, no taxes. So three of our neighborhood boys starting a business, and they raked in some cash this past summer.

DB

September 29th, 2010
9:06 am

My kids went to a private school, and on Fridays, they had to wear a blazer and tie. The first year they had to do that, I hadn’t really focused on the fact that my husband was going to be out of town on that first day they had to wear ties — and when my son brought his tie to me and said, “Where’s the clip?!” (he was 9), I was flummoxed — I didn’t know how to tie it, either! So we got on the internet and found instructions (too early for YouTube, alas, but detailed directions.) He had his tie tied neatly. Yay! He told me later that the gym teacher had a line of about 10 boys outside of his office first thing that morning, from moms who had sent their kids to school with instructions to ask a male teacher how to tie their tie. WTH? And after gym, almost all the boys needed help retying their ties, because their moms had done it for them that morning, and they were clueless. But by the end of September, they had all figured it out.

First time poster

September 29th, 2010
9:07 am

My daughter learned to tie her shoes at age 3, I just didn’t buy velcro close shoes. She’s almost 13 and knows how to clean (bathroom too!), cook, do laundry, use a can opener (we don’t have an electric one) and pretty much most of the basic life skills she’ll need going forward. How’d she learn all this? Well, I taught her. I see that as part of my job as her mom to prepare her to live on her own one day seems pretty basic to me.

DB

September 29th, 2010
9:12 am

My daughter got a good laugh out of one of her dorm-mates last year. The girl walked into the laundry room, filled up her washing machine, and then looked around and asked my daughter, “So, where’s the laundry detergent?” My daughter told her that she had to bring her own, and the girl was indignant: “But at home, it’s always sitting on top of the dryer! You mean, they don’t provide the detergent? How are we supposed to do laundry?!” My daughter started laughing, and then offered the girl a capful of her detergent.

JATL

September 29th, 2010
9:13 am

I’m totally with HB and Shaggy here. The lack of curiosity is disturbing! I also think parents rush to do things for kids instead of letting them work it out. I’ve actually gotten dirty looks from people overhearing me tell one of my kids to, “Figure it out -you can do it.” And I’m not talking about crossing the street or anything involving danger -I’m talking about being whined at for things mentioned here -taking off a jacket, changing shoes, etc. I really try to teach my kids basics like tying shoes and using zippers and my 4 year old is already pretty good in the kitchen! If he doesn’t know how to do something though, he WILL try to figure it out. This can lead to its own problems (and I think some parents go far out of their way to avoid those -hence this issue), but I had rather have ice all over the floor or strangely peeled fruit than a kid who abandons trying.

Lady Strange

September 29th, 2010
9:17 am

This makes me think of my sister in law’s daughter. She’s 19, can’t drive (and doesn’t want to learn), can’t cook, and I doubt that she can do laundry, work a lawn mower or vaccum. Shecan’t seem to do anything for herself all because mommy always did it for her. Now she doesn’t have the drive to learn for herself, since mommy still does it for her.

My son is 2 and I try to let him do most anything he wants to try for himself (as long as it’s not dangerous, like using a knife). He is relying on me to teach him the skills he needs to be an independant person. I would only be doing him harm to not teach him the basics of being independant.

JJ

September 29th, 2010
9:29 am

And you have to let them fall……let them fall and pick themselves back up. You can’t learn if someone does everything for you. You are doing a disservice to your child, by doing everything for your child.

FCM

September 29th, 2010
9:29 am

Thanks Jeff I was underwater a bit (work and home). All is better now. With Quarter Close I will probably go radio silent here soon. I miss “talking” when I cannot get over here.

Tech Mom I was Jr ROTC in HS. Everyone in the class had to learn a tie even though the girls do not wear them with their uniforms. I have used the skill a few times since then both for myself (waiting tables) and others—one guy who lived above my apartment (this was 2005) was going to a dance and he was struggling with it. I saw him (parking lot) and said hand it over. I can only tie it if it is on me…LOL. In a few moments I had it done. He put it on and I fixed the knot. He just said “where did you learn to do that?”…

On the other hand my Dad had taught my brother to tie a tie when he was 9 or 10. When he went to HS (also Jr ROTC) he was one of the ones helping to teach the other cadets how to do it.

Shaggy–as usual I find you dead to rights.

Photious–I don’t know can’t there be some of us that are intelligent but haven’t found a way to fulfill our potential yet? Even intelligent people can make errors in judgement or wrong decisions that derail them sometimes right? At least I hope that is my case, since I feel I am finally making headway in that area…though I was never content/lasted long as just a drone. Make sense?

Bunch of Yentas

September 29th, 2010
9:31 am

It is partly impatience. We are always on the go. So, I can stand there for 2 minutes while my 7 year old son ties his shoe for the 5th time today, or I can bend down and spend 15 seconds and tie it tight enough that we don’t have to think about it again. I will have to make an effort to be more patient.

I did buy a stool so he can pour his own drinks.

I have been too afraid to let him near knives also. If he wants a snack, then I have always gotten whatever fruit or vegetable and cut it into pieces. I probably should teach him to prepare his own raw foods at least.

I was a latch key kid from the time I was 9, so I figured out a lot of stuff on my own. For the most part, that worked ok. However, I almost burned the house down when I was 12 trying to fry chicken. I had been taught how to fry, but not what to do with a grease fire. Luckily a neighbor just happened to be knocking at the door as I was about to douse the fire with water.

Claire

September 29th, 2010
9:46 am

another thing- I recently got a new roommate, who was a person I did not know. She is a freshman, but not at UGA, so she’s living off campus. When her and her mother came to check out the place before she signed the lease, she noticed on our whiteboard that we had a list of whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher. Her mom could not believe that we took turns doing normal chores. She moved in because another roommate moved out, and the one who moved out took the vacuum. My roommates mother asked us if there was anything we might need, and we suggested a vacuum, because the one I brought from home to replace the one my roommate took was horrible. She said she would get one for us, but that we might have to show her daughter how to use it- because she had never used one before.

mystery poster

September 29th, 2010
9:49 am

I learned to tie a tie when I was 8, my brownie uniform had one. My dad taught me to tie it (fond memories).

Cammi317

September 29th, 2010
10:02 am

I am 38 and still can’t use a manual can opener. I own one, but if the power went out and I needed it, I would be stuck. For whatever reason I just cannot work the darn thing. I don’t mow my lawn and I don’t expect my daughter to either. Growing up my dad cut our lawn or he hired someone to do it. When my younger brothers hit about 16, then they started doing it. We girls did sweep down the drive way and help gather up the raked leaves. Since I have been out on my own, I have always hired someone to cut my grass with the exception of 1 time 2 years ago. I cut about 1/3 of my back yard and then my dad came over and finished the back and the front. Now I just have the little boy next door do it. My daughter is 12 and she knows how to do laundry, but generally speaking I do it. She vacuums her own room. Ironing….I don’t like to iron and I rarely do because I either hang things directly out of the dryer or use the fabric steamer. I know how to and I own an iron, but I rarely use it. My daughter has maybe ironed once, and that is something I do need to make sure that she can safely do. She can cook basic meals, but nothing fancy. Most of the time I do the cooking or we eat out because she has school work and so many extra curricular activities. She really does not have “chores” but as she is will be 13 soon, I think I will be giving her a little more responsibility around the house.

JOD

September 29th, 2010
10:03 am

Shaggy and JATL have it right (as usual!). I’m curious to know if the mother who watched her daughter put a can back on the shelf asked the girl why? Clearly she knew the answer, but it could have been a teachable moment instead of a pitiful one. Why the girl didn’t ask is interesting as well. The thought of my 2-year-old girl being so helpless when she’s older (and me being so obtuse) is scary.

I am learning (she’s my first, so struggle sometimes) that letting her fall (nothing serious, of course) teaches her how not to fall and to pick herself up (that girl loves to spin around!), and that letting her put on her clothes and shoes may look funny now (at home only), but she’ll get the hang of it. She helps with the laundry – hands it to me and puts in the dryer – same with the dishes – and is proud of herself for that. She likes to watch me cook, too, so I anticipate we’ll be working on the laundry, dishes, and cooking together in elementary school.

Techmom’s point is good, too. I think the challenge all parents should take is taking the time to let little ones try for themselves whenever possible, knowing that sometimes we just have to get going!

TechMom

September 29th, 2010
10:10 am

@FCM – I was in JRTOC in HS too (and Brownies when I was younger) but since I didn’t have to wear a regular tie, I never learned how. Certainly if the need ever arose though, I’d learn how.

Kate

September 29th, 2010
10:22 am

My mother in law (whom I love dearly) was a bit of a helicopter parent back in the day and both my husband and his younger brother have nincompoop tendencies so I definitely see the correlation! Even the most basic of household chores is a complete mystery to my husband, and I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he cannot boil water. My poor brother in law is even worse. Not long after he got his first car he calls my father in law from his cell phone and says “Dad, one of the tires on my car looks funny. It’s round on top, but it’s flat on the bottom and it makes a weird sound when I’m driving. What’s wrong with it?” My father in law said “Do you mean you have a flat tire?!” My brother in law didn’t even know what that was, much less how to fix it so his dad had to come rescue him. After he moved into his first apartment he called me and asked if it would be OK to use dish washing liquid (the kind you use when you wash dishes by hand) instead of dishwashing detergent in his dishwasher. I told him absolutely not, but he decided to try it anyway. About an hour later he calls me back in a panic because foam is spewing out of his dishwasher and all over his kitchen! That the was the first of MANY household misadventures for him. Needless to say, he did not get his deposit back when he moved!

Lori

September 29th, 2010
10:24 am

Kids aren’t dumb they are just exposed to different things at different ages than we were. My son couldn’t tie his shoes until he was 6, not because he was stupid but because that is the first time I bought him shoes with laces. But at age 3 he could program the DVR, connect the Wii to the entertainment center, and play games on the internet. I just let him figure things out on his own, unless they require instruction, and he’s pretty good at it. Actually he’s better at it than me. I still can’t get those transformer toys back into car form, but he sure can!!

abc

September 29th, 2010
10:28 am

A boy should know how to tie a necktie by the time he’s 12 years old. If in Boy Scouts, he could learn it there; but his father should certainly teach him at least 2 ways (windsor/double windsor and flathead) so as to be able to accomodate different lengths of ties. Ties come in different lengths, you know.

Michelle

September 29th, 2010
10:37 am

I do think that parents do their children a disservice by not making them learn and do things on their own.

My little guy is 7. He has been tying his shoes since the summer after kindergarten. He can make his own lunch, BUT, I typically like to do it so I make sure he has a nice rounded meal!

If he wants a snack after school, he will go to the fridge and get a yogurt or some fruit, or occasionally some chips. He can pour his own milk (as long as the gallon is not too full!).

He knows how to sort the laundry, and put his away (if I put it at a level he can reach!) Typically, I just have him put away socks and underwear.

Thankfully, he is a curious kid. I have him try it, and if he gets too frustrated, I help him out! I have learned from my husband and the older kids, if I do it, they will continue to let me! :o)

I am whatever you say I am

September 29th, 2010
10:40 am

I’m glad you brought up 5 years old being in strollers.
I was at a company function and this woman (dressed from circa 1940’s)
showed up with her son in a stroller and it was as clear as day to see he was well too old for it. Especially while he was in, we was moving his arm at people instructing them to move out the way while she was pushing it.

Kids are very smart but it is up to the adults to maximize on their potential. you can easily teach a child multiple languages, math, reading, etc…at an early age if you put effort toward that.

I’m very please with my child. He’s 2 and is very smart!
He got that way because I’m vested in his development. you have to be or you will have 47 year old boys still living at home with momma!

I am whatever you say I am

September 29th, 2010
10:40 am

typo: we should be he

motherjanegoose

September 29th, 2010
11:07 am

Checking in quickly from Montana!

Oh wow…we absolutley experienced the ice cube tray thing years ago. We bought our first fridge with ice in the door, when our son was two. While on vacation, when he was 13, he asked for ice. I told him to look in the freezer and get some. He was puzzled, as he had never seen the blue plastric trays in our fridge. I then took them out and showed him how to work them,.
WE HAD THE METAL TRAYS WITH THE PULL LEVER WHEN I WAS A KID. I thought the blue plastic trays were new fangled…back then :)

Alecia…this is the best:

I make a point of pushing my daughter to be independent.

I totally agree with you and have done the same with my own kids. Unless someone expects them to know how to do something, on their own, they will not rise to the occasion ( sp?).

DB, yes my daughter has experienced many of the same things at college and calls and laughs,

JJ…the reason many kids are not interested in earning that kind of money is because Mama will give them $100 per week, if they ask. Our daughter knows she has to earn her own spending money while at college. She is working 16 hours every other weekend. Most of her friends are not. My son worked too. Most of his friends did not. Again, this falls into the category of the expectations being set. Mine know what they have to do. Each family is different but my children are independent and have both worked since they were 12 or so.

Last Thanksgiving. my daughter studied cookbooks and selected the menu. She made me a shopping list. I cooked the turkey and she cooked everything else. She was 17. We had a full meal with 10 different items. She can cook more things and is better at it than many young adults, certainly most college kids.

One of her friends and mother went with us on a trip. The daughter announced to the mother that she needed her toothpaste.I replied that I had seen some on the bathroom counter in the hotel. She said, “that is my mom’s and not mine.” Her mother hopped up and found it in her suitcase. ARE YOU KIDDING? My daughter has been packing her own suitcase for years. I would have told her to look for it and then, if she could not find it….mentioned where mine was in my suitcase and told her she could certainly use it.

If your goal is to have your children dependent on you forever, then keep doing everything for them.

No one learns how to do things if someone else does everything for them. I hire things out, when I can afford it but I usually know how to do a lot of things myself. I hired out the wallpaper removal as I was only cahrged $200 for my kitchen and dining room and that would have taken me a week and lots of frustration too….I was thrilled to tack the fee on to my paint job!

Our son moved out at 23. I am sad that I do not see him but remember that we moved to Texas ( 1000 miles away from our families) at the same age and did just fine. Besides…I have DB to give
me a visual once in a while, as she knows where he works…thanks DB!

Becky

September 29th, 2010
11:07 am

Like Lori said, they are jsut exposed to a different way of life..Some good, some bad (imo)..My two are 8 and they can use a manual can opener (I have never had an electric one), they both can operate the microwave..Heck, they can both make a phone call from a rotary phone..

Both of them help me cook and they both know how to use a knife without getting cut..They both know how to wash dishes (no dishwasher) by hand, dry them and put them up..I haven’t started them on laundry yet, that will probably be next year..

@Michelle..Your last line is so true..I have a coworker that lives at home with her Mom and so does her brother..The brother (44) can’t do anything on his own..Their Mother does it all..The coworker treats her 19 year old son the same way…

I don’t have to worry about the boy being curious..He is always taking stuff apart and “fixing” it..He knows how to change a tire (knows but can’t) Like someone else mentioned, if they don’t know how to work something, they will ask and I show them..

motherjanegoose

September 29th, 2010
11:09 am

@Lori…when our son was two he was curious about the VCR and put a sandwich into it….nothing EVER happened after that…:0

HB

September 29th, 2010
11:19 am

Cammi317, it may be the can opener you’re using. Have you tried more than one? I think some of the ones that are all medal with a smallish piece that you turn (they look really old fashioned but are still common) can be hard to get lined up right on the can and then are hard to turn, but the bigger ones with the plastic coated handles and an easier turn to grip are super easy to work (and don’t cost much more).

Kate

September 29th, 2010
11:26 am

I don’t think it’s entirely fair to point the finger just at parents. As a parent of young children I have to say societal expectations aren’t making things any easier for us. What used to be considered normal childhood injuries are now seen as telltale signs of child abuse and/or neglect. When my daughter was 2 1/2 she became very curious about cooking and the kitchen in general so I let her help a little. She would stand on her little stool and help stir things, measure out ingredients, etc., while I supervised. Unfortunately, one night while I was cooking dinner she sneaked a sharp knife out of the drawer when I wasn’t looking and, in the blink of an eye, cut her hand wide open. I had to take her to the hospital to have it stitched up and you wouldn’t believe the lecture I got from the doctor! I was interrogated about the circumstances that lead up to her hurting herself and the doctor was completely shocked that I allowed her anywhere near the kitchen. Although he didn’t specifically say it, I definitely got the feeling that if I ever showed up at that ER with my child again I was going to be in big trouble! The daughter of a friend of ours fell out of a tree she was trying to climb in the backyard and got banged up pretty badly. Her mother called 911 just as a precaution since she wasn’t sure how badly the girl was hurt and DFACS actually showed up at her house before the ambulance did! This is the world we live in. Maybe we, as parents, are being absurdly protective of our kids, but I don’t know if it’s because we trying to protect ourselves or we’ve been brainwashed into believing this actually necessary.

TechMom

September 29th, 2010
11:38 am

@Cammi317 – are you left handed? My son is left handed and it took a while for him to figure out how to open a can with a manual can opener because they’re designed for righties. OXO makes one with bigger grips that seemed to help. I actually have more issues with automatic can openers so I prefer a manual one (plus it takes up a lot less space).

Cammi317

September 29th, 2010
11:45 am

@ HB, perhaps I should purchase a different one. @TechMom, I am right handed. After reading HB’s post I am going to purchase a different type and hopefully I will manage better.

Kate

September 29th, 2010
12:05 pm

It’s funny several people have mentioned seeing 5 year olds in strollers. Some acquaintances of ours insist on strapping their nearly 8 year old kid into a car seat whenever he’s in the car. I don’t mean a booster seat, I mean full-sized car seat with a 5 point harness! He’s a healthy, normal sized kid, so I don’t know where they even found a car seat big enough for him, but they act as if we out of our minds for not doing the same with our 8 year old.

RJ

September 29th, 2010
12:08 pm

Kids should learn to be independent and responsible from an early age. This could be as simple as learning to put away your toys after playing with them when you’re 2. I must admit that I didn’t learn to wash clothes until I was 17 because my mom did our laundry. I still don’t know how she had the energy to do a family of 5’s laundry after working all day, but she did. I taught my kids at the age of 10. Each of them has to wash their own clothes, fold them, iron them and put them away. It really helps me a lot. Bless my mama but I just can’t do what she did.

For those of you struggling with shoe strings, I bought my kids a great book at Stride Rite teaching them how to tie their shoes. It taught them for me. Loved it. Don’t know if it’s still around but if it is I would invest in it.

As for lawn cutting, neither of my kids will be cutting my grass any time soon. My husband hires a great lawn guy because of how our home sits. The incline would be very dangerous for an inexperienced kid. My kids receive time cards every week which outlines their responsibilities. If I sign off on everything, they receive pay for services. Some weeks are better than others, but this allows them to earn money instead of using me as an ATM. As for when they’re in college, I don’t really want work to be the focus. Maybe they can work 15 hours a week if it doesn’t interfere with their studies. But I’ve already told my oldest that I’d rather she get an internship (paying or non-paying) than worry about working at some department store.

Becky

September 29th, 2010
12:22 pm

The girl learned on her own how to tie her shoe laces..I have noticed that with them being twins, she is better at some things and vice versa..

@Kate..Boy are you right on that..Took the girl to the Dr. a couple of years ago, because she had fallen off the bed and landed on her elbow wrong..I felt like a child abuser..I know that Drs. are suppose to be on hte look out for child abuse, but what ever happened to knowing the difference between child abuse and just being a child?

Light

September 29th, 2010
12:22 pm

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

catlady

September 29th, 2010
12:25 pm

While I have brought my kids up pretty sensibly (I think), I was in some ways handicapped in the way I was raised (probably why I have done things differently, in general). Until I went to college, I had never used a washer or dryer (I was allowed to fold towels and washcloths). I was allowed to iron–my dad’s handkerchiefs and the pillowcases–but nothing else. I knew how to warm up food from a can, but not how to make anything. In college I was not allowed to live off campus so I never learned much about cooking. I was allowed to dry dishes, and I was good at cutting up beef kidney for the cat. I also mowed the yard once I got to be about 15.

One time I was home on break and decided to “help” my mother by moppimg her carefully waxed floors. I made up a real strong ammonia solution and stripped the wax off those floors completely. Couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. My mom was so mad!

I got married not having lived on my own and decided to make some spaggetti. I could not figure out how, when my mother fried the beef, she had to add a bit of cooking oil to make it fry, but when I did it there was GALLONS of liquid that came off the meat. Turns out, I did not know anything about using hamburger; we had always eaten ground round, which has much less fat.

My dad was more common-sense. Before I could go out that first day I got my license, I had to rotate all 4 tires on the car by myself. Took me most of the day. He also insisted I learn how to balance the checkbook, to the penny!

One thing I did not do was work while in high school, not even in the summer. I was also not expected to work in college (I took massive overloads and finished in less than 3 years) and I discouraged my kids from working although all 3 did some for pocket money. I know that is quite different from some on this blog.

I did babysit on the weekends, but was not encouraged to do volunteer work. That is one thing I required of my children.

As a teacher, I see two extemes: mostly, kids who do not have the nurturing they need, which includes teaching them. Then, the other extreme, where they don’t know how to make appropriate choices or do age-appropriate self-care.

What I call common sense isn’t too common.

meagain

September 29th, 2010
12:52 pm

My 7 & 8 yr olds can’t tie their shoes thanks to velcro. So the last couple of pairs of shoes have been lace up & they still don’t quite “get” tying them. The 8 yr old can use a can opener, both can zip, hang clothes on hangars & make their beds.

Photius

September 29th, 2010
12:53 pm

Trends such as a 5 year old in a stroller can lead to a wonderful trend in adult children of always being under the wing of mommy and daddy; even financially. Do you know how many adult children still use their parents as a bank? I know one Father who still pays for his 27 year old son’s cell phone. I know parents who co-sign on their child’s house because the adult child has a horrible credit score. I know a 40 year old single mother who saves nothing for her retirement because she is counting on her parents inheritance… her parents are in their early 60’s and we’re not talking millionaires either.

Give a child everything of what they need…. Give them only some of what they want.

JJ

September 29th, 2010
12:58 pm

Thanking Velcro is wrong. YOU bought them…….you enabled the behavior. So sad a 7 year can’t tie their own shoes. I NEVER bought velcro shoes for my child. She was tying her own shoes at 3 years old.

She always LOVED helping me out with household chores when she was younger. However, getting a 19 year old prima dona to pick clothes up off the floor and keep her room clean is a different story. I guess that’s why she moved down into the basement so I don’t have to see her mess and fuss at her….I don’t know where she got the lazy gene, but she got it alright….