We want so much for our children. We want the best education and the most enriching life. Of course, it would be lovely if they had stable, loving marriages and produced well-behaved grandchildren. This process of enriching their lives usually translates into lots of sports or art activities and classes galore. These are important, but are they really preparing your son or daughter for the everyday challenges of adulthood? Will they be equipped to care for themselves and others, along with doing whatever else life has in store for them?
I began to think about the concept of life skills when
– we had a teenage babysitter one time who couldn’t count her change
– one of my children was a voracious reader but didn’t know how to dry the dishes
I wasn’t prepared for adulthood. Part of my frustration in parenting is that I wasn’t raised to be a wife and mother. My generation was groomed for careers and accomplishments in the world, so when some of us landed at home with kids, we were clueless about parenting and domestic skills. I was raised in the feminist culture of the 70s when having a career was the highest honor – so I became a lawyer. I have never regretted that, but learning how to take care and nurture a home and a family was not part of my life preparation.
In a world whirling with choices and opportunities, sometimes the best educational opportunities lie within our own homes in our own families. Let’s say your child, boy or girl, is in early childhood. How could you profitably use the next ten years of that child’s life at home to teach them life skills so they know how to manage as an adult?
I got this idea to start brainstorming some of these ideas and sort of devise a curriculum for life, if you will. It’s an ongoing process which changes as my kids enter into new stages, but it all starts with setting goals and discerning priorities.
While our children are in our homes, from birth to age 18, they live 32,234 hours. A Bachelor’s degree takes up 2,100 hours. What can you share with them during the 32,234 hours that you have them?
Wherever they end up, their lives will consist of a PERSONAL life, a PUBLIC life and a FAMILY life. Our challenge is to teach them to manage and to balance these.
So, think of your child in her first job or apartment. What are the skills you want her to bring to that setting?
Is it complicated to prepare them? No. Equipping out children for adulthood consists of mentoring them day-by-day in the laboratory of our homes – taking advantage of teachable moments as well as some activities we purposely arrange to teach them life skills. It really consists on having them come along side us as well handle the small and the large, the routine and the unusual aspects of daily life.
What skills can you teach your child by simply living everyday life with them?