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8 Seemingly Small Things Every Kid Needs To Know

I’ve received a LOT of parenting tips over the years – some provoked, others completely unsolicited.

Some of the parenting tips I’ve acquired have proven to be very useful in structuring my relationship with my child and helping guide him into a well-rounded human being. Others… not so much.

Among the countless pearls of wisdom bestowed on me, one of the most profound and helpful ones came from a young man who wasn’t even a parent himself. It was so profound (and yet so simple), it has shaped my entire outlook and philosophy on childrearing.

He simply said: “I think a lot of parents lose sight of the real purpose behind raising a child, which is that what they SHOULD be doing is raising an adult.”

It was such an obvious statement, and yet not one friend or parenting book or mommy blog had ever mentioned this approach.

As parents, we want our children to be happy. So, we buy them toys, host slumber parties, shuffle them to the pool or soccer practice and afford them all the fun we think they deserve.

That’s all well and good because kids only get to be kids for so long. One day, they will be adults and suddenly they won’t be able to run around naked in the rain. (Well, I suppose they still could, but there’s a much higher chance of getting arrested.)

The point is, it is our job to provide our youth with tools and knowledge to take on adulthood. They need to learn how to be self-sufficient and how to build relationships with other people if they are ever going to survive without you.

So, with this philosophy in mind, here are ten, seemingly inconsequential habits and skills every single kid needs to master to make it as an adult.

  • Learn to change a tire. It amazes me how many parents overlook the importance of mastering this task. At some point in your child’s life, he or she will find themselves stuck somewhere with a flat tire. Knowing the simple steps it takes to fix the problem is not only helpful, it could potentially get them out of some precarious situations.
  • Always carry cash on you. In a society driven by computerized technology, the days of paying in cash are slowly slipping away. But having cash on your body at all times is important. You may need it in a jam like a power outage, if you lose your credit card or if a gas stations credit card machine is down. It’s also great to have on hand for tipping people or helping out a homeless person.
  • Make your bed every morning. It doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 50 – making your bed is a habit every person should have. Not only does it teach tidiness, but it also teaches structure and ritual which carries out to other aspects of your kid’s life. Also, it’s a way of showing respect and appreciation when you are a house guest.
  • Physical fighting should ALWAYS be defensive. Being able to “duke it out” has always been an unspoken passage into manhood. It comes from a primitive need to claim authority and dominance. But there can be serious consequences to physical altercations – even in the most innocent of circumstances. it’s not a far reach to go from hitting a person to accidentally disabling or killing them. 99% of fights are baseless and not worth the potential risks. However, every kid should know how to physically defend themselves and how to distinguish what situations actually require fighting and which ones don’t.
  • Always have an exit strategy. I used to have a buddy who served in the military for awhile. When we would go to restaurants, he always insisted on having the seat that gave him the clearest view of the room’s layout and patrons. Why? Because his military training had taught him to always be aware of his surroundings and what exit options were available should an emergency occur. Now, I don’t believe you should spend your life constantly being on the lookout for danger. That’s just not a fun way to live. But it’s really important that you know what options you have if there were to be a fire or shooting or robbery. You should teach your child how to assess the layout of any room and where the doors and windows are. Eventually, it will become second nature to them.
  • Knowing how to give CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. Accidents happen all the time. Knowing how to properly implement these safety measures could potentially save your child’s life or the life of others.
  • How to iron. Ironing clothes is possibly one of the most tedious, mundane tasks we as adults have to do. However, knowing how to iron correctly results in a more clean, professional, and put-together dress attire. And that results in people taking your child more seriously when he or she goes on their first job interview or date.
  • Giving good hugs. This one may sound silly, but showing compassion and love through physical gestures is a sweet thing to do. The world would be a far happier place if we took the time to just give each other a long, sincere embrace more often.

Of course there are a million and one other things your child needs to know how to do in order to make the transition into adulthood a little easier, but this is a good start.

And, no matter what kind of parenting style you adapt or techniques you implement, always remind yourself that you aren’t raising children; you are raising future adults.

About Mcclain W.


  1. I’m now 54, and driving a truck cross-country, my childhood dream. (Literally – my favorite shows and movies were about trucks and truck drivers; my favorite toys were trucks.)

    My mother taught my little brother and me that we should find a job/career in something we enjoy, because we are going to spend most of our working hours at that job – and if we hated it, we would be MISERABLE. My brother is working in the computer industry, doing what he always wanted to do.

    Mom was divorced back in the early 1970s, when I was 8 and Bro was 6. She decided we needed to be a team, and developed a kind of “us against the world” attitude – we had no family in town to help. We were needed to do various chores, to help mom out. In the process, we learned to cook, follow a recipe, clean house, do laundry, iron clothes (in Navy boot camp, I was the ONLY guy out of 80+ in my company that knew how to iron, and I wound up having to teach them!), change a tire, and basically be a functioning adult.

    This stemmed from the simple fact that my father quite literally couldn’t function without a woman taking care of him. He couldn’t cook, didn’t know how to do laundry, etc. – and needed a woman around to clean up! The only real argument I remember them havingbwas when mom told dad that when we grew up, we would know how to do all this. My dad blew up – “NO SON OF MINE IS LEARNING WOMEN’S WORK!!” (I was about 5 at the time.)

    I was divorced shortly after my daughter was born and my son was a toddler. Dad came to visit shortly after the divorce and I had the kids for the weekend, mom was there (and didn’t raise a finger to help out, as per plan!) and was shocked to see that I had pies in the oven, kids’ laundry in the washer and drier, and when I asked him what they (dad and stepmom) wanted for dinner, dad started telling mom – who promptly told him to tell ME, because I was cooking! I looked at him, and quietly said, “I learned ‘women’s work very well’.”

  2. I have been reading your posts for about two weeks now… after reading this and the comment by TexasJester I just had to say thank you for the post and to also give my thumbs up to the comment.

    I must agree (my husband and I having raised our four) I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say – you should be raising an adult. Although my husband (in his philosophy) was pretty much on point.
    Although at the time I did not appreciate his way of doing things. He would tell me all the time “I want the kids to be able to live in the real world.

    To learn ‘no’ in the safety of our home as opposed to the end of a ‘billy club’ later in life, the value of Working for what you want as opposed to thinking someone Owes you something , that you can’t eat Fruit Loops and Red Vines for dinner-take care of your body, the team attitude from TexasJester was echoed in our home-we taught the kids to be each others best friends (it didn’t always work out, but they remain close to this day).
    I’ll close with this; we taught them the importance of having a relationship with the Lord for themselves (not just because Mama and Daddy had one).

    What the world needs today Is more ‘adults’. Not ‘kids’ screaming at one another because of a differing point of view, kids refusing to play nice or even talk to someone not ‘like’ them, Kids that continue to sing “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up I’m A Toys-R-Us Kid”….

    So I said all that to say yes, I agree, Parents let your goal be to raise Adults. Adults that will, and can make meaningful contributions to society.

  3. I went to your contact page to ask if I could re-post this article, but there was no form on your contact page. Hope you don’t mind my asking here. Again really enjoyed your post.

  4. “When we would go to restaurants, he always insisted on having the seat that gave him the clearest view of the room’s layout and patrons. ” What if someone else also insists upon this?

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