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.