teaching kids life skillsWhen I got to my college dorm for the first time, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I assumed that there would be lots of cable knit sweaters, elbow patched tweed, ivy, and that it would be pretty much perpetually autumn wherever I went.

That turned out to be false, obviously, since I lived in Savannah, the place where autumn never comes and the air smelled like butts and paper mill.

By far the largest surprise though, was how many of my peers appeared to be completely and totally unprepared to be away from mommy. Every dorm floor had a laundry station, and if I had a quarter for every time I saw some girl in tears or some boy just staring in bewilderment at the machine, I’d have enough quarters to replace all of the ones I used teaching these idiots to wash their clothes.

I tried to be understanding, but it truly baffled my mind that a person could go 18 years of their life and never learn how to wash laundry. I decided before I even had a kid that when I did she was going to know all of the basic life skills. Someone forced me to learn all of these before I left for college (some before high school) and she will too, because I refuse to raise a child that doesn’t know why it’s important to sort reds and whites in the laundry bin.

 1. How to do their own damn laundry.

2. How to make a bed the right and proper way with hospital corners and pillow shams.

3. How to change a car’s oil.

4. How to file their own taxes, FAFSA, whatever.

5. How to change a flat tire.

6. How to use public transportation.

7. How to make a menu and grocery list and shop on the cheap.

8. How to open up utility accounts and pay their bills.

9. How to make a budget and manage their money.

10. How to eat at a nice restaurant and not look like a jackass.

11. How to clean their gross dorm room and later, their gross apartment.

12. A little (or a lot) of empathy.

This is the boring side of parenting. Surely it’s more exciting to teach your kids how to make bees out of pool noodles, and that’s fine. You don’t have to teach your kids how to balance a checkbook when they’re toddlers. But no one else is going to do this stuff for them. Part of getting them ready to GTFO is teaching them how to function. Don’t skip it, or some rude, eye-rolley college freshman will have to educate them instead. The world will thank you.

(Image: auremar/Shutterstock)