Are You Teaching Your Kids The Right Life Skills?


teaching your kids, life skills, parenting tips

The first thing I learned how to cook was apple crisp, and that was in 7th grade. At the same age, I also learned how to make pasta, English muffin mini-pizzas and a handful of other things that gave me the confidence to try to make other types of foods. My mom only washed laundry once a week, so if I wanted to wear a favorite shirt that was in the laundry basket I had to wash it myself. These are basic skills that I learned in Junior High, continued to practice through High School, and therefore had a very easy transition to living on my own in college and beyond.

My son recently turned sixteen and got his driver’s license. When he came home from a movie night with his friends I commented to my wife how grown up he seemed all of a sudden. But just as those words were leaving my lips, I realized that my son was missing some very important basic skills to survive on his own.

I took on the bulk of the load in teaching him how to drive, and I’ve been taking him to the gym a couple times a week to teach him how to effectively and safely get in shape. But it’s time for us to start up some new education sessions:

  • Washing Clothes: I want to start by having him help me with the laundry by learning how to sort clothes by color and type. We’ll also cover the cycles of the washing machine and how to operate it. Eventually, I want to transition him into doing his laundry all on his own.
  • Cooking: Once a week, I will be having him help me cook dinner. I’ll start with something simple, such as spaghetti, and move into more complicated dishes. I’d like to teach him how to make his favorite dinner choices to help keep his interest.

When I was on the cusp of parenthood, I remember thinking of what it meant to be a parent. The obvious things came to mind such as feeding, clothing and teaching our about to be born son right from wrong. But there is so much more to being a parent than what I imagined at the time. Preparing our son to venture out on his own and be successful as an adult requires teaching him skills he’ll need to survive, and also to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

I’ve got a few years before he heads off to college, it’s time to get busy.


Image courtesy of Ambro at

What have you discovered about being a parent that you didn’t expect? Are you actively working towards ensuring your kid(s) have the right skills to be successful when it’s time for them to be on their own?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • When our son was in high school and before he was able to get summer jobs, we had him do chores around the house and paid him for some. They were jobs that we would have to do ourselves after work or on weekends so it was worth it to us to pay him. Things like laundry, vacuuming and dusting, helping to mow the lawn (5 acres) and wash vehicles. The money he earned went toward his spending money and saving. I took him with me to take our a CD for his college fund when he was still pretty young and he had an “ah-ha” moment when the bank personnel told us how much interest we would have earned when the CD matured. He looked at me and asked “You mean they’ll GIVE us money just for letting my money sit there for a year?” From then on he’d bring a fistful of money for me to take to his own small savings account. Lesson learned. Most of the things we taught him, other than driving, were subtle and done within the context of our daily life, but the foundation was set for his future life.

  • Hi Brock, I don’t have any children yet but I don’t believe in teaching my future children finances and other important skills. I believe that is something they will have to go through in their own life journey and when it is time, they will learn it themselves. Perhaps that will all change when I actually do have children.

  • I want to teach our kids to be respectful of other people and the world around them. I think having empathy for other people is key, and I also believe that decisions should be made based on what’s smart. Even if my kids make what turns out to be a wrong decision, I won’t fault them if they put thought and logic into it.

  • I think that teaching kids about money is one of the most important life skills that parents tend to neglect. Like tying shoes and learning abcs, it is a skill they will have to use daily, and the “learn” as you go method can cause kids to become so far into debt so fast when they are on their own that a few ignorant and simple mistakes made in their early 20s (or even younger) can follow them for the rest of their lives.

    Teaching kids about money is more than counting change, it’s about learning to save, to spend responsibly, to invest, to donate and how to balance it all. This isn’t a skill schools can teach, as to properly learn to use money, kids need to be able to work with it and to occasionally lose it. Those hard lessons when kids are young and consequences are small are likely to save them from making much more serious mistakes as they move out on their own.

  • I grew up without any training. My mom’s philosophy was “you’ll figure it out.” I moved out of state for college. Frankly, it was horrible and stupid. Not know how to sort laundry? Not know how to dust and clean up? Not know how to budget or write a check? Not know how to pick a decent tomato at the grocers or cook? So when we had kids, they were taught. We told them, this is a back up method, feel free to make improvements. At least you’ll have something under your belts and not have to make the same mistakes.

  • @Jeff – I’m afraid I disagree with you. Helping my son learn financial lessons within the confines of being a minor, where the stakes are low will be immensely useful and beneficial for him as he grows into an adult. Thanks for offering a different perspective – gives us all something to think about!

  • @Money Beagle – that’s a interesting perspective – I like the fact that you look for your kids to use logic and have a reason for making the decision they make. The hope would be that over time, experience will weigh into their logic and reasoning, and they’ll come to better conclusions.

  • @Tracie -I’m with you – if our responsibility as parents is to get our kids prepared to enter the real world, how can finances NOT be part of the discussion?

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