Family Life, Parenting

10 Things Your Teen Should Be Doing For Themselves

I watched an episode of the show, The Goldbergs recently, where the oldest daughter had went off to college and had no idea how to do anything for herself. She couldn’t do her laundry, make her bed, or pretty much even clean up after herself. So much so, that her roommate called her a slob and threatened to get a new roommate if she didn’t clean up her act. She went home and blamed her mom for being so good of a mom, that she always did everything for them, and she had no idea how to do anything for herself. As her mom put, she had failed as a mother by being too good of a mother. It would have been funny, if it wasn’t so true for so many young adults going out into the world on their own.

As parents, our main job is to keep them alive and teach them the skills to become self-sufficient adults who can take care of themselves. Very few people move out on their own and have a housekeeper, chef, chauffeur, etc. Our kids need to know how to do these skills.

“…kids don’t stay with you if you do it right. It’s the one job where, the better you are, the more surely you won’t be needed in the long run.”

~Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs in Heaven

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  1. Cleaning Their Own Room/Picking Up After Themselves– Their room should not look or smell like a landfill or locker room

  2. Laundry– Sorting, washing, drying, folding. They should be able to do it themselves and when they run out of clothes, it’s a lesson in responsibility

  3. Taking Care of Their Stuff– From learning how to make small fixes on things to not replacing items they break; if they break it, they can replace it with their own money

  4. Dishes– How to load and unload a dishwasher; knowing how to hand wash dishes because not all apartments (and college dorms) have dishwashers don't stay with you if you do it right. It's the one job where,…
  5. How to Clean a BathroomDo not underestimate the importance of this one!; they should know what all needs to be cleaned and how to clean them; different cleaning products do different things

  6. Basic Cooking Skills– Know what different terms mean:  boil, broil, saute, simmer, bake, etc.; How to follow a recipe

  7. Time Management-From setting and waking up to their own alarm clock to scheduling their time appropriately; they know how long it takes to get ready to go somewhere, they need to get themselves up with enough time to do what they need to

  8. Grocery Shopping– How to plan ahead for what they plan to make and how to make a list of what they need; this doesn’t mean stop cooking meals as a family, but before they head out on their own, they should know how to buy and make food for themselves

    Having kids-the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible…
  9. Basic Car Maintenance– How to check the fluids and what those fluids are for; how and when to change oil, as well as how to find out what kind of oil their car takes; how to change a tire (roadside assistance isn’t available if you have no service on your phone; you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere)

  10. How to Use Basic Tools– This one is just simple stuff: How to hang a picture with a hammer and a nail; the difference between a philips and flathead screwdriver

Author and journalist, Maria Shriver once said, “Having kids-the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings-is the biggest job anyone can embark on.” I wholeheartedly agree and am pretty sure most other parents would agree it’s the hardest job we do. But it’s also worth it when we can look at them and see the glimpses of the adults they will turn out to be. Even better when those glimpses are of adults we would actually like and want to be friends with.

(Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see Disclosure Policy.)

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