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Teaching Our Children Real-World Skills

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:16pm
It seems like only yesterday that I was heading off to college. Now, I can hardly believe that my first-born son is doing the same. I attended orientation with him last week, and the parents were given a lot of materials and talks about how to help their child succeed in college. Fortunately, we live in a college town, and my son will be living at home, so we won’t have to deal with homesickness (although I don’t think that would be a problem with my son), roommate conflicts, too much partying, etc. But I’m sure there will still be some adjustment issues to deal with—both for him and for us, his parents.

Many college freshmen find it difficult to adjust to the lack of “hand-holding” in college. They’ll be expected to know the material in the textbook, even if the teacher doesn’t lecture on it. They’ll be expected to show up for class, even if the professor doesn’t take attendance. They’ll have to cope with being one of several hundred students in certain classes, and learn that if they want to get to know the teacher, they’ll have to take advantage of office hours. And, hopefully, they’ll embrace campus life by joining some clubs, hanging out in the Student Union, getting together with classmates, etc.

I’ve also found that today’s kids, mine included, need to learn about some of the essential life skills that they don’t learn in school. These might include:

Balancing a bank account, paying bills and managing money


Doing laundry

Getting their own household supplies, like toothpaste and soap

Juggling work and schoolwork

Taking care of a car

Seeking their own medical care

. . . and much more!

In many ways, I know that I could have prepared my son better for these things. With three kids after my firstborn, and as a single mother for nine years with my first two, it was sometimes easier just to do things myself rather than teach them to the kids. But I realize that this approach wasn’t very beneficial for them because now they are more resistant to learning these things! So, as I show my adult son how to order checks for his checking account, I resolve to do a better job of preparing my other three boys for survival in the “real world” . . . whether they like it or not!

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college , life skills , parenting

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