family life

Twenty Vintage Skills To Teach Your Teens

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“Oh, wow, look at this one.”


Sometimes my husband will show me the envelopes that have come through his office. (I know, exciting life we lead!) His business serves many young people, due to the nature of his work. He will mark through the names so I can chuckle with him over the things these young adults write.

Penmanship is not emphasized in many classrooms anymore, it appears. Often it looks like an elementary child has addressed them! Also, it’s amazing that they have reached him at all – the stamp is in the wrong spot or the return and forwarding addresses are stacked on top of each other in the middle.

Am I forgetting vital, yet small things to teach them, also? I’m sure I am. (I’ve given up on penmanship.) With another son about to graduate from high school this year, I went on a search to compile a list of often-overlooked skills we need to be teaching our teens. Even tweens, honestly.

Technology is changing at the speed of light. Never again will they need to know how to use a pencil to wind up a cassette tape! Yet even the most old-fashioned skills will come in handy for our millennials and Gen Z kids. Some are going to be “duh” moments for you. Others, though, you may smack your head over like I did. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

1) Addressing an envelope – of course I was going to mention that! Forwarding address here, return address there, and stamp in top right edge of the corner.
2) Read a map – Yes, I know they have GPS but what if your phone battery quits or GPS sends you somewhere crazy like it has sent me before? Teach basics – how to read north, south, east, west and how to orient their drive to them. They need to figure out the mileage scale and how to read the legend.
3) Calling for a doctor or dentist appointment – have your insurance card ready and your calendar open.
4) Use an iron. Running to the gym or to a college class doesn’t require wrinkle-free clothes. Going to a job or internship interview – absolutely!
5) Basic interview skills. Be prepared by researching the company first and anticipating questions they may ask. Shake hands with just the right amount of strength. Look people in the eyes. Smile. Enunciate. Tell them why you would like this position. Basics.
6) Make easy meals – spaghetti, scrambled eggs, taco salad, Ramen, for crying out loud!
7) How to clean and plunge a toilet. Ewww… And yet, necessary.
8) Fundamental car care skills. They don’t change their own oil anymore like our grandfathers did, but they may need to know how to jumpstart a car or change a tire, in case it’s a rainy day and the roadside assistance they call can’t be there for over an hour. Remind them to pay attention to when the oil needs to be changed or they may be without a car and have to hoof it to class or work. Just sayin’…
9) If you live in certain areas, teach them to drive on ice. My crazy husband took my oldest out to learn on an icy day in Texas when the meteorologist was saying, “stay inside”. I was on pins and needles until they got back, but, as he said, how often do we get ice in our part of Texas?
10) Basic sewing skills. Replace a button. Do a quick fix on a sagging hem.
11) Read medicine labels.
12) Set a table properly. Comes in handy for date nights in!
13) Calculate a tip. Teach them to be generous with great service and appropriate for poor service.
14) Get up to an alarm. Phone alarm, clock, computer – doesn’t matter. You will save stress later when they get to class/work on time.
15) Endorse a check. For awhile anyway, certain places still require an old-fashioned check.
16) Manage their time. Show them how to use a calendar and train them to check it before making a commitment. Speaking of this….
17) Say no. Teach them diplomatic ways to say it. “I checked my calendar and I don’t think that will work for me at this time.” Or to just say no, politely. “No, thank you.”
18) Is it necessary to say re-teach them manners? I think, yes. After years of working with young adults in the healthcare arena, I find that late teens and early twenty-somethings appear to be pretty self-absorbed, on the whole. You may find your sweet, thoughtful child turning into a grunting teen who huddles in a corner at grandma’s house with their headphones in. Remind them before they enter the wide world of interacting with bosses or professors that sullen people lose out on kind concessions, in the promotion and grades department.
19) Register to Vote. Enough said…
20) Finally, and the most important one (said the nurse), take CPR! Better yet, make it a family outing. Because what could be more fun than that?

Photo credit: @krisatomic

You may be what I call pre-grieving. That is what this mama who has not only cared for her boys, but also countless women and children in her career, is doing right now. The time hasn’t yet come, but is fast-approaching, when all of my chickadees will have flown the nest. The pre-grief hits me out of nowhere, thinking of who I will be when this season of life is over. More about that in future posts…

Here is a beautiful post by Betsy Stretar about learning to come to terms with the empty nest stage.

When Empty Nest Leaves You Wondering – Practice These 3 Things

Author : Day to Day Graces

Lover of the daily - my life as told in pictures and words. So much around us is missed because we are too blind to see grace in the everyday. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things!” Psalms 119

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