When did it become the norm to send our young adults out into the cold cruel world without any basic skills with which to survive it? How can we think this is a good plan? How does this benefit anyone?
I guess no one can truly pinpoint when it happened really. It seems as though this is a new phenomenon doesn’t it? “Back in my day……” being the typical response to what today’s generation is doing wrong. While I do believe that this slippery slope we are currently on is picking up speed and not headed in a good or safe direction, I also believe that it is nothing new.
In Dorothy Leigh Sayers; essay The Lost Tools Of Learning she writes “To postpone the acceptance of responsibility to a late date brings with it a number of psychological complications which, while they may interest the psychiatrist, are scarcely beneficial either to the individual or to society.” This was written in 1947.
The mentality that we are helping our youth by doing everything for them is a myth. It is a lie. The thought that we are helping them by having them join 100,000,000 clubs, sports, classes, lessons and making them ‘well rounded’ but NOT teaching them basic life skills is a myth as well. It is a big, fat, hairy, gruesome lie.
So I have come up with a list of skills I think every person needs have before they head off on their own to work, college, military or what have you.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor is it scientific in any way…I am just a mom of some grown children who so far seem to have a handle on things. Please comment if you have any skills you think should be added…or any you think should not have made my list.
Kelly’s List of 10 Life Skills for Anyone over age 18
….in no particular order
- Develop a self-reliant mentality – A huge part of being a grown up is taking care of yourself and making your own decisions. Take responsibility for your life and for your choices. Own your mistakes and your accomplishments. Be informed and think things through. Face the consequences of your decisions – good or bad.
- The ability to speak to strangers – This is an interesting one because as parents we always teach our children to do just the opposite. However, the ability to speak with people we don’t know in an articulate, proper, respectful way with eye contact is vital to independence. Professors, bosses, doctors, mechanics, cab drivers, co-workers, etc are all strangers that one needs to interact with on a daily basis.
- The ability to handle finances – This seems like it would be a no brainer. However, kids go out into the world with no idea how to pay a bill, write a check, monitor/balance a checking account, obtain a checking account, how to save, use a debit card, or any basic financial skills. They should also know how to earn their own money and not be dependent on their parents to fund their lives.
- The ability to get food and shelter for themselves – I don’t mean fast food here. I mean knowing how to go a grocery store, shop for ingredients, use a coupon, pay, go home and cook something edible. In fact all general housekeeping skills should be a given here. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, and the general upkeep of their living area and their surroundings. This includes some basic repairs (home and auto) and knowing the proper use of tools and appliances.
- The ability to handle a schedule – Classwork, projects, a job, sleep, their social life…all of this can spin wildly out of control if you never learned how to manage it all. Time management, reliability, meeting deadlines, prioritizing, managing your workload, and having a balance in your life are all vital to success in life.
- The ability to cope with failure, disappointments, conflicts and loneliness – Life is hard. Learning how to process, deal with and overcome those hard or low moments will make them resilient and give them the necessary grit to face life as it comes. It teaches them that while you occasionally get knocked down, you have the ability to get up again.
- The ability to take care of their health – How to take care of simple first aid issues and illnesses is very important. Knowing when and if they need to see a doctor, and how to go about doing that, is a skill that everyone should have. Understanding the importance of making healthy choices – food, cleanliness, sleep, exercise, sex, alcohol, smoking, drugs – is especially needed in those early college years.
- The ability to get from point A to point B – Can they navigate solo to their destination of choice? No? Unless they plan on being chauffeured in their personal limo for life, this skill is necessary. Using GPS, a map, street signs, a bus or subway schedule, flying….these are skills that everyone should become competent at.
- How to handle emergencies – Life is filled with the unexpected. Being prepared, having confidence and abilities to handle the unexpected is a skill that will most definitely be used at some point. Car accidents, medical emergencies, severe weather, getting lost, getting mugged, setting the stove on fire, are all things life might throw at them at any given moment. Why would you not them to be knowledgeable and confident in their abilities and be able to get through it safely?
- People Skills – Interpersonal skills and just plan manners are definitely in the top 10 of necessary skills for life. Communication, cooperation and collaboration are integral parts of everyday life. Teamwork, respect, and understanding another’s point of view will play a huge role in how successful a person becomes.