Commentary: Teach your children well | Shakope’s review



A friend recently told me about an electrician he knew who was doing work in a residential house. While he was working in the basement, the mother told her teenage son to take down bags of rock salt and put them in the water softener. The son did exactly as his mother told him. He took them to the laundry room and placed the bags, unopened, directly into the water softener.

When the mother got irritated and asked him why he hadn’t poured the salt, he said he thought the bags were like sachets of dishwasher detergent that dissolved in water. This type of story seems to be common among adolescents. Another example is a woman I worked with who told her daughter on the phone to get the laundry out of the washer and put it in the dryer. When she got home, she checked the dryer and found the clothes soaked. Turns out the girl never turned on the dryer because her mom didn’t tell her either.

It makes me wonder if teens are too literal, oblivious, or just don’t care. Most likely, it is a combination, depending on the child and the day. But to stand up for many teens, unless they are shown or taught how to do something, they probably don’t know any better.

I have had many conversations with friends about whether or not today’s teens are learning essential life skills, and even what modern life skills really are. For example, some skills articles say that young people should know how to drive a shift lever vehicle. I learned to drive on a stick and still love shifting gears, but with around 99% of new cars fitted with automatic transmissions, learning to drive the 1% of manual vehicles doesn’t seem essential or even a priority. .

Some people I speak with say that writing in cursive, learning to balance a checkbook, and reading a paper map are essential skills. These are skills I learned in school, but I’m pretty sure my kids didn’t and get along really well. They have never been in a situation that required them to understand cursive. Meanwhile, online banking automatically balances accounts, and GPS systems have effectively replaced Rand McNally’s need to read road maps.

Articles I’ve read on Essential Life Skills say that teens need to know how to hand sew to reattach buttons or fix holes in clothes, know how to write and mail a letter, and be able to change a car tire. I guess it could all come in handy at the right time and allow people to perform tasks on their own rather than asking or paying someone else to do it.

As technology and permanent connectivity via mobile phones have evolved in the way skills are applied, there are foundations that will hopefully never become obsolete. These include being well behaved and recognizing others. Anyone who has been around children for a while can quickly tell which are learning good manners at home and which are not.

Knowing how to write a thank you card is a quality skill. It is generally appropriate to send one if you are receiving a gift. It seems that many high school graduates are learning this. When I’ve been to graduation parties over the years and given cash gifts, I’ve almost always received a card. They don’t have to be fancy, because it’s the thought that counts. But I’m not impressed when I get a thank you card that the mother has clearly written.

A relative of mine told me that she sends gifts to nieces and nephews every year for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions. Once the kids enter their mid-teens, if they haven’t sent her a thank you note or text, she stops sending them gifts. I agree with his approach.

There are basic, but essential, skills that children hopefully learn at home or at school that they can implement throughout their lives, such as how to plan and stay on a budget, the benefits of investing when you’re young, what to do in an emergency like a car accident, how to prepare meals and do laundry, and when to maintain your car.

Other skills come from having a job as a teenager, such as being responsible for showing up for work, doing tasks you don’t like, dealing with unpleasant co-workers or clients, and having the satisfaction of earning your own. money.

There is probably never a bad time to teach kids basic skills and help them develop good habits. The alternative is to hope that the children learn on their own or try to correct bad habits later.

Brett Martin is a columnist who has lived in Shakopee for over 15 years.


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