I recently read an article online about what you need to “teach your children” to survive as adults. Normally, these kinds of articles don’t interest me. I’m not the kind of mom who follows what the experts have to say about raising my boys, and since each child is an individual I don’t know how any one way is the perfect way to raise a child.
That being said, I decided to click on the link, it was a compilation of experts and moms. Most of the article I agreed with but there was one section that I was just dumbfounded by. I actually reread the article a week later to see if I had the same reaction, and I did.
This expert had listed a few everyday tasks that she thought were important for children to learn before adulthood. For me personally, I had to laugh because these seemed a little obsessive compulsive, here are my favorites:
1. Clean Stainless Steel with the grain. Hey, in my house, I am just happy that the stainless steel is clean.
2. Hang clothes by size, color and item. Again, I am happy if the clothes are hung up and even happier if they are by “season.”
3. How to wash, condition and create five hairstyles. I’m sure this is more geared towards girls, but really, I’m not sure if as an adult I can create five different styles for my own long hair.
4. Make a bed good enough for guests. OK, I agree with learning how to make a bed, but sometimes “on-the-job” training is also great. I learned how to make “hospital corners” while working as a maid at the Holiday Inn during college. When my sons make their beds, I’m not looking for perfection and I don’t redo it after they leave the room.
5. Reupholster a bench. Hmm, I don’t know how to reupholster a bench; I doubt I will learn, so the chances of me teaching this skill to my boys is minimal.
6. Clean glass without smudges. Again, as long as the glass is somewhat clean I’m a happy mom. Between the kids and the dog the glass usually has smudges.
There were more items that I could list, but I think you get the idea. I’m not totally dismissing the list; I just don’t want one more thing I have to worry about as a parent.
My idea of parenting is not necessarily to teach them all the specific skills they will need when they go off to college, work, home ownership, but to give them a basis for how to think and figure out the problem. Quite honestly, the way I do things may not be the way they want to do things.
Most skills the kids will need in adulthood are best learned through playing — sharing, teamwork, creativity, going with the flow, compromising, leadership, and more. Kids will model their parents’ behaviors, so letting them help clean the windows, even with streaks, is more important than making sure it is done perfectly.
I am a firm believer that if you lay the foundation of hard work, being patient, courteous, kind, giving, helpful, etc., your children will have all the skills they need to learn tasks going forward into adulthood.
I am not a perfect parent by any means, but I am trying my best to raise healthy and happy boys. Here is one of my favorite quotes and I try to live by it as a parent: “I tried to allow my children to take risks, to test themselves. Better broken bones than broken spirit.” – Rose Kennedy
Amen Rose Kennedy — it is my belief, too!
• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.