Life Skills

Last weekend my 24 year old son came up to me and thanked me for teaching him how to use all the tools that I own. When he said this it got my wife and me thinking about this and our current society norms.

The importance of teaching your kids life skills

I realize that people who garden, raise livestock or work with their hands may never think about this but if you are imparting your knowledge onto your children you are developing a level of self sufficiency that is becoming obsolete in our society.

We have become such a throwaway society.  No one knows how to fix anything themselves and its often just cheaper to replace something than to hire someone to fix it.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with replacing goods when they need to be replaced. That is what keeps the manufacturing industry alive.

I think most people have forgotten the personal satisfaction we get from knowing that we fixed something or created something new.  We could spend our hard earned resources and just buy the “thing” or we could look around and see if something else could be “re-purposed” or built from scratch.

Case in point, my son just got a big screen television He decided that because of his limited space, he needed to build a stand for the TV so that he could put the DVR under it. He could have gone to the store and purchased some kind of base and be done with it.

He decided that because money was not falling out of his wallet he would come up with a better solution. He had and old speaker that didn’t work anymore that what just about the right the size. He pulled the guts out of it and reinforced the inside with 2×4’s to give it structural strength, found some plywood in my scrap pile for the TV base, cut a hole for the DVR, painted it and created a nice looking stand.

My wife and I decided when the kids were born that we would home school them for numerous reasons, none the least is that there are more things in this world to learn than just reading, writing, and arithmetic.

We strongly believe that

“show your kids how to do everything and you eliminate the opportunity for them to discover or invent it on their own.”

We loved giving them parts of things and watching to see where their imagination would take them. However, we also believe that they should have a basic skill set that would see them through life.

Before my children began driving I spent the time to teach basic automobile maintenance. My daughter was not raised to be a helpless prissy girl. When I changed oil in the cars she was under there with me. These lessons were not to make it so that she had to change her own oil.  That’s Daddy’s job, thank you very much!  But I wanted to give her the knowledge to know what to expect the end result to look like, if someone else did it for her. That way she would not become a victim of some unscrupulous merchant. It also gave her the confidence, that if she had to do it, she could.

There is nothing wrong with having AAA card that can they can use if they have a flat tire or need a battery jump.  My concern is what happens when they are out somewhere where it will hours before a service can come out take care of the problem. God forbid that one of the horror stories that crop in the paper about the tragic outcome because our children were helpless in a given situation were to take place.

When my daughter moved out she had a very specific color palette she wanted for her first apartment. Not my particular color choice but I am not living there so who cares. She loves pink, black and white so she took an old chest of drawers that we had and asked me how to refinish it. I gave her some basic instruction and then sent her to Lowes to talk to them about the proper paint to use.

She came home and I showed her how to sand and prepare the chest and left her to do it. She would periodically come get me to ask or verify that she was on the correct path. When she had finished she had a new TV stand  that she created and  was very proud of going into her new apartment. She made it hers.

Dresser to TV Stand

I was very active in Boy Scouts for many years which gave me the opportunity to have my son grow up learning how to do things. I was the quartermaster of the troop and one of my responsibilities was maintaining the trailers that our troop used. Every summer we went to Colorado for summer camp, which required the bearings to be checked before the trip. One year when my son was 13 we were coming out of the mountains into Espanola, New Mexico on a Saturday night about 4:30pm, when I receive a frantic phone call from some of our adults who had left several hours ahead of us.

They told me that one of the wheels of the trailer had sheared off all the lug nuts and came off. They stopped across the street from a car dealership who informed them that they were closing and that they would take care of it Monday morning. When we got there my son jumped out of the truck, went to our trailer and pulled out the floor jack. He took it over and jacked up the trailer, tried to pull off the brake drum but couldn’t. We realized the brake had seized and I had to cut the electric brake to release it. What was very interesting was that we had four adult men, who didn’t have a clue as to what needed to be done. They even asked my son if he knew what he was doing and he said yes because he had worked with me on doing the bearings.

I worked to include my children in everything that I worked on so that they would be prepared in life.  How many of you have woken up on a Saturday or Sunday morning only to find out that you don’t have any hot water? If we don’t teach our children the simple basics of how a water heater works they may immediately call the plumber. Then they have to pay time and a half or double time to have him come out to replace a thermocouple or a heating element (both relatively simple repairs). I have absolutely no problem paying a tradesman what he deserves. I do have a problem paying a couple of hundred for a $20 part because I didn’t want to figure it out.

I truly believe it is our God given responsibility to help our children be successful in life. We can do that by giving them the basic skills and a safe place to learn and to play.

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