Teaching Life Skills

by Patricia R. Chadwick

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Let me start out by saying that I had a great Mom. Throughout my childhood and into my adulthood my Mom was a SAHM and I loved coming home from school knowing she'd be there, with a snack ready and the smell of supper being prepared. My childhood and teen years were pretty carefree. Mom took care of everything. You see, she grew up in circumstances that required a great deal of work from her. She was part of a large farm family and my grandmother was often ill, leaving much of the responsibility of the chores to the children. Because so much was required of her as a child, she wanted to make sure that her children had an easier life.

While I appreciate all my mother did for me as a child, when I was married and began to run a household of my own, I was not the least bit prepared for the challenge ahead. The only things I knew how to cook were spaghetti sauce and eggs. I didn't like to clear the table or wash dishes - the thought of picking up someone's left over food was, well gross! Since I was sixteen, I had always had a job and I did well saving and paying my bills, but the physical work involved in taking care of a house and home was foreign to me.

As time went on, I did learn, but it wasn't easy. It finally dawned on me that, while my mother thought she was helping me by doing everything for me, she really did me a disservice. She didn't equip me for the real grown-up world. When I started having a family, I decided that I wouldn't let my children enter adulthood unprepared. I'd train them when they were young to acquire the skills they would need to be on their own.

When my kids were in their pre-school years , they learned such things as to get dressed, put their clothes away, make their bed, pick up their toys, and groom themselves. As they moved up into the elementary years they graduated to setting the table, cleaning the sinks, brush the dog, feed the pets, dust, vacuum, sweeping the floor, helping make their school lunches, and other general housework. As they continued to mature, I taught them how to do yard work, mow the lawn, help with grocery shopping, help cook meals, and iron.

Now as they have grown out of childhood and entered adolescence, I am starting to evaluate how far they've come in taking on responsibility and what exactly they still need to learn. They are beginning to hold jobs outside the home and between school, sports, and jobs, there's not much time left for them to do chores. And while it would be easier for me to "do it all" for them, I really feel they need to continue learning the skills they will need to be on their own.

With the teen years spread before me and with the time to guide and instruct my kids running out, I decided I need to make a list of goals. I asked myself what exactly I wanted my kids to know as they spread their wings and took off on their own. I share it to motivate you to create your own. Below is my list. I better get going.....time is moving on!


  • Learn to work out a budget, including a plan for savings, and stick with it.
  • To stay out of debt - only buying what you can pay for.
  • Learning to live within their means.
  • Open a checking account and learn how to use it.
  • How to write bills and pay them on time.
  • How to use a credit card wisely.

Life Skills

  • How to hold a job, doing their very best, even if the job is unpleasant.
  • How to grocery shop, using sale ads, coupons, and discount stores.
  • How to plan a menu and prepare simple meals.
  • How to prepare a holiday meal and entertain guests.
  • How to do everyday housework like disinfecting toilets, vacuuming, dusting, dishes, etc.
  • How to do lawn work such as mowing, gardening, weeding, raking, trimming bushes and trees.
  • How to take care of the house structure and appliances such as painting, washing siding & windows, replacing furnace filters, routine maintenance on appliances.
  • How to do laundry and iron.
  • How to take care of a baby.
  • How to take care of routine maintenance of a vehicle such as checking fluids and changing oil.
  • How to make memories including keeping track of family birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, being thoughtful on those days.
  • How to hold a job, be reliable, and do their very best even if the job is unpleasant.
  • How to make good decisions by sorting and thinking through the issues.


  • That they will realize character is very important.
  • To always work hard at whatever you do.
  • That honesty is an important virtue as is keeping promises
  • Choosing to do right, even when everyone else is doing wrong; meaning how to deal with peer pressure.
  • Living with the consequences of their decisions - whether good or bad.
  • To be charitable and kind to others.


  • Remind them that they cannot live in the shadow of their parent's faith, but their faith will become their own.
  • How to find answers to spiritual questions.
  • How to study the Bible for themselves.
  • They are accountable to God for how they live.

Patti Chadwick is the creator of Family Tymes website and corresponding bookstore.  She is also the creator of History’s Women, an online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history.

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