Adulting Basics


Once upon a time, many basic life skills were required in school, such as cooking, sewing, typing, automobile maintenance, shop, and nutrition. Some classes are still taught as an elective yet they are not as interesting to teens.

We hear the term “adulting” all the time. But it’s not clear whether we’re referring to our teens’ lack of adulting skills or our lack of enthusiasm about adulting, especially when we need a break. Parents are always encouraging children to learn the skills needed to enjoy sports, dance, play a musical instrument, and ace the SATs. But do our kids learn how to manage money, clean a shower, or sort laundry? Kids live at home longer these days before they launch into the world and many parents are thrilled by this. However, are we still doing too much for them? Millennials have been accused of lacking basic life skills and know-how, and maybe it’s time we parents back off. There is no guide book for teaching our kids how to adult, but here is a list of a few basic skills and insights you can encourage your teens to know.

Teens should know how to:

  1. Plan nutritional meals and make them–you can’t eat out for every meal
  2. Cook something more than mac and cheese from a box
  3. Manage money and budget
  4. Clean the house (toilets, shower, kitchen, etc.)
  5. Wash whites and colors separately, and hand-wash lulus
  6. Do basic auto maintenance skills such as changing a tire or changing the oil
  7. Sew on a button or fix a seam instead of tossing the clothes
  8. Understand insurance, such as auto, health, and possibly home
  9. Understand that every credit card company wants you to sign up for a free card and make a lot of money off you with interest
  10. Understand phishing scams that call wanting a social security number or bank account number and know not to give personal information
  11. Pull over if your car is smoking rather than continuing to drive and making the problem worse
  12. Understand taxes and file a tax return
  13. Write a basic cover letter, resume, or even fill out a job application
  14. Wear a lot of sunblock and hydrate when you’re going to be outside, like at an outdoor music festival
  15. Gather all the pertinent information from the other driver if you’re in a car accident; also, get a witness and take pictures of everything from the cars, insurance, drivers’ licenses, and even the person
  16. Keep doing physical fitness after high school because it’s still important, even when you’re no longer forced to do PE
  17. Set up files for paperwork–not everything should be kept electronically
  18. Have good hygiene as it’s important–enough said
  19. Be polite, respectful, and use etiquette skills dealing with people
  20. Practice good work ethics as they say a lot about who you are as a person, don’t be lazy, and do a good job, that is why you are being paid
  21. Make mistakes and fail at something as long as you learn from it, and don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again