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Teach Your Children Well...But Hurry!

What do kids need to learn before they leave the nest?

By my estimate, I have about 405 days to tell my older son everything he has to know about life before he wriggles free of my 18-year embrace and leaves for college.

That means I have to step up my game.

When our sons were little, my husband and I made a list of movies we wanted them to see – films that teach lessons, some that inspire or make us laugh. There are still about seven left on the list and it’s become increasingly hard to fit them in with my son’s job, school and social life taking precedence.

Likewise, there are books I want him to read and plays he needs to see before he is beyond my dictates. 

When we made those lists it seemed like there were an infinite number of days ahead to introduce our kids to “Inherit the Wind” and “Glory” and “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (the Gary Cooper version). Now we feel like we’re playing Beat the Clock.

Then there are the practical lessons. He often makes his own breakfast and lunch but I have to teach him how to cook some simple dinners. He knows how to do his own laundry but he doesn’t always plan ahead and sometimes wears a wet shirt straight from the washer.

Will he clean out the lint from the dryer filter each time to avoid a fire in his dorm? The odds aren’t good. 

I talked with a friend whose son is my son’s age. She had a long list to teach:

  • When to change the oil in the car
  • How to charge a battery and change a tire
  • How often to change bed sheets
  • How to make appointments

Those were just a few of the lessons. 

Another friend told me her 24-year-old daughter called her the other day to ask her how to make a hard-boiled egg. “I’ve failed as a mother,” my friend said, groaning in mock despair. Her daughter is a college graduate with a good job but somehow escaped the hard-boiled-egg lesson in life.

I’m not alone in this weird pastime, am I? Any other parents of graduates or soon-to-be graduates have things they feel like they need to teach their kids in a hurry? Any parents already been through this? I’m all ears. 

Lanya June 14, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I learned from my parents as much as they could teach me before I left the nest. The rest I Googled, and I've done pretty well so far.
Margie Peterson June 15, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Robert, so I wasn't supposed to lock my kids in a closet for 18 years? Who knew? Mary Anne and Ellen, thanks for understanding that this is about a mom's angst as kids get ready to leave home. I guess I fear becoming a bit player in their lives after having had a starring role.
Liberalism is a mental disorder June 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
The biggest problem we have today is liberals, who don't understand math, economics or reality, raising the next generation of naive liberals who think you can and should do anything that makes you feel good. We have far too many of those in the United States. When you combine them with the 40% of people who live off government handouts, you end up with an idiot like Barack Obama as president.
Sharon Flack Theiner June 17, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Not really the point here....
Sharon Flack Theiner June 17, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Our kids are 8 & 12 and we are just deciding what new jobs they need to learn this summer with just this idea in mind. I have to wonder if we ever really think we have prepared our kids enough for life? For those of you with boys not so close to leaving the nest, may I suggest Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting as another great training ground for life. It is certainly working for us.

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