How many people have you met who have no idea of how to look after themselves? I was reading recently that most people under 35 don’t have basic DIY skills like changing the fuse on a plug, so I got to thinking about what parents should pass on to their kids. Some of these are practical skills, others are character traits. All are important and useful knowledge.
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Many people leave home without the slightest idea of how to manage their money. When I was at university, it was not uncommon for students to spend their term’s loans in the first week, because they had no concept of making it last. The same thing happens when they move into their first flatshare and fun is more important than bills. So teach your kids about budgeting and you will be giving them an essential skill.
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It’s not just young people that may lack manners these days – a lot of the older generation are equally guilty. Politeness costs nothing, and will probably get you a lot further. It’s also good manners to hold a door open or offer your seat to an older person (my sister was often left to stand when heavily pregnant).
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Whether someone leaves home at 18, or live with their parents until much later, they should be capable of cooking meals. Teach them to cook at least basic meals, which isn’t that difficult. I know one 40 year old man who hasn’t a clue, and that’s just ridiculous.
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I’ve come across many parents who won’t let their children live their own lives, and try to control them. That is wrong. If your children grow up to be independent and capable of looking after themselves, then you have done a good job.
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If at first you don’t succeed … take your driving test another three times. Yes, I passed on the fourth attempt. Everyone needs to learn that they can’t always achieve what they want first time round, and that sometimes persistance is required to reach your goals.
6. You Want? You Work
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Every day in the British press there are stories of ‘welfare scroungers’ and their insistance that they are entitled to live off the state. These stories may be exaggerated, but kids should learn that they have to work for what they want. Saving up is better than buying on credit.
7. Be Practical
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Hands up – did you leave home not knowing how to work a washing machine? Yes, my hand is in the air … and as a result I assumed that it was a fiendishly complicated machine. Everyone should have basic knowledge such as this.
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This is probably easier in a family with siblings, but kids should learn how to get along with others. It will make their adult life easier if they know how to negotiate, how to deal with people they don’t necessarily like, and how to talk with people.
9. DIY Skills
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I really wish I had asked my dad to teach me some basic DIY, so that I didn’t have to employ professionals or ask friends for help when something needs fixing in my flat. Maybe I should do a course in DIY for Women?
10. Love of Learning
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My parents were never particularly keen on books, but one thing I am incredibly grateful to them for is our regular Tuesday night trips to the library. That fostered in me a love of books that continues to this day. I have a thirst for knowledge as a result, and love reading and learning.
What do you think is the most important thing to teach your kids? Is there anything you wish that your parents had taught you, either practical or emotional?
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