Top 7 Essential Things Children Aren’t Being Taught

Or, “Why we have so many dumb people.”

In an epiphany while talking to my 13 year old sister, I realized that many children these days are not taught basic life skills that they need to get by in life, which I think contributes to the general lazyness and fast-paced environment we have now. People forget to eat, get overly stressed, rush around constantly, and essentially harm themselves needlessly because they just don’t know any better.

Essential Things We Aren’t Teaching Our Children:

1. How to cook. One thing I was given when I got married at 18, was a bin of index cards with family recipes on them from my mom, and various aunts and other female members of the family. This was a wedding gift, and a very cherished one.

My sister is now 13 and knows little about cooking good wholesome meals. It’s not surprising given the microwavable mac n’ cheese, hamburger helper, hotpockets and other such unhealthy and pre-packed foods. I try to involve her in cooking when she comes over my house, so she can at least learn the basics. Even just basic recipes and cooking techniques like how to cook steak, how to make cheap crock-pot dishes are a great skill to learn.

2. How to eat. Going along with #1, we aren’t teaching our children how to eat. Burgers, fries and a Milkshake are the norm. Quick breakfasts bars and sugary cereals are daily sustenance. Sugar and red meat are the worst things we are doing to our children, and needlessly. No wonder obesity and diabetes are epidemics.

The best thing we can do is make a conscious decision to change how we eat and what food we keep in the house. No sodas, but instead sugar-free drinks (Safeway’s generic brand of sugar-free drinks are AMAZING). No sugar-filled cereals and quick breakfasts and instead cook up a scrambled egg on wheat toast with butter. It only takes a moment, and is much healthier and will keep them awake longer during the day. Keep re-heatable soups and stews from the crock-pot that they can heat up on their own instead of the quick hotpocket meals.

3. How to clean properly and without chemicals. The fact that we disinfect everything using bleach and anti-bacterial soaps is doing more harm than good. Our children’s immune systems aren’t as strong because we’re protecting them so harshly. In addition to that, we are exposing them to harmful chemicals by using commercial cleaners rather than cheap eco-friendly alternatives.

By teaching our children to use vinegar and water with a newspaper instead of windex and paper-towels, we are allowing them to save money, be kind to the earth, and responsible cleaning habits. Most natural cleaning solutions are much cheaper, healthier, and obviously more environmentally friendly, so why not switch while they are young? When they move out on their own, make a basket of natural cleaning products as a housewarming gift.

4. How to manage money. I always thought this should be something taught in school, but I was never taught how to manage my money properly. In fact I remember specifically in 6th grade I was taught how to write a check, but that was it. So essentially I was taught how to -spend- money, but never how to -manage- it.

I’m a strong believer in teaching financial habits at a young age. Setting up chores for children to complete and in return receive a small allowance. Make a deal that they can spend a certain amount of their allowance, and deposit the other portion into a high interest savings account for when they get older. Sit down with them each month and let them see the interest they gain on the account, and make a list of things they want to buy and how they can budget to save up for it. Make sure they understand what is a need versus a want, and how to be frugal with their decisions.

I think the United States especially would be in a better place if the people who are in so much debt were more educated when they were younger about their financial decisions.

5. How to spend money (frugality). Going with #4, I think even just a few basic frugal skills are good to teach our children, even if you aren’t a frugal person yourself. Going through and purging toys and clothes regularly and not purchasing a toy every time you go to the store. Using actual lunchboxes instead of brown paper bags, and reusable utensils. Even using a small container for their sandwiches instead of disposable plastic baggies is a beneficial habit for them to learn, and good for the environment.

6. Basic auto maintenance. I know of a girl who had her transmission slip for well over a month before deciding to tell her husband about it in which case it was already too late. There are also people that don’t know how to check their oil, change a tire or even the fluid in their radiator to make sure they are going to make it to their destination. The other day I saw a family of 3 sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire, no doubt waiting for someone to come and help rather than being prepared.  Since an automobile will enter almost everyone’s life at some point, and is such a necessary for so many people, it makes sense that we teach our children how to maintain such an expensive investment. Even if it’s just the basics.

7. How to take care of their hair and makeup. Yes, this will generally only apply to the female population, but given the amount of make-up, dye, and hairspray I see on today’s youth, I had to mention it. Hair is generally important to most females, but we’re constantly teasing, applying chemical, and doing more damage than good. Girls are now inspired by Britney and Bratz, instead of how to look/dress appropriate.

When I was younger, I always combed my hair while wet and used those horrible rubberbands in my hair, not to mention dyed it blonde for many years. I had no idea until recently that this sort of routine is what caused my hair to be come so dry, have so many split ends, and why I am now struggling to get it to grow further than the middle of my back. I feel cheated.

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