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10 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before Leaving Home

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When my firstborn turned 18, it caused me to question: Did I do what I set out to do? Is she ready for college, work, marriage, and children? Can she take care of herself, pay bills, look both ways when she crosses the street?

It really didn’t seem possible… 18 years old, graduation in three months, gone in five. My heart was breaking and yet when I looked at her, I was so excited for her. I may not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but she had become more than I could have dreamed. If your child is preparing for college, get a head start by making sure you address these 10 life skills your teen needs before they leave home.

1. Basic cooking skills.

Make sure your child can prepare a few simple, healthy, economical dishes and understands how the high cost of dining out can destroy a budget and a waistline.

2. Budgeting and money management skills.

Make sure your child knows how to live within a budget, and understands the pitfalls of using credit irresponsibly.

3. Personal healthcare knowledge.

Ensure that your child knows how to self-diagnose simple illnesses, knows how to check his or her own temperature, and knows which over-the-counter medications to take for which symptoms.

4. Good social skills and manners.

Knowing how to carry on a conversation with adults will help your child with college instructors and potential employers. Basic manners, such as saying “please” and “thank you” will help your child make a good first impression with new acquaintances.

5. Auto maintenance skills.

It’s important for your child to know how often her car should be serviced and how to change a tire in an emergency.

6. Essential domestic skills.

Your child doesn’t have to be Martha Stewart but should know how to do her own laundry, clean her own dorm room or apartment, and handle small household emergencies like a clogged toilet.

7. Being a good judge of character.

Friends influence us more than we care to admit. Help your child learn to assess whether someone is a good friend who will help him to be his best.

8. Work skills and basic responsibility.

To have success in college or on the job, one has to know how to be punctual, stay on task until the job is done, and pay attention to the details.

9. The ability to discern between love and infatuation.

Before You Say I Do Premarital QuestionsYoung adulthood is a season of lots of romantic stops and starts. Make sure your child understands the difference between the kind of mutual love you can build a marriage on and passing infatuation based simply upon attraction.

10. The ability to admit fault and start over.

We all make mistakes. Help your child learn how to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” and take responsibility for those mistakes. A young person who can do that will be able to regroup and try again in work, in the classroom, and in relationships.

How did you teach your kids life skills?


College is all about new places, new friends, new roommate, new everything. What makes you the most nervous?

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