I lived in a dorm my freshman year of college. Nothing will open your eyes more to the different ways people are raised than a dorm with two dozen 18-year-old girls sharing one kitchen and one big bathroom. Within the first two weeks of school, I met girls who didn’t know how to drive, didn’t know how to make macaroni and cheese, didn’t know how to set an alarm clock, and didn’t know how to write a check.
Twenty years later, alarm clock setting and check writing might not be at the top of the list of things every girl should know, but before your daughter heads out on her own, she should definitely know these 18. And even if you’ve got years ’til that day comes, it’s never too soon to start.
1. How to Get Out of a Date With a Creep
Telling a friend to call in the middle of dinner and fake an emergency is the oldest (and most dishonest) trick in the book, but it’s still a plan! Instead, talk to her about how to say no, rehearse some lines, and remind her always to have a person she can call for a ride.
2. How to Pay Bills on Time
No poor college kid should waste money on late fees. So here’s a crazy idea: Put your daughter in charge of one of your bills. It can still link to your account, but she’ll learn about payment due dates, late fees, and setting up online bill pay.
3. How to Address an Envelope
You laugh. I had an intern who didn’t know where the address, stamp, or return address belonged. If nothing else, teach your daughter this to keep her from looking bad in front of a future boss.
4. How to Accept a Compliment
I turned 18 two decades ago and I’m still working on this one. Teach your daughter not to self-deprecate in response to a compliment. A simple thank-you is appropriate.
5. How to Make One Dish Well
This is one of the things every girl should know that comes across as misogynistic, but frankly, I’d put it on a list for boys, too. Creating a delicious meal to serve her friends or date will give her confidence to welcome people around her dining room table.
Women today have a say in the finances, so arm her with knowledge. And while she’s single, knowing how to share, save, and spend will give her a great foundation. Use iMOM’s free budgeting printable to get started.
7. What to Do if She’s in a Fender Bender
I got rear-ended a couple of years ago. First I called my insurance company, then I texted my husband, and then I called my dad. Don’t let your daughter get taken advantage of because she doesn’t know what to do if she gets in a fender bender.
8. How to Parallel Park
I always pray that the people in the vicinity just look the other way when I try to parallel park. It’s not pretty, but I can get it done. Not knowing this simple (ish) skill is super frustrating and can make her late for meetings or class.
9. How One Becomes Pregnant
Don’t assume she learned it in school, and don’t worry—teaching a girl about reproductive health is not condoning sex outside of marriage. It’s helping her understand how her body works.
10. What Size and Fit Bra Is Best for Her Figure
We’ve all seen that woman and thought, “She needs a better-fitting bra.” Don’t let that be your daughter. Good undergarments are pricey, but worth the investment.
11. How to Apply the Right Amount and Shade of Makeup
If she wants to wear makeup, help her find some that enhances her natural features, not makes her look like a completely different person, who may or may not work for the circus. Oh, and remind her to wear sunscreen on her face all the time. She’ll thank you in 20 years.
12. What to Do if She Is Stranded Somewhere
No phone? No car? What do you do? Just having a plan of action will help give her peace of mind.
13. How to Develop a Prayer Life
Between the ages of 18 and 30, a young woman will make a lot of important decisions and encounter a lot of stressful situations. Prayer will keep her in tune with God’s voice.
14. How to Recognize a Toxic Relationship
Whether it’s in a friendship or in a relationship with a guy, spotting toxic behavior like jealousy, gaslighting, or manipulation is one of the things every girl should know because it will save her heartache and protect her mental health.
15. How to Make a Grocery List and Shop Smart
In most homes, the mom does the grocery shopping, but even before that day comes, knowing how to read labels, shop sales, and plan meals will help her save money and waste less.
16. How to Use Basic Tools
A girl who knows how to use a hammer, a screwdriver, and a drill can create and fix just about anything. Knowing basic repairs will give her a boost in self-confidence.
17. How to Set Boundaries
Many women lack healthy boundaries. They get walked on and over-extend themselves. Help your daughter learn it’s OK to say no, even to good people.
18. How to Drive a Stick Shift
See point number one. My dad always said, “You need to know how to drive a stick so if you’re out with a creep, you can leave in his car, no matter what kind he drives.” He’s right. And she’ll impress her guy friends with this skill.
What would you add to the list of things every girl should know by the time she’s 18?