Let’s Take the Parent Out of Parenting

Let’s Take the Parent Out of Parenting

There’s a video stumbling around the Facebooks recently encouraging the teaching of Life Skills in school.

It lays down statistics that 30% of college kids can’t boil an egg. My college kid CAN boil an egg. The paleo friendly cacao and almond butter cups in the freezer tell me cooking is a skill she doesn’t lack. Frankly, the blackened salmon with mango + avocado salsa that shows up on the dinner table from time to time certainly wasn’t a recipe she learned in school.

If a child doesn’t know how to cook, it’s because they didn’t see it at home, not because they didn’t have Home Ec. Wanna know a secret? I was raised in the first microwave era. When I was growing up, even bacon was cooked in the microwave. (Ewwww…).

I don’t even know if the ovens in my first two apartments worked. I DID know how to boil water, though. Somehow, I even figured out how to put spaghetti in the water and wait until it was soft. It took a couple years before I realized I could warm the sauce that way, too!

… No, it didn’t.

They Learned it By Watching You

They also know how to look stuff up on the Internet. Somewhere between watching her parent figure stuff out and having her own ideas of what to figure out, my daughter’s… well… she’s figuring stuff out.

She didn’t learn how to sew in school. She can certainly sew a button on. 70% can’t sew a button? I don’t believe it. Maybe 70% won’t even try to sew a button on, but I’m not buying “can’t.” If you watch the video, it shows college students behind the overlay of that statistic. Here’s the definition of irony: I’ve got a college student that sews custom clothes for her sorority.

You don’t think she learned that by watching me sew sorority sweatshirts, do you?

No. She DID watch me figure out how to do things by trial and error, by following instructions, and by simply thinking “Hmmm… this might be a good idea.”

I taught her to cook. I taught her to sew. And I taught her to think.

Maybe your son doesn’t know how to sew a button on, but cut one off of his favorite shirt and tell him it’s his responsibility to fix it. I’m guessing it magically find its way back onto the shirt.

It’s Not Me: the Generation

The real concern is “how” that button gets back on the shirt. Does your son take it to his girlfriend and ask her to do it? Does he take it to dry-cleaner (whatever that is) and pay to have it done for him? … with your credit card?

I’m not sure what is worse: The idea that schools should teach life skills or the commenters saying “it’s not the parent’s fault” they don’t… parent.

Because it IS our fault. More to the point, it IS our responsibility.

Here’s a quote pulled right out of the comments:
“That’s not fair to leave everything up to parents.”


There seems to be a generation – multiple generations due to “parenting” – that is given a rolodex of excuses at adulthood. If you don’t want to parent, don’t be a parent. You chose the responsibility – directly or indirectly. It’s that simple.

Reality check: did you just come up with a situation in your head that isn’t “that simple”?

You’re one of “that” generation, then. Sure, a stay-at-home mom with two kids whose husband tragically passes may likely cut some corners out of necessity. However, “I can’t make it from work to pick up the kids three blocks from the house, teach them to cook dinner AND make it to yoga class on days where my husband has guy’s night,” is completely and totally an excuse.

So, buy dinner on the way home. Watch your son take that shirt and button to the cleaners.

The Statistic Trick

Since I’m on a bit of a rant roll, when did we stop thinking for ourselves?

The video states that 52% of U.S. teens* don’t know how to change a tire. What’s that little asterisk for? Oh, well that’s a note that quickly goes by stating “majority of teens say they don’t know how to change a tire.” So, the big bold statistic? Completely made up!

It turns out 71% of all statistics are made up on the spot. 😉

So, anyway… did someone out there learn to change a tire in school? I took driver’s ed in school and they never showed me how to change a tire. In fact, it wasn’t until way into my twenties that I had to change a tire.

A real statistic might be the percentage of teens who had to change a tire and couldn’t figure it out on their own. I’m thinking that’s a lot lower.

Your Place is in the Kitchen

I loved Home Ec. I distinctly remember making Monkey Balls – a gooey, cinnamon-y, treat. I used the gym bag I made in sewing class for years because it was bleached denim… and because I figured out how to get an inside pocket on it. That wasn’t in the instructions!

Frankly, neither of those things were particularly useful in the real world. But they were fun!

Teaching cooking, sewing, wood-working, etc. are great things to learn in school. But, emphasize that those skills are as important as academics. Emphasize that they’re fun and creative.

Don’t say our kids “can’t” do stuff just because they’ve never been shown how or because they’ve never had the opportunity or need to try. And don’t lay the blame for them not getting that opportunity on schools.


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