October 4, 2023

National Helping America’s Youth Month: 10 Things to Learn Before Leaving the Nest

By: Darnell Davis
M.S. Occupational Safety and Health, 2017
M.S. Emergency Services Management, expected 2019

As adults and parents, we have a responsibility to take care of our children from day one. While they are babies, we do practically everything for them.  As they grow into toddlers, they typically develop a sense of independence and want to do things for themselves or at least help.  As they grow and develop into young men and young women, they develop more independence and begin doing more and more for themselves; however, they still depend on us for great deal of things.

As a parent, this can be a two-sided issue.  We want our children to grow into strong independent people, but at the same time, we want them to need us.  We do everything we can possibly do to make sure our children are “ready for the world” when that day finally arrives.  We also want them to ask us for help when and if they need it.

My reflections about this subject may differ from many. I feel that as a society we are failing our children in preparing them for life and all that adulthood brings.  We are too reliant on technology and convenience in many aspects and need to return to getting our children ready for life once they “leave the nest.”

We focus on education and technology from the beginning of a child’s education. We focus on career paths beginning in high school.  At the same time, we set them up for disaster when they move out on their own.  While some may see this as humorous (and parts of it may be), we are failing our youth in not preparing them for “life” and all it has to throw at us.  I believe too much focus is placed on the career phase of our children’s future and not enough of the living part of it all.

I would love to see a mandatory course in our high schools that is not career oriented, but life oriented- cooking, taking care of a household, money management, networking, investments, and more.  Some may say this is something that should be taught at home; however, what if some parents were never properly taught these lessons, and what if they do not have the time or resources to teach their children?  So much emphasis is put on extra-curricular activities, but seldom do we pay attention to the importance of learning important life skills alongside soccer and dance and competitions.

If we taught our nation’s youth the following lessons in preparation of them “leaving the nest,” I believe they would be able to more confidently and successfully make their way in the world and go on to achieve great things.

  1. How to cook. Make up a recipe book to give them as a keepsake!
  2. How to change a tire and check their vehicle’s fluids.
  3. How to balance a checkbook.
  4. How to make and stick to a budget.
  5. Basic bathroom plumbing (unclog a sink, a toilet backed up, etc.)
  6. The importance and details of insurance: car, home, medical, etc. The importance of responsible credit and credit ratings.
  7. How to take care of a household: cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, yardwork, etc.
  8. Assembling a basic toolbox and how to use its contents.
  9. Social media responsibility.
  10. Legal matters such as filing taxes, wills, power-of-attorney, and leases.

By no means is this list all-inclusive but it is a good place to start. It has been shocking to see just how unprepared people can be when they get out on their own.  We need to begin teaching our children how to survive once they leave home so that we can be confident in their abilities and proud of their independence.