The Life and Skills of Kids

If asked, my kids might think these are an oven and a refrigerator.

If asked, my kids might think these are an oven and a refrigerator.


There is a balance to parenting.  It’s one part meeting basic needs, one part teaching your children life skills and one part helping your kids be kind and considerate citizens.  On top of all of this, you then are expected to have them excel in education, extracurricular activities and give back to your community.

Again and again I find myself doing for my kids what they should do for themselves all in the name of saving time.  It’s great to save time, but what is the cost?  When I observe my kids trying to do some basic household tasks with unpredictable outcomes, I wonder if I will ever be able to send them out successfully into the world.

Growing up, I don’t remember this being so much of an issue.  You learned a task, you were asked to do it and then you did it.  It maybe wasn’t perfect the first few times you did it, but you sort of problem-solved your way to better methods of completion until finally, you had mastered it.  What I see missing in my own kids is the ability to problem-solve to better outcomes.  Why is that?

I believe in our hyper-scheduled lives, we don’t have time for the natural pitfalls of a learning curve for our kids.  We have lots of commitments that we must honor, and this doesn’t allow for a lot of extra room in our day for task completion to move slowly.  It has to get done and it has to get done NOW!

If I ask my kids to do something, I explain it in great detail and then, when they get off track I answer every question they have about it to speed up the process.  This clearly isn’t working for them.  I have to give them more responsibility, way less guidance and allow more time for them to get stuff done.  And, I have to be more forgiving and less rigid about how things are done.

Teaching them life skills and allowing them to develop and foster their own judgment is inherently the most important thing I can do for them.  As for doing everything else for them?  I need to stop.

Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent