As a mom of three teenagers, I’m always after my kids to get off of the electronics and engage in life. Whether they are at my side learning to cook or peeking under the hood of the car with their dad, I’m a firm believer that there are certain things they need to know before they leave the nest.
So here is my top 20 list of things that I believe all high school graduates should know (there are more than 20, but I only get so much space in the Corry Journal).
Graduates should be able to…
1…pay for dinner in a restaurant and tip well. Be kind to your server and they’ll be kind in return.
2…prepare healthy meals. That package of Ramen or mac & cheese may be cheap, but if that’s all you eat, your health will pay a high price.
3…know how to use a fire extinguisher. This will come in handy when your roommate decides to warm up her foil-wrapped burrito in the microwave.
4…live on a fixed budget. So you have money left over at the end of the month? Good for you! Take it and move right on to #5.
5…save money for the future. It doesn’t matter what you are saving for, the point is that you will someday need the money that you faithfully set aside in a savings account, even if it’s only $10 per month.
6…volunteer or donate to a charitable organization. Give without expecting anything in return.
7…change a tire, check the oil, and refill the washer fluid. Knowing basic car maintenance will save you time and money.
8…have the ability to distinguish between ‘want’ and ‘need.’ ‘Want’ is emotional. ‘Need’ is physical. While you might want that new gaming system, you need to pay your rent. Get it?
9…put down the phone, iPad, whatever, and engage in person-to-person conversation. There is no substitute for the ability to look someone in the eye or walk and talk hand in hand (without the other hand texting a third party).
10…be honest. With friends, family, strangers, and the government. Be assured that if you cheat, steal or lie, it will come back to haunt you.
11…ask questions. There are no dumb questions. Ignore the people who scoff at you for not knowing the answer and press on.
12…wash clothes. With like colors, unless you want all of your clothing to be the same shade of pink or gray.
13…sew on a button and do other basic clothes mending. Replacing a button or mending a small tear is far less expensive than buying a brand new replacement.
14…know how to dress for a job interview. Different jobs require different clothing. Do a little research and show up looking like you could step into the job that day.
15…know when to self-treat versus when to call a doctor. Most minor maladies can be cured with over-the-counter remedies.
16…plunge a toilet. Enough said.
17…let go of past hurts. People will disappoint you. Don’t expect apologies. Move on. Someone once said, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Your emotional, physical, and spiritual health will improve each day you move past the pain and on with life.
18…say “no” calmly and with assurance. This applies to many facets of life—only you will know when.
19…hand write a thank-you note. Whether on a postcard, notebook paper or a store-bought card, you should always let the giver know you are thankful for the gift. It’s just the right thing to do.
20…behave responsibly and with integrity. In other words, treat yourself and others with respect. Do difficult things. Be the kind of friend you would want to have. Never stop learning.
Whether your kids are heading off for college, the military or the workforce, you will be doing them a favor by teaching them how to live on their own. Perhaps I can add one more thing to the list—make sure they know they are welcome to call home when they need advice. Always be there for your kids, no matter how old.
~Published in the May 24 edition of the Corry Journal~