Childhood’s end: Raising great adults

This is quite a topical post, but I want to know what you think, so bear with me.

I believe we – as a whole community – are raising a generation of people who might know how to play instruments and dance well, but don’t have the faintest idea how to avoid debt, choose a sensible career path, or care for a home and family.

We’re repeating the mistakes of the generation before us.

When I finished University, I had lots of degrees and educational ability, but I didn’t know how to maintain a home, or manage a budget, or cook a meal from scratch. Somehow all these basic skills had got lost along the way. My parents valued scholastic education, sure, but practical education – well, that seemed to disappear into nothingness.

Most, if not all, of my friends were the same. Now they’re parents, I see the same mistakes being repeated – yet again, we might be teaching our kids how to knit, but not how to balance a meal, or a budget.

We don’t talk to our children about how much we earn, or how much things cost, or how much repayments for that new car or iPhone might take out of a paycheck each fortnight.

We don’t talk about our responsibility to others less fortunate in our society, nor do we debate whether or not it is ethical that corporations pay next to nothing in tax, while a minimum wage earner pays a sizeable chunk of their small earnings.

Childhood goes by swiftly – as does being a parent to a child. It seems like only yesterday I was bringing my son home for the first time in his baby capsule. I remember feeling afraid and lost, not really knowing how to deal with this huge change that had happened in my life, and not having any parents close by to guide or teach me.

What I’m saying is, as we learn, so should we teach.

Don’t keep your kids in the dark about life, treating childhood as some cottonwool sheltered workshop. Instead, treat childhood as a learning space for real life.

Talk about your challenges, honestly and openly.
Explain your budget, and your job.
Share where the money goes each week.
If you made mistakes in your life, share those mistakes realistically with your kids, in terms they can understand and relate to.

Share the running of a home – kids can, and should, help with chores. There is no reason why they cannot do their own washing from the moment they are old enough to reach inside the washing machine, and no reason why they cannot fold and put their clothes away properly. Nor is there any reason why they cannot keep not only their own room clean, but help clean common spaces.

Kids can prepare meals, set the table, put the dishes away, load and unload dishwashers. They can make their own lunches – and their own breakfasts – as well as those of others.

In short, they can do their fair share.

If this all sounds like a bit of boot camp, take a step back and ask yourself why you think that. Should be we raising idle people who do nothing but entertain themselves the moment school is out, or great adults who are capable of running their own lives, working responsibly, and caring for others?

I know what I think the answer is.

What do you think?



  1. This is such a good post! Funnily enough I recently sat down with my fourteen year old and talked to her about money. She has a monthly allowance and has started to earn money from babysitting. I’m not sure how much of it was absorbed as I think she thought I was lecturing her. However I did stress that if she remembered nothing else it was ‘not to get into debt’, although with student loans, mortgages looming in her future I know that’s going to be impossible.


    1. @KathrynH – It’s so good that you’re talking with her! I agree it’s also hard not to sound like you’re lecturing when it comes to talking with teenagers, if only because they seem to think everything is a lecture sometimes! I actually think the next generation has it much harder than we did, but the only answer I can think of – apart from massive political and social change – is to teach our children well with real life skills.


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