When I think back to my teenage years now, I'm amazed at how ignorant I was. My parents tried over and over again to teach me the lessons every teenager needs to know, but I refused, persisting in thinking that I knew best and would be much more extraordinary than any of the adults in my life. Said adults called me “precocious” a lot, but I'm of the Stephanie Klein philosophy – I was really just a typical teenage brat who was sure she knew everything already. I now realize that there are many vital things every teenager needs to know, some big, some small, but all important.
1. How to Clean
Okay, so I knew how to clean as a teen, I just never did it. When I did, I'll admit that I did not know how to do it properly. My idea of sweeping the floor entailed sweeping the dirt into corners and under rugs, because I was convinced I simply did not have the time to waste doing the job properly. Speaking from experience, though, this is something you're going to need – and want – to know as soon as you're on your own.
2. How to Change a Tire
My driver's education teacher tried to teach the whole, coed class this … and none of us paid attention. My dad tried to teach me this as well … and I didn't pay attention. Worse, I never gave it a single thought … until the first time I needed to change my own tire.
3. How to do Laundry
I confess that I did not know how to properly do laundry until I moved out of my parents' house. Colors, whites, cold water, hot water, fabric softener – what? I didn't care. And not only was it necessary, in retrospect, to know how to do something so simple, it was embarrassing that I didn't. If you're one of those teens who doesn't know how to do laundry or if you just don't want to learn, reconsider!
4. How to Prioritize
I had no idea how to prioritize anything as a teenager, because staying up on the computer or out with my high school boyfriend were endlessly more important than studying for my upcoming trig test – and incidentally, trigonometry was the first class I ever got an F in, for an entire 6 week grading period. This is a hard one to learn, as you'll further see, because different things are important to teens.
5. How to Cope
What I mean here is, it's important for teenagers to learn how to cope with what's really important, and to realize it won't always be so bad – because, let's face it, high school is just hell. If the guy you like doesn't ask you out, or you get an F in one of your classes, it's not the end of the world. One time, Bill Gates lost about $40 million dollars or something, and Britney Spears went crazy, and Lady Gaga got caught on film flashing something other than lady parts – point being, everyone has bad experiences. They seem like the end of the world, but I promise you, they're not.
6. How to Travel Smart
It's typically during the teenage years that you start getting the travel itch. You want to get away from your parents and your teachers and your town, from everything you know, whether you go off to Europe or just take a bus trip up to the nearest big state. That's all well and good, but if you learn how to be a smart traveler, such as always separating your money, being wise about strangers, and things like that, it will be lots easier.
7. How to Cook
It's never too early to learn how to cook, and if you begin as a teen, your college years will be lots happier. You won't have to rely on a diet of commons slop, McDonald's, and Ramen, which will also make it easier to avoid the dreaded freshman 15 – or 40, or 50, because I'm telling you, it happens.
8. How to Manage Money
Credit card companies and the like are stupid-smart. They'll give a credit card to just about anybody. I got my first credit card at 18 and thought I was awesome – even though I had no job at the time because I was a full time student, and only had time to sleep, study, and write papers. They knew that too, but did not care. Teens need to learn how to manage money, to understand the difference between credit, debit, and cash, and to comprehend the pros and cons of each.
Although there are many lessons every teenager needs to know, some of them can really only be learned with experience. You can tell a teen something a million times, but until he or she's ready to learn it, it's just not happening. However, you can mention these vital things every teenager needs to know, just so the teen has a guideline. What lessons do you think teens should learn early?
Top Photo Credit: travelstar