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What are some important things a teen-ager should know how to do before moving out of the house? I’m 16, and I don’t want to wait till the day before I go to college to learn how to do a million things.
There is no magic list that covers all contingencies, but here are five skills that should make the transition to independent living easier:
- Budgeting. If you know how to manage your expenses and live within your income, you’ll be ahead of the pack. More than 90% of college students carry a credit card and the average undergrad owes more than $3,000 in credit-card debt. Don’t get caught in that trap.
- Cooking. You may eat at a dining hall in college, but at some point you’ll have your own apartment. Once you truly live on your own, the ability to cook will both save you money and provide you with a healthier diet than that common to those who eat only prepared foods. You don’t need to become a gourmet chef, but everyone should know the basics – how to prepare eggs, make soup, steam vegetables, etc.
- Using tools. Again, you need not be an expert. But everyone should know how to fix a leaky faucet, install a wall shelf, or change a tire. The more you know about basic home and car repairs, the less dependent you’ll be on professional assistance.
- Conflict resolution. Once you reach college, you will no longer have parents or other relatives in proximity to help you deal with difficult situations. In college, students spend a lot of time interacting with strangers. Kids who are prickly and do not know how to compromise will find themselves at a disadvantage.
- Respecting elders. This one does not come naturally to many students. Kids of high school and college age often believe they know it all. I certainly thought so, at least. But in college – and later in life – you’ll hear the words of both instructors and older, more experienced peers. You don’t need to listen blindly, but you must acknowledge that you will not always make the right decisions on your own. None of us is that smart. Do your best to pay attention, learn what you can, and give those with more age and experience the respect that age and experience have earned them. Even if they are wrong.
What would you tell a 4-year-old girl who says that she prefers her brother’s genitalia to hers? She says that she doesn’t like what she looks like down there, that she would rather have a “big one” like her little brother. Is it weird for a 4-year-old to talk that way?
Uncommon, perhaps. Weird, no. Children are naturally curious about the body, and the girl’s regret about her lack of outdoor plumbing is understandable. That said, you should try to put a stop to this before it blossoms into a larger problem.
First, ensure that the girl has seen her brother’s naked body for the last time. The lack of observational evidence may not make her forget about her concerns, but over time they should be supplanted by the myriad other issues that arise for children growing up and learning about the world.
Second, tell the girl that she was made in a special way, and she looks just as she should. She’s not supposed to look like her brother, because boys and girls are different. Let her know that as she gets older, she’ll come to understand things better. Lastly, assure her that you have the same body design and are quite happy with it.
If you’re a Christian, go to Genesis and read about how God created Adam and Eve. Genesis 1:27 establishes that women are made in God’s image, just as men are. Genesis 2:20-25 tells the story of the creation of Eve. These verses can help Christian children feel better about their bodies, knowing that they were designed that way on purpose.
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