It’s back-to-school season.
Fall is when young adults shift from high school to college, or college to that first real career job. With those transitions come new responsibilities and increased need for them to be able to take care of themselves.
Can your kids fend for themselves? Can your nieces and nephews or grandkids survive without depending on you or the kindness of strangers?
Our job is to help them create a life support system that will carry them through life without us, even if they lose a job, a home or a marriage.
When it comes to travel, they need to know how to:
• Check in for a flight.
• Hail a cab, Lyft or Uber.
• Read a map, use Google maps and follow a GPS.
• Tip a server, cab driver and hotel housekeeper.
• Get a valid passport.
If they plan to own a car, they should always have:
• At least a half tank of gas in it.
• The magic AAA card, unless you plan to tow them at 2 a.m.
• A secret stash of quarters for meters to avoid parking tickets.
• Car insurance and proof of it in their wallet.
• A first aid kit and flashlight with batteries that work.
• Do they know how to jumpstart a car, check the oil, fill the wiper fluid and change a tire?
• Remind them to never, ever, drive drunk. If they plan to drink, they should plan their ride home before they pick up the first drink.
Before they move into their own place, they should know how to:
• Unclog a drain.
• Free a clogged toilet with a plunger.
• Use a hammer and a drill.
• Know the difference between a flat head and Phillips screwdriver.
• Assemble anything. (Read the directions. Read the directions again.)
• Free or kill a spider, bee or mouse in the house.
• Change a fuse, paint a room and move furniture without getting hurt. (Lift using the legs, not the back.)
Make sure they can manage their money and:
• Do their own taxes.
• Know the value of compounding.
• Set a budget.
• Balance a checkbook.
• Pay themselves first and set aside 10 percent for retirement (to benefit most from the value of compounding.)
• Understand the limits and consequences of a debit card and a credit card.
• Open a checking account, savings account and retirement fund in their name.
• Protect their privacy settings and passwords online.
• Figure out how to get health insurance.
• Not buy on credit unless they can pay it off at the end of the month.
• Remember if any financial transaction doesn’t feel right and they don’t clearly understand ALL the details, do NOT say yes to any financial planner, investment, time share, life insurance or loan.
When it comes to work, they will need to know how to:
• Negotiate their incoming salary BEFORE they take the job. (Women earn less than men for the same work because they START at a lower salary.)
• Ask for a meaningful, significant raise.
• Quit a job without burning any bridges.
• Find a mentor. Learn from criticism. Ask for help.
• Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
• Tie a tie.
• Get red wine, chocolate and olive oil out of a shirt.
• Tie a scarf at least three ways.
• Sew a button on a coat.
• Hem a pair of slacks.
• Iron a blouse or shirt.
To experience the most joy with others, they will need to know how to:
• Ask someone out.
• Break up gracefully.
• Say NO and respect NO.
• Make an impromptu toast.
• Use the correct fork at a fancy dinner.
• Set a table correctly.
• Write a thank-you note by hand and mail it.
• Apologize. (Never say, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” Name exactly what you did wrong then say, “I’m sorry.”)
• Accept a compliment. (Instead of diminishing it or ignoring it, simply say, “Thank you.”)
For basic survival skills, they should be able to:
• Perform CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, stop bleeding and soothe a sunburn.
• Build a fire.
• Cook one meal without a recipe.
• Make a signature cocktail, a great dessert and assemble an appetizer with whatever is in the fridge.
• Hard-boil an egg.
• Cook rice.
• Choose the right wine and open it without a fancy corkscrew.
• Grill a burger well enough so no one dies from E. coli.
And just for fun, they might want to know:
• One card game, magic trick and yoga pose.
• An amazing cookie recipe.
• A song from memory to play on the piano, guitar or harmonica.
• How to ride a bike. Fly a kite. Shuffle a deck of cards.
Once you see how many of these life skills they know, you’ll know if they’re ready to fly or finish building that bridge.
Publisher’s note: A version of this column was originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News July 7, 2017.