Fair warning – no one giving these suggestions is your child’s parent or in any way qualified to see the future. But if you’re looking for inspiration, or maybe some ways to think outside the box when it comes to preparing your young teenagers for what awaits them in this big, bad, world, these 15 people have some poignant thoughts.
#15. Good study habits.
“Am in college rn.
Please learn good study habits. Holy god. Just do it.
You should also really try and keep all your grades as high as you can. I’m not kidding, a few points here and a few points there cost me 4K in scholarship. It’ll happen to you, too.
Also, don’t get too messed up about girls in high school. It’s not worth ruining a year or two over. Promise.”
“Guitar and/or piano. Seriously. Your mom wants you to practice, fucking practice. The ability to casually produce music in social settings will set you apart wherever you go. You don’t even need to be good – just able to make sounds that go in the right order.
And if you don’t learn it now, you never will.”
#13. You never know.
“The two things I used in college that I wished I had known all along were WolframAlpha and the automation features in Excel.
Wolframalpha.com can do integrals, derivatives, areas, volumes, and even compare things like “Number of men in New York City divided by the number of women in Nanjing” which is pretty cool.
Excel can do a lot of work for you if you learn a few tools. VLOOKUP, SUMIFS, and Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts will be super helpful.
It won’t hurt anybody if you do learn some very rudimentary programming as well. There are plenty of free Java tutorials that can give you some tools you can apply to a lot of topics. For example, my wife got a masters in Public Health, and never imagined she’d use programming, but she ended up having to learn a statistical analysis tool that basically needs to be programmed to use. You never know.”
#12. When things go wrong.
“Learn to handle when things go wrong, because they will, and often.”
#11. Make it up.
“No joke, learn to bullshit. It’s more important later in life than you think.
Learn how to talk to people in a way that makes them feel comfortable and have confidence in you. I learned by having a retail job, it teaches you how to connect to people (also some humility). This is useful from the boardroom to the bedroom.
And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, writing papers (essays, reports, etc.) is like 90% bullshit. In college, grab some sources and you can sum up your point in two paragraphs. Bullshitting will allow you to turn that into 2,000 word essay.
Incompetent people that can bullshit become middle management. Competent people that can bullshit become presidents.”
#10. Never forget this.
“Ok, so you’ve got $100. If you let it sit in a savings account for a year at 5% interest, then after one year, it’ll be worth $105.
But here’s where it gets awesome. If you then let that $105 sit there for ANOTHER year, then you get 5% interest on $105 instead of the original $100. So after two years, it’s $110.30. And then $115.80. And so on and so on.
That concept is called compound interest. You get interest on the interest you already earned, and it builds on itself year after year. If you start talking about amounts that are much bigger than $100. Like $100,000 or so? Then those amounts start adding up like crazy.
Now remember that the exact same thing happens to money that you OWE someone.
Never forget this.”
#9. In the long run.
“How to cook for yourself and do your own laundry. Also, tons of financial stuff, learning to properly handle money now will help you out a ton in the long run.”
#8. Nobody is obligated.
“Less “skill” and more “life lesson”
NOBODY is obligated to like you.”
#7. How to ask for help.
“Learn how to ask for help. Don’t have someone else do everything for you, but it’s good to recognize when you genuinely don’t know how to do something so that you can ask someone who does. Can save a lot of time and stress, and you’ll probably learn it better than if you just muddled through on your own.”
#6. Labors of love.
“General yard labour, just to get a little bit of an idea of how to use some tools, and do some sort of manual labour.”
#5. Challenge ideas.
“How to think critically. Challenge ideas from your parents, your teachers, what you see, what you read. Above all those, challenge the ideas of your peers.
And read a damn book once in a while, just for fun.”
#4. Life skills.
“Sewing. The ability to replace buttons and repair small tears will save you a lot of money on clothing you would otherwise throw out or replace.
Cooking. You can make healthy, delicious food for a lot less money than eating out. Bonus for guys, chicks dig a guy who can cook well.
Reading. In a lot of schools, reading is not taught very well, so students commonly feel like it isn’t worth their time to read because they never learned to enjoy it. Books are great free entertainment and they are a wonderful way to learn and grow as a person!
Exercise. You need to know how to keep yourself fit, because it is a hell of a lot easier to get fit at 13 and stay that way than it is to try to get fit at 30.
Work Ethic. Any task worth doing is worth doing well. Cliche? Yes, but cliches exist for a reason, they are constantly applicable. Learn how to work well, how to get shit done without complaining or shirking. Employers and peers recognize people with good work ethics and respect them for it.
Dressing. Learn how to dress well, what clothes work for your body shape and what don’t. Learn how to match and contrast colors and put together outfits. Seriously, this is a very underrated skill and it can pay off. Simply looking stylish and put together can get you through doors that might otherwise be closed.
Finance. Develop good financial habits now, and they will pay dividends (pun intended) later. Live within your means. If you have a credit card, live by a rule of “if I can’t pay off the balance at the end of the month, I can’t afford it.” This one took me WAY too long to learn and I’m trying to play catch up.”
#3. Think for yourself.
“Learn to think for yourself. I’m not saying go out and challenge all authority but don’t let people push you into doing things you don’t want to do in life. Listen to what people have to say, absorb that information and form your own opinions and ideas from it. Too many people get pushed into careers or educational paths they don’t necessarily want to go into because they feel pressured by one person or another to do it. Think before you do.”
#2. Phone calls.
“Learn how to make serious phone calls for making appointments or asking for info. If online info about a business or service is vague or confusing, being able to directly ask a person makes things much less confusing.
It helps to develop a short script to frontload relevant info. “hello, my name is [X], I’m calling to ask about [y]/ I’m calling to schedule an appointment with [z], etc…”
Then learn info that’s commonly needed alongside it for when they ask for it. Address, phone number they can reach you at, driver’s license number, (careful with this one) SSN if you’re in America. Only give that sorta info out when asked, have it ready to go though.
Phone calls still have a very important role in communication even today, and when you need to do serious planning with someone else there’s no substitute to a phone call save for face-to-face meeting.”
#1. Types of knots.
“How to do 1 or 2 different types of tie knots. Regardless of gender this is both easy and quite useful. Being able to make a tie look really good can sometimes save the day.”
Good luck out there, parents of teens!