Here Are 10 Things Your Teens Don’t Know How To Do

Last week, my son announced that he needed a wristwatch, so I bought him an inexpensive analog watch. Later, as we were sitting at lunch, he decided to open his new watch and try it on. He kept looking at it quizzically and turning it around and around in his hands until it finally dawned on me that he probably wanted to set the correct time and had no clue how to do it.

Taking the watch out of his hands I pulled out the crown (the knobby, twisty thing whose name I had to look up) and set the proper time. He asked me how I knew how to do that along with some follow-up questions like, how far do you pull the crown out and which way do you turn it.

It makes complete sense that he knew nothing about the setting of time on an analog watch, why would he? But it just never dawned on me that he wouldn’t know how to do it.

So, I asked our G&F Facebook Group of thousands of parents to name something they assumed their teens knew how to do but were later surprised when they did not.

Here are the top 10 things teens don't know how to do

Here are the top ten things teens do not know how to do:

  1. How to use the United States Postal Service

By far the most popular answer centered around mail. As our society has become more email centric we have neglected to teach our kids how to address an envelope, put a stamp on it and mail a letter. Many parents said that their kids had no idea where the address goes, where the stamps go, how many stamps to use or where to get stamps?

One woman said that her son actually tried to argue with her that “Geez, what’s the big deal? They’ll know what I mean. It will get there.”

  1. How to write a check/bank.

In the age of Venmo and Apple Pay, the need to write checks has diminished so significantly that kids no longer know how to write them.

Another parent told us that his son’s bank app wasn’t working so, “his paychecks just piled up because he didn’t know to deposit them.” Luckily, he’s headed to college this year and he has finally mastered the ATM.

  1. How to make ice cubes

In the age of ice dispensers, the art (or is it a science?) of ice-cube making has all but disappeared.

  1. How to use a key

We do a lot more pushing buttons these days than turning keys in locks. One woman said that when her, “16-year-old daughter left the house early one morning with everyone sleeping and I gave her a key to lock the door from the outside. She didn’t know when she turned it to lock it she had to turn it again to get key out. In her eyes it was stuck!”

  1. How to fill out a job application

One parent said that his child asked, “what he should select for ethnicity and what hours he was available to work? All of them. And, what he should put down for education, what he should enter into work history, and finally he asked if he’s safe serve certified. I asked, ‘ARE YOU?’ He said no. I was like well then…YOUR ANSWER IS NO.”

  1. How to…car stuff

One dad mentioned that his daughter called him at work because the lights and blinkers on her car were flashing on and off and wouldn’t stop. She had no idea that she had accidentally hit the hazard button. In fact, she didn’t any idea that the button existed or what it was for. She certainly had no idea how to turn it off.

Another mom told us that she gave her child cash to fill the gas tank and her 17-year-old had no idea how to pay for gas with cash.

  1. How to…telephone

One mom was concerned when her child told her that her phone was broken. Turns out that the kid was listening to a busy signal but had no idea what it was and assumed it meant her phone was broken. Others mentioned that their kids had absolutely no idea how to make a call on a rotary phone.

  1. How to…insurance

There are many types of insurances.One mom told us, “I gave my daughter a new insurance card to put in her car, so she threw out the old one I gave her. The next time she went to the doctor she didn’t have a medical insurance card to give them!”

  1. How to write in script/cursive

Do kids know how to write in cursive these days? One mom described her son’s writing as a “crazy hybrid of cursive and printing.”

  1. How to sew

Kids have no idea what to do with a needle and thread but then again did we?

Here are some other handy-dandy tips for our kids: you can’t use dish detergent for dishwashers, soap is not automatically dispensed from a dishwasher, when the printer is out of paper, you must add more and yes there is a difference between a pot and a pan.

Good luck kids. Good luck world.

Here are 10 things your teenager probably doesn't know how to do. It might surprise you the things you need to teach your kids before they leave home. Here are the surprising things you need to teach your teenagers. #lifeskills #grownandflown #teens #teenagers


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About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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