“Be careful!” How many times do we as parents say those words to our kids? A lot. A whole lot. I say it with so much frequency, the kids make jokes about it. But what if our desire to keep them safe prevents them from learning skills that will benefit them later on?
During our kids’ formative years, and up to now, my husband and I have taught and continue to teach them a variety of things they need to know, such as:
- How to mow and trim the yard
- How to prepare and cook food using sharp knives and a real oven
- How to sew by hand and with a sewing machine, both of which used sharp needles
- How to use basic tools – hammer, pliers, screwdriver, power drill, …
- How to check the oil and the tire pressure on their vehicles
- How to handle money. This one deserves its own series of blog posts. Another time.
- And, yes, how to use a chainsaw.
I realize the concept of teaching a teenager how to use a chainsaw may be foreign and even terrifying to parents, especially mothers. Obviously, you don’t have to literally teach them how to wield a chainsaw.
The point is your kids need to learn how to safely perform certain critical tasks in order to be able to take care of themselves. Really. They do.
My husband, Don, began teaching our son, Graham, how to use a chainsaw when Graham was only ten years old. Stop judging. I said a key phrase. He began teaching our son. He did not just hand him the saw one day and say, “Okay, son. Go fell that huge tree over there. Let me know when you’re finished.”
Don let Graham start easy, with the tree already on the ground, and with lots of guidance from him. Graham would make straight cuts in a tree that was in a very stable position, flat on the ground. Don never left Graham alone with the saw, and he watched over him carefully. Over time, Don let Graham do more and more as Graham grew taller, stronger, and more mature.
What did Graham gain from this experience?
- Self-confidence, and a feeling of capability. He learned over time that he could, indeed, handle something like a chainsaw safely, and that he could perform a valuable service. That “can do” attitude of self-sufficiency spills over into other aspects of his life, and will serve him well later on.
- Valuable bonding time with his dad. Graham knew his dad trusted him to learn how to do something most people saw as too difficult or risky for a young person to do.
- The respect and admiration of his friends. One of his friends came over one day while Graham was cutting up a tree with his dad in the back yard. He was surprised and impressed to see Graham performing a task that is usually reserved for men. Never underestimate the impact an incident like this can have on a teen’s self-esteem.
It was lucky for me I had read the book entitled Wild at Heart – Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, by John Eldredge. It kept me from freaking out and reverting to weenie status when I learned about the chainsaw lessons (see last week’s post.) I highly recommend Wild at Heart as essential reading for women with sons and husbands. You will gain a better understanding of their points of view.
Your teens need to know that everybody, including them, is good at something. You may not choose to teach them how to use a chainsaw, but do teach them the skills they need to move forward in life with success. They will thank you for it.
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