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Thread: Essential fixit skills for a teenager leaving the nest?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Washington DC

    Essential fixit skills for a teenager leaving the nest?

    My 18yo stepson leaves for college (god willing) in a few months. Though he has been with me 50% of the time for fourteen years, he is not a hands-on kid, and has never taken to making or fixing things with his hands. What can I say - you can lead a horse to water, etc.

    Though he is going to live in a dorm where he will presumably not need to do much fixing of anything, I still can't let him out of the nest without knowing a few things. I just have a few more months to force-feed some of that knowledge. Question is...what are those super basic essential skills?

    Here's my working list:
    • How to hang a picture
    • How to put a shelf in a wall (find studs/use drywall anchors/etc)
    • How to put on a spare tire
    • How to jump start the car
    • How to hammer a nail
    • How to pump up his bike tires and adjust his brakes
    • How to troubleshoot a dead outlet and reset a circuit breaker

    What else?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    If he can cook he will be able to date girls two classes up from his status, whatever that is. Nice girls.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Common things that need fixing are toilets, stopped, constant running or won't flush.

    Maybe how to repair a leaky faucet. How to turn off the water.

    How to check an electrical circuit to make sure the power is off if he has to replace a switch.

    He may need to learn about using a gas stove without a pilot. He may need to know how to relight a pilot light.

    Handy things to know are how to get into a car if you lock your keys inside. He may need to know about changing the oil and checking the coolant level.

    If he is going to be cooking for himself there are things to know like punching a hole in the bottom of a can of refried beans helps the contents come out eaiser.

    There are still some bottles that require a bottle opener to remove the top. Show him how to do that with keys, a screw driver or other methods. How to remove a cork from a wine bottle by carefully hitting the bottom of the bottle against a log. It might shake up the contents but most college kids don't care about that. It will impress the others. Then some physics major will explain how it works.

    Does he know how to do laundry?

    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 03-25-2021 at 1:36 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    You have a good practical list. My suggestion is talk with your wife about what you both want to say to
    him about alcohol and drugs. She's probably thinking and worrying about her son and would love to have
    help and backup with rules,warnings ,and incentives. Things like what it costs to spend a night in jail are
    good too . I think that if you are not showering a kid with money it's good for them to know how
    expensive a night in jail can be. Most of them get " will not stay there again " reviews.
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 03-25-2021 at 3:00 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Millstone, NJ
    I would say have him rebuild the lawn mower engine or some other way to test his mind. If he can do it with your supervision he has a mechanical though process. Get him a basic toolbox and youtube will take him the rest of the way. If not I would figure on teaching things individually.

  6. #6
    He won’t learn any of it unless he wants to. Has he shown interest?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Eagle, WI
    I wish parents of several of my former college housemates had been so considerate as to make sure they could clean bathrooms, use a vacuum cleaner and do the dishes.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    +1 on knowing the location of the main water shutoff .
    +1 1/2 on verifying that valve works - before the flood.

    Use a fire extinguisher on a live fire (outside).
    Learn how to extinguish a grease fire, clean a grease trap or filter in a stove hood.

    Eat the leftovers, first.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    He won’t learn any of it unless he wants to. Has he shown interest?
    I keep thinking the same thing. I think I'd focus on car emergencies. I'd buy him a set of jumper cables and teach him how to use them. Then I'd teach him how to change a tire. Also give him a tire gauge and teach him how to check pressures. These are things he may very well need short term, while at school. He can learn tne rest from you later as he needs it.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    South West Ontario
    You could mention that fixing things for girls often has fringe benefits, they cook you lunch, then dinner, then breakfast.
    Preventative maintenance: Are you on the pill? Teach him about the ovulation cycle, good and bad times, changing diapers.
    Drug education very important. Naloxone, last chance recovery.
    Girls that can cook are quite rare, makes you wonder what their mothers have ben doing all these years! I was cooking family meals at 10 yrs old but my mother was the best cook in the county, she won the huge contest to prove it, the mayor then gave her the job of cooking cakes for the queen on her visit.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Learn to tell time on a anlaog clock and learn clockwise and counterclockwise for nuts/bolts/screws. How to use a rotary phone
    Bill D

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Northern Florida
    He should know how to use a simple multimeter to measure voltage and current **. Make sure he has one. He should know the difference between AC and DC. He should understand what it takes to make a flashlight bulb light starting with a bulb, battery(s) and a few pieces of wire.

    And don't get me started on Sex Ed, although I bet he already knows the basics.

    [** Edit: And continuity.]
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 03-25-2021 at 2:39 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Anaheim, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    How to use a rotary phone
    How far to pull the choke out to start the car when it's cold.

    Wait a minute, how old IS this thread?
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Washington DC
    I am loving this thread. I think the points about pitching this as a "girls will be impressed when..." are brilliant.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Kansas City
    First aid, CPR.

    Replace wiper blades; +1 on laundry; wash dishes by hand; fix a broken shelf.

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