"Adulting" is a term I've heard over the past few years. I really never gave it much thought until sitting with my my son a few days before his 15th birthday.
I noticed how much he eats now compared to a year ago. Geez.
I also noticed the hair above his lip, the way he conveyed his thoughts, the bass in his voice and his overall confidence. I stopped for a second to realize that some folks will seek to devalue him because of his smooth silky light brown skin.
He's a good kid. He's healthy, happy, and laughs out loud. He has a personal relationship with the one true God.
I didn't sleep at all that night. I prayed and cussed all through the day. I feel like I'm running out of time. In a matter of 36 months he will be 18 years old. It dawned on me that in the blink of an eye he will be a high school graduate and on his way to his next big adventure.
There are so many skills I lack. Not because i'm a horrible person, but because I simply wasn't taught.
I came up with twenty lessons I intend to teach him or expose him to over the next 3 years so that he is successful. My hope is that he may be able to use these skills as a basis for how he navigates his life.
Lesson Number One: Learn what qualifies as "Too Much Information"
TMI is another way of saying we may be oversharing. Most folks are not invested in your wants and needs because they have to focus on their own life. Never talk to folks you have a casual interaction with about your money and your relationships.
Lesson Number Two: Driving and Car Maintenance
I gave my son his first of many driving lessons a few days ago. It went well. I've learned that no matter how well you drive, you are not safe unless your vehicle is in good condition.
Lesson Number Three: Firearm Safety
My son was a huge gamer. He can name every type of long gun and pistol. He knows their capabilities because of the video games he plays. However, in real life, he has absolutely zero experience firing a weapon.
Lesson Number Four: Know the difference between religious doctrine, dogma and traditions and having a personal relationship with God.
I'm pushing my son to develop a personal relationship with God by studying and gaining an understanding of the role religion has played over the years. I want his to understand that people who choose religion as a profession are not necessarily people of good faith and intent.
Lesson Number Five: Take Care of Your Business
In a civil society, we each have shared responsibility to take care of our individual well being and our person property. We must understand how to get things done.
Lesson Number Six: Safe Sex
Sex is a fact of life. I'll continue to teach my son that women are equal to him in every sense and every way.
I'll urge him to choose carefully. Every time he has sex he will risk disease, pregnancy, or an allegation of rape.
I keep telling him that no means no every single time; whether she uses verbal or nonverbal communication.
I share stories to bring home the fact that alcohol and sex do not mix. The mixture of the two seems to increase the likelihood of disease, pregnancy, or potential legal problems.
Lesson Number Seven: Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is defined as the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
I know I'll need help with this because I've not mastered this at all.
Lesson Number Eight: Family Matters Most
Is this self-explanatory?
Lesson Number Nine: Routine Home Maintenance
Over the past three years, we've replaced the hot water heater, a washing machine, all of the electrical outlets, the gutters, had the house painted, and along with host of other repairs.
Whether on his next adventure, he lives on campus in a residential housing unit or shares an apartment or house with some friends, he'll need to know how to make basic home repairs. We're going to start with changing filters, light bulbs, and batteries in the smoke detectors.
Lesson Number Ten: Money Management Basics
My son already understands concept of exchanging goods and services for money or for something of value. He, like me, needs a basic understanding of personal finance.
We're starting with a youth bank account.
Lesson Number Eleven: Resilience
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. If he learns that perfection is overrated now, then he will be just fine as he progresses through life.
Lesson Number Twelve: Self Defense Techniques
I think its wise for my son to know how to defend himself. Regardless of strength, size, or previous training, anyone can learn several effective self-defense techniques.
Lesson Number Thirteen: Relationship Boundaries
Setting Boundaries in a Relationship is critical to safety and self-esteem. I'll start with emotional, physical and digital boundaries.
Lesson Number Fourteen: Crucial Conversations
Lesson Number Fifteen: Calendar Management
Time management is an elusive concept. I'm considering offering a menu of tools, techniques, and tips to help him discover how to prioritize his daily activities and events.
Lesson Number Sixteen: Mindset
I'm fascinated by Dr. Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset research. I'll need to take a deep dive into some of her teaching techniques to know how to implement and share these nuggets with my son.
Lesson Number Seventeen: Skill set
Skill set is defined as a person's range of skills and abilities. I'll help my son explore his skills.
Lesson Number Eighteen: Network
in social science, a group of interdependent actors and the relationships between them. The actors within a network might be people, families, organizations, corporations, states, or a mixture of individuals and groups.
I want my son to be fully aware of the people within his network and to understand that he can always expand or decrease it; It's not fixed.
Lesson Number Nineteen: Clean Up What you Mess Up
Simply stated and understood.
Lesson Number Twenty: 10 Basic Meals
I was never taught nor was I interested in learning how to cook. I, only recently begin cooking at home consistently. Turns out, my son makes delicious eggs.
I think its prudent that he learns to prepare at least ten basic meals so that he can fend for himself as he grows older.
These are twenty lessons I want to teach or expose my 15 year old brilliant son to over the next 36 months. We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for reading all of the way down here. I'm thinking through how to introduce these lessons to my son. He's on his way to "adulting 101".
Angela M. Odom (Ryan's Mom)
P.S. What other lessons may prove helpful for me and my son?
P.P.S. If you want me to send you a PDF copy of the open letter I wrote to my son when he was 14 years old, drop me a line at [email protected]. Put REQUEST A COPY OF DECEMBER 2019 OPEN LETTER in the Subject Line. Otherwise I have to weigh through all of the emails I get.
P.P.P.S. visit angelaodom.com/powerhour to learn more about the virtual power hour mentioned in the video.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela M. Odom is a leadership coach and an author of BRONCO STRONG: A Memoir of the Last Deployed Personnel Services Battalion and a contributor to Camouflaged Sisters: Leadership Through The Eyes of Senior Military Women Leaders