18 October 2013

Urban Homesteading LITE: Family and Consumer Sciences

I read this article recently on Jezebel. It discusses my generation's inability to anything for ourselves - that has led to a significant dependence on the service industry. While it discusses this issue in relation to one of the author's previous boyfriends, I know many men and women who could probably learn a few things from what was formerly known as Home Economics.

I was required to take Home Ec in 8th grade and while I had to bake some cakes and sew some buttons in the class, I'm not sure I learned a whole lot that I wasn't already learning at home. My parents required me (and my siblings) to do our own laundry, cook meals for the family, sew (this was probably the only gender-specific item on the list that my sister and I learned how to do), mow the lawn, check our own oil, etc. It was sort of a necessity with five kids. My mom certainly couldn't have done all of that stuff while working part-time.

But, I see the point of the article. While I had Home Ec and a mom who taught me life skills, I've had to do a lot of learning on my own as an adult. But, as I've learned from many other experiences, once you start doing something regularly, you realize how disturbingly easy it is to do. I often wonder why I haven't pickled or baked or gardened or biked my entire adult life. Most of the time, it was just a matter of starting something and practicing to become better.

The article was a nice reminder about the importance of passing these skills onto my own kids. Often I get caught up with the hurried harried pace of life and I tend to do a lot of stuff that my kids could otherwise do. Sometimes I need to take a breath and walk them through baking or cleaning or even knitting. And I realize the need to have Nate partner up and model this behavior to the kids. Since I work part-time and he often works well over full-time, I take over many of these tasks. And it worries me that gender will become an excuse for not teaching Ben how to sew or not teaching Lila how to mow the lawn.

First world problems, for sure. But maybe, just maybe, if a critical mass of parents reverts back to teaching real-life skills and responsibility, we'll have a better society for the effort.