Home Maintenance as a Parenting Tool
If you have a teenager living in your home, you're likely very familiar with conflict. At one time or another, every parent of a teen struggles with maintaining open communication, helping promote self-confidence, and preparing their child for adulthood. While your teen may behave as if they know everything already, what they secretly need is your guidance. Fortunately, you can connect, support, and teach in a way that encourages your teenager's healthy development. One of the best approaches is by tackling household projects together.
Your Home as a Classroom
There's always something that needs to be done around the house, so the possibilities here are nearly endless. By teaching your teen about basic household maintenance, you're not only getting some help with your to-do list but you're also preparing your young person for the not-too-distant future when they'll be responsible for maintaining their own home. In addition, you're helping to fill a common gap in the traditional school curriculum: basic life skills. The kind of hands-on learning gained through making repairs simply cannot be taught by any other means. A successfully completed project is invaluable in instilling a sense of confidence and self-worth in your teenager.
Your To-Do List as a Connector
With supervision, your teen can tackle a wide range of tasks beyond basic house cleaning chores. From checking the breakers after an electrical disconnect to repairing the asphalt driveway, your teenager can contribute to the smooth operation of your home. Other projects to consider are patching and painting walls, unclogging gutters, and fixing squeaky doors. Create or consult a comprehensive home maintenance checklist and develop a plan to take it on together.
Don't be afraid to have a go at bigger projects, within reason. While it will take time, planning, and determination, there are some larger home repairs you and your teen can successfully accomplish together. Fixing a leaky toilet and re-grouting the bathroom tile are examples of projects you can confidently approach. On the other hand, there are some projects you should definitely leave to the professionals, such as anything involving electricity. Discerning which home repairs you can do yourself and which you should leave to the pros is critically important.
As you work together, you'll likely find yourselves bonding in unexpected ways. You may learn that your teen is a natural at measuring and hammering but struggles with a paintbrush. They may find it hilarious that you're afraid to climb more than two steps up the ladder. Try to approach each project as not just a chore but an opportunity to connect with the fascinating young person beside you. Take time to explain the steps involved but stay open to suggestions from your teen. Sometimes fresh eyes can see better ways to do things. Deferring to their ideas demonstrates that you recognize and value your teenager's intelligence.
Your Toolbox as a Teacher
Having the proper tools on hand and knowing how to use them can make the difference between a mutually rewarding experience and a complete disaster. The basic toolbox includes a hammer, drill, screwdriver, saw, wrench, level, and tape measure, just to name a few. If you're not an accomplished handy person with a workshop full of tools, don't feel bad! It's beneficial for your teen to understand that no one knows everything. By acknowledging that you don't have all the answers and then researching what you need to know, you are modeling problem-solving skills that will serve your teen well in the future.
The time you spend together maintaining and repairing the house you share gives your teen a sense of belonging and ownership. Your young person is moving away from carefree childhood toward the obligations of adulthood. By gradually providing greater responsibilities, you demonstrate trust and belief in your teenager's capabilities. They may not know how to express their gratitude in words, but they will appreciate your efforts. And you'll both have fond memories of the time spent maintaining your home together.