Can You Teach Kids Adulting?

Do we lead by example or try to teach them every little thing we know? Or both? As my oldest son quickly approaches high school I began to seriously contemplate all the things we need to teach him before he goes off on his own. But the list is endless! Trust me, I’m the weirdo that actually started making a list and it was not a good idea, it only made me more overwhelmed!
Of course, I think school is important. I’ve even considered homeschooling over the years. But when I think about all of the things I want to teach my kids, I decided that I should let the school cover academics so I can try to take care of all the rest!
I know I’m not the first parent to have these thoughts. I hear a lot about young people from my friends who work at universities and such. How their parents take care of every little thing. Or how their parents call the university at the slightest problem. Will our kids know how to start investing, deal with life when it gets really real and hard, or check their oil when they graduate? Do they even want to learn these things, and if so, from their parents? But in this world of YouTube, can’t you learn to do absolutely anything on your own online?
I don’t have an answer to this but my plan is this:
  1. Show them safe and real resources for ways to learn about things
  2. Teach and show them the things that we think are important
  3. Conversation and commutation skills are important
  4. Independence is important. Kindness and self-care are important
  5. Money management and working hard are important
I could go on forever but these are the things on my mind to teach them lately!
I can’t teach my kids every single life skill ever needed, because my kids will need some life skills and have some interests that I don’t even know exist yet! I love lists and I write down tidbits about life in a journal here and there. We talk to our kids a lot. Not in lecture form (well I try not to anyway) but usually in stories or funny anecdotes. We all know that we learn best by making our own mistakes, but in the meantime, I’ll keep living my best life and know that some parts will rub off on my kids someday!
And it turns out that our own ASU has a website dedicated to adulting too!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on teaching our kids “adulting!”
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Katie Woodard
Katie has lived in Flagstaff for 22 years and grew up in North Carolina. She has 10 and 12 year old boys who are certainly an adventure! Her family is by far the most rewarding part of her life. Katie loves hiking and running in our beautiful hills, skiing, river rafting, traveling, health and clean eating (thanks to a whacky thyroid). She is also always taking small steps to clean up our environment, and she is currently learning meditation and just loves learning in general! Katie and her college roommate drove to AZ from VA after college and Katie has only left briefly but Flagstaff is her home for sure! She met her wonderful husband while river guiding in the Grand Canyon. Katie is a family photographer at, here in Flagstaff and loves capturing the natural love and beauty in families. Her newest fun adventure is co-founding Women Empowering Northern Arizona.


  1. I do wish schools had more resources for kids to learn “Adulting” (like I only just this year at 32, realized how tax brackets actually work, that should not have taken that long), but there are some lessons that are much more valuable if learned the hard way.

    I present you, my first auto loan: My husband and I had been married 4 months when our car broke down. I was also 5 months removed from graduating NAU. I had a full time job at a portrait studio for $10/hr and he was working part time at the Apple Store on the opposite side of the Valley. We were desperate for a car and unfortunately I think the sales guy at the dealership sensed it. We found a used Ford Focus for $10,000, fairly reasonable. We were told we would get a loan at 14% for 6 years and we could take home the car that night. Awesome, sold. We got called back in to sign the “final” paperwork and were surprised to find the interest rate now read 23%! We really needed the car and if we had argued and brought it back in, thanks to the fine print, we would have still owed them several thousand dollars for a car we’d only had a few days. 3 years of making our payments and we realized we still owed 90% of the original sales price of the car and would end up paying more than DOUBLE over the life of the loan. We borrowed a few grand from my brother and luckily both landed really good jobs shorty after to be able to pay him back quickly. And ever since we have been EXTREMELY careful to read the fine print, negotiate better terms and kept our credit scores untarnished. I don’t think we would be in nearly as strong of a financial position now if we hadn’t learned that very tough lesson so early on in our young adult lives.

    • Ugh, that is tough Stephanie! Glad you survived it. I feel like there are so many things to teach them it is hard to know where to start!

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