As my youngest turns 4 today I wonder what she will be in the future. My one wish is that she will be happy and healthy. Her smile and the dimples, that she still has, light up my day and I hope that she will continue to smile that beautiful smile forever. I also know that I want her to be empowered as a woman, not necessarily to lead the next women’s rights movement, breaking through glass ceilings in business or navigating around the world solo – although if she wanted to do any of those I would be right behind her. Just that she has the confidence in herself, the knowledge and the skills, that she knows she can do and be whatever she wants to be.
I am grateful that I come from a family where, whether I was female or male, my ambitions were supported, and never once did a member say to me that because I was female, I couldn’t do something crazy like go backpacking around Egypt Solo for my first trip – an attitude that I often met in schools when I voiced what I wanted to be as I grew up or where I wanted to go. My family’s support, and their faith in me meant that nothing was seen as impossible if I worked hard enough, and had the drive then I could do it. They gave me confidence to be and do what I wanted to be, and it was in my power to Make it Happen. My family empowered me!
Part of that empowerment was the skills that they taught me. Although at the time I may have grumbled, it’s amazing where or when I’ve used them, and what’s more they are skills and knowledge that in some circumstances have been passed down to male children. Those skills are things that you should be teaching your daughters (and sons!) – yes all the normal preschool and school stuff applies but these are things that as a woman it gives you the Power to be who you want to be, and not to have to rely on someone else.
So here goes: my life skills for daughters that my dad and mum, together, taught me, which I will be teaching my daughter and son this time around. Why me? Because I hate to say it but some of these skills my husband hasn’t been taught, and he will be learning alongside the kids.
Empowering our daughters – 5 life skills
How to change a tire
It shocks and surprises me that men and women drive a car and don’t know how to change a tire. They often don’t know where to find the spare, or even that there is a spare, and with newer cars why the tiny tire is there, or even just a spray can. My dad spent time teaching me how to change the tires on his car before I was allowed to go off in it on my own anywhere once I had passed my test. Have I used the skills as an adult? Oh yes. Night’s out, when the taxi driver had a flat, he had no idea how to change the tire, so I did it at the side of the road, getting us to our night out in time (with a free taxi ride and a voucher for more rides in the future), all done in a dress and heels! I’ve helped friends out and strangers, plus my call out premium on the road side assistance is low – the only time I have had to call out is when my alternator went on my car. Now that, I have no clue about apart from knowing that it was my alternator that had gone!
How to decorate
Prepare a room, sand down wood work, clean metal work, paint a ceiling, paint or wall paper walls, gloss the wood and metal. These are life skills. At 12 or 13 I wanted my room decorated – it was grey and pink, and I wanted it dark pink and grey with stripes and then a border and then a different paper but the grey and pink had only been up a year or two. If I wanted it done then I was going to have to do it myself and properly. My parents showed me how to do prepare the room, and I went ahead the same applied with all of the other bits and I did it – the room lasted till I left home and I loved it. It was exactly what I wanted. I’ve since decorated a room, my flat that I rented, and now this home, I’ve added new skills to that mix: laying tiles and plumbing are just two of them. I don’t need to pay for someone to come and decorate, fix a problem or sort out my house. I have the skills and knowledge to do it myself and the saving is HUGE.
Basic Household electrics
I’m not going to rewire a house, but I can wire a plug (UK, European and US types), change a fuse, and sort out the fuse if their electricity has tripped. I can change a light bulb. Simple skills but when I was sharing houses with others, I was one of the few that knew how to do those things, and they were essential for living in some of the student housing that I shared.
Yep an odd one maybe – but I’ve used it in my home, garden and also when working. I know how to mix it up and work it whether it’s grout for tiling, plaster for walls, or for under a patio or to make our own stepping stones. I’ve used it to lay the flooring of a classroom in the Costa Rican Jungle and a patio in this house that the kids play house sits on. We’ve got patios to lay this summer as well as paths, and both of my kids will be helping us lay those, learning with us, and as they get older, instead of being responsible for bringing us water or sieving sand, they will be there with the spade, mixing it up and learning the skills to be able to do it themselves in the future.
A button, a hem, a dress, by hand and using a machine, are skills my daughter and my son (ok not the making a dress but something for him) will learn this with me. My dad could sew. He knew how to use a sewing machine why? He made stuff for himself with. He and my mum (who is miles better than him, I must say) taught me and I’m still learning. This summer, I will be making T dresses. I’ve made them for me in the past but now my mum will come and help me make them for my daughter, and I hope that T will join us, watching and seeing how it’s done so like me, she will have the skills in the future to do these things.
As she turns 4 she won’t learn like she does her alphabet, numbers, facts about the world within the next year or decade. It’s ongoing learning that, will happen before she leaves home and when I hand her a mini tool box, a sewing machine and give her a house warming presents of DIY and gardening equipment. I know she will have the confidence to use and build on these skills as an adult, and it will empower her to Make it Happen and be what she wants to be. She’ll not be stranded on the side of the road, waiting for the road side assistance to come along and change her flat tire. Instead, she’ll be well on her way to what ever destination her life takes her, wishing she had put some wipes in the car before she left home as no doubt she will have inherited my disorganizational skills as well.