I started working at age four by getting water 2-3 miles away from my home. At age six, I was helping my mom grow crops. And at age 12, I could do just about anything an adult could. From a young age, work was all I knew. Contributing to my family and working hard was just a part of life and how we survived. Growing up I never knew how to be a kid and how to enjoy playing without having any care in the world. So, when I came to the United States and started being a foster parent, I quickly learned how different our cultures were. Being a dad, coming from a different upbringing helps me share my experience with my kids and allows us to benefit and learn from one another.
One of my favorite things about being a foster parent is that I have a chance to set a good example for these children. I get the opportunity to teach them skills they will need in the real world. For some, simple life skills such as cleaning or paying a bill on time might seem like common sense. However, a child that grew up without any structure or guidance might not fully grasp certain life skills.
My house is not only a safe place for these children, but it’s a home where they get to explore who they are and who they want to be. Becoming an adult comes with many new responsibilities. These responsibilities are usually instilled at a young age, but this is not the case for everyone. Can you imagine a child coming out of foster care at 18, and never knowing what it means to establish good credit by paying bills on time? Or how to pump gas, and maintain a car properly with oil changes? Even simple life skills such as laundry, and cleaning. All of these life skills that are learned at a young age help shape us into individuals. Life skills provide discipline organization, and overall allow children to become independent. But without the knowledge or the skills, these children are left to fend for themselves, and it just sets them up for failure.
Think of a time when you performed a simple life skill such as laundry. How well did it feel to finish laundry, and have clean clothes put away ready to wear? Yes – I know folding laundry is NOT fun! Trust me, I fold A LOT of laundry. But how cool is it to have clean clothes, organized in your room, so you can put on a fresh outfit and go out into the world? Life skills build self-esteem in our children. When they learn how to take care of themselves, it gives them a self-sufficient purpose that overall makes them feel confident in themselves.
Teaching them the fundamentals of life skills to set them up to succeed in this world is so important to me. I was blessed to witness my two children Zay and Anthony grocery shop and cook for me last week! They both made a grocery list, went to the store together and bought the groceries, and came home and worked together to make a meal- and they had fun! Seeing them work together to make this happen gave me peace of mind that I am making an impact on their lives.
What are some of the first life skills you were taught when you were younger?