The irresponsible teenager has become the caricature of modern adolescence. He can’t find his school books to do his homework, he regularly runs out of clean underwear, he has to borrow money from dad to go to the mall, and "cooking" consists of knowing how to operate a microwave oven.

The young lady of similar age often does not fare any better. It seems the days are gone that girls learned home making skills, much less money management and life organization. This young lady and young man are chronologically ready to be launched into the real world where mom is not around to cook, launder and clean, and where dad is not available to readily whip out his wallet to lend $20. But are they equipped to handle it?

I believe there are a baker’s dozen areas of life in which we must intentionally equip our children. They range from the mundane, like balancing a checkbook and managing money, to the sublime, like encouraging them to have a rich prayer life.

As an already overly-stressed parent, you are probably thinking, "Great. Just what I need. Another ‘project’ to do with my child."

I am not talking about projects, or earning badges or keeping checklists, although you may utilize some of these techniques as you train your children. I am talking about parents mentoring their children in everyday life skills. What does a mentor do? They simply come alongside to instruct, encourage and assist. We can mentor our children in life skills by simply involving them in our lives and spending time with them.

In my early days of parenting, I had this mistaken notion that childhood was kind of a child’s carnival, where our main responsibility was to keep our children entertained. Four kids later I now realize that childhood is training time work for the real world, and the earlier they accept the fact that all of life involves work, the stronger will be their work ethic and their willingness to work.

As the mother of three daughters and one son, I believe God is calling us to equip our children to serve Him in many ways. That might be as a keeper at home (my profession for the last ten years) and it might be as an attorney (my former profession). We need to make sure we are not shortchanging our daughters or our sons in these areas of life skills so they will be prepared to serve God whether He calls them to be at home or in the courtroom.

The life skills we focus on each correspond with a Maxim of Maturity, or MOM. With exposure to these areas, our children will approach adulthood with confidence as they manage their own careers, families and homes.

Maxim One: Responsibility begins in small things, and with good timing. Don’t start too early or too late to expect things from your child. You may be grooming a child who can’t do anything for themselves or others.

Starting when our children are young, chores can be the perfect training ground for life skills. Even the youngest child can fold a washcloth or wipe up the floor. By the time he or she is 12 or 13, they can be doing the family’s laundry independently, along with much of the cleaning.

Maxim Two: Everyone lives somewhere. We need to take care of that somewhere and make it a place to nourish ourselves and others. In our homes, things regularly break and need maintenance. The more we can do on our own, the more self-reliant we will be.

Other home skills are learned by spending time together in the kitchen and alongside mom or dad as they do home maintenance and repairs. My husband’s fondest memory is of going to the hardware store with his dad and assisting him with home tasks. One of my greatest joys is washing dishes with one of my daughters. Something about the distraction of washing and wiping clears the way for some great conversations. The more we make these everyday activities an opportunity to be together and share, the better managers of their homes our children will be when they reach independence.