Monday, February 18, 2013

Teaching YW basic life skills

I've received a lot of negative feedback (and some positive feedback) about this blog post, primarily from Pinterest users who clearly either #1- did not actually read my blog post OR #2- did not understand that this blog is for YW leaders who volunteer their personal time to help teenage girls. Several of these people have called me "sexist", but if these people knew me at all (or had actually read this blog post in the first place), they would realize that is not true. 

Please see my response to these negative comments in the comments section at the very bottom of this post (in the comments section)

A recently came across some paperwork which described a survey that they had conducted of ADULT women (in a suburb of a large city), asking about their current "provident living" (i.e., self-reliance) skills and those that they felt they still needed to acquire/improve.

Due to the results of this survey, local church leaders were encouraging the ward Relief Societies to focus on teaching the women in our congregations (some of whom were single parents) these vital life skills that many lack.

What was on this list of skills that the leaders felt that these sisters desperately needed to learn?
  • Basic Budgeting
  • Planning and cooking nutritious meals
  • Cleaning
  • Basic Sewing (such as sewing on a button)
I am as shocked now as I remember being when I first read the letter. Women don't know how to clean? Or cook? Or sew on a button? But yes, while I'm sure there were many who did have these skills (or at least some of them), these were the main areas that the sisters themselves had reported that they needed more training. 

I have thought about that letter many times since I found it the other day. While it is mainly the parent's responsibility to prepare their own children to function as adults,  we as Young Women leaders have an opportunity every Wednesday to teach skills like these that will help prepare (or reinforce the preparations of parents) these young women for college, missions, and/or being a wife/mother. Would budgeting, planning & cooking meals, cleaning, and basic sewing help a young adult in college, on a mission, and/or as a young wife/mother? Absolutely! And the same thing goes for the young men. These are basic, basic life skills, but they are being taught in the home (and schools) less and less.

Within the church, these types of skills are frequently referred to as "provident living skills". This term means that these skills are necessary for any person (not just the young women) who wants to be capable of doing things for themselves instead of always relying on others. Can we sew on our own button, or do we need to run to our mother (or have to pay someone to do it)? Can we do our own laundry, or do we need to hire someone to do it? Could we take care of our own needs in an emergency situation, or would we sit around and wait for someone to rescue us?

In our class activities, we have already had a few cooking and meal planning activities (see previous posts under the "life skills" label at the right of this page). I now have a goal to have a "cooking" activity with the Mia Maid class once very quarter (or 4 times a year). This way, they will have at least 8 opportunities to learn to cook something during the time they are a Mia Maid.

I have also taught some basic sewing (see previous posts under "life skills") and budgeting. Teaching "cleaning" is a little tougher (although maybe I could get them to fold my laundry?). But we do have regular assignments to clean the ward building.

My goals for teaching basic cooking are to teach them to make things that they actually want to eat and make things that won't be too overwhelming.

Some things that we have already made: pico de gallo*, wheat ciabatta bread*
Some things I plan to have them make soon: spinach/artichoke dip and pita chips, spaghetti, fruit pie

In the meantime, here is a great article about teaching teenagers the basics of kitchen safety, food preparation, and safe storage of foods from (click  here)
and my other life-skill related posts can be found by searching the categories listed at the top of this blog.


  1. I am the author of this blog post. The items listed were suggested as things that should be taught because it was found that many adults are lacking in skills in these areas that are considered to be “old-fashioned”. When you have adults who can't cook nutritious food, budget their money, or take care of themselves in general, you are going to have serious problems in society. And we are experiencing those problems today- people that always eat take-out because they don't know how to cook a nutritious meal, people that live in squalor because they don't value cleanliness, people that can't manage their money or stretch a dollar by making due with that they have... if you think not wanting the teenage girls that I know to end up like that is sexist, then you need to re-think your own values. These are skills that used to be passed down from parent (or grandparent) to child and thats not happening as much any more. Shouldn't girls learn those things? Or should we teach them to eat convenience foods, charge everything to credit cards, and hire a maid because we're worried about being 'sexist'? Teaching people to take responsibility for themselves is not sexist. Young Women are specifically mentioned BECAUSE my blog is geared towards volunteer leaders who teach teenage girls, some of whom, I might add are not taught basic skills in the home. I am responsible for teaching teenage girls and these are some of the things I teach them - which are considered by many to be 'lost arts' (I consider them to be essential skills for be self-reliant/reducing dependance on others). If I were in charge of educational activities for boys or had boys of my own, I would be teaching them the same things. 
I mentioned this in the blog post - if you'd bothered to read it, you'd know that. Although its becoming less and less popular, I highly value the roles of wife and mother. However, I never tell the young women that they HAVE TO BE wives and mothers. But most of them will be. They could also be brain-surgeons AND wives, or business-owners AND mothers. Thats not my choice to make- its theirs. But I won’t skip over teaching them to take care of themselves and their family because its considered “sexist”.
 I seriously doubt that anyone who called me sexist even bothered to read what I wrote. I try to empower the girls I work with to be able to care for themselves and also be able to contribute in their family and in the community. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you help anyone else or contribute in any positive way to society? We do learn about education, careers, and all of those things, too. This month they are learning vehicle maintenance, self-defense, and first-aid. Is someone going to jump down my throat about that? I doubt it. Seriously, sometimes people get so upright about equal rights that they forget that we’re not all robots that want to be gender-neutral carbon copies of whats “ok” in society right now. I like sewing and cooking. And being a mom. And there is nothing wrong with that. And if you think I’m wrong, maybe you should consider your own motivations and prejudices…not everyone thinks its degrading to have "old-fashioned" values

  2. If any parent can't do three out of four of these things, they take your kids away. How is that sexist? Like you said, basic life skills.

  3. Haha People make me laugh. I'm sorry you're getting negative feedback for this post, people really need to relax. I haven't read it, I just glanced through it and then saw your comment at the top but wanted to let you know that I came across this post because it's exactly what my young women were asking to learn about. We had a planning meeting and asked them what we should do for activities and these things are things they asked to learn about specifically. So I say forget the nay-sayers and listen to your gut and your girls. And keep writing blogs like this because as a Young Woman leader who feels inadequate I rely on all the blogs I can find! <3

  4. Was excited to see the blog and then your picture when I recognized your name. I love that you are doing so well. Alethea Villarreal (Siemers)