Duchess Kate thinks teenagers should learn parenting skills in school

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends The Royal Society for Medicine

Several years ago, I was watching an interview with some education expert (whose name I forget), and she was lamenting the fact that Home Economics classes went out of fashion for teenagers. At some point, Home Ec became an optional course and something that only female students would take, and many thought that public schools shouldn’t waste the money on such an un-feminist concept of preparing just girls to run a household, or cook basic meals or keep a budget. The education expert made the point that Home Ec classes are needed now more than ever, perhaps with a rebrand, and that they should be mandatory for all students, male and female. They should deal with everything about how to get through daily life: how to do laundry, how to cook, how to make and keep a budget, how to care for a child, etc. Just everyday life skills. I would be all for it, honestly.

I was thinking about that interview as I watched the Duchess of Cambridge’s speech at the symposium she organized for early-childhood mental health and more. I’m not even going to nitpick her speechmaking ability – ever since Meghan Markle came on the scene, it’s like Kate can’t go anywhere without making a speech now. She’s been on a speaking binge, which should finally put to rest the asinine theory that Kate is a delicate wallflower incapable of using her voice all these years: she’s been perfectly capable this whole time, she just didn’t want to make speeches, so she didn’t. Here’s her speech:

Does the bow drive me crazy? Yes. Do I think Catherine Quinn and a team of speechwriters wrote this speech for Kate and she merely delivered it? Yes. But still, let’s talk about what she’s actually saying:

Teenagers should be taught parenting and relationship skills to prepare them to be “child-ready” in good time, the Duchess of Cambridge has said. The Duchess, who is expecting her third child next month, said it was important to prepare future mothers and fathers for parenthood, to enable them to cope with the “mental and emotional needs” of their children. In a speech on the benefits of early intervention in supporting children’s mental health, she said early intervention would help to break “the inter-generational cycle of disadvantage”.

“I really do feel so passionately about the importance of early intervention, and that by working on new approaches together, we can make a real difference for generations to come… We need mental health support in primary schools before the biological changes and academic pressures of adolescence kick in. We also need a focus on parenting and family support, so that parents feel able to get their children ‘school ready’, and are confident that they themselves can cope with the mental and emotional needs of their own children. We need to highlight how important it is to support mothers too, potentially even before they give birth. They need to be aware how vulnerable they might be and, critically, know where they can find help for themselves, as well as for their babies and toddlers. And potentially we could start to look even earlier, by teaching parenting and relationship skills to teenagers, to get the next generation of parents child-ready, well before they have to put these skills into practice.”

[From The Telegraph]

Should teenagers be taught how to be parents? I’m of two minds on this one – on one side, education is great. More education across the board. Throw everything at kids and teenagers because they’re sponges and they’ll hopefully absorb a lot of what you throw at them. On the other hand, Kate is sending a very “babies-raising-babies” conundrum. If you teach teenagers how to raise children, will teenagers then believe that they’re ready to raise children? Now, if it was all part of a larger Home-Ec curriculum, then I’m here for it. Teach teenagers how to cook, how to make a budget, how to do laundry, how to change a diaper. Then teach them what pregnancy does to their bodies. Also: teach boys about emotions, talking things out instead of using violence, teach them about toxic masculinity and more. Teach all of them about consent. Basically, Kate’s on the right track but I would appreciate it if she was more specific about what kinds of lessons should be given to which targeted ages.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends The Royal Society for Medicine

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

112 Responses to “Duchess Kate thinks teenagers should learn parenting skills in school”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. peanutbuttr says:

    I think a basic life skills course (I.e. budget management, how to cook a chicken) would be helpful and it certainly would be more useful than the required dance class I took (although I actually became a Ballet fan because of that class). But to say all kids need to take parenting classes? Um, what if you have no intention of ever procreating? I knew when I was 10 I was never having children.

    • Ponytail says:

      Agree, agree, agree! With the birth rate dropping, there’s a good chance that students won’t ever have to use this knowledge.

    • LAK says:

      Home Economics *is* a basic life skills course. It covers all aspects of life from very basics about personal hygiene through to financial planning. Even rudimentary first aid, health and nutrition was included.

      It’s best encapsulated by Mrs Beeton’s book of household management which is still a bestseller even if some of the recommendations therein are outdated / debunked eg how to manage staff because we don’t live in Victorian age, but the principals hold.

      I’m probably in the last generation that took this course in it’s proper old school version before trendy education advocates decided it was unfeminist to have it at all. It was at the optional stage when i was a teen, and i took it because it was the easiest course of all the subjects my parents insisted upon.

      That said, it was progressively devalued such that by the time my youngest sister was in high school, only cooking was left and she didn’t want to do that. By the time she graduated, it had been dropped entirely from education curriculum in all it’s forms.

      In my adult life, i am frequently surprised at how many of those old school lessons apply.

      • Honey says:

        The problem is only girls were tracked for those classes. My sisters, who are older, took classes like that but the boys werent offered those classes. I can’t remember what my brother had, but it wasn’t home ec. He and the boys took “shop” classes, i.e., wood shop and auto shop. I’m five years younger that my youngest elder sister and by the time I came along none of those classes were being offered (home ec or shop). Now, some kids may get exposed to financial literacy stuff through a few weeks of exposure to Junior Achievement modules in their social studies classes.

      • Cee says:

        They should have included males. I am 30 years old and most of my male peers cook, clean, fix things, iron, etc. I am grateful I get to experience the blurring of the “gender mandate”, at least in the private sphere.

      • Nic919 says:

        In elementary school we had a program in grade 7 where half the class took home ec and the other half took shop. After four months we switched. There were no gender divisions and so everyone learned how to sew and bake something as well as how to use the machine that bends sheet metal and a jigsaw. This was a few decades ago and I don’t think they offer it today, which is too bad because both parts provided invaluable skills.

      • LAK says:

        I went to all-girls schools until uni. So i can’t comment on the gender alignment of these lessons.

        That said, my high school offered Home Ec as well as Shop. So i could manage a home AND use heavy machinery.

      • Imqrious2 says:

        When I was in 7th grade we all had to do it. You had to take Shop (making/fixing things) and Home Ec, one semester of each. It was fun, and I learned how to fix basic household problems. Served me well, living alone. 🔧🔨⚙️🔦😊

      • HK9 says:

        Boys did have to take Home Ec in my day, and girls had to take shop. I’ll never forget one guy melting a whole pound of butter trying to make garlic bread as he couldn’t be bothered to read the measurements. The calamity that followed was CLASSIC!! Needless to say, we all needed that Home Ec course. Ah, the memories…..

      • Anners says:

        @imqrious2 me too! We all had to take home ec (sewing/cooking/budgeting) and shop (built a piggy bank and for some reason made a bridge out of popsicle sticks? amongst other things). I’m so grateful I got to learn some of those things and have totally made use of them.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Life skills, definitely. Parenting? Why pigeonhole? Teach kids how to take care of themselves when they are out of their parents’ house and eventually they will naturally become more competent parents.

      • Anitas says:

        Knowing how to do your laundry or cook a meal has little to do with parenthood, at least in the newborn stage. I agree those “life skills” are necessary, but they don’t necessarily include preparation for parenthood, or exclude any such education. I hadn’t cooked a single meal for the first 4 months of my son’s life – he was such a Velcro baby I considered it a success being able to put him down for a couple of minutes to use the bathroom, let alone cook lunch.

      • LAK says:

        Anitas: Actually the newborn stage is covered in these lessons. How to look after them, how to do their laundry and how to manage them so that you can have a semblance of a life.

        And for those mothers (and fathers) who can’t breastfeed, how to prepare formula and to determine how to feed your baby when the option of breat isn’t available.

        For the breastfeeding mother, you were taught about nutrition to have nutritionally optimum breastmilk.

        It talks you through every stage of a baby’s life from newborn to toddler. Food, laundry, illnesses, etc

        It’s a very micro-detailed course. Not the devalued version your comment implies you think it is.

      • Anitas says:

        @LAK: that’s fantastic. Sadly this kind of comprehensive education is absent from too many schools these days. For example, when it comes to breastfeeding, the level of public knowledge is appalling. UK has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and the society has a lot to answer for. (Not begrudging individual women’s choice to formula feed, but rather standing up for too many women who wanted to breastfeed but were discouraged by frankly shocking advice from midwives or negative reactions from friends and family). By educating young people, including those who won’t be breastfeeding, or even become parents, we’d do a big step towards normalizing those who decide to do so.

      • LAK says:

        Anitas: it’s really sad that these things aren’t taught even if as an introductory course because not everyone has the sorts of parents who will impart this knowledge automatically.

    • Eliza says:

      Im an older millennial, but home ec was mandatory for both girls and boys in my middle school, as was work shop.

      Home ec taught basic cooking, nutrition, and sewing skills (make pillows)

      Work shop taught basic wood working, and electrical (make a lamp, sauder and hook up kit to make a hovering fan)

      • Malificent says:

        I am older Gen X, and Home Ec and workshop were required for both boys and girls when I was in junior high in the late 70s. The best cook in our class was on the football team.

        I’m all for teaching all of this stuff to kids in schools. Sometimes parents can’t or won’t. I lost track of the number of guys that I taught to sort laundry in college. Or teaching a college-graduate friend to budget and balance a checkbook. (Her father, a professor himself, was so controlling that he had made her send home her small checks from college work study to give her an allowance out of it.) And I just passed on some inexpensive, easy, freezable recipes to a friend. They live in a Habitat for Humanity house, but she spends a lot of money on takeout and processed foods because she was never taught basic cooking skills.

        And saying that teaching parenting can cause parenting is the same argument that the troglodytes make for not teaching kids about birth control because it will make them want to have sex.

      • LAK says:

        Malificent: i’m gen x, but took the Home Ec option at my school. Last intake that was given the option before it was devalued and eventually removed from the curriculum.

        I recognise every point you make. I am frequently bemused at the choices people make because of a lack of these basic skills.

      • SugarMalone says:

        Same for me. I’m Gen X (about to turn 42). In grades 6, 7, and 8 we had one semester of Home Ec and one semester of Shop each year. Our class was just split down the middle, it wasn’t gender-segregated, and half did one while half did the other.

        I still have a small wooden shelf I built and a Snoopy head I welded together in Shop class!

        On another note: imagine how nerve-racking it must have been to be a Shop teacher who had to supervise 15 13-year-olds using a band saw!

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        Same. I think I’m an Xennial? Is that what the kids are calling it? But 7th grade, we took home ec and maybe 8th we took shop? Boys and girls. Home ec did not include budgeting which is unfortunate but it was cooking, sewing, etc. My high school was a pretty progressive single sex school, so we had comprehensive sex ed and Our Bodies, Our Health seminars were we focused on BSE, relationship health, spotting abusive ones, etc.

    • JustJen says:

      My daughter, who is in 8th grade, has taken consumer science (which sounds a lot like home ec but with some updates) as well as wellness classes (not the same as health, which she has also taken). They learned how to make various foods and everyday tasks and it’s taken by both genders. I still think they should teach cursive (they don’t) and shop should be mandatory for at least a semester. And don’t get me started on common core and the “new” math. I’ve had to watch videos to re-learn math just so I could help her with her homework in grade school. UGH!!!

    • ennie says:

      I think that in Japan they teach everyone how to sew, cook, and other skills in elementary school. It doesn’t mean everyone will use it, but they can manage. Taking care of a kid doesn’t mean that you will have babies, or give teens ideas. I think that it will make them realize that it is actually hard work to do it all.

    • Olive says:

      yeah the birth rate is fine as it is, it’s not like the UK is like Japan & desperate for young people to support the growing older population. we could do with less people in this world anyway!

    • Annabel says:

      I think parenting stuff should be integrated into a broader curriculum (cooking, budgeting, etc.) but would say that it’s still maybe useful even for people who have zero interest in procreation… when my friends and siblings started having kids, I wish I’d been able to help them out more. If I’d had more knowledge, I could’ve been all like “you guys go have dinner, I’ll watch the baby for a couple hours.”

  2. LaraK says:

    Teach kids basic financial literacy first! This impacts every single aspect f their life, and is woefully ignored in school.
    Then basic social care – negotiation skills, coping skills, consent & toxic masculinity, anger management, etc.
    Then basic self-care – cooking, cleaning, laundry, home repairs, car repairs.
    Then parenting.
    You can’t be a good parent if you can’t manage your own life first.

    • Talie says:

      Yes! This is the most important. I went to a public school that had a class called “Financial Principles” and it actually taught you how to write a check, balance a check book, etc.

    • Who ARE these people? says:


      And today life skills would have to include digital literacy and security including in the financial world.

      I was a girl forced into Home Ec and in my time it was baking and sewing, period. Almost useless.

    • SK says:

      Yes, god yes. I wish I had been taught how to budget, how to save, how to invest and how to do my taxes to even a minimal degree in high school.

      Also, a lot of adults I know are missing some pretty major life skills like how to cook a basic meal, how to use the washing machine, etc. – especially men (no surprises there) so I think that kind of thing would be useful too.

    • Honey says:

      I work with school systems. Most have begun working on social emotional skills. Some are pushing self-regulation, coping skills and relationship building. Progress is on a spectrum. However, I fully agree with you re: the things you’ve listed.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      Yes! I said so in fewer words, apologies I did not scroll down to read yours first.

    • Hazel says:

      We had your basic electives (home ec, auto shop, Spanish, etc,) as others have described, but we also had, in the first week of whatever elective you were taking (e.g. sociology) basic life skills such as how to write a check & balance your checkbook, how to do your taxes, & so on. No how to be emotionally supportive to your kids, though.

    • Veronica says:

      The problem is that so many kids do,it backwards- have no idea how to be independent, are a mess themselves, and get pregnant, thinking “someone will love me” and adoption is a dirty word to many. (I was adopted, thank the goddess!)
      I think boys and girls should all have all of the classes you mentioned. And to think that pwrenting classes will lead to kids having babies, that sounds like thinking that introducing birth control will lead to kids having sex. I disagree with both premises.
      They more they know, the better for all.

    • Betsy says:

      That’s in family and consumer sciences, aka home ec.

    • MeghanNotMarkle says:

      Absolutely. Anything I learned about taking care of myself was done in high school and it wasn’t much. Our 10th grade English teacher taught us how to fill out job applications and to write checks. We had sex ed that was more “just say no” than anything. A handful of kids got those dolls that were preprogrammed to either be a “normal” baby or a colicky one, to take home for a night, and the responses to the dolls were recorded at the school. We had a high teen pregnancy rate and I don’t think anyone had a good understanding of the magnitude of children by the time the class was to done. This was 98-99.

      I learned very little about how to care for myself at home and nothing at school. I could do laundry and load a dishwasher but my mother had always had a maid (her mother) and a housekeeper (and then her mother again when her credit card debt became so large that she couldn’t afford the housekeeper anymore) to take care of things. I am 34 years old and a mediocre housekeeper because I’m still learning what to do. I never really had to do anything until I married. I had zero experience with babies and small children. I’m a hot mess but I’m trying because I want my kids to be the total opposite of me. Budgeting is my hurdle at the moment. Definitely didn’t get any advice there from my mom and her 10 credit cards with minimum 18% interest – all maxed out at any given time.

  3. lightpurple says:

    There should be a basic Life class mandatory for all that combines home ec, basic shop, and the “health/home nursing” class that we girls had to take once a week in the 8th grade so kids learn how to: take a temperature, take a pulse, make a tourniquet, clean an oven, perform simple home repairs, handle food safely. put out a kitchen grease fire, sew on a button, do laundry and yes, change and wash and monitor a baby.

    • LadyMTL says:

      ITA. I learned most of those things in high school, but it was all spread out in different classes. Home Ec taught me the basics of sewing, how to safely handle food, cooking simple recipes, etc, whereas I learned first aid in gym class, and budgeting / finances were taught in an entirely different class again. Phew. It would have made it so much easier, and logical, to group it all together.

      That said, we didn’t have any courses on parenting skills, other than the very simple “this is how you change a diaper” aspects.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      My high school taught mandatory First Aid in grade 10. That was great.

      Loving all the suggestions.

      Revamping physical education to teach more about the body and personalizing for lifelong fitness would be good, too.

  4. LizLemonGotMarried (aka The Hufflepuff Liz Lemon) says:

    I think a life skills class would be incredibly useful. Include basic home and car maintenance too! Here’s how to unclog a toilet, change a tire, check your oil, etc. Financial management as applicable for the section-here’s your budget, and the car need oil-can you afford to have it changed? Or do you need to change it yourself? Can you call the plumber or should you take a turn with the plunger first? Hell you could create a RPG for the class and play it for six weeks at a time, dice and all. “Did the plunger work? Roll a six or higher to avoid plumbing costs!” I have an entire vision for this.
    My Economics class actually did a section like this since so few of us were taking Home Ec. We were required to tithe as part of it. Good ol’ TN.

    • Victoria says:

      I love this idea! Especially with auto maintenance and learning how to use tools to put up shelves or pictures. And learning how to budget would’ve been great too… everything is geared toward state tests, but these courses should be included as well

  5. Michelle says:

    Well, if she talked more specific as you asked, the speech would take 3 hours. So i think its an overall good speech . Teenager need to be more prepared in school about life in general like finace, parenting etc.

  6. albalilium says:

    Where i come from we had a subject in school called “Household” :). We had to cook, clean and serve food for kindergarten kids. And it was only for the girls not for the boys. What i learned? Women cook, clean and serve and boys don’t.
    As you said it will be good to teach kids how to cook, clean, wash, sew etc but girls and boys too.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Yeah mine was sex typed in middle school, late 60s. And yet at home it was my father who taught me to use the sewing machine and the women who were good at math. That helped.

      We act as if the academic students don’t need life skills and the less academic kids do. That’s wrong.

  7. Ehhh says:

    I graduated nearly 20 years ago, but even then, the high school I went to didn’t offer home ec classes, and nobody at home really taught me much of anything, so I was pretty clueless once I got in the real world. Obviously, I figured out how to do simple things, like laundry, but when I married my husband at the age of 24, he had to teach me so much, from how to cook to mend a pair of pants etc….because he HAD taken home ec. So, I totally agree that home ec, parenting classes,budgeting classes all should be taught. Kids need to learn real life skills!

    • LizLemonGotMarried (aka The Hufflepuff Liz Lemon) says:

      My mother taught me a great deal about cooking, some basic sewing, cleaning, etc. BUT, I got no financial, home, or car maintenance because it was assumed my husband would take care of all that
      Fortunately I eventually married a financial genius whose brother DID teach him all that, and I’ve absorbed a lot over the years (to the point where if something happened, I could at least keep the house running and the bills paid) but for the first few years of our marriage I was just like: here’s my paycheck 🤷🏻‍♀️ and I used our joint credit card for whatever I needed to buy.

      On a side note, our joint card only allows one primary user, so to get any information I either have to have him standing by, or I have to go through the entire code word (I tease him and call it his safe word) nonsense. He’s never once told me I can’t see anything, but the feminist in me just bristles slightly. Not as much as the time the IRS audited us because they couldn’t find our corresponding mortgage interest deduction in their double check. They only checked his name and social, and I had the mortgage solo because he was SAHD at the time we bought that house. 😂

      • Ehhh says:

        Liz, I wish one of us had some financial knowledge. Of all the practical classes high schools could teach, I think some sort of budgeting/financial class should be a priority. We were still somewhat young when we married and made some BAD decisions the first few years, that took us years to recover from. We definitely had to learn through our mistakes.

      • LizLemonGotMarried (AKA HufflepuffLizLemon) says:

        Ehhh, one of the best and most practical pieces of marriage advice I ever heard was from a sermon about money management, and it was basically: someone has to be the “savie” and someone has to be the “spendie” and you have to partner together and make sure everyone is happy. My parents are both “spendies” and it caused a lot of challenges for them. My husband is a “savie” and I’m “spendie” adjacent, so we work together to decide what to save, what to invest (whether actual investments or into your home, etc.) and when to spend “fun” money.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Liz, get a card in your name and use it just enough to establish your own separate credit rating. See if purchases on the joint card are applied to your rating, too.

      Also,the bank may have the option of his giving blanket permission for you to access information. Ask.

      I handle our affairs and have to sometimes get the big guy to give verbal permission but then I speak for him.

      We do what I call cross training because I want him to know what’s going on. Also we have to agree on purchases or transactions over X amount.

      • LizLemonGotMarried (AKA HufflepuffLizLemon) says:

        Hey, WATP:
        I have established credit in my own name-cards, mortgages, etc. and I use the cards occasionally to keep them active. Our primary use card just happens to be in his name as the lead and I’m secondary as he did the initial application and occasionally it annoys me when I have to call them for something. It definitely is on my credit report-that’s one of the things I check regularly. 🙂 We do regular financial summits (cross-training) where we go through current balances and discuss our strategy for the next few months, but we also both check our accounts in the AM together before we get up.
        Thanks for the advice though!

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Yay … sorry a) I’m late b) if I stepped on your toes. Always looking for ways to encourage women in financial literacy as still seeing too many of my friends leave it all to the menfolk, and that’s ptooey.

        Endorse your idea of summits! Hope you go out to eat afterwards.

        I can’t believe you check accounts before you get up. That is dedication. : )

        I wait to do it with my breakfast…

  8. LT says:

    My middle school aged daughter is taking Home Ec (yes, it’s actually called that) and I think it’s fantastic. She’s learning cooking, sewing and how to balance a checkbook. It’s most definitely a co-ed class.

    As for the idea that teaching teenagers how to be parents will encourage them to have teenage pregnancies? That’s asinine. Does sex ed encourage kids to have sex? No, it doesn’t. Teaching teenagers how to raise kids will teach them how much work it is to be a parent.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Some people think getting the HPV vaccine will encourage kids to have sex.

      • LizLemonGotMarried (AKA HufflepuffLizLemon) says:

        oh, and knowing about anything other than abstinence will encourage kids to have sex.

        Who ARE these people? Indeed. Your name is incredibly apropos.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Thanks. I came up with it when I realized this site was so compelling and yet about gossip. Had no idea it would go on for years!

  9. magnoliarose says:

    That isn’t something that is high on my list that teenagers need to learn these days.
    Basic life skills such as hygiene, basic cooking, budgeting, and self-care. Gender studies and sexuality. Civics classes every year to discuss what is going in the world and around them. Communication skills and Life planning for after high school in their last year.
    Teenagers don’t need parenting skills at that age. With people having children later on average what will they really retain from it? What about people who don’t like kids and don’t want any? They would have to sit through something they have zero interest in learning.

    This gets dangerously close to pushing an outdated value system on other people’s children. It would be a class I would strongly object to offering in my children’s schools because it also ties into reproductive rights. It fits more for teens who are expecting or who already have children.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      A module would fit in comfortably. Even if some students don’t expect to be parents, most people encounter childRen and babies and may need to provide care at some point in some capacity. It takes a village and it could highlight the importance of family friendly policies and politics. Also, this plays a role in preventing child abuse.

      • Anitas says:

        Everything you said.

      • Betsy says:

        Very well stated! Not everyone wants to have children, but we all live in a world with children and their interests are very much everyone’s. Even the happily childfree should know something about the basics.

    • Anitas says:

      I’m curious, what makes you think that an unbiased education on the responsibilities and realities of parenthood would push an outdated value system on other people’s children? Wouldn’t more education mean more of a chance of making an informed choice? Kids look at Kylie Jenner who goes partying a month after giving birth and brags about her thigh gap or whatever. Isn’t she more likely to push an outdated value system on other people’s children by presenting it as something glamorous and cool, than to explain for example that a newborn can’t go more than 2-3 hours without eating, day or night?

      • magnoliarose says:

        Truthfully, I don’t think so.
        I don’t think kids think like that anymore. Their minds are much more independent, and they have firm opinions about almost everything. They are given much more agency than other generations and observing teens their concerns are broader. They have access to the world because of the internet. If they want to know something they look it up.
        Recently studies have shown that adolescence no longer ends at 18 and extends to 24 and the teens I know aren’t very interested in parenting or even thinking about it. It isn’t even on their radar.
        Also, I don’t believe it wouldn’t be politicized and certainly regionally and most definitely in parochial schools. America is so polarized and politicized; I think it would become a mess. I don’t think it would unbiased across the board.
        As for KK and her early motherhood situation that has no cultural impact. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped steadily and are at record lows.
        I just don’t think it is a priority these days.

      • Veronica says:

        Im teaching teenagers for 27 years, and they havent changed all that much in that time. Most will have kids eventually, and to show them the HUGE responsibility that a child is, to both girls and boys, will help them make an informed decision about kids, whether in 2 years or 15.
        I dont agree that it has anything to do with outdated gender roles.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I never took anything like home ec because it didn’t exist when I entered primary school in 1990 (in Germany). My mom taught me. I moved out quite late, at 21, and one day called her “Mom! I don’t know how to make soup!” She laughed and taught me the basics and I took it from there. Same with cleaning, laundry, etc. She taught bookkeeping for decades so I learned that as well.

      Having said that, I held a baby twice in my life and I’m about to turn 34. I have no plans to have kids and somehow have always known that. So that would’ve been wasted on me. But … well, so was physics. LOL I do feel weirdly out of depths around babies because I literally know nothing. I’m waiting for my friends to have kids but they will have to teach me before I babysit. I’m not equipped at all and it does feel like a basic skill I lack.

      Then again, it’s the sh*t that your family is supposed to teach you. Not everyone has one though.

      • LAK says:

        The one subject i still resent being forced to take was physics.


        My epitaph will be, here lies LAK who hated Physics so much she whined about it right upto her death!!

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Aw, that’s too bad. Loved physics – we can see it! Maybe your teacher sucked. Look for physics every time you see a natural law come into play – rainbows, gravity, inertia, kids on the see-saw/teeter totter.

        Chemistry however made me cry.

      • LAK says:

        Paradoxically, i loved Chemistry. Still do. But i never understood Physics no matter how hard i tried or how others tried to explain it to me. I still don’t get it.

      • Megan S says:

        Please add a Statistics car to the hate train…
        My peanut m&m will taste the same regardless of the probability of the color when I pluck it’s unlucky arse from the bag.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        My physics teacher introduced himself by telling the parents that he hated teaching physics so that might’ve been a factor. 🙂 Loved biology though.

  10. Skylark says:

    I find all her speeches full of meaningless waffle. So much airy fairy surface, so little practical substance. I know she tries but….

  11. Becks says:

    I don’t think teenagers need to learn how to parent. I think they need to learn how to take care of themselves – emotionally, financially, and “physically” (meaning some of the basic household things described above.)

    I think if those things are addressed then learning how to parent will be easier. The reality is, and Kate should know this – no one can teach you how to parent. You can read books and observe others and all that, but you cant learn how to do it until you actually are a parent.

    I do think addressing some of the financial aspects of having children would be good though.

    • Betsy says:

      Self care is first and foremost, but basic infant and childcare? That would be nice. I remember being pregnant with my first and realizing I hadn’t babysat in years and wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to be doing. To the library!

  12. BendyWindy says:

    It didn’t necessarily sound like she meant “parenting skills “ like bathing, diapering, etc. Those are relatively simple to figure out. It sounds like she means the the tougher stuff like how to exercise patience, how to interact with children in positive ways, how to cope with the toll having someone dependent on you for everything 24/7 takes on you emotionally.

    I can get behind that. I have known quite a few teens and even some adults, of both genders, who want a “baby” because they want “unconditional love.”

    My advice to them, which typically falls on deaf ears, is to procreate because you want a child. Babyhood lasts such a short time, an although kids love you…they don’t stay blank lumps for long. They have personalities of their own, and some are difficult. You can’t really be ready, but practice couldn’t hurt.

  13. Chef Grace says:

    Not on board with this. Times have changed.
    Teach respect and how to treat one another.
    I took home ec back in the 70’s. I hated it.
    But I did go on to culinary school. Got married had two kids. Never thought once about what I was taught in that class.

  14. Anitas says:

    There’s more risk of teenagers thinking they’re ready for parenthood if most of their education comes from Kylie Jenner’s instagram, than if they’re presented with an honest, down to earth account of what an every day life with a newborn actually is and the responsibilities it includes. Breastfeeding in particular is a critical topic that needs more normalizing even at that age, as there’s such an incredible amount of misinformation dispensed even by healthcare professionals. Education on breastfeeding for example ties into gender equality and body positivity, as sadly many women feel their breasts are for their partner’s pleasure only, and many men pressure their partners not to breastfeed so they could have exclusive claim on their breasts.

    • Betsy says:

      I hated hated HATED breastfeeding despite doing it for all three of my kids. It was monstrous and I was never happier than the day I could finally share feeding duty with anyone.

  15. RuddyZooKeeper says:

    Where I live these classes are mandatory in middle school and in-depth electives in high school. Both of my sons took a course called Life Essentials which went over cooking, kitchen safety, laundry, finances, first-aid, babysitting skills, pretty much a home-ec class for this century. Their health class dealt with interpersonal relationships, mental health (as in yours and other people’s), and generally navigating the world as a human being. Invaluable. Both make their own meals (with varying degrees of difficulty and skill, but they aren’t afraid to try), can do laundry, and have baby sitter certifications. Middle school was the perfect time for it, especially because my kids had no time to devote to these skills in high school because counselors were pushing STEM and career-oriented electives.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      This sounds perfect, where are you?

      • RuddyZooKeeper says:

        Kentucky, of all places. Landed here for work and have actually found residents, schools, and local govt much more progressive and inclusive than I’d assumed.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        That’s wonderful, plus you get bluegrass country.

    • Swack says:

      The district that my grandchildren (and also my children went to) go to does the same thing in middle school. The problem with doing this in high school is that there is usually no time in the schedule. Too many requirements for graduation and for getting into college. Around here many colleges require 2 years of a foreign language and 3 years of math, 4 of English and not sure how much social studies. Also with NCLB schools concentrate on passing these tests because we know they are so relevant. My grandson, who is in marching band, must go at 6:30 in the morning to do that class. I also agree that classes such as home ec (now called Family and Consumer Science – FACS) and shop are not encouraged.

  16. Maria F. says:

    I think the ‘it takes a village’ somewhat applies here for me, in the sense that in my mom’s generation, families lived close to each other, generations shared a roof and a lot of the cooking, sewing etc classes, even taking care of your little siblings or cousins were handled by the family or neighborhood community. I do not see that happening anymore and a lot of my friends hardly had any contact with babies until they were expecting themselves.

  17. Cee says:

    I’d rather they be taught how to balance their finances, loans, debts, what interest means, credit, etc. Valuable skills like coding or even being able to fox stuff around the house. Not everyone wants to be a parent (?).

    Superficial comment: she should stop applying makeup like a YouTuber. That contouring/highlighting looks crazy.

  18. Shotcaller says:

    In the US there’s a push to rebrand Home Economics to Home and Family Sciences. Knowledge is power. Learning auto repair doesn’t mean you’re more likely to have car troubles. Also there’s nonaspect of parenting education that wouldn’t benefit healthy, childless individuals. I think it should be taught in two modules: the individual (grooming, nutrition, personal finance, emotional hygiene etc) and the individual within a society (parenting, family budgeting, voter registration, conflict resolution, basic eldercare etc).

  19. Ceire says:

    Basic hygiene? Communication? Parenting skills? Come off it!
    It’s not the Education system’s responsibility to parent a child.

    I agree that lots of life skills can and should be taught at school, but this whole comment section is a long laundry list of skills that people should ideally possess, many of which should be taught at home.

    • LAK says:

      It’s surprising, and yet needed.

      So many things aren’t taught at home and we don’t live in mutually supportive ‘it takes a vilkage’ communities where a child can pick up skills from others.

      • Ceire says:

        I agree that they are needed life skills, but if they are not being taught at home, it’s still not the schools responsibility to fill in the gaps. Schools are for literacy, numeracy and educational subjects, along with, yes, some life skills. Not for raising a child to have every life skill they could ever need.

      • jetlagged says:

        But in some cases, it’s impossible to do a proper job with literacy, numeracy, etc. etc. if the kids don’t have a good foundation to start with. If a kid didn’t get enough sleep the night before because their supper was soda and chips because mom was working a double shift, wouldn’t it help the learning environment if the kids knew that a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk would have been a better choice? You can’t presume that everyone’s circumstances enable them to impart all the life lessons their children need. Maybe the parents don’t have all the necessary skills themselves.

        I went to solidly middle class schools, where almost all of the families were financially stable, with a good percentage of stay-at-home moms, and we still had a lot of “life lessons” built into our classes. I had pretty hands-on parents, but a lot of what I learned in those classes was info it didn’t occur to my parents to teach me. I can only imagine what it was like for kids who had two working parents who were barely at home, or children of first-generation immigrants who were still learning themselves how to navigate life in their new country.

      • Ceire says:

        Jetlagged, I don’t disagree that schools have a role to play in teaching some life skills. As far as I know there is some education on health and nutrition within some subjects, like Home Ec and Science. My larger point, which perhaps I could have articulated better, is that the onus cannot be on the education system to provide everything a student may need in the world.

        Also, yes of course there are children from different backgrounds and different families, some of which may not be ideal for growing and thriving. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a teachers job or responsibility to parent those kids. Teachers, particularly in public schools, face an enormous challenge in just getting through the curriculum, dealing with limited resources, trying to make grades so the school has a shot at more public funding. To add to that seems to place an unfair extra burden on them.

      • jetlagged says:

        I get it, schools and teachers are constantly being asked to do more and more with less and less. But schools are already having to manage the fall-out from what feels like escalating emotional dysfunction among young people (rising suicide rates, anti-bullying campaigns, active shooter drills), perhaps dedicating some time to emotional education wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This effort doesn’t necessarily have to fall to the classroom teachers. As you’ve said, they have enough to deal with – and I can tell you from personal experience (added to a few anecdotes from a social-worker friend), that there aren’t a lot of teachers that would be up to the task.

    • Shotcaller says:

      You forget that these are recent post-pubescents who have rapidly evolving knowledge paradigms. Not all children have access to resources or come from families that are willing and/or able to make these lessons a priority.

      • Ceire says:

        Wait, who are “recent post-pubescents who have rapidly evolving knowledge paradigms”?

        Again, if parents don’t raise their own kids, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the parental responsibilities fall to educators.

        Commenters have suggested that schools should be responsible for teaching basic hygiene, psychology, tax and finance, parenting, how to self care, how much sleep to get, how to communicate. Those are not necessarily teachers responsibility to impart.

        I’m saying teaching is a hard enough job. In some schools, with the current president, the job is nigh on impossible. We should not add to their jobs just cause we can’t be bothered to parent our own kids, or because nobody taught us skills we feel we were entitled to.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      These things used to be taught in schools and some places still are. I went to school for 13 years and only a few years ago realized that we covered some things twice and others not at all. Basic things. We had lazy teachers and some of those years were wasted. So there is time to teach these things. And if there’s money to teach me the Russian revolution twice, there’s money to teach me sewing. And nobody is suggesting that the math teacher should squeeze in a few hours of knitting. You make it sounds like we live in a perfect world where every kid’s parents (if they’re around) can teach these things. They often can’t cook for sh*t themselves. Or don’t want to.

      There used to be teachers for these classes. Telling them that their work was meaningless because mom could’ve taught that at home is disrespectful. Mom can also teach the kid how to read. So why go to school for that?

      • Ceire says:

        I do agree that some life skills should be taught in schools, and I never said or implied that teachers work was meaningless.

        I just feel that if we were to include all the skills that one may have to call on in life in the school curriculum it puts all the onus on teachers to provide 100% of a child’s education and I feel that parents have a larger role to play in that. As I said, we cannot rely on the education system to parent our children.

    • LAK says:

      Given the lack of basic knowledge i’ve encountered in my lifetime, i think adding a compulsory basic lifeskills course to teenagers should be taught. In the same way students receive s3x education even though parents are just as able to give them the information.

      The courses were removed precisely because of views like yours, BUT unfortunately post-removal parents didn’t step into the gap to educate their offspring and simultaneously society has fragmented so we have to go back to basics of teaching people in schools basic life skills.

      • Ceire says:

        LAK, I’ve said a couple of times now that there should be some life skills and basic life knowledge taught in schools, so miss me with your “precisely because of views like yours”. I support sex education in schools, along with nutrition and health, and anything else an educator can provide.

        Where we seem to agree is that there is a disconnect between what is the responsibility of the education system and what is the responsibility of parents; there’s a sizeable gap there for sure. Ideally, however, that gap shouldn’t be for the education system to cover.

        In a perfect world, we could rebuild the education system and re-examine the way we teach things to our young people (history most importantly imo), but even so, no education system in the works can ever provide every life lesson. Parents need to step up more, is my larger point.

      • LAK says:

        Ceire: i didn’t mean for my comment to be hostile.

        What i meant to say and said poorly was that Home Ec was removed from the education curriculum because people felt that the education system shouldn’t parent the kids. Parents should parent their kids.

        And i agree with that reasoning, BUT unfortunately many people don’t parent their kids. And or refuse to be thus responsible for their kids. If the school isn’t teaching it, why should they?

        And recent generations are suffering because of it.

        I’m not advocating full on education to degree that parents are almost obsolete, just a few basics.

  20. Jana says:

    My twin 12-year-old boys are required to take a semester-long “life skills” class, in addition to a cooking and gardening class once per month. All 6th graders are required to take these classes at this particular school, which is public and in California.

    My boys love it! Once a month they come home excited to make dinner for the family, based on the recipe they were taught. There doesn’t seem to be any social stigma about it. Pretty cool.

  21. KiddV says:

    I vaguely remember being taught how to change a baby’s diaper in Home Ec. That was about the extent of parenting classes taught.

    I remember in jr high my math class taught how to balance a checkbook and bank statement. Is even that taught these days?

    One thing I that I know isn’t taught anymore is phone etiquette. And I have no idea why I remember my teacher teaching this in elementary grade (3rd grade, maybe?), but it was the usual “be polite, don’t eat while talking, speak clearly, always give your name to whom you’re speaking, etc.” I deal with such poor phone manners every day that it drives me crazy. People eating or smoking on the other end, people not leaving messages, instead they’ll hang up and keep calling until someone answers and not being smart enough to realize I can see their number and name on the screen and I’m not going to answer once they start doing that. Mumbling on the phone so you can’t understand them. Cell phones should come with an etiquette app.

    Now you young’uns get off my lawn! 😀

  22. holly hobby says:

    When I was in junior high, both boys and girls were required to take home ec. We learned to cook, read recipes, clean up a kitchen and sew. They also had metal and wood shop for boys and girls (I took that too). Somewhere along the way, the politicians (it’s always them mucking things up – doesn’t matter which party they are all guilty of the same “we know better than you” syndrome) deemed these classes as demeaning to women (despite the fact that both sexes took the class) and classist (why are we pushing minorities in service oriented jobs? Kids should all go to college). While their initial meaning is laudable, these are basic life skills that I think everyone needs. Also, school isn’t for everyone. If someone wants to get into the service sector, more power to them. My electrician makes more than me!

    I’m for bringing back home ec. I still remember all the things that class taught me and I can sew a button onto a shirt without asking my dry cleaner to do it.

  23. Aang says:

    It’s sad to me that extended families are so disconnected that kids need to be taught parenting in school. I have 21 younger first cousins and 3 younger siblings. I was changing my cousins diapers and giving bottles by age six and when my youngest brother was born I was 10 and ready to step in whenever my mom needed a break. I absolutely loved taking care of him and I even chaperoned field trips when he was in elementary school. He was like a practice baby for me. And it did not make me want to be a teen mom, if anything it made me aware of the work that went into parenting. And when I did have my own babies in my 20’s I was super confident that I could take care of them.

    • Olive says:

      looking back now i for one am grateful i do not have extended family around to expect me to have helped in parenting their children while i was still a minor myself. i say in this area god bless the disconnection of modern families! not everyone wants, needs, or even enjoys children so these skills are not universal.

    • Msthang says:

      Aang, you were most blessed!!

  24. Tan says:

    Her dress and her coat

    I love

    I am extremely biased to green specially this shade of green.
    And the dress is soo perfect and the coat even with bows

    I love the color

  25. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    These are all things I’ve addressed throughout my boys’ lives. The youngest has yet to grasp basic cleaning skills lol. But yeah, money, communication, social responsibility, manners, graciousness, control, cooking… all of it surfaces through daily living. Plus, there are so many years between them, they also received lessons with infants and babies and how to double up on birth control lmao. My middle child loved his cooking and home ec class in high school (he was the only dude). My youngest is finishing up sixth grade, and within his past few years at this particular school district, he’s been exposed to heightened personal responsibilities targeting positive behavior models, online and daily living. I appreciate schools willing to pick up the ball and run with it because many kids don’t have constant parental input, and for those that do, these lessons only underscore what is learned at home. Kids today grow up faster, just as we grew up faster than our parents. The information age has added exponential growth which is both positive and negative, and it’s up to everyone to point everything out ad nauseum. Just my two cents.

  26. Pandy says:

    Is anyone ever ready to be a first time parent? Lol. I think a Life Skills course SHOULD be mandatory in schools. Why not??? Probably more relevance than trigonometry for a lot of teens.

  27. Tommy says:

    It’s arguably the most important –and difficult –job anyone will face and yet there is no training for it. I say whether someone ends up having kids themselves or not, this will not hurt. Knowledge is power and you never know what curve balls life will throw at you.

    And YES to classes that teach basic life skills. It’s all very well to say that’s “the parents’ job” but get real —so many kids today don’t have parents who are present, willing, or capable of imparting that knowledge, quite often because no one taught THEM.

  28. ninjacat says:

    When I was 16 my oldest sister had her first baby. I went to boarding school but stayed with my sister at weekends (my parents lived in another city). I looked after my nephew a lot as a baby and toddler. This experience left me with no delusions that parenting is constant full time work and for the rest of your life. I am very close to all my nieces and nephews, esp. this one. But I chose not to have kids myself! If teens learn about the responsibility and maturity required to look after a child they will have fewer kids, not more! Since the 1940s the U.N. has data showing that when women are educated they have fewer children!

  29. Jenna says:

    Not every person is going to have children. Every person needs to know how to manage money, cook food, clean themselves and their spaces, but NO do not teach people how to take care of a baby/kids in school. FFS there are enough people having too many kids on this planet.

    • KiddV says:

      Teaching people how to take care of kids isn’t going to make them produce more kids. That’s the same argument of not teaching sex ed in school because you don’t want kids to have sex. It’s backwards and doesn’t work. The more information people have, the better decisions they make.

  30. MaryBeary says:

    Many public schools in the US have some version of a Life skills class in middle school. My High School aged sontook what was essentially Home Ec in 7th and 8th grade but they called it Teen Living. It was the most popular elective in the school! They learned cooking, cleaning, sewing, laundry, etiquette… all the good stuff and had homework to which required them to use those skills. I enjoyed the homework part very much, ha,ha.

    In his HS there is a required “Personal Finance” class. Also, the kids have been taking Health since 2nd grade and the topics start with basic hygiene and eventually move to the “sex” talk including STDs and contraception, drugs, bullying, etc. In high school, the topics include human trafficking which is actually a real issue these days.

    I think it’s all great. While my town is affluent, our county does have children who live at the poverty level or are homes or undocumented. All of these children benefit from these classes.

  31. Shannon says:

    I think parenting, in general, tends to come pretty naturally if you have your sh!t together otherwise. But I will say that I do wish I’d paid more attention in Home Ec (which, where I took it, was about 50% male and 50% female). It was a required class and eventually we all shuffled through it, but most of us didn’t take it more than that one time. I wish I knew how to sew, and I’m becoming a decent cook but self-taught. There are definitely some skills I could have learned in there that I could apply to my life now.

  32. La says:

    I am an Xennial (or whatever they call it–I was in high school right around 2000) and we took shop and “life skills” in 7th grade–both boys and girls. I made one of those peg puzzles you do at Cracker Barrel and life skills taught basic cooking/sewing/budgeting etc. We had Junior Achievement in 7th where we learned how to balance a checkbook and how the stock market worked. We also had comprehensive sex ed that scared the shit out of all of us because they showed us exactly how babies come out and graphic photos of STDs. And this was a middle to lower middle class school with limited resources. They were phased out as my younger siblings came through and it’s a shame.

    I come across SO MANY people my age and younger who need these skills. Classes are a great idea.