The first time I came across a video about this trend I laughed. 

“Oh what a silly kid. Bless her heart,” I thought.

After dropping off their kids at college for the first time, parents began sharing screenshots of their texts, pointing out how ridiculous they were.

But as I started seeing more and more of them, the texts became more and more pathetic.

You sent your kid to college unable to boil a pot of water?

It dawned on me that this trend should actually be more embarrassing for these parents than for their children.

Of course, I’m baffled that young adults wouldn’t know how to pump their own gas, wash a load of laundry, or navigate a website to make a doctor’s appointment—but I’m much more confused that parents would laugh about it and not be deeply ashamed that they failed to prepare their children before sending them into the world.

Is this the new normal? Are these college students the product of parents who send their kids to school for most of the day before rushing them off to after-school sports—their laundry magically appearing in their closets, dinner plopped on the dinner table after mom shooed them out of the kitchen to “keep them out of the way?”

When I moved into my first group house after college, my roommate and I were dubbed the “dads of the house”—just by knowing how to do basic things. One girl looked at me in mystified horror when I reset the breaker after a hair dryer was too much for our little row house on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think you should do that—what if it explodes? Let’s just call the landlord.” I’m sure the look I gave her in return was just as mystified and horrified. She was 25.

Our landlord told me she was very sad when I moved out of the house—and it’s not hard to see why. That’s just one of the many tales of cringe-inducing incompetence I witnessed over the years.

It’s also why I started teaching home economics to homeschoolers in my neighborhood—not that many of these kids need help with the basics! 

Homeschoolers, just by the nature of their upbringing, are present for (and expected to participate in) the running of a household—and are therefore learning every day. While their public and private schooled peers are sitting at desks (and their mothers are scrambling through a never-ending to-do list of household responsibilities), homeschooled kids are navigating grocery aisles, learning how to make family recipes, figuring out how to manage time wisely, and being included as members of a team—their family.

Maybe that’s why this trend is so disturbing to me: It reveals an erosion of a timeless practice: mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and grandparents teaching children basic life skills as a natural, routine part of life.

Time to refresh my timeline with some uplifting homesteading reels…