Have you taught your kids about cars?

This summer a momma robin laid her pretty blue eggs in a nest she built on top of the downspout next to our garage. Three sweet babies hatched at the beginning of June and by the end of the month they were all teenagers and ready to be on their own. Wow that was fast! Aren't you glad our children don't grow that quickly? Can you imagine teaching them all they need to know in one short month? I suppose birds have it easy with two things on their list: learn to fly and find food.

When I think of all that we need to teach our youngsters before they leave our nests, it's sometimes overwhelming. You almost need a checklist to make sure all of the categories of training are complete. What important things do you want to be sure to teach before your children fly out of your nest? Grammar, manners, kindness? How about practical training like finances, culinary skills or even how to separate laundry? Do you also show them hard work ethic, how to treat others by using the Golden Rule, how to be a good spouse, good employee or good friend by the things you say and do?

We are given this extremely important task to not only keep our children safe and keep their tummies full, but we are called to train them-in practical matters as well as in morals and values-to live life well, serve others and work hard. Are you succeeding in accomplishing these things?

It's hard work. Sometimes it's just easier to do things ourselves than to train our children. Case in point: Years ago my husband and I were having a discussion about hard work ethic and how we want to instill that in our children. Ironically, we were doing the dishing during our conversation while our pre-teen children were sitting on the couch enjoying a TV program. That was an ah-hah moment for us. As children, my husband and I were the ones that washed the dishes … this is how our parents helped to teach us to be the hard workers we are today. Needless to say, things changed in our home from that moment on! Preparing our children for all areas of life is what we are called to do-not do life for them and watch them crash and burn once they leave.

One of the things my parents forgot to teach me is how to take care of a vehicle with maintenance and timely repairs. We never talked about it. I never saw them do anything with theirs. How was I to know that cars needed to have the oil changed? My ignorance led to a blown up motor of my first car.

On your long list of practical things to teach, is vehicle repair and maintenance one of them? Have you looked under the hood together? Gone through how important fluids are? Talked about safety issues and what components to have assessed periodically? Looked through the owners manual and talked about scheduled maintenance? Taken them with you to have your car serviced? Or with all of the other things you are teaching, have you forgotten to add these things to your list as my parents did?

With the busyness of our world today, car care may not have been on your radar. Maybe you are exhausted from visiting colleges with your graduates and preparing for their future with the right schools. Maybe they won't have a car because they will live on campus. But what happens when they do get one? Are you confident you have taught them what they need to know to take care of one of the biggest investments they will ever make?

We depend on our vehicles to get us from school to work to home and to so many other places. We likely have taught our children how to drive safely. But what if they have bald tires and are driving on a slushy road? What if the oil has turned to sludge, causes irreparable damage to the engine and leaves them stranded on the side of the road? How do they find the right repair shop if they don't live near the one you use?

If you haven't thought about these things and your peep is getting ready to leave for college in a few short weeks, it's not too late! If your child has already been in college for a few years, it's not too late! If your child is a pre-teen, it's not too early! No matter how old your children are, start now in training them how to best take care of their vehicle.

There are many videos that can assist you. Ask questions to see what they already know. Expand on that. What sorts of fluids make up the car? Why is it important that the fluids are changed regularly? What does the engine and transmission do? What does the braking and suspension systems consist of? How long has it been since the battery has been replaced? What about tires? What does the tread look like? Is it minimal and time for new ones? Shop for them together.

These are just a few suggestions and questions to ask to get your started. No matter if your child has left your nest or hasn't even started driving, it's never too late or early to train them in these practical matters. The important part is, start the conversation and lead by example. No matter the age of your children, they are watching you and learning from you … no matter what you are doing. Drive safe, take good care of your car and train your kids!

Article originally published in the Post-Bulletin.

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