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  • Writer's pictureFootsteps Counseling

Things My Parents Didn't Teach Me

When I have a client who is brand new to therapy, they sometimes question what their childhood has to do with their current problems.

While I don't recommend blaming your parents for everything, there is undoubtedly a connection between how you grew up and how you operate as an adult.

Even if we talk in purely practical terms, there are a million ways that our upbringing influences our daily habits and acquired life skills.


I grew up poor in the South to teenage parents with one high school diploma between them.

Did I eat, get clothed, go to school, and not sass back?


Good enough.

A black and white photo of an older model car parked in front of a trailer home.

Between paying the bills and making sure I didn’t grow up to be fucking awful human being, there wasn’t much time for what I would call luxury life lessons. These are the things that, as I’ve aged, made money, and moved around the country, I slowly realized made me different from people who made more than 30K a year.

If you get to the end of this list and simply can’t relate, then you can count yourself lucky. For that, and the fact that you’ve never eaten government cheese.

Nail hygiene

My cuticles have always been overgrown and out of control, to the point I would pick at them anytime I was nervous. I realized recently that I was never taught how to file, buff, or trim my cuticles. No wonder they looked like shit.


I spent my 20s figuring out what products I needed to put on my face and how to do it. There are so many options and different steps out there, it has been easy for me to become overwhelmed. At this point, I only use a cleanser, moisturizer with SPF, and an eye cream, but I’m proud of my progress!


I assume this one is common but in our house, tax time meant we went to H&R Block and got a big sum of money. Tax time meant buying that big-screen TV or new clothes for school.

Let’s eat shrimp tonight, woohoo!

My husband and I now spend hours filing for free online and owe 8k this year! It’s been a brutal transition from the shrimp days.

How to cook fresh vegetables

Listen, everything we ate came canned. If it wasn’t canned, it came in giant frozen bags from the food pantry that were only mildly edible. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy a vegetable until adulthood. It turns out that making a vegetable crunchy, instead of soggy, does wonders for the flavor.

Thank God for air fryers, amiright?

How to care for clothes

Naturally, we did not buy expensive clothes. No one told me that nice things need to hang dry or they’ll look like shit FAST. I was ready to write several strongly worded letters to Lululemon until a wayward Tiktok informed me that I was, in fact, the problem.

How to apply for college

One thing the ‘rents did teach me was to get the fuck outta poverty; they just didn’t know how besides going to college. Everything I learned about the FAFSA, scholarships, and living on campus was pure luck and a lot of internet research. I am lucky to live in the age of the internet or I would have been screwed.

How expensive pets are

Let’s just say my family pets rarely saw the vet. When it was “their time,” we cried and Daddy took them out back. I had no idea how expensive my greyhound who has epilepsy, a heart murmur, a broken leg, and a liver dysfunction could be! My stupid ass just keeps collecting pets like Pokemon and soon these student loans will look cheap.

How expensive kids are

My mom would probably be considered a trad wife in today’s terms, so there was no childcare cost. Now, as a working mom, I pay a whopping $1450 a month for daycare. I can’t even fathom having more than one child when childcare is this expensive.

In 20 years when they blame all of the millenials for not resupplying the human population, I’ll be ready with receipts to show them exactly why.


I like to talk to people, so pipe up in the comments if you can relate.

Have you had any realizations about missing life skills?

What did your parents forget to teach you?

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