I came across an article the other day that put me in a bit of a grim mood about our society’s current situation. Home Depot is apparently starting to teach classes on how to use basic construction items such as a measuring tape, hammer and nails, and even mops. (full article here). Apparently, the millennial generation is so inept at even basic construction projects that Home Depot is afraid they’ll face massive financial losses as the next generation will opt for hiring contractors for even basic projects instead of taking the DIY approach.
Men, I don’t need to tell you this is downright pathetic. I don’t expect every man to be expert plumbers and electricians, but if you don’t know how to use a measuring tape by the age of 13, we need to sit down and have a talk.
Men, throughout history have been creators and builders. Building is hardwired into our very DNA. Give a boy a box of Lego’s or an Erector set and they will instinctively begin tinkering with it and soon be creating incredibly imaginative structures from them.
Where has is drive to build gone?
Has it been bred out of modern men or is it a product of poor parenting?
In the end, the answers to the questions matter less than the fact that we must reverse this trend. More so, you must instill the love to build and create in your own son.
But where to begin?
Make it Fun
Instead of approaching it like a school lesson, think of something your son has been wanting, a tree house for example, and bring them into the project. Show them what each tool you’re using is and what it does. Instruct them on how to safely use each tool and let them take a crack at using it under your close supervision. Start off with the basic hand tools:
- Hammer and nails
- Measuring tape
- Hand saw
As they get more comfortable with using the tools, let them start their own project. Help them plan it out, show them some of the problems they might encounter, and create a list of the items they’ll need to finish them project. After that, hand them the reins and offer guidance when needed.
Naturally, proper safety protocol should be your first concern, but allow your kid to experiment and tinker. Trust me from personal experience, a young boy with a stack of 2×4’s, some plywood, and plenty of nails can keep himself entertained for days.
Show Them the Benefits
As they get older and more capable, introduce your son to power tools. The risk of an injury is higher with these types of tools than with basic hand tools, so be careful and teach them all the safety guidelines. If you catch them not handling the tools with the proper respect, don’t hesitate on taking them away until they can demonstrate that they can use them in safely. Teach them to use power tools like you would teach them to operate a firearm; no goofing off when they’re involved.
If your son has grown up working with hand tools, then they’ll quickly pick up on how to use power tools as they serve the same function, just at a faster rate of speed. As before, encourage them to help you with projects around the house as well as projects of their own.
Working on basic construction projects around the house will show them how to save thousands of dollars doing things for themselves instead of hiring someone else to do it for them. By their mid to late teens your son should know some of the following skills:
- How to frame a wall.
- How to lay down carpet/tile/hardwood.
- How to cut and install drywall.
- How to install a light/ceiling fixture.
- How to build/fix basic pieces of furniture.
Just knowing this small list will allow them to accomplish many, many construction projects around the house as a lot of the skills involved are easily transferable to other, similar projects.
For example, I’ve never cut or laid tile before this weekend, but due to the many construction skills I’ve already learned in the past, the transition to working with tile was relatively seamless.
Learning some basic DIY construction skills takes time, patience, and some trail and error. Teach your son it’s okay to make mistakes as long as they learn what they did wrong and how to not repeat the same mistake next time.
Your son will come beaming with pride with his creations in hand. Encourage him. Foster that desire to build and create. If the trend continues, our society will need more men like them.