Your children need life skills -- this dad explains how to teach them

Shannon Carpenter with his children: Daughter Vivi, older son Wyatt and younger son Oliver. All three are given responsibilities in the household to teach them important life skills they'll need in adulthood.

(CNN)I taught my 12-year-old daughter to change a car battery at 8 p.m. in a grocery store parking lot.

It's one of the many skills that I want her to know in case she ever finds herself stranded in a parking lot -- just like her father at that very moment. I also wanted to get her familiar with a car engine, even though to me it mostly looks like metal spaghetti.
Parents know there is a whole host of life skills that our children need to learn, but my reasons date back to my childhood.
    My father taught me how to do laundry, but no one talked about mental health -- we covered up our issues with bro talk and the firm belief that real men don't cry.
      And no one said anything about finances. That might explain why I took out a 22% car loan when I was 24. To make it worse, both of my parents were accountants. Forty-year-old me cringes at that memory. (Yes, I've let them know I hold a grudge.)
      Do your children know how to help maintain the family vehicle? It's an important skill they should know by the time they are adults, says Shannon Carpenter.
      Car repair, finances, cooking and mental health: There are so many skills we need to teach that it can often seem overwhelming.
      Which ones can they learn on their own? How much do we teach versus standing back and letting them learn from experience?
        I've continued these life skill lessons with my three children over the years -- and I don't split the chores by gender. A smart person once told me that "dishes don't care about gender," and I make it a point to give my sons -- not just my daughter -- the fundamentals they'll need as independent adults.
        Don't fear if you didn't start early with your children. I've found the middle school years are a perfect time to teach many of them. Here's how I do it.

        Life skills start in the home

        I started my kids on household chores young because I refuse to send any of them into the world without being able to provide the most basic care for themselves.
        We started small such as teaching them how to crack an egg or load the washing machine. We made a game of it and let it get messy. With these small exposures, the kids were able to eventually get comfortable with the chore, gain competence and then finally achieve confidence.
        If there is pushback or lack of enthusiasm, don't worry about it. Consistency and patience is the key. Keep at it.
        Shannon Carpenter says you should help your child get acquainted with the operations of a kitchen.