My daughter recently posted a photo on Facebook that brought back a lot of memories. It has her in it, but in the background was our blue 1968 Nova that we had for decades. It was my first car, bought in 1974, and was green with a dark vinyl top at that time. I was totally ignorant of what it took to take care of a car and knew nothing other than putting in gas and driving. I learned the hard way that I was supposed to occasionally change oil and buy new tires, along with a bunch of other things.

After several years of neglect, the Nova was really rusty, the vinyl top was torn and flapped in the wind as you drove, and the seat stuffing would come out of the ripped back seat and float around inside the car when the windows were rolled down. All those signs indicated we needed to do something if we were going to keep the car. Hubby and I had the car repainted and reupholstered, making it suitable for driving another decade or more.

The Nova was all metal: the dashboard, the body and fenders, and the steering wheel. Nothing in it was power, including the steering. It was a tank. When Hubby changed the oil in the other cars, he’d poured the old oil into the Nova which burned it up. It was our mobile oil recycling machine. The stories I could tell about that car, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. By the time we sold the Nova in 1997, Hubby and Son had rebuilt the engine together, it had a hole in the floor under the passenger side carpet, and would start with any key.

The old car provided a lot of important lessons to me and to my children. Right after we got married, Hubby said I needed to know how to change a tire in case I ever had one when he wasn’t around. We used the Nova for practice. He was right to teach me that. I had to change a tire on it once, and one on his pickup too. It was a handy skill to have.

Hubby taught our son how to change oil and other things about motors when they rebuilt the engine, including the carburetor. Our son grew up to be a good mechanic with most everything and even became a mechanical engineer. When he got his own vehicle, he knew how to work on them to keep them in good working order.

Hubby also taught our daughter about tires and changing oil. He made her keep The Book to track all maintenance, gas fill-ups, and other things. When she got her first car, she knew how to take care of it.

Basic car ownership and its responsibilities should be on the list of things to teach your children. A vehicle is a big investment that deserves attention. It’s also a matter of safety where maintenance is needed, namely in tires, windshields, and such. Speaking from experience, being ignorant about those things is detrimental to the investment.

What else is on that list of things to teach your children? I’ll start the list. You add more specifics.

This is only a start. Make your own list. The teaching and instruction is up to parents and grandparents.

It seems a lot of effort is made to make sure children enjoy sports, take music lessons, and engage in other extracurricular activities. Don’t forget to teach them how to take care of themselves. Sooner or later they’ll be on their own and the more you teach them, the easier it will for them to slide into making their own lives. That’s the duty of parents.

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.

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