• SumoMe

Are "dad skills" disappearing or rather getting redefined?

One of my favorite websites, The Art of Manliness, recently had a story (and subsequent stimulating conversation in the comments) about “dad skills” and the 21st Century. “Dad skills” are generally what we would consider as anything a dad teaches his son or daughter–stuff like how to fix a car, change a light bulb, unclog a drain, fix a toaster, or any sort of do-it-yourself type of skill.

There are two general modes of thought in this debate. The first school generally argues, “Yes, ‘dad skills’ are completely gone. Cars are build nowadays to actively prevent do-it-yourself repairs to encourage owners to come to the dealership for repairs. Appliance repair shops are waning from the general ‘throw it away’ mindset of society.”

The other argument is, “No, ‘dad skills’ are merely getting redefined. While it’s true that products are not as user-friendly as they were 60 years ago, we also have new ‘dad skills’ that didn’t exist in that time frame: computer repair, installing a surround sound system, resetting the router, and so on.”

I tend to take an approach somewhere in the middle. While it’s true that many skills are not taught anymore or are obsolete with the change in technology, the vast majority of them are still very applicable. Chopping wood, building a fire, unclogging a drain, digging a hole, installing a door, hammering a nail, and grouting tile are all skills that haven’t changed much over the years. Additionally, I agree that many skills exist now that were never imagined many years ago: programming a DVR, researching on the internet, and resetting a router are all pretty useful skills to learn in today’s world.

It’s important to bring back the obsolete skills (changing ribbon on a typewriter) and pair them with the classic skills (putting up wallpaper) to gain a holistic view of the past, and add the new futuristic skills (setting up a wireless password) to add relevancy. Stay up-to-date with your DIY skills, but never forget how things used to get done. Both are important for perspective, and will often save you money for it is (usually) far cheaper to repair something than to purchase a new one.

The moral of the story is that “dad skills” are still very important in today’s world, even if they have drastically changed from the “Leave it to Beaver” era. What is the first “dad skill” you remember learning?