We're never going to be perfect, but we can strive to be more purposeful. -Amy Carney

159: How to “Launch” on Purpose: Teaching Life Skills to Your Teens Today That Will Prepare Them for Tomorrow

One of the motivations for creating the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse was that I was just over halfway to “launch” with my oldest child.

Nine years old is half of the intensive part of parenting, and Paul had just turned 10. He demonstrated how to make homemade guacamole to his 4th-grade class, and I realized that guac was the only thing he truly knew how to make!

One cannot live on guac alone…so I knew I needed to teach him more before he left my home!

I love that parenting expert and author Amy Carney also uses the word “launch” to describe the process of sending off a child into the world, ready to serve and grow and live on purpose.

She too had a crisis of parenting when her oldest kids were about 10, and she reacted even more strongly than I did – that and more in today’s interview!

What Amy made me desire: The sort of MARGIN she found in her life when she taught her kids certain things.

How I’ll rethink something today: That being frustrated about a task is an opportunity for a teaching moment.

A goal I need to keep in mind: Play is as important as “being busy.”

In the first two days after the interview, I quoted a certain portion twice, and it’s what college professors and deans all agreed that young adults need more of.

This is a heartfelt, fun, fascinating, and inspiring interview, and I hope you enjoy Amy as much as I did!

Can’t see the video?  Learn about teaching life skills to teens here on YouTube!

No time for the video? Here are the notes!

Teaching Life Skills to Teens to Prepare Them to Launch

  • 0:22: Today I’m talking with Amy Carney of Parenting on Purpose. We’re talking about teaching your kids life skills before they reach adulthood, something I’m very passionate about here at Kids Cook Real Food.
  • 1:34: Amy has built her mission around being intentional about parenting with purpose. She shares how that became her rallying cry for moms
  • 4:00: Her kids were around 4th-6th grade age when Amy started being more intentional with her parenting after realizing she was about halfway to launching them into the world as adults. 

We don’t get a do-over as parents. That can stress you out, or inspire you! -Amy Carney

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  • 6:50: Amy spoke of their family having “margin” when she had 4 kids at home. She obviously walks out what she teaches and does it well!
  • 7:22: Around 12-13 is when kids are really pushing for more agency and independence, capitalize on this chance to teach your kids skills they will need as adults
  • 8:36: Some of the skills Amy handed off to her kids were waking themselves up in the morning, walking to school, packing lunch, making their own breakfast, and doing laundry.

We’re all teaching life skills even if we don’t realize it. -Amy Carney

  • 11:20: Amy has had her kids wake up with their own alarm as soon as they stopped waking up early naturally, usually around middle school age. Her son who is now an RA in college says they get calls from parents asking them to wake up their kids because they keep missing class. :0 Here’s the interview with Julie Lythcott-Haimes I mentioned.
  • 14:47: If you don’t know how to do a certain skill, find a mentor to help. I don’t know how to change a tire, so maybe I need to look into that!

#LifeSkillsNow Summer Camp is Back for Season Two!

Get a free family pass to the #LifeSkillsNow Season Two virtual summer camp!

Free Virtual Summer Camp June 12-16, 2023

Prepare your kids for life with solid skills for living that aren’t taught in school!


  • 15:05: Let’s get really practical. Look for what is making you crazy with your kids. There are probably things you wish they would do for themselves that you’re left carrying and it’s causing friction or even resentment. Start there. Amy has some ideas to get you thinking

Our kids are a work in progress. -Amy Carney

  • 16:53: Don’t just spring this on your kids. Talk about it at a meal or family meeting and explain to them why you’re making changes. Make it positive and intentional rather than reactionary. 
  • 17:38: Amy has a huge focus on teaching life skills, but there’s more to parenting on purpose. In our busy culture, we need to be intentional to slow down and play as a family. We want our kids to have loving family relationships and good memories.

If we have some goals and know where we’re trying to go it makes things easier. -Amy Carney

  • 19:11: When your kids hit their teens they tend to not want to do fun family time, but if you can make it part of your family culture the payoff is worth it and they will end up having fun most of the time. Find somewhere everyone enjoys whether that’s your backyard, a game table, or a local park. Use conversation starter cards to encourage family bonding.

It's really important that we balance teaching with fun, carefree time as a family. -Amy Carney

  • 21:02: We tend to attract larger families at Kids Cook Real Food because bigger families need help with the cooking! Cooking can be a great family bonding activity because all ages can participate. Here are some tips for even toddlers to join in!
  • 21:27: Amy has taught several of her kids how to cook and launched them off into college. She shares a funny story from when one of her sons came home for Thanksgiving
  • 23:47: Is there a checklist we can complete to ensure our kids are “launchable?” Amy thinks that one area many parents are missing is letting kids fail, learn from their mistakes, and problem solve. She has some really fascinating information on this. Here’s my interview with Jessica Lahey on this very topic.

Slow down. It’s ok to let your kids struggle a little bit before swooping in to help them. -Amy Carney

  • 27:32: Amy started writing about parenting when she had a post go viral about 8 things you should stop doing for your kids. She shares some things we need to stop doing for our kids in order to let them learn and grow into adults. 
  • 29:05: Amy has had doctors and nurses ask her to tell parents to teach their kids about owning their health and simple remedies they can use to take care of themselves. Additionally, knowing when something can be treated at home and when to go to the doctor needs to be taught. 

#LifeSkillsNow Summer Camp is Back for Season Two!

Get a free family pass to the #LifeSkillsNow Season Two virtual summer camp!

Free Virtual Summer Camp June 12-16, 2023

Prepare your kids for life with solid skills for living that aren’t taught in school!


  • 32:43: I have 4 kids and I hear people with less say “oh I could never have four!” But I think having a bigger family forces you to hand things off to the kids, making them more capable. It’s hard to helicopter parent 6 kids at once! The “trickle-down effect” also comes into play where younger siblings will pick up on things with less instruction from you because they see older kids modeling behavior and skills. 
  • 33:19: Many parents feel strapped for time already and may feel overwhelmed by another thing to add. Amy doesn’t see it as an additional time commitment to teach her kids life skills. Most of it she’s teaching as she goes
  • 35:29: We leave you with one practical step you can take today to get started teaching your kids life skills. 

Resources We Mention for Teaching Life Skills to Teens

Amy CarneyContent Creator. Product Maker. Event Curator.

Amy is the author of Parent on Purpose and 100 Questions for Mom Journal. She loves speaking to audiences of moms and dads to empower and excite them to intentionally raise their children with more joy and purpose.

Amy’s latest venture is her new keepsake product line to help parents easily create meaningful keepsakes to hand down to their children.

Amy and her husband of 23 years, Keith, are parents to 20-year-old triplet sons, an 18-year-old daughter,​ and two sons (15 and 10) they recently adopted out of the Arizona foster care system.

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector

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2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids

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3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

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About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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