- mess (especially when they’re younger)
- things take longer
- less adult control
- uneven results
- power struggles/fights
- new skills (for everyone!)
- time with your kid away from screens
- kids have great ideas
- less adult control
- kids really like eating the food they make
- more thank you’s when I cook
My teenage son has been cooking dinner once a week for almost a year now. When he turned 13 we asked him to take on this new duty. He’s hung around the kitchen episodically his whole life but the regularity of the last year has been new. I’m working on an article about getting kids (of all ages) into the kitchen and I’d love to hear how your kids help get food on the table.
I won’t pretend this year of cooking has been easy on either of us. Some of our worst fights have been on his dinner nights. I don’t know what exactly triggered them but I think it was that I wanted him to take control and he wanted me to tell him how to do everything. We persevered, with one memorable exception where he shut himself in the spare bedroom in the basement and we got take-out and started over the next night.
But things have gotten much more fun and his confidence and evident pride in taking charge and giving meals his own flair is so fun to see. Fish stick tacos (inspired by my husband’s childhood meal) are on regular rotation and he makes a mean slaw to go with them!
I think starting more regular cooking activities with him when he was younger would have been a good idea. We mostly baked together in the earlier years and he’d help chop and mix things and set and clear the table. I often just didn’t feel like I had the time to involve him regularly and really give him space. I’m sure he could tell how much I bristled at his pace, mess and incessant questions.
I would love to know how you’ve managed this, what you wish you’d done, or how things have worked out if your kids are older.
And as aside, I made my son an illustrated cookbook of the dishes he cooked most often this last year (most are my recipes that he’s adapted a bit or just loves as is). I posted about this book on social media and there was so much interest that I reproduced it in print and made digital copies available for purchase.