An Unexpected Thing Happened On the Way to Teaching My Kids to Cook

Awhile ago, I declared to my boys that they would be taking over the kitchen.  The opposite of an invasion. More like a forced occupation.  They were, naturally and notably, resistant, perferring to sit on plump cushions while plinking on electronic devices and being catered to.  At least in their dreams.  But I persisted. And they are relenting

I am requiring my children to cook. Yes. I used that word. Is it still in the Parenting Dictionary For The 21st Century?

Require: specify as compulsory, cause to be necessary, need for a particular purpose.

The purpose: I need the help. Divorced mother of 4 boys, business owner, starter of artistic ventures, queen of the House of Testesterone. And they need to learn to help. I have seen a multitude of reasons for teaching your children to cook from math skills strengthening to exposure to other cultures and traditions. No one has mentioned this reason. Yet.

My boys rotate responsibility for lunches and dinners, and the dreaded kitchen cleaning hour of weeping. Sometimes there is knashing of teeth, crop failure, the often-vegetarian will get mad at the frequently-carnivorous cook for the offerings…They can product a limited palate of edibles with minimal fire and water damage to the kitchen. I, in my everlasting multitasking role, am the only one so far to set off the fire alarm. Twice. They don’t. They do not make masterful menus and no one has fronted up to say they aspire to be a celebrity chef. Or Flynn McGarry.  But they eat and grow.

In this ongoing effort, I have seen this remarkable side benefit.

Cooking for each other has improved sibling relations. No kidding.  It goes beyond  the wielding a knife and sword play with spatulas. And it goes deeper. If food is about nurturing, then my boys are learning to take care of each other in a deeply meaningful way.

The other day I happened upon number 3 son making a sandwich for his younger brother. It was a spontaneous act of caring by one brother to another. He was wielding a knife and a block of cheese like a knight of the round table, but it was a nurturing act nonetheless.  

It happened again last night. Number 2 son was taking omelet orders from the others. No requiring necessary.

Boy cooking


“Cooking for people is an enormously significant expression of generosity and soulfulness, and entertaining is a way to be both generous and creative. You’re sharing your life with people.” ~ Ted Allen



  1. My mom never taught new to cook because she felt it would be a waste of her time. Now, having only stopped fearing the kitchen, it’s important to me that my boys learn how to cook. And if it helps bulild their relationships, as it has with your sons? So much the better!

  2. Bravo! It’s a win/win situation… you’ll get help in the kitchen, and years from now not only your sons will thank you, but their wives will, too (and their children). I taught my children how to cook and I’ve never regretted it for an instant. Your boys will get to where they will want to try new things as their “culinary skills” grow. Good for you! (and them!) If only more parents would take the time to do this…

      1. Yes, it takes time and patience. And yes!… I have lots of stories, but I’ll just tell you a few… when my son was in college the food was terrible and he found himself not only cooking for himself but he was able to have wonderful dinners for his friends (so they could eat real food, too). He also got a job as assistant to the Chef and the food improved considerably that year! Later, when he got married, his wife actually gave me a card saying thank you for teaching my son how to cook (she loves baking but didn’t know how to cook at all). He still enjoys cooking and continues to learn new recipes. My daughter also did quite a bit of cooking while at College and when she got married her husband was so grateful that I had taught her how to cook. It sounds like a small, insignificant thing, but knowing how to cook can save literally thousands of dollars (instead of eating out all the time), not to mention you eat a lot healthier.

  3. Lovely read about real life skills! One of my favorite subjects. My son, Taz, cooks and cleans, also! Seems he respects me and himself more when he does…;) Thanks for the precious words, Tiff! Kev

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