Doyin Richards explains how cooking can be one of the best ways parents can bond with their children.
First off, let me say that I’m all about dads bonding with their kids in any way they deem fit. Dance parties, going to the playground, watching movies, reading stories, etc. It’s all good. That said, one of my favorite way to bond with kids is in the kitchen.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m far from Bobby Flay – but man, I enjoy cooking. It probably started because of my mom who is easily the best cook I’ve ever come across – and I do mean ever. What made her special is she didn’t just have us eat all of the food she made, she also ensured we knew how she did it. Every Sunday night was “cooking night” in our household and every week, me or my two brothers would assume the role of “head chef” and prepare a meal for the family under her watchful eyes. The head chef would pick the recipe, visit to the supermarket with mom to gather the ingredients, and get down to business in the kitchen. It was such an amazing bonding experience and I remember those Sunday nights as if they happened yesterday.
My old man is easily the best dad I know, but cooking was his kryptonite. Obviously my mom knew that, so she wanted to ensure her boys had a nice culinary skill set when it became time for us to become dads, and she delivered. Granted, my daughters are a little young to truly understand the bonding experience that we’ll have in the kitchen in the not-so-distant future, but that won’t stop me from outlining why cooking is such an awesome thing for a dad to do for his kids.
#1 – Because dudes like to fix things: Traditionally speaking, men like to fix things. We fix cars, desks, coffee tables, cribs, etc. – but many don’t like to fix meals. You know what’s great about fixing food? You get to build something and then eat it afterwards. When was the last time you ate a bookshelf or a Ford Explorer? If you did, I’ll go out on a limb by saying that it probably didn’t taste very good. There’s no better payoff in building anything than taking it to your throat afterwards, and cooking provides that payoff.
#2 – It’s teaches teamwork and/or science: Let’s say you were getting ready for a football game and you had all of your team members present except for the quarterback or running back. Chances are your team would get smoked harder than an orphaned blunt found at Snoop Dogg’s house. Well, that’s kinda what happened when I forgot to add the sugar to an apple crisp I made a few months ago. THE EFFING SUGAR! Who does that?? Well, now you have your answer. Preparing meals teaches kids that each ingredient plays a vital role in the success of the finished product. Forget one ingredient? You’re screwed. Put too much or too little of one ingredient in the mixture? It’s probably going to taste like ass candy when it comes out of the oven. Teamwork/science is also vital in the game of life, and cooking can be one small way to demonstrate that.
#3 – It teaches patience: I’m not sure if you know this, but kids like to have everything now. Well, that can’t really happen when you’re cooking. Even the simplest meals take some time to prepare and when our tiny humans watch us, they’ll learn why it takes time. At 3.5 years old, my oldest daughter now has an appreciation for prep time after watching me cook for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I still get the “Is it ready yet, Daddy???” routine for the meals that take a while to prepare – but if I enlist her to help me in some small way, it becomes more of an adventure than a nuisance in her mind.
#4 – It’s okay to get messy: If you don’t like your kids getting messy, then the kitchen is the last place you’ll want them to be. Ever have a toddler measure out a cup of flour before? Your kitchen will look like Arendelle by the time your kid is done. That’s fine by me. One of my daughter’s preschool teachers told me that the messier a kid is when he/she gets home, the more he/she learned that day. It’s no different with cooking. Let them make a mess. Eventually they’ll learn how to precisely measure flour and other ingredients. Oh yeah – it’s another good opportunity to teach them the importance of cleaning up after themselves.
#5 – It teaches creativity: Do you have kids who love to eat veggies? Well, yay for you and your awesome children. I don’t have those kids. As a matter of fact, the only green thing my daughter will eat are apple jolly ranchers. If you follow my Facebook page, you probably know that I channel Jessica Seinfeld by using my vitamix to puree veggies into my kids’ meals without them knowing it. It’s kinda funny to see my kid turn her nose up at the sight of kale, but when she’s crushing a homemade pizza with pureed kale in the sauce as if the apocalypse is coming, you can’t help but to flash a smile.
You don’t need me to tell you that it doesn’t make you a crappy parent if you can’t cook. There are countless ways dads can bond with their kids that doesn’t involve food. However, there’s something special about creating cool meals for kids. If you’re kinda good at it, they’ll look at you as a culinary hero and their eyes will light up at suppertime. If you let them help you with the cooking, they’ll have a sense of ownership over the amazing food you’ve created together. Best of all, it shows kids that in this day and age dads aren’t afraid to be in the kitchen. Just like we aren’t afraid to strap our babies to our chests, style our daughters’ hair, play dress up, or host tea parties. The bottom line is anything that helps to smash antiquated gender stereotypes in terms of what it means to be man is something I’m 100% in favor of.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sneak some spinach into my daughter’s pasta.
This article originally appeared on daddydoinwork.com
Photo courtesy of bigstockphoto.com