Talking About Parenting

Last Monday, I was a meeting with a person from my professional network. Although our relationships are strictly professional, we know each other long enough to know about each other’s families/spouses/children/grandchildren (in my case :)).

We went out for lunch and talked about more or less everything since we didn’t get a chance to catch up for over a year. And somehow along the lines, he mentioned how his wife is exhausted because she has to cook every day for their three children, and how one of them didn’t like her mother’s cooking, and how he’d told her that “she should cook for herself than”.

I’ve asked: remind me, what’s your kids’ age? He said: 16, 13, and 11. Then why they do not cook for themselves? My kids did cook since they were eleven. – What did they cook? What kind of food? And as it often happens, I’ve started to tell him about our system back then, how we had a schedule on a large wall calendar. How I would cook two main dishes every week, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, and through the week the kids would make sides and warm up the leftovers, or bake breaded fish, or fried sausages, or something else which would be easy to make. And how we would go out only once a week – on Fridays. And then he mentions, that now they actually have not three, but five kids in the house because they’ve taken in their two nephews, while their parents are away for a week, and they are 18 and 11. And I could not stop myself from mentioning that my kids stayed by themselves at home when they were 17, and I left for six weeks on a business trip to Europe…

Each time a parenting conversation turns into this direction, I feel as if I’ve said something wrong, or at least insensitive, something like “Look how my kids were so well-prepared for life, and you just can’t teach your kids basic life skills, you overprotective helicopter parent.” Maybe nobody thinks precisely that way, but that’s how I feel I am coming across.

Next time I will try my best to keep quiet about “what my kids did” if a conversation will be turning that way. May be :). At least, I will try. But I am wondering why it has become such a rear thing, that kids cook. Without parental supervision. Why a kid 10+ can’t cook a meal for themselves. If it’s about “safety”, safety concerns can be valid literally at any age. I, at the age of 56, still get occasional burns in the kitchen – stuff happens. What I am saying, I do not see anything dangerous for 11-year old cooking by themselves, except “anything can theoretically happen to anybody”. And this is not even about “teaching a life skill”, it’s merely about giving parents a break. To be honest, sometimes I think that the usual disconnect I am getting with my stance “you can have it all” happens because, in reality, I did not do it “all” when my kids were kids. We shared the housework, we were a family, we were a team. And it didn’t make my kids “deprived” or “neglected”. Actually, I think it helped our bonding.

What do you think?…

5 thoughts on “Talking About Parenting

  1. This summer I took a leaf out of our book and make my sons cook 🙂 Surprisingly they love it, and since the start of the summer holiday I hardly ever cook – they generally manage themselves, though with a lot of guidance and advice. Makes my life way easier 🙂

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  2. See! This works! Especially with more than one child :), I am not sure why maybe because cooking together is more fun.

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  3. Counterexamples in parenting often sound insensitive, alas 🙂 Also I do not think that being able to cook gives kids some particular advantages in life – after all, with interest and motivation, such skills can be happily learned in no time. Most important is how we, as parents, see what success means for them and for us, as parents. And here, very often I was lost.

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    1. I do not think that an absence of any one particular skill can have an uncurable negative impact on any child’s life.
      However, an ability to do something “like a grownup” is a definite boost of self-esteem. For me, however, it was a matter of practicality. I didn’t do anything for the sake of “parenting the right way,” I truly needed the kids to take a portion of my load on them. So it was as simple as “if dinner is not ready by the time I return from work, I am not taking you to your rehearsal, because I will need to cook dinner first. That’s why I am saying in this blog post that perhaps a big part of me being able “to do all” was the fact, that the kids have picked a significant share of this “all.”

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