Written by Doctor G

What I learned From Teaching My Son to Cook

This summer our 9yo son has learned to cook.
Mostly he likes to cook the stuff he likes to eat. Noodle kugel, macaroni and cheese, strawberry soup. But, whatever’s on the menu, he’ll chop and dice and measure and stir, whatever is necessary. Doesn’t even gripe about the cleaning up afterwards.

All the boys love to “help” in the kitchen, sometimes they even actually help in the kitchen. Since the large majority of our family time is spent in that room, we have a lot of chores there. It’s for sure the center of our home. The kitchen table is huge and maybe the only surface in the house that is consistently free of clutter.

We’ve taken the custom of my husband’s family – important conversations happen at the kitchen table. Report cards, transgressions, announcements and soul-searching all find their home there. It’s no surprise to us that our eldest son, who loves to be in charge and in the center of everything, gravitates towards the work that happens most often in the kitchen.

Cooking appeals to his interest in math and chemistry. He gets to make decisions, effect outcomes, experiment and get credit for it all. Since we thank the cook after every meal, he looks forward to that as well. All this is valuable. And, since I’m determined to never have a daughter- or son-in-law complain at me that their husband can’t cook, I’m gratified that he is competent so soon.

What has he taught me by learning to cook? He has taught me to transfer control.

Maybe he knows, on some subconscious level, that this will be my real challenge in his tween and teen years. As the balance scale of decision-making shifts from me to him, he is teaching me to let go. To start the process of trusting his competence, or his ability to recover from mistakes. To stand back and let him spill, over-salt, even cut himself and then stop the bleeding on his own. After all, what cook’s hands are cut-free?


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6 thoughts on “What I learned From Teaching My Son to Cook”

  1. Oh, this. I love this.

    My kids adore being in the kitchen and as a former teacher I know how important letting them learn and do is for them {and me}.

    And this? This is just such a lovely reminder to do all of the above.

    Thank you for that. 🙂

    1. Thanks Galit, for the support. From your posts I’m guessing I could learn a little about patience from you! NOT my best thing.

  2. Great perspective on letting kids in the kitchen. I sometimes get annoyed with having to help my daughter do things because I can do it faster but I need to remember to step back and think of it as a fun learning process rather than a chore.

    1. It IS a fun learning process – for them! Not so much for the moms I think. But I yearn for more patience, and this is a good way for me to get a little more.

  3. I recognize Jessica’s sentiment – it is the biggest obstacle to giving kids real responsibilities that impact the whole family when they don’t get finished (laundry, washing dishes). I think Dr. G has the age about right where the child is tall enough, coordinated enough, and aware enough of his or her surroundings to manage something like cooking, that takes a lot of different skills and a decent amount of executive function.

    I have a good friend (also an only child like me and Dr. G) who taught himself to cook about age 9 out of self-defense – he didn’t like what he was being served. Fortunately, having eaten both Dr. G’s cooking and that of her spouse, I can attest that 9 year old little G is being fed VERY well even when he is not the chef.

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