Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Raising a Son That Knows How to Cook

One of the many quotes that struck me as I recently read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg was this:

As women must be more empowered at work, 
men must be more empowered at home. 

As the working mother of a 12-year-old son, I feel that is my responsibility to make sure that he knows how to cook and clean a house. I also think it's important to have an ongoing discussion with him about work/life balance. I remind my son that he will need to contribute 50/50 to his household if he decides to get married, and especially if he plans on having children of his own someday.

I've expected him to contribute to household chores and cooking since he was even a toddler. His first job was to put the soap tab in the dishwasher. Now he is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, folding his laundry, and bringing the laundry to the basement, in addition to keeping his room tidy. He is also expected to cook 1-2 meals per week.

When Daniel was little he often trailed behind his father or I in the kitchen, wanting to be helpful but making more of a mess than anything. But I always reminded myself to be patient with him, to pull up the chair so he could help roll out the dough beside me, to ask him to add a dash of this and a dash of that, to encourage him to mix the salad with his hands, shake the salad dressing, stir the soup, cut the veggies. His favorite job was always pushing the button on the blender or the food processor.

It takes time and patience to teach a little kid to cook - but it pays off! This week alone my son made a fantastic deep dish pizza, enjoyed by our entire family (he makes perfect pizza dough from scratch!), and last night he made black beans and rice and a fresh cilantro crema fresca that he rolled into burritos. And every time I eat a delicious meal prepared by my son, I savor more than anything the fact that I can sit back and enjoy and confidently know that he has the skills to feed his own family someday with some healthy, cooking from scratch.

My son teaching his best friend how to roll out pasta dough. 

It's so important that we talk about work/life balance with not only our girls but also our boys. So if you have a little guy at home, even a bumbling toddler, drag him into the kitchen with you and teach him to cook by your side. One day he'll be setting the table and setting out dinner for you, and even farther into the future, he'll be cooking dinner for your grandkids!

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