How to Connect with Your Teen, in the Kitchen

Food for Thought — The Kitchen Connection

teen_boysIn our house there are two females: the dog and me.  My husband and I have three sons, ages 13, 12 and “almost 11.” I was ecstatic with the arrival of each of our sons.  But that didn’t keep me from being a bit disappointed as I imagined a future that would not include:

  • Barbie anything.  I was right.  I did not miss the tiny shoes that I heard were a threat to young siblings, new vacuums and barefoot parents.  However, we did experience similar situations arising due to stray pieces from Lego Space, Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones.
  • Playing dress-up.  I was wrong; we did have costume days.  We just wore firefighter coats and dad’s shoes instead of old prom dresses and vintage hats.
  • Cooking together. I was very wrong.  My sons clamor to join me in the kitchen; they’re better cooks than I was in college and gaining on me rapidly.

Our time in the kitchen gave me the perfect setting to talk about when I was 14 and ate all the apples that my grandmother had sliced for a pie while telling her about how the boy I liked didn’t want to take me to the school picnic.  That story opened the door for my son to tell me about his fear that no girl might want to dance with him at the middle-school mixer.

The day my youngest son added root beer to the chili, I learned that I could learn from my 10 year-old.  He wants to know whether it is better to add water or milk to scrambled eggs or to leave them “as is.”  We ask questions about food, about each other and we learn from our experiments with both.

Tonight, my 11 year-old wanted to share what he’d learned at camp: how to wrap sliced pears and butter in foil and bake them in the fire-pit on our patio.  He asked his younger brother to help and he reassured him that he could do it too.  I doubt that he’s conscious of it but I see him using the “cooking link” to bring them closer together.

So far, our time in the kitchen has been a great connector as we maneuver our way through the tween and teen years. It’s just not what I imagined happening with three sons – it’s better.

Is your life with tween or teen sons and daughters what you imagined it to be?  Where and when do you connect with them most often?

Expert Mommy, Diane Asyre is the owner of Asyre Communications.


  1. I loved this article, it reminded me of when my son was younger and he always loved to cut and bake roll-out cookies. I have taught him how to do the simple things like mac and cheese, but never really involve him in cooking. It gets more challenging to relate when they are at these awkward ages. I’m inspired to try it.

  2. I love this article too. It reminds us to connect with our children through creative ways. Boys require just as much attention and love. I know first hand as I am mother of two boys 11 and 13. They are very different but we try to carve out our special times through cooking and hanging out in our kitchen. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I was raised in a family of women – with the exception of my Dad, of course. (we even had the cat neutered!!!) So when the doctor said congratulations, it’s a BOY – well, I share your thoughts and occasionally miss Barbie. I also share your joy of cooking with my 12 year old son. His specialty, omlets! After a morning of omlet-flipping-practice, he mastered the art.
    Why is it that food allows people to connect? It’s not gender specific either! 🙂

  4. Very good question, Jo. It works even for my 5yo boy. He LOVES to cook… more than my girl. Seems to be something magical about it, that’s for sure.

  5. I have a teen son who thoroughly enjoys cooking – certain dishes, anyway. The fact is, he’s very creative, he’s growing, and he loves to eat well. I taught him a few things a couple of years ago, and he makes them regularly – and cooks for the rest of us from time to time. Good stuff! (Now if only he’d do the dishes occasionally.)