When I was 11, my parents implemented a household rule that my sister and I would each be in charge of making one dinner per week. This included, finding the recipe, checking the pantry and fridge to see what ingredients we already had on hand, and grocery shopping with my mom early Saturday morning to get what was needed.
The strategy was pure 70s parenting brilliance that ensured my mom or dad only had to cook meals two to three times a week.
My parents never batted an eye when my favourite ‘go to’ meal became chicken pieces dipped in butter, then rolled in crushed potato chips, and baked in the oven. While my choice of food may have left something to be desired, making a weekly meal taught me how to manage time, experiment in the kitchen, and use ingredients we had on hand because who wants to get up at 8:00 am on a Saturday.
My mom also taught me how to sort laundry, clean the house, knit and, of all things, calligraphy.
Fast forward 30+ years and it was my turn.
Like many moms I spent my boys’ younger years having them help me around the house. In the kitchen, we would bake cookies, prepare food, and set the table. Not only was it about teaching skills, but it also creates healthier long-term eating habits.
The boys also assisted me with light house cleaning and yard work, and were given odd jobs. As they got older I would send them on errands to the store. It was all about teaching them what they needed to know to be able to live on their own as responsible adults.
That’s what I was supposed to do, right?
While there were good memories created, the truth was, especially when they were younger, many times it was completely frustrating, with more of a mess for me to clean up than if I had done it myself.
Then about a year ago my teenage son wanted waffles for breakfast. Did he come to me? Nope. Did he open up a recipe book? Nope. He took out his phone, Googled it, gathered the ingredients, and 30 minutes later his breakfast was ready.
He then taught himself how to make pancakes and homemade soup, how to knit, sew, sort laundry, and speak a little bit of German, all through Google.
Ironically, when he was eight and needed to wear a tie, I also went to Google to learn how to make the perfect Windsor knot.
Times have changed and we don’t need to spend time teaching our kids to sew on a button, fold a fitted sheet, or iron a shirt when there are a million tutorials on Google.
But does this mean one of your roles as a parent has been replaced?
Sure, he could Google how to make tomato sauce, but it’s his grandmother who will teach him the trick is to add sausage and fresh basil while it’s cooking. But more than that, while they are together at the stove, she will share stories about helping her mother make sauce when she was a child.
Kids can learn about sex on the internet, but we’re the ones who will teach our children about respect, consent and making a partner feel loved outside of the bedroom.
Google is useful in so many ways, and can teach our kids to do basic things they will need throughout life, but it will always be up to us to put the humanity into the lessons.