Teens who can’t boil an egg
It’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure teens are self-sufficient, says Sipho Yanano.
When I first moved out of my parent’s house in my early 20s I lost a lot of weight.

From my normal 60-something kg I got to a point where I hovered around 49kg. Friends and family worried that I’d contracted the terminal condition that was snatching the lives of many of my contemporaries at that time.

What was my problem? I didn’t know how to cook. I knew little about preparing nutritious food and any attempt to cook a full meal only produced results which chased away my appetite.

How I missed those well prepared home-cooked meals! Frustrated, I’d turn to the easiest thing I knew how to make- buttered bread sandwiches and tea. I was too embarrassed to call home and ask for help.

Because I grew up among many women - my mum, my aunts, my sisters and cousins - I never had the opportunity to learn how to cook in my teen years.

This seems to be a universal problem because  The Weekly News, a weekly in Britain, recently reported that in a study of university students it was found that :’One in 4 males and one in 8 females say they’ve never been taught to cook.’

The same study revealed that 3% of the students did not know how to even use a stove (they literally couldn’t  even boil an egg)  and one in 10 said they’d never been to a supermarket on their own.

Teens learn cooking from parents

I can relate to these findings. Preparing food and eating is such a fundamental part of our lives and yet some parents fail to see the need to train their children the proper way to cook. The way parents teach children how to prepare food will affect the child’s health.

I’m amazed by family and friends whose idea of cooking is deep frying everything in a pool of cooking oil- no prize for guessing they probably got that from.

I feel  some parents forget that in preparing their kids for the harsh realities of life they also need to instruct their offspring the very important skill of cooking - whether the child is male or female.

One day most young ones will leave home and will have to fend for themselves, including cooking.

At what age should a child be introduced to cooking?

Some parents have been known to start teaching their children to prepare a meal at the age of 4. Some 9-year-olds have been known to prepare an entire meal.  At first kids can be given simple age- appropriate tasks such as pouring, pounding, peeling, sifting, stirring, and rolling.

Some educational theories claim that these kitchen activities are essential in helping a child to developing manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination.
  • Going through a recipe with a child and teaching the young one to perform the various tasks is said to introduce the child to the world of numbers, logical thinking, language, timing and measurements.
  • The routine of cooking can be used as a University to teach various life skills to a child as the parent spends quality and quantity time with the young person.
  • Safety must come first though. It is best not to let your child cook without adult supervision. To avoid burns and cuts and other serious incidents the kitchen should be kept child safe.
  • Explain the dangers of working in the kitchen and all potentially dangerous utensils should only be used under parental supervision.
I learned to cook as an adult and I’ve just got the hang of it. Learning to cook has made my life more enjoyable and I’m easier to live with.

Parent should never deny their children the skill of making a good meal. After all, your children are what they eat.

Do your children do anything in the kitchen? What have you taught them?

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