Food–a Parent’s Not-So-Secret Weapon

Now, before I get in trouble for perpetuating some sort of unhealthy attachment to food, spreading strange food mythology, or some other bad food behavior–I just want to say that I love food, I love cooking and eating and wandering around the farmer’s market fondling fresh vegetables, but I have to be honest and admit that food has definitely played a key role in my parenting…

I don’t know how food and parenting CAN’T go together–from the very first moments after birth–the breast feeding, the fussing over whether the baby is getting enough to eat, the focus on feedings and weight gained. When our babies are infants and they cry, we feed them. How can that not be woven into the very fabric of parenthood?

I am a traditionalist–I believe that a good breakfast predisposes you for a good day, that a lunch packed by mom in a brown paper sack shows the world that you are loved and cherished, that soup and hot cocoa (even if they come from cans) cure any illness, and that ice cream and fresh brownies are the sacred solution to a broken heart. I also think the best conversations happen in the kitchen or around a table piled with food and dirty dishes.

When I think back, I realize that I taught my kids beginning math at the grocery store and science in the kitchen (with them standing on stools and chairs with linen dishtowels tied around their necks). A family game or movie night wouldn’t be the same without the bowls of popcorn or the homemade pizza. And, I might never see my busy teenagers if I didn’t set out the tempting food and holler up the stairs, “I have food!”

Yes, I confess–for me food and parenting go hand in hand, arm in arm, spoon in bowl–or some other food and cooking metaphor. When all else fails (and sometimes I don’t even try anything else), the pot of soup or the fresh-baked cookies still serve to create a connection with my kids.