Every parent I know cares deeply about their children’s future. So we enroll them in sports, music, theater, scouting, and other activities to help them become successful adults. Families run themselves ragged getting to and from all those activities, sometimes so busy they miss out on what I, as a functional-medicine doctor and mother, think is the most powerful influence on the health of the child both in the future and today: making dinner together.
I don't blame you: By the end of the day, we’re exhausted! Pressed for time, rushing from work to a planned activity for the kids or ourselves, there's often no time to plan for or cook dinner. Instead, people stop by the fast food restaurant or whip up something processed. I've observed in my practice that fewer and fewer people are cooking at home, and families are spending less time together around the dinner table. Instead of learning how to plan and cook meals and manage other aspects of the household, they learn the habits of eating out and relying on fast food, snacks, and energy drinks.
A powerful gift we can give our children is engaging them in preparing meals at home for the family. Is your youngster playing video games? Does your child have a smartphone? Then he or she has the coordination and skill to help you in the kitchen. Of course you'll need to adjust the tasks to their motor skills, but there are plenty of basic jobs even first and second graders can do: