I am a novice to supervised visitation. I claim no personal experience, my children were older when I divorced. But I do know what anger does, and how displaying that in front of the children can be damaging. I’ve been guilty of saying things I wish I could take back. It is true, hurt people, hurt people. We want to strike back and have someone take our side, but Please God, not the kids. My children have carried some of those memories throughout their adult lives, and sometimes I hear their disdain for what they witnessed. Now that I am in greater awareness, I would do everything in my power differently. Herein lies a great opportunity to give back.
One thing that did not escape my children is that they have wonderful remembrances of rolling dough for kreplach, the deliciousness of expectation, waiting for a pizza dough to rise, and so many dishes I cannot begin to count. It doesn’t not matter if it’s a salad or a chocolate pudding. I am compelled to offer a healing space near and dear to my heart for children and their parents.
I have worked in various kitchens throughout my life. One thing I am absolutely sure of, the kitchen is a healing place. It is the HEART of the home. And isn’t this all about healing the heart? Memories of baking chocolate chip cookies, eating them right out of the oven, the glorious mess, and the smiles knowing something good is coming, creates a warm, and comforting atmosphere. Maybe it’s a favorite holiday meal, it brings back something good and grounding and a sense of belonging. However, it takes some skill and planning. Here are some of my tips for creating that sacred healing space in the kitchen:
Intention: Establish with parent and child the intention to make this a fun and bonding experience. The kitchen is where some real magic can happen.
Mise en Place: This is the term, literally means, “Everything in order”, having all the ingredients and tools available and ready for use. It’s all there and ready to go, eliminating the stress of looking for the pans, the bowls and the food. Agree beforehand on a choice of two dishes or desserts that the child chooses.
Ground rules: The kitchen has to be a no criticize zone. In other words, if there is a mess up, there is to be no criticism, period. Our words carry power and they can either hurt or heal. Example: Child “I just dropped the eggs on the floor”. Parent, “no problem we can get another one”. There are no gaffes in the kitchen that can’t be fixed, and besides I think spills actually add to the fun. Make it fun, mom or dad!
Praise and celebration: I can’t stress enough how important it is to praise both parent and child. “Great Job! “Goes a long way! Perfectionism is not important, spending quality time together is. Celebrate the food by sitting down to the table and enjoying your creation.
Plan a goodie bag! : A special little goody bag to take home to share is a gesture of peace and speaks louder than words.
The Kitchen is a place of nourishment beyond food. Cooking together builds families, and that is something you can bring to the table.
By Laurel Herman
The Inner Kitchen