Sharing your childhood dishes with your children is one of the many ways to build better relationships with them

As parents, especially migrant parents, one of the many challenges is to build solid relationships with your children.

When you are living far away from home, and especially in a new country, striving to bridge both cultural and generational gaps can be challenging.

For example,  how do you instill the values that you grew up with? How do you share your family rituals and introduce your traditions and culture to your children?

There are many ways you can connect with your children, but I personally find that one of the easiest and fastest ways to connect with them is to share who you are through your favourite childhood dishes. This is not cooking the dishes and serving them on the table… you want to invite them to the kitchen and involve them with the preparation and cooking at the same time.


Before you read further… I want you to pause for a minute and imagine this –

What is your favourite dish?

When you taste your favourite dish right now, what goes through your mind?

What do you remember?

Who cooked this dish for you?

How was this dish prepared?

For example, recently, we had a new year party, and we had a few friends over; we had shaved ice with ice kacang and ice balls drizzled with red rose syrup or palm sugar. We shared quite a few interesting childhood memories: standing at the roadside, queuing at the stall under the hot sun, looking forward to the cool ice balls, we would “suck” the ice balls (basically all the syrup) and would go back to ask for more syrup (sometimes we were successful) to be poured onto the ice balls.

I can assure you, if you really sit down and think about it, you will be able to recall numerous home cooked dishes or street food that you love and have amazing memories to share with your children.

So here is the reason why:

When you share your cultural dishes or traditional rituals, you are opening a door for your children. You can share traditions such as steamboat on Chinese New Year’s eve, or your dishes you used to cook during festive seasons, the street food that you used to eat with your family and friends, or the roadside drinks you used to eat with your school mates after a movie etc.

You are opening up opportunities to enable your children to understand their roots and their identity through you. Even though their own cultural identities are been established in the country where they now live, they will start to get to know you better.

So what do you have to do?

Invite your children to cook with you. Introducing them to the ingredients and the utensils you used to use! Make it fun and make it an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Remember, your connections with your children depend on the quality of your relationship that you establish with your children right now.