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Once my kids hit their teens, it became increasingly challenging to find family activities to do together. Aside from the occasional movie night, both son and daughter grew resistant to hanging out with their old man on weekends … or any other time for that matter.

Of course I’ve supported their nascent autonomy, but I also miss one-on-one time with them. Keeping up with their interests is tricky, too, as their tastes seem forever in flux. Yet there is one constant in the life of a teen: hunger. With this in mind, I often use food to draw them out of their rooms and into an afternoon with Dad. Food tours usually work, but since 2013 the perennial favorite for us has been cooking classes. We’ve taken cooking lessons while traveling in many Asian and Latin American locales, starting when the kids were around 7 and 10. Now that they’re older, I value cooking classes even more. It’s a nice way to learn about a culture while practicing an essential life skill: preparing food for yourself and others.

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