Dr. Peter Marshall
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Dr. Marshall has written for scientific journals, magazines such as Canadian Living and Parent-to-Parent, and newspapers. A list of journal papers is contained in his Curriculum Vitae.
If you would like to read one of his recent articles, please select from the left:

 

 



Spoiled Rotten?

Eavesdropping

A World of Their Own

Cooking for Kids

Work - Does It Build Character?


The Barbeque

 

  Cooking for Kids

  I have always admired people who have whatever it takes to walk across the Arctic, fly to the moon, or take holidays in places where there are no bank machines or flushing toilets. Risk-taking has never been a forte. I have no doubt that civilization would have been stalled for eternity had the earth been populated exclusively by my sort—the inside of a cave would have been just fine by me.


   My lack of interest in seeking new horizons was evident as a child. My definition of risk-taking was trying a new button on the channel changer. Part of my reluctance to experiment was fear of the unknown. I can still recall how frightened I was whenever a parent was not immediately in sight in a shopping mall. Adults don't give enough thought to the implications of being little. When you are five years old, adults are very big; your line of gaze hits them at approximately navel height. I wonder how brave we'd all be if we had to step out into a world populated by eleven-foot giants.

  But I suspect that more than fear was operating. I truly saw no reason to change my life in any way. Perhaps my parents had succeeded too much in their efforts to raise a happy child. I had a comfortable home, lots to do, and good food. Beyond clearing my plate and having to brush my teeth, there was little in the way of hardship to endure. Why would I want to mess with success. Take kindergarten for example. I am told it was a battle to get me to go on the first day—and the second and many subsequent days. I cried, engaged in civil disobedience, and apparently made several bids for freedom; I wanted to be back in my cave. While the details of my reasoning have long since faded, it is not hard for me to understand my rebellion. My parents obviously wanted me to be educated. But why would I care? The relationship between educational achievement and the type of job you can expect to have as an adult has absolutely no meaning when you intend to live with mom and dad forever. "But everyone has to learn to read," might be among the repertoire of arguments used to persuade the diffident child. "Says who?" would have been my reply. When you have parents who are obsessed with doing the right thing and have been reading to you from the time they first detected you moving around in utero, why would you volunteer to take over the job?

  All of the kids in our family were expected to participate in some kind of institutionalized fun. It was all part of our parents' grand scheme to ensure that we became well-rounded members of society. Their definition of fun was very broad; it was also non-negotiable. I was conned into believing that piano lessons would be the highlight of my childhood. The fact that my older brother had to be almost tied to the stool to complete the mandatory daily routine of scales and arpeggios was ignored; no second opinion was invited. Judo was another activity that was introduced to brighten my life, and for a whole year I was dragged off to the local gym every Saturday morning. I suppose it was a unique experience. Where else would I have had the opportunity to wear pyjamas in public and be thrown on the ground repeatedly by strangers?

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