When I was young, my family always had breakfast together. Many years after I became a parent, I decided to continue the tradition. We saw certain changes almost immediately. As a family, we seemed more interested in each other. I liked the improvement and added some traditions of my own. We moved family prayer from the front room to the kitchen table. We gave a quick spiritual thought each morning to the children, and we gave the children a daily vocabulary word. It takes determination to pull seven independent personalities around one table, but there are many benefits this family activity can offer; let me mention five:
1. During breakfast the family can hold a mini family council each day. We have a weekly planning session, but often these plans become obsolete by Tuesday night. So at breakfast I ask, “Are there any new planned activities tonight of which I am unaware?” Then we plan the day with everyone knowing the schedule.
2. Breakfast time offers a great opportunity to teach and train children. It is amazing what young minds can absorb even in a short period of time. The other day, I asked our ten-year-old daughter to explain the difference between an ordinance and a principle. She did a good job. One day while swimming, Steven, our four-year-old, yelled to me, “Did you hear that word, diminutive? That’s one of the words we had. It means small, like me!”
3. Breakfast time is a great time to learn of special needs. Children’s moods change quickly and special needs can arise instantaneously. Not making the basketball squad is monumental at sixteen years of age. Breakfast gives me time to find out how the child is handling the experience. Then we can talk about it.
4. Breakfast is also a good time to leave children with positive feelings for the coming day. As a parent, I have found that adolescence can be a time of depression, making children more susceptible to peer pressure. For one half hour each morning, our children can learn, laugh, and be encouraged while they eat. This provides a happy basis for the day.
5. One of the most important parts of breakfast time is the prayer period. As a family, we can take time to kneel and thank the Lord for the blessings we enjoy. It is good for the children to hear the humble pleadings of parents in their behalf. Children need to feel the spiritual concern and know the importance of praying for specific things and loved ones. Often, I feel that our family’s protection from the ills of society is proportionate to the spirituality generated at this time.
Parents can gain great blessings by gathering their children around at meal time. It is a natural time to bring families together and help them become closer, both emotionally and spiritually. K. Dean Black, Counselor, LDS Social Services, Tucker, Georgia