I love a good tradition, and especially when I see how it enriches the lives of our kids. We have a tradition in our family that as a mother, is definitely one of my favorites. It’s the daddy-daughter breakfast tradition.
This ritual began with my father years ago, and now we have adapted it into our family. When I was in grade school my dad designated Wednesdays as “breakfast day”. He and I would leave the house a little earlier than normal before work and school, and head to a local greasy spoon restaurant that smelled a bit like old wood and bacon. Every week I ordered the same thing, a gigantic, plate sized pancake with a mound of butter in the middle large enough to sink a ship. And boy, did it taste good.
The motivation for going to breakfast was not the food, although it was always a treat. The intention was time alone with my dad and for us to have an opportunity to purposefully connect.
When my girls were in kindergarten we started the tradition in our home. Once a week, my husband began alternating which daughter he took to breakfast before school. Six years later, they are still going to the same restaurant, and the tradition continues.
There are many aspects to this tradition that make it meaningful. When the girls were very young it made them feel special and valued. The fact that their daddy would carve out this time for them before his busy workday made them feel like a princess. And as a kindergartener anything that was different from their normal routine felt like they had just won the “advanced-toddler lottery”.
As time went on, and their maturity level grew, so did their breakfast conversations. These one-on-one times became an intentional place for my husband to “check in” on what was going on in their lives. It became a private place that each of the girls could talk without feeling “honed-in on” by their sibling. And being an only child, I had NO idea how important this is for siblings.
Andrew has also used this time to share life lessons and teach them things he’s learning through his relationship with God or in his business. It’s his time to drop some wisdom nuggets that are personally designed for each one of them.
These regular “dates” have also created a pattern of familiarity for the girls, and they know there will always be a scheduled time that they can intimately connect with their dad. It has built a level of trust between them and is building a foundation of communication that is key as they grow up.
But I think the most important benefit of this tradition is the connection that he as a father is building with his daughters. Yes, the bond between a mother and a daughter is wonderful and so important, but the benefits of a strong relationship between a daughter and her dad are huge. When a young girl feels valued, loved, and protected by her father, she is less likely to search out love and acceptance in the wrong places when she’s older. This is our hope and our prayer for our girls.
I understand that it might not be possible to do weekly breakfasts out at a restaurant, and that’s okay! There are so many other ways that this tradition can be modified and still have the same great affect. Maybe it’s a weekly hike, or bike ride. It could even be dedicated time at the local playground. It’s about getting creative and simply setting aside that time. Undivided, intentional time in a one-on-one setting is so life-giving for your kids.
So every morning, when it’s breakfast day, my heart bursts when I watch my husband and one of my daughters walk out the door. Who would have thought that a good foundation could be built, one pancake at a time?