Parenting Gone Awry

The Self-Judgment Starts Around 8am

When I was growing up, my mother fixed my brothers and me a hot breakfast every day before school — usually an egg and toast, sometimes a bowl of oatmeal. Never cold cereal.   Breakfast bars hadn’t been invented yet.


My mother isn’t one to look down upon or feel superior to others, but she definitely frowned upon women who sent their kids to school on an empty stomach.  Still does.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Then happy hour.


Consequently, I am in the 50% of the population who likes to eat something of a morning.  Consequently, I try to get my child to eat something of a morning. Unfortunately, he seems to be in the 50% of the population, along with Antique Daddy, who don’t want to eat anything before noon.  Weirdos.


Yet, every morning I get up, I make eggs and toast, or pancakes, or sometimes I even offer him a cereal bar, trying to get him to eat breakfast, trying to squish him into the me-shaped box.  Then after breakfast, I scrape the untouched eggs and toast into the trash and pour his cold coffee down the drain.


And then I frown upon myself for sending my kid to school without breakfast.


56 thoughts on “The Self-Judgment Starts Around 8am

  1. Well, here’s my guilt: I fed my kids hot breakfasts like that all the time they were growing up. Now they both fight weight problems.

    In recent years, scientists or doctors or somebody (the famous “they”) have discovered that cold cereal (if it isn’t too sweet) is actually a better and healthier breakfast that anything you can cook for your child, with the possible exception of oatmeal.

    So I poisoned my kids and set them on a path to heart trouble, weight issues, and blood pressure problems!

    I’m halfway jesting, but I’m telling you that no matter what you do, you will have guilt. It’s a main ingredient of motherhood. And grandmotherhood.

  2. I am 37 and I still tease my Mom about the lovely breakfasts she prepared, and even brought to my room for me, while I was busy curling and teasing my hair into proper 80’s size bangs as a teenager.
    I never wanted breakfast, and I never ate it. Still, she did her job and felt better for trying!

    Good luck! At least Sean will remember, as an adult, the effort you went to… score one for Mom!

  3. I can’t stomach the thought of food early in the day either, but because of guilt, I insist they my children eat before that they go to school. However, I do let them eat what they like. My oldest child often eats soup and crackers or leftovers from dinner. He just doesn’t care for most breakfast foods.

    If they absolutely refuse to eat breakfast, I don’t sweat it much. They have a snack around 9 and they eat lunch early. One year, PPO ate lunch at 10:30!

  4. Didn’t your Mama tell you that coffee will turn a child’s toenails black? Or grow hair on his chest. Whichever. 😉

    It doesn’t matter what time of day I get up, I don’t want anything to eat until I’ve been up several hours. But don’t worry, I make up for lost time then.

  5. You can only offer it to him. You can’t force him to eat it. But feel good about the fact that you are making him a HOT breakfast. He will come around one of these days!

  6. I grew up on a steady breakfast diet of Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. And I turned out okay. I grew up on a steady breakfast of……where was I?

    I had a pediatrician once tell me that a child will not let himself starve. He’s just fine. 🙂 My kids demand breakfast the moment their heads leave their pillows. Even BEFORE their coffee. Now, they are weirdos.

  7. My kids have a bowl full of cold cereal placed in front of them 4 or 5 days a week, which they dreamily stir and maybe eat a sole Rice Krispie or two. One or two days a week, I make oatmeal. And on Sunday or Saturday I’ll make a big batch of homemade waffles out of sheer guilt.

  8. Well it’s a good thing he doesn’t have the coffee… or was that for AD rather than your son?! Nobody should have coffee before the age of at least 12 or 13!

    As for breakfast – my DH won’t touch anything much before noon, either. Anything containing wheat makes him feel queasy before lunch, and he simply isn’t hungry. Then again, he often has a midnight snack!

    The best thing of all to eat is fruit for breakfast. Maybe Sean would have a banana? Or how about a smoothie? Those are easy to digest, easy to make, and eating raw foods before noon is the healthiest. Yogurt is good too. And fruit juice, preferably freshly squeezed.

  9. I love breakfast so much that I would rather eat breakfast for supper, or dinner, or whatever you call. My mom wasn’t home in the mornings to see us off to school (Dad was), so it was either instant oatmeal or cold cereal for us. Eggs, pancakes, and the like were always reserved for the weekends when Mom was home. Those were memorable days for me!

    But my hubby is the same as AD, doesn’t care to eat breakfast until noon. I’d faint. I need to eat within an hour of being up.

  10. We usually had cold cereal; Sundays were for bacon, eggs and toast. My son will eat bagels or oatmeal and read the morning paper. My daughter, good luck. The thing that I can’t get used to is soft drinks in the morning. Wife and son and sometimes daughter drink pop. Milk goes bad and I’m a take a cup of coffee into the shower kind of person.

  11. My Kindergartner refuses to eat breakfast, also. Makes me feel guilty, too. But I’ve never been able to change his mind. Since he eats non-stop from 10am until 8pm, I guess he won’t die.

  12. LOL I found the joke about coffee quite funny. Both my kids LOVE coffee and have from the time they were very small. Of course when they were little I didn’t give them a steady diet of it but it sure won’t hurt anyone! LOL

  13. I love your posts Antique Mommy! This one hit home because while have breakfast at supper the other night at Cracker Barrel, I apologized to my 15 yr old twins for not being the Mom that made them delicious breakfasts like this every morning before school. They both looked at me like I was crazy and in their sweetest, most comforting tones, said, “It’s ok, Mom, we turned out just fine.” Does this mean they will comfort me when I am even more “antiquer”?

  14. As a mother who just served her child a hot dog weiner for breakfast (at her request), you will find no judgement from me.

    Of course I ask myself who wants to eat a hot dog at 8a.m. and the answer would be me in high school. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  15. Want some guilt? I give my daughter a sippy of milk and a snack trap of cereal to eat in the car for breakfast. I do pick whole grain cereal and try to get some of the less sweet ones. She’s also been on a banana kick and eats one in her high chair while I gather our things together. We have to be in the car by 6:30 AM.

  16. LOL about the coffee … I figured that was for the grown-up breakfast boycotter in the house.

    Looking forward to your “Inspired Spaces” entries … I’m in a similar industry. Custom window treatments. Specifically blinds, shades, and shutters. It is so much fun to go into these new homes and see what the folks like you have done!

  17. Why don’t you try a simpler breakfast? a toast with cheese, or ham, for instance. At least my daughter likes it. Or maybe a fruit, or just a glass of milk…just ideas. In any case, he seems perfectly fine with his diet, so don’t push him and don’t feel guilty about it, kids regulate their diets in the most weird ways (as I am learning with my daughter).

  18. Some kids are breakfast eaters, some are not. My son, at 4, only at mac and cheese for breakfast. Now he is 18–no breakfast for him unless it is chocolate cake or cold pizza. Me, I prefer ice cream. It is a dairy product, after all.

    It gets a little difficult when they don’t eat breakfast and then they get hungry at school. Some schools give snacks, some let children bring snacks. My kid took peanut m&m’s to his ACT test, but first put them in a ziploc baggie so they would not make noise. I bought the peanut ones for him so he would get protein. I’m a good mom that way.

    But you know what really gets me—I supervise a preschool teacher who once said “some these parents are so horrible, they send them to pre-care and don’t give their children breakfast, and you know they can afford it because we are an expensive school” I very quietly reminded her that some children are not hungry until they arrive at school, and that we had plenty of food here so no child should be hungry. What I really wanted to do was lecture her on the many challenges that parents face on a daily basis, and that many of our kids are on scholarship, and that some parents drive 30 minutes to get to us so a child who was not hungry when they left the house might be hungry when they get to us. And what I really really wanted to do was slap her judgemental smile off of her face. But being the professional that I am, I smiled sweetly and left the room.

  19. whoa! so glad it doesn’t start until 8am! that way, the left-over birthday cake my kids ate at 6:45 this morning for breakfast doesn’t count! 🙂

  20. I gotta agree with Sean and AD on this one. I’m not really a breakfast food eater, and not early in the morning at that. I have to be up at least 2 hours before I want to even look at food. When I was growing up, I just took a microwavable bowl of chicken and dumplings or beef stew to school. I’d eat it about 9:30, between classes. Now, I keep granola bars at work. I just pull one out of my desk and snack on it while I work. Mom still doesn’t understand it, but I appreciate that she didn’t force me to start my day battling her over breakfast. It never killed me, and it won’t kill Sean either.

  21. Yes — what IS that? My 3-year-old used to be a fantastic eater. Now, if I’m lucky I can get her to have a handful of Cheerios on the way out the door. Eventually at school the teachers tell me she’ll eat her bagel or toast and fruit, but usually not before 10 a.m. It throws her completely off our meal schedule, which is very frustrating.

  22. Coffee? Really?

    I’ve met people who can’t eat before noon. My father is one of them. I’ve NEVER understood that. I’m ready for a snack the second I roll out of bed@!

  23. Scott and Madison are the same way. Miller loves breakfast so far like me. Let’s hope it stays that way. Come visit me today….you can ask me anything you

  24. I can’t eat anything before noon either unless I’ve gotten up at the butt crack of dawn, and have already been up for two or three hours. The only time I’ve eaten right out of bed was when I was pregnant. I actually looked down on my mom for never cooking us a warm meal in the morning mostly because she was already at work by the time we got up, but I eventually realized that I wouldn’t eat anything if she even bothered to cook something.

    When my 4 year old started preschool this year I tried to make breakfast for him to eat, and the first few times he actually ate something, but after that he just kept refusing anything. So I am just as happy not to have to make him anything, and send him off to school with a healthy snack.

  25. I’ve never been a fan of making big breakfasts, mainly because the big favorites are usually calorie- and fat-laden meals. Still, I felt some guilt when, after we left my MIL and my mom during our vacation in October ’07, my poor (starving?) son, sadly whispered, “Good-bye eggs. Good-bye bacon. I’ll miss you.” So…I thought I’d see how it went, and for many meals after that, I made eggs and turkey bacon (usually turkey bacon).

    And in four months, my son, who will be 9 next month, gained NINE pounds.

    No, no, no. His ped endocrinologist flipped out, and thankfully, it was my dh, who is much worse than I am, who had taken him to the appointment. My dh allows him candy, and sees nothing wrong with giving an 8yo boy a “double cheeseburger” from every burger joint in town.

    Never mind that my side of the family has serious cholesterol problems (my dad’s cholesterol was once over 500), and that my dh now struggles to keep his under control. Oh wait – he’s not struggling – he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

    Anyway, I think there are those for whom breakfast is important, but big breakfasts are, in my house, once again a rare treat for all of us. Hand over the cheerios and put that butter away.

    Oh, sorry – did I ramble? Yes, probably. Oops.

  26. I eat 2 or 3 times before noon! Husband used to be a “breakfast abstainer,” but now he eats oatmeal with regularity (ha! regularity…). Wish I had advice on getting Sean to. But I don’t.

  27. I’m not trying to get Sean to eat a “big” breakfast. And I don’t eat a big breakfast myself, but I would feel better if he had a few bites of toast in his tummy. But I’m a big believer in not making food an issue. If he’s hungry at school, he’ll figure out quickly that he needs to eat something for breakfast.

  28. Harry spurns hot breakfasts, too. He wants the same thing, every morning.

    Milk and a breakfast bar.

    Any deviation from that menu, even in the interests of nostalgic motherly love, is simply unacceptable.

  29. When my children were school age, I tried everything. I would cut holes in buttered bread and then fry an egg in the hole, I made oatmeal, pancakes —-nothing! But, they would drink Carnation Instant Breakfast, which is probably equivalent to chocolate milk. Maybe Sean would drink hot chocolate made with milk or a fruit smoothie. Some people are just not breakfast people — count me among them.

  30. What a co-ink-e-dink! My whole entire post today is about my kitchen quandry. I would love any suggestions you might have!

  31. I’m part of the populations who will eat it if someone else makes it, but has no problem moving on with just a cup of coffee if Mr. Right is still in bed when I leave for work. Then I snack at work around 10 AM.

    My kids? They love breakfast, hot or cold, which further goes to prove that they are indeed products of Mr. Right.

    And Saturday has to be a family breakfast – hot! Homemade too! Pancakes, Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, Dinosaur Eyeballs… and it has to be eaten together. It’s a good thing that I can’t sleep in most mornings…

  32. The important thing is that you try your best to give your family the best….that’s nothing to feel guilty about. I was never a breakfast person until I became pregnant and then I truly saw the value of early morning sustinance. My daughter loves a good breakfast. I use to feel guilt when I didn’t have time to cook her a hot meal in the mornings, but now I’ve come to live with the fact that cold cereal has its place.

  33. You do what you can. It took me a long time to train Papa Bear to eat breakfast, but for his diabetes it is better.
    Do you sit down and eat with him? Makes a difference. I prefer hot breakfast as does my entire family….but I still crave the cold cereal I had as a kid when my mom remembered to buy it…I spent my teen years without breakfast unless I bought it.

  34. “trying to squish him into the me-shaped box”
    I loved this line. I struggle with this myself. If I do it, then it must be good and my kids must do it too, right? Right?
    Oh, and I am glad you clarified the whole coffee thing, I was just about to dial CPS 🙂

  35. I, too, was not a breakfast eater, though my mom cooked a full breakfast every morning for my father. She couldn’t persuade me to eat even when she cooked chocoalte gravy for the biscuits. After a PTA meeting where someone gave a lecture on the breakfast fed child doing better in school than the child who didn’t eat breakfast eat, she asked me to eat SOMETHING before I went to school. So I said, “okay,mom, I’ll have a Snickers and a Dr. Pepper.” For the next 7 years she let me have Snickers and Dr. Pepper every morning before I went to school. I was salutatorian. I’m sure she felt that if I had just eaten the bacon and eggs I would have been valedictorian. 🙂 But after i graduated she was quick to discount the theory that children with breakfast do better in school.

  36. I was TOTALLY kidding about the coffee, AM. If I sounded judgmental I honestly didn’t mean to. I was just going for the laugh.

    And for the record, my Mama gave us kids milk with a little coffee in it in a coffee cup every once in a while so we could feel like we were more mature and part of the grown up crowd. Didn’t hurt us at all.

  37. Ah, well, mine eat whatever they can find in the house before 8:00 a.m. Sometimes, it isn’t much, and we live out in the country, so I can’t just run and get some milk, soy milk, juice, etc. I gave up most of my perfectionism a long time ago.

  38. Ahh yes, if only the me-shaped box had a few holes to allow our faults to slip past our children then we’d all have perfect kids. But alas, perfection doesn’t work for kids or moms or breakfast choice. We’re all having cold pizza tomorrow before we catch a flight!

  39. My five year old won’t eat breakfast sometimes either. I just send him to school with a cereal bar and tell his teacher that if he gets hungry it’s there. More often than not he eats it before snack time. I’m not a big food pusher either. When they get hungry, they eat – right? None of them have weight issues, so I don’t feel bad.

  40. “If he’s hungry at school, he’ll figure out quickly that he needs to eat something for breakfast.”

    If his stomach is like mine when I was a kid, he may not. The mere thought of food use to make me feel utterly nauseated until I’d been up a few hours . . at which point I was already in school and forced to starve until lunchtime. Yet all those years of starving stomach in school did NOT make me want to eat anything before I left for school!

  41. I am from the same school as you. I try to get my kids to eat breakfast. I myself LOVE breakfast and will have it in lieu of any other meal.

    Even if it’s pizza that they are eating I am happy that breakfast is being eaten but I do know a lot of people who can’t even think of eating in the morning.

  42. You crack me up. We pretty much ate whatever didn’t eat us first. . .my daughter, like me, eats her cereal dry–in a bowl–with a spoon–but no milk. My son thinks frozen waffles are God’s gift to him personally. As long as they feel good when they head out the door to face the world, who cares.

    In our early married days, my husband would sometimes FORGET to eat. I have never been afflicted with that type of forgetfulness. To each his own–and no milk with mine, please.

  43. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and yet so often I don’t make the time to eat it myself. Our son loves sausage and Cheerios so that’s what he eats most mornings.

    I made strawberry/cream cheese stuffed French toast the other morning…yummy!!

  44. Having grown up in a “clean your plate” household, and now suffering the weight consequences as an adult, choosing not to fight with my child about food is a decision I have to make daily. She quite literally eats like a bird, and I struggle with the guilt of her sometimes going off to school without much breakfast in her belly. Best advice my pediatrician ever gave me was “you decide the what, they decide the how much”.

  45. I’m not much of a breakfast eater… unless someone else is cooking! I usually have a whoppin’ glass of chocolate milk in the morning. My 19 month-old is just coming off being sick (during which he didn’t eat anything) and has now decided that he really doesn’t want to eat breakfast. I’ve tried not to make it an issue, but its hard! Now, I’m just giving him chocolate milk and those Yo-Baby smoothies… is that bad?

  46. My Mom always fixed us a hot breakfast every morning before school, too. But now that I am grown up, I almost never eat breakfast. (I am one of those who can’t stand to eat first thing in the morning.) Now that I am the mother of 2 teens, I have one who eats breakfast every morning and one who never does. By the way, I do not cook a hot breakfast for the one who eats breakfast, she is too picky and she just fixes herself whatever she is in the mood for that day. I am glad she eats something, whatever it may be and I always worry about the other one who never eats breakfast (even though I do the very same thing and I am sure she is just doing what she sees me do.)

  47. Me, again. I forgot to mention that my daughter who does eat breakfast sometimes comes up with strange choices of food, because she does not like most typical breakfast food. She has been known to eat a turkey and cheese sandwich but I guess it could be worse.

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