Crafting Family Rituals

Rituals and traditions are a part of most religions and cultures, to some degree or another.  Many families develop their own rituals.  But did you know that these rituals are an important part of how we relate as spouses and families?  

Rituals make it clear who is a part of the family and who isn't.  They solidify the belonging that we feel when we take part in them.  They teach us what is valued in our families, and they provide a point of stability in times of change or grief..  

Some family rituals are passed down through generations, and these are a great way to give your family members a sense of continuity and history and to welcome a new familly member.  However, some families don't have those traditions, and some family legacies are negative.  You may not want to build your own family on the same foundation.  You may also just have gotten caught up with daily life, and not had a chance to build these rituals.  

The good news is that you can start your own family traditions!  Build them using the foundations that are important to you.  For example, if you value conversation with family, you can institute asking each member of the family to share the high point and low point of his/her day at dinner.  If a religious faith is fundamental to your family, try a family prayer before everyone leaves for the day.  

One of the keys to tradition is flexibility.  Keep the observance consistent, but allow for some flexibility.  If your kids are small, you can slowly bring them into the full observance of the tradition as they are able.  If your spouse balks at the idea of a ritual of morning prayer, compromise on the form of it.  If you forget the tradition of a goodbye kiss in the morning, just move it to the evening.  The important thing is to keep at it.  

Your teenager might protest that "this is dumb".  But one day, s/he will appreciate the stability and rich history that you've provided.  

Try to make the tradition inclusive.  If you have a family member of a different faith, then a prayer may not be the right choice.  You can ask your children to help you design the familly ritual.  You might be surprised what they come up with!  Make sure that your tradition allows participation from every person.  

Keep your tradition fun.  Now isn't the best time to fix table manners or to correct grammar.  You want the whole family to look forward to whatever you've chosen, and it should be easy to participate (instead of something that forces each person to perform well).

Look into your family's heritage if you're stuck for ideas.  You want to look for something that's unique to your family, so if you are already going to a religious service at holidays, you should add something special before or after it that includes only your family, in order for it to become a family tradition.  

In summary: Start with your values; be consistent; be flexible.  

The above is not intended as psychological advise and is for informational purposes only.  
 Tea is a tradition for my mother and me

Tea is a tradition for my mother and me