Building Family Ties with Traditions

Family traditions are behaviors that we engage in again and again: regular rituals that are performed at the same time, in the same way. They are done with a specific purpose and are practiced with thought and intention. Traditions strengthen the family bond, giving children the feeling of a sense of safety and identity. Traditions allow children to make connections to the past, while learning their family’s culture, values and religious heritage. They also give children a sense of the rhythm and seasonality of life.

Families have a variety of traditions around the holidays. Many traditions are associated with coming together and cooking together and sharing food. Others have songs, games, readings, lighting candles, prayers, stories, TV specials or movies. In December, many families find ways to share with neighbors and friends.

As adults, we often identify the seasons by the kinds of traditions we grew up with. When you reflect on the traditions you grew up with, which of those do you want to continue? What new traditions do you want to create? If you don’t already have specific traditions in your family, it’s not too late to start. The holidays are a perfect time to begin.

Ideas for creating traditions:

  • Share with your family what you remember about traditions growing up. That can include yours and those of your friends.
  • Invite your children to reflect what kinds of things they remember and appreciate about previous years.
  • Together think of one or two new things that you would like to add to your traditions: things that you would really like to do every year. Plan how and when to do them.

Traditions can be fun and connecting when you can be present and experience them. Being stressed out and feeling the pressure to make it right interferes with the kind of connection and love that you are trying to create.

It is more important than ever to take care of yourself.

  • Take 10 minutes for yourself everyday (a walk, read, draw, nap, sip tea or coffee, music)
  • Slow down and do less.
  • Ask for connection time with your children (reading, doing a puzzle, cooking together, walking together).