Family rituals and traditions are a positive source of identity for children. They provide a link between themselves and the people they love, a link between themselves and their culture and family history. They are different from simple routines. Routines are regular, moderately consistent process (bedtime, bath time, morning) that help children understand what comes next and provide structure and a sense of security and safety. Rituals are also a form of routine, but they are linked more directly to a context, special holiday or a culture. They include things like saying grace before meals or an intentional preparation for a special meal. Traditions tell the story of a family, strengthen family bonds, teach values and pass on heritage. Researcher Marshall Duke has shown that children who have an intimate knowledge of family history are more confident, well-adjusted and less anxious than children who don’t. Family traditions around holidays are important. Here are some ways to create new traditions with your children.
• Ask your children to tell you about your family holidays. You will learn what they see, feel and remember; what they like and don’t like so much. (You don’t need to change what you do to please them!)
• As a family, talk about ways that you have helped others this year and brainstorm about how each person can contribute to the well-being of others in the coming year.
• Talk about “four desires” with each child: one gift, one ‘together present’ (time, or event with parent), one book, one ‘giving’ present.
• Share holiday traditions with neighbors or friends – a night walk, a Winter Solstice celebration, a meal, a candle lighting, a cookie baking event or something in which you can share traditions.
• Take a nature walk to gather greenery for decorating.
• Have children create a “giveaway box” by deciding (with them) which toys they don’t need and clothes they’ve outgrown, to give to those less fortunate.
• Watch a different holiday movie each weekend during December.
• Capture Memories. Encourage your children to record your family rituals. They can take pictures, write or draw about special things you do. Save what is created to review next year.
What traditions do you value from your past? Which have you created with your family? Please share them on our Facebook page.