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Create Family Traditions

by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff


Family traditions are important. In his book "The Intentional family: How to Build Family Ties in Our Modern World", William Doherty, director of marriage and family therapy at the University of Minnesota, gives four main reasons families should develop family traditions ideas.

1.  Family tradition ideas can makes family life predictable. In a world where life is often unpredictable having a family ritual helps make life more secure for both parents and children.
2.  Creating new family tradition & rituals give families a chance to reconnect and share their lives.
3.  A family identity is formed through rituals. By establishing family traditions & rituals we give children an identity, a group to belong to, and a sense of who they are.
4.  Family rituals teach children values. Children learn what their parents’ value by the rituals that are observed such as attending church, giving service, and visiting elderly relatives. Rituals give children a set of values that they can take into adulthood and use in their own families.

Here are three suggestions to create family tradition & rituals:

Family rituals can be something that you do nightly, weekly or even yearly. The only criterion is that you choose something that you and your child are both interested in doing. Some of the family rituals we have established are:

  • Every night before our children go to sleep we read them a story.
  • We eat dinner together every night.
  • Each Sunday morning we have a big family breakfast.
  • Our family has a family night every Monday night. Where we get together, play games, and eat treats.
  • We also eat pizza and watch a movie together every Friday night.
  • Every year we have a family reunion with both my husband’s and my family.
  • Each Halloween we go to the pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins.

Birthdays are a great time to create family traditions or rituals. In our family our kids plan a birthday party with friends every other year. On the off years we just hold a family party.

We always decorate with streamers and balloons. The birthday child gets to choose his or her own birthday cake. Through the years I have made Elmo, Winnie the Pooh, Power Rangers, and Scooby-doo. If you aren’t good at decorating cakes you can let your child choose one from the store.

On their birthday each child gets out of doing their regular chores. They also get to choose whatever they want for their birthday dinner.

Creating family traditions that surround traditional holidays is a great way to connect. Every Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story from the Bible then each child gets to open one present. We also have the same dessert a holiday log from France called Bouche de Noel. On Easter our children have to search for their hidden Easter baskets and collect the jellybeans that are hiding around the room.

You can also create your own family holidays. My grandparents started a family holiday they called Leprechaun Day; now that my grandparents have passed away my parents still continue the tradition with their grandchildren. Each spring after the lilacs bloom we go searching for a lilac bush. Each child searches through the four-petal blossoms looking for the lucky three or five-petal bloom. These blossoms are special because they can reveal the location of a gift. After we have our lilacs Grandma looks at each flower through her magnifying glass and gives each child a clue as to where the leprechaun hid his or her present. Then the children are off searching for their gifts. Each year my children know that when the lilacs bloom the leprechauns will be out working their magic again.

In her book ‘Everyday Opportunities for Extraordinary Parenting’ author Bobbi Conner gives some suggestions of events that can be transformed into family holidays. Her suggestions include:

  • First day back at school.
  • First day of summer vacation.
  • Family pet’s birthday.
  • Report card celebration.
  • Annual family walk on the first day of spring (rain or shine).
  • Family and friend’s monthly dinner (each month one family member gets to invite one or more friends over for dinner).
  • Ancestor night (have one night a month where you celebrate the life of an ancestor).

The key thing is to just establish family traditions or rituals and then do them. It will establish family identity, teach values, and provide a great time to reconnect and strengthen your family relationships.