Weird? Embarrassing? Fun? – Family Traditions & Rituals – Why They Matter

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Your children might think your family rituals are weird, but rituals are how your family says, ‘This is who we are and what we value’

We always sat down to our Christmas Dinner at 5pm as my Grandad used to visit his family in the morning so always ate later in the day.

So, my Dad used to do the same and guess what …. we always eat our Christmas Dinner at 5pm & sit & chat around the table for hours too.

Family traditions are like the glue that holds &  build memories that last a lifetime & get passed on down the generations.

I like family traditions as:

  • Family rituals are the special & unique things you do regularly as a family.
  • Family rituals give you and your children a sense of security, identity and belonging.
  • Family rituals can help children feel safe during uncertain or changing times.
  • Family traditions build memories that last a lifetime

Some rituals  might have been handed down from your grandparents or other relatives, like always opening Christmas presents after lunch other rituals just happen when your kids like something & it becomes your family tradition.

Your family’s rituals might include celebrating religious festivals like Christmas, Chanukah or Ramadan. Your family might also have rituals for cultural festivals, like Diwali, Halloween or Thanksgiving Day, as well as for birthdays, Mothers Day and Fathers Day. At these special events, you might have  invited extended family or friends to share in your family rituals but due to the pandemic they’ve had to be changed. But these rituals will return as they connect you, bond you & create a sense of belonging which is hugely important.

Your rituals might be things that no-one but your family understands.

They might be:

  • funny handshakes
  • silly expressions or special names you use for each other
  • a special kiss on the hand for your child at school drop-off so they can have a kiss anytime they touch their hand during the day
  • board games or special games that always bring back funny memories that make you all laugh

A ritual could also involve a common interest with someone in your family, like going to football matches, camping or baking birthday cakes for family members.

Family rituals: why they’re important.

Family rituals give you and your children a sense of security, identity and belonging.

That’s because they’re special things that you do together and they have special meaning for you.

They create shared memories, and build family relationships and bonds.

Rituals can also comfort children in unfamiliar circumstances. For example, if your young child loves listening to you read a bedtime story before bed, this ritual will help your child settle to sleep when they’re in a different place.

Rituals help children feel that the world is a safe and predictable place. This is especially important in uncertain or changing times like a family separation, or when you’re moving house, or after a traumatic event like the pandemic.

Rituals can strengthen family values and help pass these values on to your children. For example, something as simple as Sunday lunch together every week says that you value your family and enjoy spending time together.

Tips for fun rituals

These ideas can help you create fun rituals for your family:

  • Make regular meaningful time together as a family, when you can enjoy each other’s company. For example, you might make time each week to eat together, watch a film & eat popcorn, or get a take away. You might ride bikes on Saturday mornings  & eat bacon sandwiches afterwards
  • Think about your daily routines, and whether there’s a way to make them more fun or special.
  • Consider making a ritual for special occasions. For example, everyone chooses a decoration to put on the Christmas tree, or everyone takes turns saying one thing you love about someone on their birthday.
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