This is a magical time of year for many families — and also a time to make memories with celebrations and rituals that hold special meaning. Here’s some information about why traditions are important, as well as practical advice about how to make the most of your family traditions.
The holidays are not about the presents, ribbons and wrappings, nor are they about the tags, tinsel, trimmings or trappings. This special season is about much more than that.
‘Tis the season for tradition.
Why? For starters, family traditions are fun and serve as built-in bonding time. But did you know that celebrating with family tradition offers long-term benefits? Research indicates that parents who think ahead carefully about the kinds of family practices and traditions they practice and enjoy are more likely to have well-adjusted kids.
Traditions provide stability. They keep generations connected.
Many traditions involve engaging with the past through storytelling and reminiscing. Memories and experiences are shared. New memories are created. And being part of the group endows children with a sense of belonging, which strengthens their emotional health.
Engaging in family ritual and tradition has even been linked to higher academic success among children. It lowers stress levels for all family members by providing routine and a sense of order. Children know what to expect, and they feel secure.
Start a Family Tradition
Although many family rituals and traditions revolve around the holidays, any routine or set of behaviors that has meaning to you and says something about who you are as a family qualifies any time of the year — reunions, birthdays, family dinners, travel.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- Start with what your family knows. If you like movies, for example, initiate a weekly family movie night.
- A yearly hike at the end of winter is a great way to usher in warm weather.
- Implement a weekly family dinner where the kids do it all — the menu, the cooking and the after-dinner activity.
- Simple rituals like sharing the best parts of your week each Sunday can help you feel connected as a family.
- Make a family tradition out of volunteering during the holidays.
- Let your children help in establishing a bedtime ritual.
- Hold a yearly family Olympics or talent show.
And remember, there are no rules. Have fun, and enjoy a good dose of family togetherness.