This post is the third installment in my family culture series, this will focus on family traditions.
This morning I went into my 5 year old’s room to wake him up for school.
He was squatting in front of a box of LEGO in his dimly lit room and looked up as I walked in.
“Come here, baby,” I said.
He gave a little giggle and said, “I know what you’re gonna say mom, you don’t have to say it!”
We shared a laugh then I made an overly serious face and said, “Come here.”
Smiling as he walked over, he sat on my lap and I wrapped my arms around him in a big hug and said… “My heart told my brain to tell my arms to hug you tight because I love you so. You know my heart explodes with love for you.”
“I know, I know!” he said smiling, then went back to his LEGO.
My firstborn son and I have this tradition. I tell him why I need to hug him and he smiles and pretends I don’t need to say it… but when I do he leans into me safely and snugly. It’s our thing.
Family traditions make up our family culture and our family culture determines so much about our children’s future.
Family Traditions and Rituals look like this…
Before we get into the benefits of traditions and rituals (get your printable brainstorm sheet here) I want to talk about what parts of life this includes.
- Daily traditions
- Yearly traditions
- Moment to moment traditions (like the story I mentioned above)
- Vacation traditions
- Milestones (first day of school, gift when turning 12 years old, etc.)
The Indisputable Benefits of Family Traditions
Here are a few reasons to keep make some of the things you love doing cross the line into traditions.
Traditions Are High Points
Every family has highs and lows. Deaths, crises, times of financial lack, or emotional struggles. This is part of life. This is one reason family traditions are so important! Little and big traditions give us things to remember in the low times. Things that happen over and over again have a way of cementing themselves into our children’s brains.
Right now, quick, think of something you did a lot when you were a kid that you liked?
Traditions Weave A Family Story
Studies show that children who feel part of a larger story find more security and belonging. Great grandmother walked to school. Great grandfather was the first person to build a fully electric house in the county (true story). Dad grew up playing in dirt piles in his backyard. And so on. Kids love to know more about their rich family history and traditions and rituals help create a new story in real time.
Whether we have traditions or not, we’re creating a story. The key is to create one we want our kids to remember. You can use the Family Traditions and Rituals brainstorm workbook here.
Traditions Bring Familiarity And Security
In a fast-paced ever changing world there are few things that remain the same over time. Kids grow up at a rapid rate and some families move every few years as a rule. This is why traditions and rituals are so important. These are the things that aren’t location, time zone, or house specific. Saturday morning pancakes can be had anywhere.
Evening walks, birthday cakes, movie nights, and beach vacations can be done year in and year out no matter where you are. Children crave stability and routine, and traditions and rituals are a good way to strengthen your family’s ties.
Traditions Give Bonding Opportunities
We’re closest to those with whom we’ve shared a lot of positive experiences. The more positive activities and experiences you can share together the stronger the relationships. The stronger the relationship the more one remains in contact. The more one remains in contact the more opportunities for further shared positive experiences.
Traditions allow you to develop closer ties with your family. They give you the time and space to really be together. Traditions have a great way of creating positive feelings towards each other as well. They can be bridges that reconnect busy families.
Family Tradition Ideas
- First day of school breakfast
- Evening walks
- Family dinners
- Movie nights
- Board game nights
- Prayer and devotion time
- Bedtime stories and books
- Watching sports (or going to games)
- Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts
- Family time capsule
- First day of school and last day of school photos
- Decorating the house for Christmas
- Baking certain recipes at certain times of the yera
- Individual time with parents and children (mom and daughter weekend, etc.)
- Painting Easter eggs
- Decorating pumpkins
- Vacations (beach trip, skip trip, camping trip, etc.)
Family Culture Series
- Family Culture: A Guide To Building Strong Families (Pt. 1)
- Family Values: How To Determine Then Live Out What Matters Most (Pt. 2)
- Family Traditions: The Indisputable Benefits of Family Rituals (Pt. 3 you are here)
- Family Identity: The Thing Tight Knit Families Have That Distant Families Don’t (Pt. 4)
You’ve Got A Family Culture… Embrace It
Figuring out your family values will probably be fun. But even if it isn’t you gotta do it. We can’t expect our children to mine the depths of our hearts and then live out the things we value most. And, odds are in this fast paced frenzied world, we aren’t even living out our deepest values. But that can change. And it doesn’t have to be hard, we just have to put our values front and center.
“Activities that give us durable happiness are the ones we have a hand in creating. We don’t just sit back and receive pleasure (fun with family, etc.). We actually generate the pleasure ourselves.”
In my quest to strengthen our own family culture and help you strengthen yours, I made a beautifully functional Family Culture Pack for you. Use it to brainstorm your family values, then edit the template and print your own family values to frame or hang on the fridge. Nail down the aspects of your family culture you already have and those that are lacking. Begin improving your own family culture today.
If you don’t determine and then live our your values… your children won’t either.
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