At this time of year I often reflect on my traditions, and what they mean to me and my family. Traditions connect one generation with another, bringing shared family values into our daily lives. Our Children learn what we hold dear, what is important and necessary to us, through our incorporation of these values into our home life. Families are as unique as the people within them, and traditions exemplify these differences. John Gottman, author of Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child says, “Rituals symbolize cultural identity and values we share with our families.” Therefore traditions, whether inspired by holidays or daily life, are important for emotional connection within a family.
What constitutes a family tradition or ritual? How can parents incorporate them into their very busy lives? Many rituals are already a part of the day whether we consciously know it or not. For instance: Bedtime routines may include classical music, favorite books or special words repeated nightly, or meals may be “special” on Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Families come to rely on these comforting words or actions, uniting them through shared activity. Some traditions however, need to be thought out and take deliberate planning. Discussing with your co-parent what shared values you want your children to have as they grow, helps with creating rituals to reinforce those values. Whether it is sitting down together as a family to eat, having a “no screen night “or taking your kids to the theater for their birthday; what you do with your children will impart your values onto them.
As parents we strive to make our children feel happy, safe and secure; incorporating purposeful events that reoccur and specified time gives them a sense of security, while the anticipation of the event provides the happiness. As we enter this holiday season, let us be conscious of the traditions we want to incorporate into our children’s lives.
“Children remember the moments that happen again and again… the rituals that they can count on and make them feel safe and loved. Rituals and traditions can stay with them forever.” Galinsky 2001