Creating and honouring family traditions

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As parents it is your responsibility to provide a sense of belonging to your children. And one of the best ways to do so is in honouring and even creating new family traditions. The following ideas will help you get started in adding to your family’s sense of belonging and uniqueness.

Children find comfort and safety in knowing who they belong to and where they come from. Think about it…children love to look at pictures; asking, ‘who is that?’ and ‘is that YOU when you were my age?’ Their need to belong is also obvious in the fact that they become all eyes and ears when an older family member tells stories of their youth or hauls an old trunk out of the attic containing mementos of days gone by.

Belonging is imperative to a child’s self-esteem and confidence. It keeps their feet planted solidly on the ground; allowing them to reach for the stars without floundering and floating around in chaos and confusion. And that, Mom and Dad, is where you come in.
As parents it is your responsibility to provide that sense of belonging to your children. And one of the best ways to do so is in honouring and even creating family traditions.
Time-honoured, silly, serious or solemn
Family traditions are time-honoured happenings or customs observed and celebrated within the nucleus of a family. Family traditions can be silly, serious, fun or solemn. They just need to be embraced as being a part of what makes your family the special, unique unit it is.
If you already have family traditions in place, make an effort to include your children in any preparations for observing traditions as well as including them in the actual tradition (if there is any participation). It is also important to share with your child the history and meaning behind the tradition. The following account is an excellent example how this can be done….
“I have a cut-glass cake stand given to my great Grandpa and Grandma as a wedding gift in 1902. My granny, who was one of their nine children, has often told me how that cake plate, holding a made-from-scratch cake, served as the centrepiece on their dinner table each Sunday. She smiles as she recalls what a treat it was to have red hot candies to decorate the icing, and how carefully my great grandma would place them on the cake so that all thirteen family members (and any company they had) would get one.
Great-grandma Widener’s name was Emma Dale-the name we have given to our youngest daughter. Having heard Granny’s fond recollection of that cake plate, our Emma Dale made a cake for Thanksgiving dinner last year and proudly displayed it on the cake stand in the center of the table. Granny was so excited when she arrived and found that childhood memory in the center of the table. At that moment, a family tradition was re-born and the cake was the first of many Emma Dale has and will continue to bake for her beloved cake stand.”
What traditions do you and your family already observe?
Take a few moments to write them down. Have you explained the meaning and history behind them to your children? If they are still too young to comprehend what you are saying, will you do so at the appropriate time? Do you allow your children to participate in family traditions? If no, why not? What can you do to change that?
If yours is a family where traditions have been ignored or non-existent, are you willing and ready to change that? Remember, traditions have to start sometime and there is no time like the present.
The following ideas will help you get started in adding to your family’s sense of belonging and uniqueness.
Choose one, two or come up with something on your own…it doesn’t matter; just as long as you incorporate something traditional into the dynamics of your family.

1. Embrace your ethnicity. Use the internet or library to discover old-world or forgotten traditions you find interesting and worth re-birthing.

2. Celebrate New Year’s Day by sprucing up your house and yard, cleaning out closets (donating outgrown and barely-used items to charity).

3. Celebrate New Year’s Day by inviting new friends for a meal and board games.

4. Make Valentines for the residents in a nursing home, then spend time visiting with them as you pass them out.

5. Easter egg hunts aren’t just for kids! Try a kids vs. adults hunt, grand prize eggs, eggs with names on them-you can only find your own, or if you have a very large extended family gathering, consider having family competitions.

6. In today’s society, there are countless single-parent families whose children will be with the non-custodial parent, people such as college students or young families who can’t travel to be with their own family, or even people who don’t have any family. Why not make it your family tradition to share your family (and your home) with people who need a happy place to be during a holiday celebration such as Easter or Christmas.

7. Birthdays are great for celebrating family traditions. Why not consider creating a three-ring binder for each family member. Each year, ask other family members to write special notes to the birthday boy/girl and put them in the notebook.

8.     Allow each family member to create their own birthday flag. Fly it high and proud on each person’s birthday and make the day completely about them.

9. Put an entirely different spin on your wedding anniversary-the day that is typically reserved for couples-by celebrating the day with your children. Celebrate it as the day your family began. A family night out, an evening at home playing games, decorating anniversary cookies, or doing (the number of years) crazy things, are some possible ways to celebrate.

10.  Celebrate Christmas, a holiday full of traditions, by personalizing one or two of them. Be creative, but choose something that will be meaningful for years and generations to come.

Traditions aren’t all bad-as long as they are done for all the right reasons. As long as your family’s traditions are expressions of appreciation for your family unit and the love that resides within it.

NOTE:
If you are still not inspired to do something, watch “Fiddler on the Roof”. Tevye’s rendition of “Tradition!” will get your creative juices flowing.