Did you have family traditions growing up? Honouring them is beneficial to your kids. If you didn’t, then it’s time to start new ones with your little family.
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 mementoes of days gone by.
Belonging is imperative to a child’s self-esteem
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, mum 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 by honouring and even creating family traditions.
“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 centre of the table. Granny was so excited when she arrived and found that childhood memory in the centre 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.”
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.
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Benefits of Having Family Traditions
Family traditions can be as simple as a weekly family game night or as elaborate as a yearly family vacation. Regardless of the activity, creating and maintaining family traditions can have a significant impact on the emotional health and well-being of family members.
Strengthening family bonds: By creating and sharing traditions, family members can develop a stronger sense of connection and belonging to one another, which can lead to greater trust, communication, and support.
Building identity and values: Family traditions can help to reinforce important values and beliefs, as well as create a sense of shared identity and history among family members.
Providing a sense of stability: Family traditions can offer a sense of stability and predictability for children, especially during times of change or uncertainty. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote resilience.
Creating lasting memories: Participating in traditions can create meaningful memories that can be cherished and passed down through generations.
Fostering creativity and fun: Family traditions can be a source of fun and creativity, encouraging family members to think outside the box and come up with new and exciting ways to celebrate and connect.
In this age of busy schedules and distractions, taking the time to establish meaningful traditions can help to strengthen family bonds, reinforce values and beliefs, and create lasting memories that will be cherished for years to come.
In this topic, we will explore the importance of family traditions and provide practical tips for creating and honouring them.
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.
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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.
How to Make Sure Old Family Traditions Live On
Honouring family traditions in the years to come requires a deliberate and intentional effort to maintain them. To ensure that your family traditions continue to be honoured, it’s important to communicate with family members about the importance of these traditions and how they contribute to the family’s culture and identity.
Creating a written record or scrapbook that documents family traditions can also be a great way to ensure they are remembered and passed down to future generations. Additionally, it’s important to be flexible and open to change as family dynamics and circumstances can shift over time. By staying committed to these traditions while also being open to adapting them, families can ensure that their traditions continue to be honored for years to come.
It’s also important to note that honouring family traditions can sometimes add stress to parents who are always in charge of planning and execution.
To address this, parents can involve their kids in the decision-making process and delegate tasks to them to help share the responsibility. This not only lightens the burden on parents but also helps children feel more invested and connected to the traditions themselves.
You Can Create New Family Traditions
Creating new family traditions can be a fun and exciting way to bring family members together and strengthen their bonds. When establishing new traditions, it’s important to involve everyone in the planning process and to choose activities that are enjoyable and meaningful for everyone. Let your child suggest new family traditions for you to honour.
Whether it’s a new holiday tradition, a weekly family dinner, or a monthly family outing, the key is to make it a consistent part of your family’s routine.
Examples of Meaningful Family Traditions You Can Start
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, as long as you incorporate something traditional into the dynamics of your family.
- Embrace your ethnicity. Use the internet or library to discover old-world or forgotten traditions you find interesting and worth re-birthing.
- Celebrate New Year’s Day by inviting new friends for a meal and board games. Then make a toast after everyone has shared a thing or two about what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.
- Get ready for the Lunar New Year by sprucing up your house and yard, cleaning out closets (donating outgrown and barely-used items to charity).
- Make Valentines for the residents in a nursing home, then spend time visiting with them as you pass them out.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Have an annual family picture taking. Let the members of the family suggest the theme of the family photo each year.
- Celebrate a holiday like Christmas or Hari Raya, a holiday full of traditions, by personalising 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.
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.
Here’s to honouring old family traditions, and making new ones!
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Updates from Camille Eusebio