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Family traditions help you nurture amazing connections with your kids. They strengthen family bonds, build memories, and foster a feeling of belonging. Discover how easy it is to create them.
A family tradition is born
My family has a bizarre family tradition that started when I was a teenager.
One evening at supper my youngest brother made the mistake of saying, “I don’t want this….” Immediately his three older siblings swooped in on the plate and emptied it.
My brother was quite a bit younger than the rest of us. We were ravenous teenagers and would eat anything going! It was at that moment that our family tradition of GAMES was created.
When there aren’t sufficient leftovers for everyone to have seconds it is time for games.
The players position themselves around the table forks at the ready. The leftovers are placed in the middle of the table and there is complete bedlam as everyone tries to spear the food.
There are no rules, although jabbing someone in the eye would be frowned upon!
Did I mention it was bizarre?
Somehow this tradition has become a part of our family culture. All someone has to do is mention the word GAMES and family members immediately exchange mischievous looks.
It is an absurd piece of fun that has followed us from adolescence. It is a tradition, built on shared memories, that binds us as a family and connects us with each other. While this practice might horrify some, it is ours, and it is special.
The joy of family traditions
That is the beauty of family traditions isn’t it?
Those small rituals that create closeness, build memories, and foster a feeling of belonging.
Sometimes they are passed down from one generation to another and other times they develop quite spontaneously.
One year our family purchased a summer pass to a water park. The boys would enter the park through the men’s changing room and I would go to the ladies.
Before we went our separate ways my youngest son and I would pause, look at each other, and say in dramatic voices, “See you on the other side!”
I have no idea why or how this came about, but it was just something we did every-single-time. It was a ritual just between the two of us that provided a quick moment of connection.
Traditions can be simple
Traditions can be as simple as
- Sitting down and reading to your child every night.
- Eating pizza every Friday.
- Sharing a snack with your kids when they come home from school.
Traditions will bind you together and provide a deep sense of security for your children.
You probably already have a number of traditions in place and if you do I would love to hear about them. Still I would encourage you to look for opportunities to include a few more in your family life. Make it part of your family culture.
How to create family traditions
A few things to bear in mind
- Keep it simple, so it doesn’t become too hard and you are more likely to keep it going.
- Keep it inexpensive, so it doesn’t become a financial burden.
- Make it fun, so that everyone looks forward to it.
- Turn off your technology, so that you are truly engaged.
Be open to spontaneous ideas that have the potential to become traditions. My friend created a new family tradition to celebrate the first snow forecast. What a great idea!
There are no rules!
Remember there are no rules and there is no right or wrong way to do this (my family’s strange meal time tradition is proof of this). So let’s get creative and make it happen! Here are a few suggestions.
- Create a bedtime ritual.
- Have a movie or games night.
- Explore your family’s ethnic background through food, stories, and learning words or phrases from your ancestral language.
- Go on family walks after supper or on the weekend.
- Enjoy family prayers or meditation.
- Read to your children.
- Engage in a simple act of kindness each month. Here’s some for Halloween and another set for Thanksgiving.
- Choose a morning on the weekend to hang out in your pajamas and drink hot chocolate.
- Celebrate the weekend by serving a special meal (keep it simple) on Friday.
- Take advantage of holidays to create special traditions. Every December our boys lit candles on an Advent wreath, made gingerbread houses, and sat under the Christmas tree to read stories.
For more inspiration check out this list of 60 suggestions at The Art of Manliness .
Now it’s your turn
I would love to hear from you. What family traditions were part of your childhood? Which traditions have you incorporated into your own family? What new traditions have you created?