This Posts may contain affiliate links. This means we earn a commission from sales made via product links in this post. For more information click here.
Traditions in the family 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.
Family traditions are those repeated rituals that create closeness and foster a feeling of belonging. They do not have to be elaborate or expensive. It is just something you do in the same way over and over.
In a hurry? Here are our favorite family traditions.
- Create a bedtime ritual.
- Have an art, 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 each day.
- Engage in a simple act of kindness each month. Here’s some ideas.
- Choose a morning on the weekend to hang out in your pajamas and drink hot chocolate.
- Celebrate the weekend by serving a special meal on Friday. It could be as simple as ordering Pizza.
- 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. Try these ideas.
What are your family Customs?
My family has a bizarre family tradition that started when I was a teenager.
One evening at supper my youngest brother looked at his plate and said, “I don’t want ….” Immediately his three older siblings swooped in on the plate with forks and emptied it.
My brother was a lot younger than the rest of us. We were ravenous teenagers and would eat anything going! It was at that moment that the family custom of GAMES was born.
Games happen when there aren’t sufficient leftovers for everyone to have seconds. Family members position themselves around the table forks poised. 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 one of those family rituals, 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 makes our family unique.
That is the beauty of family traditions, isn’t it?
Those small family rituals that create closeness, build memories, and foster a feeling of belonging.
The Importance of Family Traditions?
Let’s dive into this a bit more.
Traditions are family rituals families do over and over. They build family connections and give us a sense of identity and belonging. Perhaps more importantly, traditions help build positive memories for children.
Some traditions are passed on from parent to child. Research shows that these customs (and the stories) do a lot to build our children’s psychological well being. They help build a strong united family. Also, children tend to have,
- Higher self-esteem,
- Lower levels of anxiety,
- Fewer incidences of behavior problems.
Other family customs will develop in your family over time. They also draw us together and give our kids a deep feeling of belonging. All good things!
“If you grow up in a family with strong rituals, you’re more likely to be resilient as an adult,”Dr. Steven J. Wolin
The Importance of Traditions in the Family During times of Stress
One thing that fascinated me was how helpful family traditions were during times of high stress. Researchers recognise children do much better emotionally when families hold onto regular rituals. This is particularly true even when a family is facing periods of stress, or a major problem like a parent with an addiction.
In fact, these family rituals are so helpful that therapists will encourage the use of them when a family is struggling.
What is a family tradition?
Traditions in families are repeated rituals that you do at the same time and in the same way. Think of them as activities that you intentionally do over and over as a family.
Traditions can be as simple as
- Sitting down and reading to your child every night.
- Eating pizza every Friday.
- Having a family night on the first Saturday of each month.
- Sharing a snack with your kids when they come home from school.
- Making gingerbread houses every December.
Sometimes family traditions can be really small.
One year our family purchased a summer pass to a water park. Each week we would go to the park to enjoy the wave pool and slides. 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.
What Are Examples of Family Traditions?
There are five types of family traditions you can use to build connections.
These are the daily rituals that help you to connect with your child on a regular basis. An example of these would include a bedtime routine with prayers or repeated words. You might also
- Sit down at the same time each day for a family meal.
- Say grace before meals.
- Create a secret sign you give when you drop the kids of at school.
- Read bedtime story.
- Enjoy a family hug before the kids go to bed.
- Create a special cheer that signals the start of bedtime.
- Evening walks.
- Sitting down and reading to your child every night.
- Sharing a snack with your kids when they come home from school.
- Talking about your success of the day stories at family meals
- Writing morning love notes. If you can’t do it each day, how about once a week?
- Daily 15-minute play time
Playing with your kids is a great way to connect with your kids. My printable Play Activity Cards make it easy. Download your set today.
Weekly/ Monthly traditions
They are similar as the daily ones, but only happen once a week/month. This could be a Saturday morning pancakes, weekly seeing and doing outings (going out to do something together) or family movie night with pizza every Friday.
- Here’s some more ideas.
- Family game night
- Weekly dance party (check out our family friendly dance play list).
- Weekly/Monthly family meetings.
- Full moon activities (make cookies, go for a walk, have a bonfire)
- Parent/kid dates
- Family art night
- Family service day (a day set aside for acts of kindness). We’ve got loads of suggestions here.)
These are the rituals that help mark those important occasions, such birthdays, loosing a first tooth, or starting school. They would also include Christmas or holidays. Here are some other ideas.
- First day of school pictures each year.
- Birthday time capsules (make one on the 8th birthday to be opened at 18)
- Marking children’s height on the door at the same time each year.
- Watching for the Spring firsts
- My brother’s family always marks their children’s 13th birthday in a special way. Each person in the extended family is invited to write a letter to the child and they are presented at a special meal.
- Special celebrations for 18th or 21st birthdays.
- Annual camping trip.
- First day of school cake
- Conduct birthday interviews and record the answers each year.
- Special Advent or Christmas activities. Here’s 25 really simple ideas.
- Thanksgiving activities
- Banging on pots and pans at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
These are family customs that are passed down from one generation to another.
- There is a special family recipe that is ALWAYS used during festivals such as Christmas.
- The family plants a new fruit tree in the homestead orchard for every new family member.
- You have heirloom ornaments that are brought out each year at Christmas.
- The names of new family members are inscribed in grandma’s old family Bible that now has 4 generations of names.
- My partner and his siblings all have quilts that were handmade by their Nana and given as wedding gifts.
These kinds of traditions, and the stories that accompany them, provide roots and a deep sense of belonging.
Starting your own family traditions
You probably already have a number of traditions in place. Still, I would encourage you to look for opportunities to include a few more in your family life.
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.
- Make it fun, so that everyone looks forward to it.
- Turn off your technology, so that you are truly engaged.
- Keep it inexpensive, so it doesn’t become a financial burden.
- Let it go if it no longer adds value to your family life.
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 mealtime tradition is proof of this). So, let’s get creative and make it happen!
Two Examples of Family Traditions (Very Unique!)
Both of these traditions evolved in my brother’s family. He kindly gave me permission to share them with you. It demonstrates how anything can become a tradition and how unique they can be to each family.
The Family Call
Our first is described as the family call. It’s something they first developed to use when we are out and about as a family. This tradition has gone way further than my brother could have imagined and is now the standard.
When they are out and family members become separated, they let out a single parrot style shriek. All the members of the family reply with two similar shrieks. It sounds strange, but it is extremely effective when trying to locate kids.
It does however take courage to do the call when shopping and my brother says they certainly get strange looks! Their girls feel a real sense of pride when doing this, because it is something unique to their family.
The other tradition is something they call “Dares”. It all started when we had to go shopping and daughter number 1 put on a serious funk, as she would rather pluck out her eyes with a rusty spoon than go shopping.
In a flash of inspiration my brother said, “Come on it will be fun, I will give you some dares.” The tradition has grown from there.
An example of a dare would be,
- To hide in some clothing hung up in a store and pop out when people are looking through them to ask where the toilet is,
- Go into a shop that only sells white things and ask them if they do something in purple.
For one dare my brother challenged the girls to make a “honking” noise at the beginning of everything they said. They were in a shop that sold models. Hilarity ensued! Daughter number 1 went up to the counter and inquired, “HONK, can you tell me where the model paint is kept?”
The man behind the counter took her to the stand and then asked what colors she was looking for. She replied “HONK, a green one” and so it went on. She then honked and asked me a question and I had to HONK and reply. This went on for a good 5 minutes, even daughter number 2 got involved. This dare provided hours of laughter and discussion afterwards.
Can you imagine the scene in the store? Can you imagine the wonderful memories that were created that day? This is the kind of story that will be told and retold many times over. It happened several years ago now, but I bet they still talk about it.
That is the power of family traditions.
Now it is your turn. What childhood family traditions do you remember? Which of those traditions have you incorporated into your own family? Are you ready to make some new ones? Leave a comment below.