Holidays are always a time where family traditions come out of the woodwork and naturally, your social media feeds are filled with statuses and photos of time honored traditions from all kinds of families.
Growing up, helping mom decorate the tree or holding the ladder while dad hangs lights off the eavesdrop were just things you did because you’ve always done it.
What you didn’t realize was that simple traditions like these were the reasons the holidays felt like the holidays.
Now, you’re the head of the household but for some reason, holidays just don’t feel like they used to – maybe they’re more chaotic, tense or even stressful with all the hustle and bustle that today’s fast paced world brings.
Either way, something is missing and you can’t quite put your finger on it. As a new parent, you want to make sure you build a fun-loving, close knit family but aren’t sure how to do it.
Traditions are Key to Positive Family Culture
You’re probably thinking – wait, families have culture too?
Of course they do! Any group of individuals that spends enough time with each other eventually forms itself in terms of rules, roles, habits, activities and beliefs.
When we look at how a child develops, we tend to assume that it’s parenting that’s the end and be all, but there’s research that shows that a family’s culture also plays a significant part in shaping a child.
When designing family rituals and traditions, the key is be intentional – winging it or leaving it to default just won’t cut it. Planning Sunday dinners will yield more positive results, whereas watching nightly TV might not be as purposeful.
Here are 6 reasons why creating your own family traditions is critical to cultivating a positive family culture:
1. Family Traditions Provide a Sense of Identity
Just as each individual member has their own story to tell, families as a unit also have their own story to reveal.
Traditions can teach children where their family came from or even give them insights into their religious or cultural background.
You’ve seen it time and time again – when children know and understand their past, they feel like they belong to something bigger. It’s this familial knowledge that plays an important role in shaping their own personal identity and ultimately, instilling confidence in them.
2. Family Traditions Strengthen the Family Bond
As the saying goes, families who play together, stay together.
When you engage in frequent rituals with your family, you’ll likely have a stronger connection and unity than families that haven’t established rituals together.
Rituals provide the chance for face-to-face interaction (something lacking in today’s tech-obsessed world), help family members get to know and trust each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something really special.
3. Family Traditions Offer Solace and Security
In our fast-paced world today, feeling strained and run down is an all-too familiar feeling. Family rituals can be the few constants in your life that keep you grounded and act as a much needed antidote to the stresses of modern living.
4. Family Traditions Reinforce Family Values
The main purpose of any ritual is to teach values. One of my own favorite family rituals is reading my daughter bedtime stories – what I didn’t realize was that by doing it, I’m instilling the love of reading and showing her our family value of education.
Another weekly favorite weekly ritual is my beloved Sunday dinners, without any screens on, which cultivates the importance of family unity and connection.
5. Family Traditions Connect Generations
It’s no secret that growing up with positive grandparental involvement is heart-warming but there’s research that indicates children who experience a high level of grandparental involvement actually have fewer behavioural and emotional problems.
Family traditions are a great way to encourage that valuable time with grandparents. Not only that, but time spent with older generations of the family gives way for cultural or religious knowledge to be passed down.
6. Family Traditions Are an Easy Way to Create Lasting Memories
Think about it – some of your fondest childhood memories probably revolve around a family tradition.
A nice walk down memory lane can actually reap some real benefits: it can counteract loneliness, boost generosity towards strangers and stave off anxiety.
I can definitely relate to this as it was the simple everyday traditions like going to the library with my dad or weeknight dinners that I look back on with a smile.
Happy Families Aren’t Just “Naturally” Happy
When you look at families who seem to have it all together, you might tempted to think it comes naturally to them. The truth is, just like with success in any other area of life, a lot of effort and conscious practice goes on behind the scenes in order to make it look effortless.
When you embark on the journey of parenthood, it might feel unnatural to plan out your family vision and rituals – but without being intentional and strategizing (for lack of better word) about the values and founding principles you want to instill in your children and generations to come, you won’t be able to make family traditions that stick.