Traditions are behaviors and actions that we can participate in over and over again. I have participated in many traditions through my family, my church, school and as a counselor at Camp Calumet. Typically traditions are purposeful and intentional, but they can be big or small.
Meg Cox, the author of The Book of New Family Traditions, suggests using two P’s when crafting your family’s traditions. When considering a new tradition, first ask yourself: “What’s the purpose of it? What do you hope your family will get out of it?” Once you know your purpose, make your tradition personal. You want to be able to connect with your tradition, it needs to come from your heart.
The reasons why traditions are important is because they help families provide a source of identity. Traditions and rituals often tell a story about a family. Traditions can teach children where their family came from or give them insights into their cultural or religious history. Traditions also can serve as reminders of events that have shaped your family and your children.
My family travels every year with friends to Camp Calumet and we spend a week in the same house each year. It is something that we look forward too and it helps define who we are as a family. It is a purposeful time together with our family and friends, and it is personal because we all love Camp Calumet.
Researchers have consistently found that families that engage in frequent traditions have a stronger connection with one another. Traditions provide an all-too-rare chance for face-to-face interaction, 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 unique and special.Families that engage in frequent traditions have a stronger connection with one another. Click To Tweet
Here are six traditions your family can start this year to help you connect with one another and to grow as a family and individuals:
- Family Meals. It is important for the entire family to have at least a weekly or even daily meal together. My family typically has dinner, at the dinner table every night. There are guidelines that we have at the table. First there is no TV, cellphones, iPods or tablets. We occasionally have music in the background but try to leave out the extra noise so we can have conversation. Then we begin our meals with grace. After we start to eat we talk about our days, we each share something positive and negative that happens during the day. We continue our conversation and then we all help clean up after dinner.
- Bedtime Rituals. When our children we younger we established bedtime rituals because we found that once we started the bedtime process our children knew that it was time to go to sleep and it made putting them to bed easier. As our children got older our bedtime rituals changed. Our favorite bedtime ritual is to go through the Faith5. We begin by sharing our highs and lows, then we read a Bible story, we talk about the Bible story and how it relates to our highs and lows, we pray together and then we bless one another. It is a powerful experience every night and our children go to bed feeling how they are loved by their family and with the stories of the Bible on their hearts.
- Game Nights. Our family loves game night. We play Sorry, Apples to Apples, Sequence and sometimes we make up our own games. Whatever game we play there are lots of laughs, competition and fun.
- Movie Nights. The only thing we love more than games is movies. Every Friday night we watch movies and have homemade pizza. We make use of Redbox codes and our Netflix account. A movie allows us to cuddle up as a family and enjoy some time together.
- Family Walks/Picnics. We don’t always want to do activities inside. We like to go for family walks, and sometimes bring a picnic with us. We also like to go for family bike rides and trips to the park. Getting outside together, exercising and having fun is an important tradition for our family.
- Family Service Opportunities. Our kids have learned that they need to think beyond themselves. Helping and serving others is important part of our time together as a family. We designate a few Saturdays to serving others. It could mean spending a morning at the homeless shelter or cleaning the garden of an elderly neighbor or sorting clothes at Goodwill.
Talk with your family and establish traditions or rituals this year. Leave a comment and tell me about the traditions you want to start or ones that you do already!