Through the use of ritual and tradition, parents can empower their children with skills that will strengthen communication, develop self-acceptance, and create healthy coping mechanisms for difficult times. Though it is never too late to develop family traditions, if started when children are young, they will become healthy family habits that can last until your children are young adults. They may even continue the traditions when they start families of their own.
Here are four thoughts to get you started:
1. Create traditions around holidays and birthdays. More than just gathering the family together for special occasions, create specific rituals to attach to each holiday and/or childís birthday. At Thanksgiving for example, create a custom where every member of the family expresses something he or she is grateful for. Or, each year for your childís birthday, decorate the table before he or she wakes up and serve a special breakfast. Save childrenís artwork through the years and hang it when the appropriate holiday arrives. Itís easy to store artwork in plastic tubs you can keep under your bed or stacked in a cabinet in the garage.
2. Pick a weekend night to all stay in together. Let young children stay up late and have movie night. Eat dinner on the couch, serve popcorn and cuddle up together. Better yet, instead of a movie, make it family game night. There are so many great games that all ages can enjoy!
3. When the weather cools off where you live, itís the perfect time to go for a family walk. If you have a park nearby, you can play on the slides or kick a soccer ball around. If you only have thirty minutes before bedtime, itís still a moment to seize. Skip the baths and showers for a weekly walk around the block.
4. A cherished ritual can be as simple as reading to children before bed. You can spend individual time with each of them, reading a book they have selected or you can pick a book the whole family can enjoy and read together. Even older children appreciate being read to.
Family traditions do not have to be elaborate or cost a lot of money. Dedicating time to be with family each week Ė or even each day Ė will have a long lasting impact on your children. Not only will you enhance family relationships, you will also demonstrate to your children how much you value your time together. Ritual and tradition has long been a part of religions, cultures and families. I encourage you to spend time creating your own family customs.