Starting Your Own Family Traditions Builds A Sense Of Security And Belonging

If you are raising children without the benefit of an extended family, you may be worried that your children will suffer from not having strong family traditions that have been passed down for generations. According to a review of 50 years of research published by the American Psychological Association (APA), family traditions strengthen marriages and families and promote stability during times of stress or transition. But not all family traditions are passed down from prior generations. You can start your own family traditions to unify your family and promote cohesiveness.

What are family traditions?

Family traditions are special acts or routines that your family does regularly that makes you stand apart as a family. They may occur daily, weekly or yearly, but each time they are performed they are the same. Most families have a variety of traditions that fit into all three categories, even if they have never thought of them as traditions before.

Daily Traditions: Examples of daily traditions may include being awakened for school or work with a cheerful "rise and shine" from Mom or a nightly send off to bed by Dad with "don't let the bedbugs bite." You may choose different phrases, but the regular routine and familiar phrase soon becomes expected and signifies family unity in your home.

Weekly Traditions: Likewise, weekly traditions may revolve around a favorite weekend activity, such as visiting the park on Sunday afternoon or watching a family movie together on Friday night.

Yearly or Seasonal Traditions: Yearly traditions may include going for a nature walk on the first day of spring or catching lightning bugs in jars while at summer camp.

How do you start a family tradition?

Sometimes traditions just develop on their own and evolve over time. For example, you may suddenly decide to cook your little one's favorite breakfast on Sunday morning, and before you know it the ritual may evolve into cooking each family member's favorite, alternating the honored guest each week. You may want to develop a calendar noting who gets to choose Sunday breakfast each week and asking them to request the breakfast food in advance. Other family traditions can be started with a definite purpose in mind. These traditions typically revolve around your family's values, religious or spiritual beliefs, and special family interests. These traditions require forethought and planning. Here's how:

Identify the Purpose: Identify the purpose of the tradition. This may include family values, such as being kind, being grateful or encouraging your little ones to use their imagination, or it may include special ways of celebrating holidays and special occasions or honoring the unique talents of family members.

Make it Personal: Brainstorm ways to put your purpose into action. While there is nothing wrong with borrowing cultural, religious or community traditions, personalizing them for your family will help strengthen bonds in your family and give your children a sense of belonging. For example, if you want to teach your children to be appreciative and grateful, begin your own tradition for giving thanks on Thanksgiving. This could include sending out special thank you notes to people who have touched your lives this year, creating a thank you jar where all family members write a quick note of things they are thankful for and then sharing them at the dinner table or even pretending to be Anne from Anne of Green Gables and play the glad game. This game entails thinking of something to be glad about even when you receive bad news or experience a disappointment.

Repeat the Same Activity at the Appropriate Time: Repetition of the same activity over time is what turns a fun family activity into a family tradition. Make a note of successful family activities, and mark them on the calendar until they become part of your regular routine and form a family tradition.

Remember, family traditions don't need to be the same traditions your children's peers practice, and they don't need to provide meaning to the community or world at large. The key to successful family traditions is that they provide meaning for family members and build a sense of belonging. For more ideas on family traditions, check out a company like Our Family Tradition.