As the holiday season approaches, you may be beginning to think of all the things you need to do to get ready. Family parties to organize, Halloween costumes to finalize, Christmas gifts to shop for, all of the food you will be cooking, and the list goes on. Even though the holidays can be stressful at times with all the work we put into our various family traditions, there is a purpose behind this madness. Did you know that family traditions and rituals are actually very healthy and beneficial? In his article titled “Children and Adults Need Family Traditions,” Gregory K. Fritz from Brown University states,
“For children, the most important traditions and rituals are family-based. The way a family celebrates holidays, birthdays, or developmental milestones; the family stories or jokes that are told and retold; memorabilia such as favorite ornaments, treasured photographs or handmade articles; the foods, like grandma’s cookies or Aunt Myrna’s potato latkes, where the preparation and eating link generations — all provide essential continuity, consistency, and coherence to children’s lives.”
Now that sounds like a great outcome, but how do we make sure that our family traditions really pull us together and benefit our children for years to come? Here are a few suggestions from Dr. Fritz:
- Create traditions that have symbolic meaning. Something that communicates to the children that “this is who we are as a family.”
- Include the whole family. Make sure that children and adults in the family of all ages can participate in some way and feel part of the activity.
- Slow down and set aside specific time for the tradition. Don’t make it something to rush through just to check off your holiday to-do list. Make sure that these traditions represent quality time together.
- Have open discussions about what the specific tradition means to the family. What does each member enjoy about the activity and why is it important to them?
- Make sure that the traditions are associated with positive feelings. It’s not worth it to continue something that only brings stress to every member of the family. Choose things that can be remembered with fondness years down the road.
So as you start making your plans for the seasonal festivities, take time to think about what family traditions you will be participating in this year, or what traditions you want to create. Make them meaningful and enjoy creating memories that will bond your family together throughout the years.
Research provided by: Samantha Marshall
Fritz, G. K. (2004). Children and adults need family traditions. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 20(1), 8. Retrieved from http://dist.lib.usu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=11754162&site=ehost-live