Book Club: Dr. Reivich’s Pick05/02/2013
Creating Rituals & Traditions
Positive Parenting by Dr. Karen Reivich
"Red and Pink" dinner on Valentine's Day. Creating a "Gratitude Poster" on Thanksgiving. Throwing flowers into the creek behind my mother's house on the Jewish New Year. These are some of our family rituals and traditions. Some are a bit silly, yet all are meaningful. They connect us to each other, communicate what we value, and mark the passage of time.
Most families have rituals and traditions. They can be linked to holidays or major life events like birthdays and graduations. Others can be everyday rituals that help bring meaning and togetherness to the family's daily life, like bedtime stories, family dinners, and game night. Research shows that when families engage in more shared activities and keep rituals and traditions, they have less conflict and a greater sense of family cohesion and belonging.*
Think about the family traditions and rituals you keep:
- How did they develop? Who helped create the ritual or tradition?
- What does the ritual or tradition communicate about what you value and believe in?
- How does your family feel when participating in a ritual or tradition?
As the children in the family get older, it's important to create new rituals that match their ages. Jacob, Aaron, and Jonathan are no longer interested in reading chapter books with me or my husband at bedtime, but Shayna still considers it a favorite part of her day. While the boys are no longer interested in bedtime reading, we've discovered a few other rituals that match their age level and maintain our sense of family togetherness. For example, we "commit" to a television series that we'll all watch together (this year it's Glee). It's not quite as cuddly as reading in bed, but it's a better match for where they are in their lives (and they'll actually do it with us!).
Here are some ideas for creating family rituals and traditions. Include your children in developing the rituals to ensure that everyone enjoys them!
The most important thing is that you ritualize the ritual. It's not a ritual or tradition if you only do it once!
Karen Reivich, Ph.D.
Reference: Dickstein, S. (2002) Family routines and rituals: The importance of family functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 6(4), 441-444.
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