How to Establish Lasting Family Rituals

Family rituals contribute to group integration and stability. They bind us together, hold, and preserve our

Family ties, connections, and time together are an anchor that grounds your life in the world and infuses it with meaning. The rituals, routines and traditions that define and safeguard your family time are essential for high-level health, happiness and personal meaning and success. Family rituals and routines make sure that healthy communication and support exists in the family structure and that the family members all hear the message of their importance.

Family rituals contribute to our individual and group integration and stability. They bind us together, hold, and preserve our essence. Family rituals and routines create family. When I was raising my five children, we created a lively mix of family rituals. We had traditions for all the holidays: we made candles for Easter, power wands at the New Year, and of course, Christmas cookies at Christmas and Jack-o-Lanterns at Halloween. Even now – when they are grown with their own families – we still engage in many of these rituals that were put in place during their childhood – they have staying power.

Rituals are not just for holidays. One of my most favorite family rituals was reading to my children after breakfast. My kids were homeschooled so we had the opportunity to indulge in what might seem like luxuries of time. Instead of going our own ways immediately after breakfast, we all looked forward to the next exciting chapter of the current book. We read many and varied adventures, but our favorite was the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

I now carry on this family ritual by reading to my grandchildren. The oldest are school-age and live in separate houses now so the logistics are a bit tricky – but a good ritual can tolerate some flexibility.

Keeping family rituals provides a shared continuity that is so easy to lose in today’s fast paced, high technology society. When my children hear that I am reading to my grandchildren they inevitably wax into “OhScience Articles, I remember when grandma did that with us….” and tell the story of their own adventure with the tradition.

Here are some questions to guide you in designing your family rituals.

How do you enjoy spending time with your family?

What things do you like to do with your family?

How do you let your family know that they mean a lot to you?

Do you eat dinner with your family? How often? Is it a pleasant experience?

Do you go out together on outings? Is it a pleasant experience?

What makes your holidays and ceremonies such as birthdays and anniversaries special?

Do you have family rituals or routines that protect and safeguard family time?

“Those bound in a fraternity of one mind stand stronger than a fortified city.” – Antisthenes

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