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Family traditions define your family

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Did you ever hear one of your kids say, "We always" when speaking of a family activity or event?

Kids love rituals of all types: bedtime rituals, Friday night pizza and movie nights, spending the night at Grandma's on Saturday night, and especially holiday rituals.

In fact, if you do something that kids like once, they often expect it to be a ritual that continues.

Rituals

Rituals are an important part of childhood. Think back to your own childhood and the things you "always" did.

Your family probably took part in daily, weekly, annual, and holiday rituals. These are all a part of family life.

What is the difference between a regular daily routine and a family tradition?
All of the things your family does on a regular basis are part of the family's routine. This includes the normal daily activities like what you eat for breakfast, weekend activities like kids' sports or visiting relatives, and activities during the week like eating dinner together as a family.

Some regular parts of your day can also be family traditions. For example, if a part of your daily routine is eating breakfast together as a family, that is a family tradition.

What are family traditions?

  • Practices and beliefs
  • Create positive feelings
  • Repeated regularly
  • More than just routines
  • Some are handed down from generation to generation
  • Some are created within a single branch of the family
  • Some are spiritual in nature
  • Some are part of your cultural or ethnic heritage

Why should you have family traditions?

  • Strengthen your family
  • Create a connection between family members
  • Links you to other generations in the family
  • Creates a feeling of closeness and togetherness
  • Allows the family to spend special time together
  • Gives kids a sense of belonging and identity

What kinds of family traditions are there?

Day-to-day family interactions include

  • Dinner time rituals like sharing the best part of your day
  • Bed time rituals like reading a book and saying prayers
  • Weekend morning rituals like watching Saturday cartoons

Family traditions specific to your family may include

  • Church on Sundays followed by lunch at a favorite restaurant
  • Vacations to Myrtle Beach or the Outer Banks
  • Weekly or monthly family meetings
  • Pizza nights every Friday
  • Visiting out-of-town relatives over summer vacation

Celebration traditions involve special events

  • How and where birthdays are celebrated
  • Where holidays are spent and with whom
  • How anniversaries are celebrated

Some extended family traditions

  • Vacationing together
  • Sunday dinner at Grandma's
  • Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving dinners

Think of a family like a bank account. You make deposits of time and energy to the family bank to create a strong family. Family members withdraw what they need from the family bank during difficult times.

Family traditions are one of the types of deposits available to the family bank.

Changes to family traditions

Family traditions almost always change when parents divorce. Due to changes in where kids live and how they spend holidays and birthdays, traditions may change a little or a lot.

Some family traditions change over the years as your children get older. Good examples of changes due to older kids are bedtime stories and family movie nights.

Other traditions change as your children grow up and have families of their own. Opening gifts on Christmas morning and Easter morning egg hunts will take place at your grown children's houses instead of taking place at your house.

Sometimes families review long-standing traditions and decide that one or more no longer fit their lifestyle.

It's a good idea to talk as a family about any traditions that you feel may need to change. Weigh everyone's input and the reasons for the changes to make a decision.

You may be surprised how much you and your kids are attached to long-standing traditions. If one family member really wants to keep a tradition, it's best not to change the tradition if practical.

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