Why Family Traditions Are Important and How to Create Perfect Traditions for Your Family

family together walking traditionsFamily traditions are those behaviors and customs we do together as a family over and over again. They give meaning to a family and your traditions will bring you closer together. My family sings grace every night before dinner. My oldest daughter and I started this when she was a Daisy Girl Scout (Girl Scouts always sing grace before meals.) My husband sang along because he liked to please his then 5-year-old daughter. Now, the five of us would never have it any other way. It has become a family tradition that we would miss if we didn’t do it. It brings us together. It helps us know that we belong together – to our family.

According to the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, along with the sense of belonging, a family tradition can provide both children and adults in a family continuity and security, which gives us a sense of commitment as well. This will help a family get through the tough times life can bring. It can help blended families strengthen their bonds and keep families who have had a loss together, able to help each other. Family traditions can also be a lot of work and expense for parents. For instance, when you pull off getting a really cool birthday cake for your son, he may expect you to top it by having an even cooler cake the next year. Or, when you take a trip for an expensive family vacation, your kids may want to do that every year. Keep these things in mind when you start a tradition. That doesn’t mean you can’t go on an expensive vacation one year and not the next, you will simply need to explain that to your kids beforehand so they can set their expectations accordingly. And give you a chance to create a tradition that would fit every family vacation – T-shirts from places you visit? Start creating family traditions right from the get-go. Even before you have children, you can start a tradition. How about an early meal and watching sports on Sunday afternoons? A family picnic in the fall where you can enjoy the foliage? Making a Christmas ornament every year? Any number of traditions can be started as a couple and kept going as your family grows.

Tips for Creating Perfect Traditions for Your Family

Don’t try too hard. Some of the best traditions start out as a fluke. Say one of the kids wanted you to try a new cheese topping for your popcorn. Everyone in the family really likes it. So, ten years down the road your 6-year-old son explains to his best friend, “At my house we always have cheesy popcorn.”

Use a tradition to mark time. It is always good to take a moment after a certain time has passed and look back to see how far you have come. This can be done with a yearly family picture, marking off how tall your child is getting on a bedroom door frame or sharing all of the good things that have happened in the past year on New Year’s Eve.

Remember your family traditions when you were a child. Ask your spouse what their family traditions were and incorporate them into your new family.

Brainstorm as a family. If you are looking to make a certain day or event special and are having a hard time thinking of something, invite the rest of the people who are a part of the tradition to offer ideas.

Don’t make it too hard to repeat. If you have to put a ton of effort into a tradition, you may not want to do it again. Then your kids remember it as ‘something we did last year’, instead of ‘something we do every year’.

Think outside of the box. If the family is busy on different nights of the week, start a breakfast tradition where everyone is at the table for breakfast at least two times a week.

Don’t go too long without enjoying a tradition. We tend to do more traditional things during the winter holidays and summer breaks. Try and find traditions to carry your family through the spring and fall months as well.

Ask extend family about traditions that maybe your grandparents had, something special in your family’s culture, special recipes, places they liked to visit, etc. Incorporate what you think will work for your family.

Don’t overdo it. Not everything your family does has to be a wonderful tradition in the making.

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