Making time for family traditions may seem like a luxury in our time-strapped society but it is a worthy investment into our children. A study by The Search Institute has identified family traditions as an ‘asset’ that help strengthen families and ultimately enable children to grow up to be healthy, positive and caring individuals.
Reasons to Create Family Traditions
For comfort and security
Family traditions can be a great source of comfort and security for children. The predictability and routine help to soothe a child, particularly in times of stress or while transitioning through life stages. Participating in simple traditions can help to alleviate anxiety and calm a child’s fears.
They bring the family closer
Following family traditions is also a meaningful way to strengthen family ties, bringing everyone together for a common experience or mission. In an increasingly individualistic society where we are encouraged to pursue our own interests and goals, family traditions can be a simple yet powerful way to draw family members closer together, and maintain strong emotional ties despite individual pursuits and schedules.
They instil a sense of belonging
Every family has an identity, a distinguishing factor that makes it unique. Consider the families that you know – don’t they each have an interesting or note-worthy aspect that makes them different? Traditions are one way to intentionally foster a positive family identity that gives each member a sense of belonging and personal pride.
Here are some simple suggestions to help you create your own family traditions:
Seasonal traditions are typically formed around milestone events such as birthdays, anniversaries, cultural and religious festivals, or even holidays. However, if you have school-going children, there will be other well-established seasons in your family such as exam periods and even competitions in co-curricular activities, amongst others. These are all great opportunities to begin family traditions that bring the family closer.
Some ideas to try:
- Cook your child their favourite breakfast on the morning of their exams. This simple ritual of having an enjoyable meal can help to reduce stress levels, and give them the positive mindset and confidence to tackle the challenges of the day ahead.
- Have an annual family picnic to mark the start of the school holidays. Affirm your child and acknowledge the work they have put in during the school term by celebrating with them. A yearly barbecue or potluck with extended family is a great way to start the holidays and give everyone something to look forward to.
- Adopt a charity and volunteer your time and skills together. Giving back to the community is a good way to raise your child’s compassion and social awareness. Volunteering together on a regular basis also provides an opportunity to instill cherished family values and beliefs, and spend quality time together.
Finding time to connect with your child daily can be a challenge. Developing simple daily rituals can provide you and your child with regular touchpoints during the day.
Some ideas to try:
- Give morning hugs – physical affection is an effective way to connect with your child at the start of the day. Your hug can be as brief or as long as you are both comfortable with!
- Write a note every day. Pen a note to your child the night before, and leave it where they can see it in the morning. It doesn’t have to be long or flowery, just a simple ‘Have a good swim lesson today!’ or ‘You will do great on your test!’ speaks volumes. As your child enters the teen years and is less open with their thoughts and feelings, your notes will be a valuable way to remind them that you are aware of the challenges and highlights of their lives, and are always there to cheer them on.
- Get a workout together. With health issues and childhood obesity on the rise, there is no better time to care for your family’s health. It may seem daunting at first, but start a simple exercise routine that the whole family can participate in, and set aside 20 to 30 minutes each day to carry it out. A quick game of badminton or a post-dinner walk will quickly become something the whole family looks forward to.
Carefully cultivated family traditions will be recalled with nostalgic fondness by your children as they grow into adulthood. The best thing about these traditions is that they will continue as they get passed down to future generations!
© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Written by Judith Xavier