Resurrecting Family Rituals

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Nothing provides a sense of place and a feeling of fulfillment quite like participating in family traditions or rituals. These can be something you do together for special holidays, or weekly observances used to maintain your close family ties.

Participating in special family rituals can evoke various feelings, set different moods, and elicit past memories. If you choose those traditions or habits that make you and your family feel good, you can bring about feelings of happiness and joy.

Unfortunately, the demands of juggling work and home make it easy to forget about family traditions that have been passed down from one generation to the next. These things also make it difficult to consider beginning new rituals that your children can pass along to their heirs.

Family rituals are important, though, to the health of the entire family. Even in a busy life where it becomes difficult to find a healthy work life balance, the simplest rituals can promote health and well-being for the entire family. A study released in the Journal of Family Psychology found through a 50-year review of research that family routines contributed to marital satisfaction, improved children’s health and academic achievement, a stronger sense of personal identity for adolescents, and stronger family relationships.

Make Mealtime a Ritual

Rather than plunk down on the couch with a plate of food and eyes glued to the television, take the time to set the dinner table, turn the television off, and spend some quality time with the rest of the family. This is especially important if you work many hours each day in a demanding job, and may not have many opportunities to spend quality time with your family.

Taking the time to organize a family meal leads to stronger family relationships, and the repetitive nature of having regular family meals allows everyone in the family to better know and understand each other. Even if you can only arrange a family meal once a week, or three times a week, it is still quality time you would not have otherwise been able to spend with your family. Studies have shown that mealtime routines lead to better parenting and healthier children.

Develop Bedtime Routines

If you have a job that keeps you away from home until well after mealtime, try to establish bedtime rituals with your children. If they are little, participate in bathing and dressing them for bed, then read a special story to them before turning out the lights. Take some time to talk to them about their day, what they did, and what they enjoy. Use the opportunity to forge stronger bonds with your kids.

If you have older children, set aside ten or twenty minutes in the evening to sit with them and discuss their day. Ask them questions about how their day went, what they did, what their accomplishments were, and so forth. Keep the experience positive, so that it provides an opportunity for bonding and understanding.

Observe Holiday Traditions

Begin special routines or rituals that are reserved for special holidays, such as Easter, Christmas, Passover, Thanksgiving, or family birthdays. It could be something like having a special dinner for the occasion, gathering the entire family to bake special treats exclusive to the holiday, decorating the house together, or playing special games.

These rituals add depth and meaning to holidays and can be called upon later in life to evoke feelings of happiness. By developing specific family rituals for holidays, you create a bond with your spouse and children, and your children are likely to carry on the traditions as they become adults with their own families.

One cannot underestimate the importance that family rituals play on the overall emotional health of all family members, and the positive impact they have on family relationships. The act of participating in family rituals not only allows a greater work life balance to occur, but these activities leave a positive emotional imprint on everyone involved, later allowing each family member to recall pleasant memories.

Even in a difficult world, family rituals form a closeness that allows all members of the family to draw upon in order to manage through life’s many challenges and difficulties. Those families that participate in special routines together have a much greater chance of surviving these trials with a minimum amount of negative psychological impact. Try developing your own routines and traditions to bolster the overall health of your family, and to help you achieve greater work life balance.

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