Resurrecting Family Rituals

family rituals

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.

Photo by bniice

11 thoughts on “Resurrecting Family Rituals”

  1. David,

    I really enjoyed this article and I think it is a timely one with it being Easter.

    The past year has been interesting for me because:
    1) I have become a parent so I been establishing new routines such as a bedtime routine for Xavier
    2) I have been introduced to new family rituals since relocating to Canada and becoming a part of Kathryn’s family

    The one thing I really need to work on though is the mealtime routine. I was raised to value sitting around the dinner table with family at dinnertime, but somehow we always end up in front of the TV when eating at home – this is something I plan to change!

  2. Peter,

    My kids are off at college now, but I remember how tough it was with everyone’s schedules coordinating a mutual time to sit down for a meal. It’s the same when they come home from school now, but we simply make the time. I’ve learned that, for me and my family, ‘quality time’ is a fallacy overridden with expectations. I now look for a quantity of time, and the impromptu conversations that occur over a meal are most precious to me.


  3. David,

    Great article. I two daughters. They are both in high school. My wife and I both run businesses so it is hard for us to communicate during the day. So, we have develop an unusual ritual for our family. Before going to bed, at around 10 PM, we all sit down in the family room and discuss what happened to each of us during the day. We try to make it as humorous as possible. This gives us happiness that for me sets the stage for another great day on this beautiful earth.


  4. Bruce from

    David & Peter,
    Great article! Traditions are the backbone of our life experience – and are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in this “modern” world. Robert Fulghum wrote and excellent book on this topic – From Beginning to End: The Rituals of Our Lives. I highly recommend it!

  5. Peter,

    I recently just had a daughter, so my family is trying to start our own family rituals so that she has good memories when she grows older. One of the rituals we have started is before church on Sunday, we will either wake up early and grab something to eat or get something to eat after church. We always take turns picking new restaurants to try. This is a great way to spend time together.


  6. David,

    Great post. And I’d like to point out that although your focus is on family, rituals can have similar benefits to a single individual or a couple as well!

    -Another David

  7. Human beings are creatures of habit and observing rituals, either alone or with family or friends, removes some of the chaos and unknown from our daily life. It anchors the day.

  8. Dear David,

    I really enjoyed this post. Family time is indeed one of the best investments you can make for your own happiness, your kids and future generations. Although I am a Christian since about a year ago, my family and I have decided to celebrate Shabbat every Friday evening. Not only it has become a fantastic way to spend quality time together, the spiritual blessings that this practice produces have showered upon us.

    Many blessings to all,

    Art Gonzalez
    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

  9. this is amazing and very true, family rituals is basic reason for happiness, we should leave time for family no matter how busy we are, taking a meal with family is much different, these are a very precious moments that we must seize :)

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