The holidays are upon us as well as a time to celebrate some family traditions, many being things you look forward to that aren’t a part of your normal daily routine. Family traditions are more than just something to enjoy with the family, though. Below are five reasons why traditions are important for parents and kids.
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Just this past week, most of us gathered for a family dinner and gave thanks for the many blessings we have. Some enjoy picking out what they want to eat for the evening meal on their birthday. Others go camping every year as a family. Even baking cookies is a family tradition. Family traditions can vary greatly from one family to another.
Why traditions are important for a family to celebrate come down to a few simple things, regardless of what the tradition is.
1. They provide memories that last a lifetime.
For example, loading up the truck with the kids and heading to a campsite provides many opportunities for making memories. I can still vividly recall the time we were on the lake, and a small squall quickly developed. We dashed to our campsite seeking safety and shelter and ended up leaving a 4-pound catfish my daughter caught sitting on the fire.
2. Family traditions provide a sense of security for our kids by providing continuity, doing the same thing year after year.
It allows our kids to relax because they know what to expect. Baking Christmas cookies regardless of the circumstances brings up fond memories for me.
3. Family traditions also provide a strong sense of belonging, especially when the tradition allows everyone to participate regardless of age.
I started baking cookies with my kids when they were very young. Even if they were too young to measure ingredients, they could still help stir everything together or spoon the dough onto the baking sheet. It may have been messy at times, but it was enjoyed by all of us.
4. Passing along family values, including cultural and religious heritage, is another benefit of family traditions.
Raising Families’ co-founder Elane Scott often shares a story of her family going to church for Christmas service to reminisce about singing Christmas carols. Elane and her three brothers all have the same exact memory of someone bellowing out “the stars are brightly chi-ning” when the words were supposed to be “the stars are brightly shining.” For Elane’s family, religion is important, which this tradition reinforced, and they also got a good laugh each year as part of their family tradition.
Pause for a moment and think about the things you, your children, and your siblings talk about when you get together—it’s the shared memories and stories you created together.
This holiday season is a great opportunity to strengthen your family traditions. We recommended to our Raising Family Community Members to use Thanksgiving dinner to talk about their family traditions, which ones they like and whether there are any they want to start.
Make time to have that discussion with your family. You’ll find it to be a great one, full of surprises from your kids and with many opportunities to strengthen family ties, which is a good way to sum up our five reasons why traditions are important.
A tradition we want to see started in our family, is to set aside one week a year where everyone comes together. With our blended family of 5 children and 13 grandchildren who live beyond the four corners of the US and overseas, it’s hard to get everyone together.
We make it a point to see them regularly. Visiting one family at a time is great, but it’s amazing when we’re all together, especially when four generations come together. So, that’s what’s on our wish list this year, a new family tradition.
Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting. In his “free time” Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>