Making New Traditions
Everyone has things that make their family unique: a special recipe, a quirky joke, holiday customs, or cherished memories of annual events that hold special meaning. These tend to be handed down from generation to generation, with slight alterations along the way. Although these rituals are part of daily life, people seldom pause to reflect upon the significance of such practices. While old traditions are an integral part of family and cultural identity, there are several times when it is important to start new ones as well.
Creating new traditions can be important during life changes: after a marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. All of these occasions can be stressful, but they also hold the ability to strengthen family bonds. When considering ways to make a new tradition for your family, first think of the primary reason behind the activity: Is it meant to blend aspects of two families into one? Do you want to create a sense of routine where there is otherwise chaos? Is it to ease grief while honoring the memory of someone and creating a bridge to the past? Once this is determined, then consider other important elements such as cultural relevance, spiritual practices, contributions each person can make, personality traits, and habits you are trying to reinforce—or break!
Even small practices can have a big impact on overall family well-being. For example, the benefits of regular family dinners are well documented: improved self-esteem, lowered risk of obesity and substance use, more effective communication, and more. Other options include regular volunteer work, special trips or outings, nightly story time, or weekly game nights. Remember that new traditions are intended to bring everyone closer.