Family tradition: walking hand-in-hand

It’s never too early or too late to start a family tradition.

In my previous post I focused on the importance of family traditions for children’s development and here I thought we could look at some ways in which to start family traditions of your own.  New family traditions aren’t only for young families – you can start a new tradition at any time, as long as you make sure to follow it consistently.

Old family and religious traditions are great, but they might not always work in a modern context and sometimes tend to create more stress than joy. By adjusting some of  these old traditions or creating new ones of your own you can still ensure that your family had the opportunity to bond by doing something special together.

Creating new traditions allow us to be more flexible, for instance some families might not be able to get together over religious holidays due to the high cost of travel during these times.  New family traditions also provide a pleasant solution for merging different traditions.  Brett McKay  from The Art of Manliness suggests that you consider the purpose for creating the ritual (do you want to create an opportunity for family bonding, or teach your children about helping those in need) and then make the ritual personal to your family.

Here are some ideas of new traditions to start with your family:

  • Every now and again draw a funny picture or write a note to place in your child’s lunch box to let them know that you are thinking of them.
  • Cook together.  Our lives have become so rushed that proper meals are often replaced by fast food take-outs or microwave meals.  Relieve some of the stress of preparing a meal and increase family time by getting the whole family involved in cooking dinner.  Even little children can help by setting the table, rinsing vegetables or packing away spices and ingredients when you are done with them.
  • In the summer time, go for walks or picnics on full-moon nights.
  • Create a tradition around giving.  Consider making up packets of sweets or biscuits and distributing them in an underprivileged area on Christmas eve, or pick flowers to take to an old-age home on Mother’s Day.
  • Create a “first day of school album”.  Each year take a photo of your child in his school uniform on the first day of school and keep these in a special album to give to him on his last day of school.
  • Go on an annual camping trip.  This needn’t be complicated or expensive – if you can’t go to a camping destination, create your own tent or fort in the backyard from old blankets and sheets on a pleasant summers evening.
  • Paint the windows for special occasions.  Mixing tempera paint with a small amount of dish washing liquid will ensure that the paint wipes off easily again when the time comes to remove it.
  • Make paper chains to help children count down the days to a special event.  They are allowed to remove one chain a day until they finally get to the last chain on the day of the event.  This will provide children with a visual cue to help them understand how much longer until the event takes place, which in turn encourages the development of delayed gratification.
  • Create a vision board at the beginning of each year.  Each January get all the family members together and have them each create a poster with images (whether illustrations or from magazine clippings) to present all the things they wish to accomplish throughout the course of the year.