Creating special rituals for your family: Five simple steps

Rituals in a family provide a time to share values, nurturing and ideas, and create a special time for families to connect with each other. There are many family rituals that are appropriate with young children.

Some of us have memories of rituals from our own childhoods that we would like to share with our children. Many of us are also interested in creating new rituals.

There are all kinds of rituals, both formal and informal. Some are done on a daily or weekly basis, some on an annual or holiday timeline. Some rituals are religious or spiritual. Others are connected to nature or life events. Others are just honored ways to spend time with family. A ritual may be as simple as singing the goodnight song to all of the members of my family, near and far, every night before your child goes to bed. It may be as complex as a several-day-long event including special food, prayers and candles.

Consider the significance of rituals that currently exist in your family, as well as the rituals you hope to create.

1. What rituals were used in your family? Starting with your childhood, think about the rituals your parents practiced and their impact on you. What was the significance of these rituals to your parents? What do you think they wanted you to learn/experience through the ritual? Did it work? In what way were the rituals successful? How could they be improved upon?

As parents, many of us get caught up in the “trappings” of a holiday or event, and lose sight of the more meaningful parts of a ritual. For instance, parents may want their children to feel loved and cherished, so they buy lots of presents and have an elaborate gift opening ritual. Children may experience this as overwhelming and ultimately, disappointing, regardless of the family’s intent. On the other hand, something as basic as designing a storyboard with pictures and a few stories about each year of your child’s life can be a wonderful way to show her that she is loved and cherished.

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