In this season of hustle and bustle, it’s really easy to get caught up in the “stuff” without really taking time to realize the why’s of your family celebration. When the presents are open and the decorations are down, what are you really going to remember? My guess is, it won’t be the gifts, but the time spent in conversation or in playing with your children that will warm the depths of your heart. Family traditions serve as the fabric of families that hold us together through the thick and the thin. The things that “we always” do seem to offer the ties that we look forward to the most. As you are watching the favorite holiday movies or participating in school programs look for some of the following traits and see where you think they might fall. There are three major categories of traditions.
*Celebration Traditions- those things that we do around special events or holidays
*Family Traditions- those special things that our family does that others may/ or may not participate in.
*Patterned Family Interactions- the daily life pattern of our family like bedtime or dinnertime routines
Rituals and traditions contribute to a strong sense of kinship that enables a family to withstand stress and disappointments. Family members feel the support that comes from knowing that they aren’t alone. The greatest value of traditions are they give the family a sense of identity, a real belonging. All of us need to feel that we are not just a cluster of people living in a house, but a family that a unit that is conscious of its uniqueness, its personality, its character and its heritage. They can be very simple or elaborate and through the years they become the things we most look forward to or the things that set structure for children early in life.
In general, families that share lots of traditions tend to reflect these 6 characteristics of strong families:
1. Commitment- family comes first. By investing time and energy in family relationships the challenges in life won’t be as great when we work together.
2. Appreciation- strengthen relationships by letting family members know that he or she is sincerely appreciated as a special individual. This goes along with showing respect and being considerate.
3. Communication- make this happen in your family by taking ti me to talk about trivial topics as well as the more profound issues. Listening is an important part of communication.
4. Togetherness- plan time to work and play as a family. Learn to say “no” to outside demands that take you away from or involve your children in too many things.
5. Spiritual Wellness is the belief that life has meaning and purpose which helps families in time of trouble. Research indicates this characteristic is very important in family stability
6. Coping with crisis and stress- develop the art of finding and focusing on something positive in each situation. Use each other’s talents and resources to work as a team to get through the hard times.
As this season is rich with traditions, why not turn off the electronics, and spend some quality time in conversation with your family? You’ll be glad you did.
Submitted by: Melinda Hill, CFLE, OSU Extension Wayne County