Benefits of having rituals and traditions
The list of benefits from having rituals and traditions is quite long. Of course, the perceived benefit will vary from family to family. The value of having the ‘home’ feel is priceless. For the sake of this post, will be teasing out just a few benefits.
A family that has rituals that makes everyone feel close tends to be a healthier. It boosts the immune system. Something about feeling safe, comfortable, wanted, motivates the body to stay healthy.
The right rituals and traditions will encourage people to lookout for each other more, increasing the sense of safety and limiting injuries.
As hinted above, knowing you belong and are wanted feels great. Helps mental outlook and gives a safe place to discuss matters of the heart. People who suffer loss (any kind) and know that they’re able to share with their family… fair better long term because of it.
Some families have rituals about sharing grief, victories, pain, joy, etc. Does everyone gather around to listen supportively over at tub of ice cream? Is there a way of celebrating or grieving in place? Which shoulder do you lean on?
Each family has their ways of handling emotional situations. Some even create new rituals as they face life’s challenges. In my youth, my school initiated a pizza reward program for every significant reading milestone a top student reached. My parents made it part of the ritual to celebrate at that particular pizza chain. Considering we didn’t eat fast food back then, this was massively beneficial in making the academic milestone feel significant and treasured.
I also learned how to grieve publicly from watching how my family handled themselves during times of intense loss. Without that, I might not have found my own healthy way of coping with loss. Rituals matter.
There are families with strong legacies and strong values that passes down generations. Other families, not so much. One of the best ways to teach family history and culture is through having rituals around sharing these legacies.
I had a friend in school who used to tell me how each Fall, the family would gather around a camp fire and tell stories of prior generations. They knew what values they stood for, what victories the overcame, and where they were going. That classmate was never swayed by trends and social popularity contests. He knew what he stood for and where he was going… and got there.
The method by which legacy is passed on is wrapped up in traditions and rituals. Keep in mind, not every tradition and ritual has to be adopted or passed on, but they’re good to know and be aware of as CEOs of the home. This gives you options for setting up the wellness of your home.
How to set up traditions and rituals
There are many ways to set up a family ritual and tradition. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll lump them all into four broad categories. Those are : Top-down, grass-roots, family tree, and inter-generational.
This parent leadership model works great with younger children. This method teaches the children the rituals of the family they’re born into. Parents either already have these in place or are setting them in place for each stage of the child’s life. Values are passed, habits are influenced, and patterns of living are established.
Keep in mind, this top-down model works for a while. In time, the children starts to grow up. It would be most beneficial to adjust the parenting style to suit the growing independence of the child. Some rituals will fade away, such as how to teach a child to go to the bathroom. Others will continue longer, like a bedtime curfew.
As the child matures, they will want a say in some of the rituals they practice.
As the child gains independence, they will start to initiate their own rituals and traditions. Thanks to school and socializing, this is inevitable. As the child understands their feelings, they’re going to experiment and want to change some rituals.
In our home, our children like to share stories with us. I didn’t grow up with that model of sharing stories. However, I like it. I encourage it. This was the idea my children came up with. By sharing stories, I mean… sitting us parents down and they tell us a story of their own design… and teach us something.
As parents, we have to transition to the role of coaches and mentors at some point. We can guide and shape the direction the children go, but we need to give them plenty of room to explore and create their own worlds.
As children age, they will want greater say into their habits and rituals. They shape the culture of the home as well. Guiding them to learn how to set up their own rituals is part of helping them become productive members of adult life later on.
Most households belong to a greater tree of relatives. Each with their own families. How we connect with our own siblings and how our children connects with their own cousins will influence some of the rituals and traditions they learn.
The exchanges between branches of the family tree influences the overall nature of the legacy a family has. For ours, it’s how we connect over the holidays that influenced us. For our children, it’s how they connect via technology that’s influencing them… in addition to gatherings over the holidays.
When it comes to the traditions of connecting between the branches of a family tree, it’s a longer term window of building these rituals. Of course, if the extended family lives very close, the rate of adoption of rituals is much shorter termed window of time.
The rituals around how the elder generations pass on wisdom to the younger generations is precious and unique to each family. On one side of my family tree, we used to sit down at grandma’s feet and listen to stories for hours whenever we could. On the other side, it was more about the quiet observance of their habits that taught us what we learned.
There is no right or wrong way to learn from the prior generations. What is important is that one learns from the past. There are secrets and wisdom locked away in the minds of the elder generation that is very valuable today.
As one preacher said… if we don’t study the lessons from the past, we’re bound to commit the same moral crimes.
It is important to learn about how families overcame past hurdles and challenges, how they celebrated victories, and what they valued. Good to know their dreams, hopes, and plans for our generation. Plus, it’s good to have that understanding of why you have some of the rituals you have today. The lessons can come in handy in the present and future.