Holidays and Traditions

Growing YearsWith the holiday season beginning, I thought it would be timely to repeat an earlier article about the importance of establishing family traditions.

What are family traditions and why are they so important in a child’s life? Family traditions are rituals or routines with meaning. They are repetitive, create a sense of belonging, and children thrive on repetition. Daily rituals like bedtime stories and goodbye hugs make separations easier and provide comfort and security. Traditions like taking pictures of every “first” your child experiences and letting him/her stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, helps your child transition through changes. Celebrating birthdays, observing special days, and shopping for fall clothes each school year are also considered traditional rituals. Rituals make memories, anchor your child, reinforce values and create a connection among family members. Studies show that happy families not only have treasured traditions, but constantly establish new ones that create warm bonds and a sense of security, helping your child find his/her way through the inevitable changes of growing up.

If your child participates in developing and celebrating meaningful family traditions he/she will be more likely to feel confident and optimistic about the future. Family traditions are necessary to your child’s emotional growth. By continuing to establish traditions within the family, you create strong bonds among the members. Traditions enhance your child’s emotional well-being by helping to create feelings of security, continuity and identity. No matter what the configuration of the family, traditions should be established and followed.

If family traditions create bonds among members, assuring that each cares for the other, the converse is true when traditions are lost due to divorce or death. When a child is faced with divorce or death of a family member, we may not realize that losing the family traditions can actually make a child feel insecure. The continuity and identity felt by the bonds of family traditions are broken, leaving a child with uncertainty. Therefore, it is important to begin establishing new and meaningful family traditions. Keep as many traditions as possible and both parents should establish traditions with the child after a divorce. Remember, to feel secure, your child must feel the continuity and bond from both parents. Family traditions established by the week-end parent helps fill the gap of weekday absence.

While family traditions encompass our daily lives, holidays are good times to establish new ones. Try different things and if they are enjoyed, repeat them year after year. My grown children strive to continue holiday traditions from their youth, with their own families. Often holiday traditions are passed down generation after generation, creating a real sense of continuity. Christmas offers numerous ways to create new traditions for the family, just put your imagination to work and you will be rewarded.