One of my favorite family traditions growing up was eating ice cream every Sunday evening after reading religious scriptures together as a family. Traditions consist of customs or beliefs that are transmitted from generation to generation, and there are several benefits of traditions within families.
What Are The Benefits?
Traditions are a source of identity. When families join in activities and rituals together, it connects children and parents to who they are as individuals and a family. It gives families a sense of how they are unique and special and provides them with memories and experiences that make them who they are1.
Traditions allow families to create lasting memories. Memories have been found to enhance family cohesion and encourage positive feelings within families2. Families can reminisce and share memories of traditions with one another, further strengthening the positive feelings towards family members and traditions.
Traditions reinforce religious and cultural values and heritage. Traditions are usually based around religious and cultural values, including holidays, seasons, and religious rituals. When parents create traditions based on things that they view as religiously or culturally important, it strengthens those values in their home and teaches their children to value them as well. When parents continue traditions that they had growing up, it also connects families to the things their ancestors valued, which creates a sense of heritage.
Traditions bond families together. As families create and preserve traditions, they grow closer to one another. Families who have a sense of who they are as a whole can share strong bonds around that sense of identity. Likewise, shared memories with family members creates bonds of happy times, values, and experiences. As we share time and emotional connections with our families, we will inherently become closer together.
How to Start New Family Traditions
If you have family traditions that you cherish, continue them and encourage your family to make them a priority. If you have few traditions and want to make more, or if your family is beginning to change and it is harder to come together for traditions, maybe consider starting new ones. Here are some suggestions on how to start new traditions:
Utilize technology. This is specifically helpful for families with children who have started to move away from the home. It can be challenging to still come together once children start to move away, but you can create new traditions from afar. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, my family started video chats on Zoom every few Sundays to check in and hear from each other. It started so we could all share what we were doing in quarantine, but then started to be a time to share memories and talk about life. Technology can be utilized to create new traditions for families that are not all physically near one another.
Try something new and see if it something that you want to continue. It can feel daunting to think of something to do again and again with your family, but trying something new and seeing if your family enjoys it may lead to a new tradition. Plan a family trip somewhere new, enjoy the outdoors, try a new activity for someone’s birthday, or set aside time each week to do something as a family.
Remember, traditions can be simple. Traditions can include eating dinner as a family every night, reading a book together before bed, watching a movie every Friday night, decorating the house for a birthday, or making a specific treat to celebrate a holiday3. Traditions do not need to be grand or expensive to make them memorable and special. Simple traditions can provide a lot of fun, closeness, and comfort within families.