Can you recall a tradition that your family had when you were younger?
Was it opening a single present on Christmas Eve (which is almost always a new set of pajamas), or did you visit your cousins every weekend for a summer barbecue? How about picking pumpkins or painting Easter eggs? Whatever your childhood traditions were, it undoubtedly created a sense of comfort and pride in your family. Looking back, you might get nostalgic, but the best part is that it’s never too late to begin a new tradition or carry on an old one.
Read on to see why Ryan Homes at Brunswick Crossing believes every family should have traditions, old or new:
It gives children a sense of identity. Whether your traditions are based in religion, culture, or fun, they’re important. They serve as reminders of where your family came from or as memories that help shape your family.
In 2013, psychologist Sara Duke said, “The [children] who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges.”
Her husband, psychologist Marshall Duke, conducted an experiment with Robyn Fivush that included a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale. It included 20 questions meant to test children’s ability to understand their roots, including the location of their grandparents’ childhood, their parents’ high schools, and family medical history.
After asking these questions to almost 50 families (and taping dinner conversations), the duo discovered that “the more the children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.” These children also proved to be more resilient and moderated the effects of stress better.
Overall, traditions provide a healthy understanding of self from a young age, which they can continue to build on as they grow up.
Traditions help strengthen family bonds. Established rituals help family members trust each other. These traditions provide a set time for families to interact and build a solid foundation. It’s a time to pass on cultural, social, or religious heritage and connect generations.
In fact, a study done by Ann Buchanan, professor and director of the Centre for Research into Parenting and Children in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Oxford, “showed that a high level of grandparental involvement increases the well-being of children.” It also leads to fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
It helps build character. In a fast-paced and ever-changing world, it’s comforting to have a bit of consistency. Whether it’s Friday family movie night or Sunday morning bike rides, traditions offer security.
Family rituals also teach strong values. For example, if your family prays before dinner or goes to church every Sunday, it shows your children that faith is important. If you read to your kids every night before bed, it teaches them that there’s always time to learn. By attending family reunions or participating in family vacations, you’re teaching them that those people are a priority.
There are family traditions that occur daily, like bedtime routines or a father-daughter handshake. Then, there are those that are weekly, like game night or Saturday morning cartoons, and those that are yearly, like taking the same posed picture for every school dance or visiting your grandmother’s old home for her birthday.
This blog was written with the help of The New York Times, The Art of Manliness, and the University of Oxford.