People often overlook the importance of family traditions, which play a key role in the overall health of a family. Family traditions include ideas, attitudes, and actions that come from family and are passed down through generations. They are not just habits and holidays but also values, beliefs, and family culture that serve as an anchor for future generations.
The Importance of Family Traditions
Family life and how members relate, learn, and interact affects current and future behavior. Family traditions provide a foundation for learned behavior and development. There are many positive impacts traditions can have on a family and its members.
They Help Families Make Positive Memories
Family traditions create opportunities to make positive memories. Families gather to commemorate milestones and celebrate successes. This includes birthdays, graduations, and weddings. The intention is to use these traditions as an underpinning for nostalgia and fond memories. The ability to memorialize these events makes them even more special.
Traditions Create a Sense of Stability
Family traditions tend to provide a more stable environment, which encourages better self-regulation. Stability in children occurs when they have a routine and know what to expect. Many family traditions are linked to specific events and dates, therefore making them predictable. For example, for a Jewish family, the constancy of a Shabbat dinner provides routine and stability. Even in times of turmoil and family upheaval, children can cling to these family traditions. Familiarity and routine allow children to self-regulate better.
Family Traditions Minimize the Negative Effects of Stress
Research indicates that family rituals and routines can buffer the negative effects of stress, leading to better medical and psychological health. Having a healthy family with a focus on family tradition is especially helpful during tough transition periods, such as adolescence. Gathering as a family and sharing beliefs, while enjoyable, is not just about fun. It also allows for critical psychological development.
They Provide Emotional Support
Family traditions help you connect emotionally. As children grow, lasting traditions create and maintain healthy closeness and connection among family members. Families with traditions have stronger emotional connections than those without them because it creates an environment where extended family members get together.
Traditions Offer a Sense of Identity
Children also develop a better sense of identity through sharing traditions with their families. Family traditions provide the perfect avenue to reinforce values, culture, and faith, which is a crucial part of identity. Ethnicity and identity are tightly woven together and perpetuated through family traditions such as religious holy days like the Hindu's Diwali or the Jewish family celebrations of Rosh Hashanah. These are all unique and self-identifying ways families gather to honor traditions and pass on beliefs.
Family Traditions Support Family Values
Values within a society are learned. These values are often learned within the context of family. Values and beliefs are often deeply ingrained in religion. Basic doctrines are taught to children in various religious contexts such as Sunday school for Christians and Hebrew school for Jews. Outside of the religious context, it is often through family traditions that parents try to teach desirable character traits like honesty, kindness, and respect.
They Create Continuity
Family tradition is one of the main ways practices and family culture are passed down through a family. The traditions that are centuries old were passed down through family traditions. During family events, family members of different ages and generations get the chance to spend time together. This allows for sharing of memories and beliefs as well as forming bonds. Family recipes are shared. Heirlooms are passed on. All of this allows for continuity. Celebrating traditions within the context of family allows for a deliberate and systematic approach of continuing family. Many a kitchen is home to a turkey platter and a Christmas stocking that has a story that is decades old.
Families Share Culture, Religion, and Faith
Culture, religion and faith, all owe their survival to family traditions. Many religious holidays are popular, but they carry special significance when family traditions are observed, and it serves to pass traditions and beliefs associated with various faiths down through generations. For instance, the Jewish tradition of Shabbat dinner helps to pass on the culture and faith to future generations.
They Provide Connections Between Generations
Thanksgiving in the United States is a great example of a family tradition that can provide connection down through generations. It is the one holiday that almost guarantees the entire family gathering. Even though squabbles are inevitable, family members make the effort and sacrifice to be present. Everyone has a primal need for connection and emotional support, and traditional, multi-generational family gatherings can provide this.
Family Traditions Create Stability
Another crucial part of family tradition is the stability it brings to the lives of children. Even during emotional upheaval, having the certainty of a simple family game night or Sunday morning mass with grandma can make a world of difference. Many families have remarked that after a divorce or death in the family, it was the reliability of a family tradition that gave them solace. Knowing what to expect gave them a routine and the emotional support to grieve healthily.
They Help Families Bond
In a modern society where families are often strewn across the country and globe, celebrating family traditions is often the only way to get a family together physically. Celebrations of holidays and milestones, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, allow families specific opportunities to bond and grow together as a family. New traditions and memories are created like pumpkin carving and snow sledding. Being deliberate about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning activities, as well as ascribing specific roles like turkey carving to specific family members, all contribute to the forming of family bonds.
Examples of Family Traditions
Family traditions often mark specific events and milestones. Here are some examples.
- Christening - a Christian tradition of blessing babies and toddlers in the presence of family and friends
- Bar mitzvah/Bat mitzvah - the religious initiation ceremony of a Jewish boy or girl who has reached the age of 13 and is ready to take part in public worship
- Quinceañera - celebration of the girl's fifteenth birthday, usually of Hispanic heritage
- Thanksgiving - popular American and Canadian holiday focused on gratitude
Make Strong Connections With Family Traditions
Creating strong connections through family traditions can be very simple. Simple ideas for family traditions include:
- Weekly game or movie night
- Annual father/son BBQ
- Grandparent/grandchild talent expo
- Family swap-a-recipe
- Sewing a confirmation dress with grandma
Why Are Traditions Important to the Family?
When thinking of family traditions, it's important to look beyond specific events or pastimes. Traditions are essential to the fabric of society. They help promote important cultural concepts such as ethnicity and diversity while providing a sense of connection to your ancestors.