The Importance of Family Rituals

For many families, life goes by in blur. Work, sport, school, housework, social commitments are all juggled in super speed. We spend so much time rushing from place to place often quality family time is pushed aside.

The busier our lives, the more important it is to make sure we schedule time to get together as a family unit, debrief and regroup. Family rituals like Sunday roast, Friday movie night and Saturday pancakes are all ways to reconnect as a family. Religious and cultural rituals are important for some families and for others simply gathering around together to watch football or eat a meal will be considered ritualistic.

According to the Raising Children Network rituals can be anything from reading a book at bedtime, riding bikes on the weekend or putting together family albums. The website suggests making time at least once a month to do something everyone in the family enjoys, encouraging mealtime discussions about interests, family history and topical news items and taking turns inviting other family members or friends to join in on special family rituals.

Then there are the festive occasions like Chanukah, Ramadan, Christmas, Easter and birthdays. In our family, we embrace the opportunity to create rituals around some of these events. We like to do things that ignite our kids’ imaginations and inject a bit of magic into their lives. We leave food out for Santa, the reindeer and the Easter Bunny. We go and see the Christmas lights, we hunt for eggs in the garden and on every birthday there’s Coco Pops for breakfast. We wish on the first star of the night. It’s all these little things that define us as a family. Little things that each of our children will remember.

A story in the New York Times looked at the changing nature of family rituals as families themselves change in nature. Divorce, single parent households, same-sex parents and double income earning families can all alter the family dynamic. It suggests the importance of not getting weighed down by maintaining rituals, but instead changing them to suit differences in your life. Simply a hot chocolate at night and cuddle on the couch can be just as important as sitting down to dinner together.

We see family rituals as a way to nourish our kids’ souls, encourage discussion and instill a sense of security in our children’s lives. In a world where life can change in an instant, it’s vital to create an environment where some things never change so each member feels safe and assured in the family unit. It helps make the bonds of family stronger.