by Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator
During the holidays, we often have certain things we always do, or traditions. Most families probably have traditions that take place throughout the year, but especially the holiday traditions seem to stick in our memories. Research shows that these traditions are important in building strong family relationships between generations.
Traditions are stories, beliefs, rituals and customs that are passed from one generation to the next. Keeping traditions for the holidays as well as the ordinary days help teach children the things their family values. These traditions help fill the individual's need to belong. Being a part of the special things our family does, helps us to have that sense of belonging.
Research shows us that routines and traditions are part of healthy families. Traditions give security to young people, providing a sense of continuity and routine that they can depend on year after year. Such activities help promote healthy relationships between the generations when they are enjoyed and anticipated by everyone. Children will remember the special experiences of family traditions more than toys and gifts.
To make family traditions more memorable, take the time to talk about the special things your family does and why it is important to you. Include the children in planning and carrying out the special activities. This will give them a feeling of pride and belonging to actually be a part of the traditions. It also helps them to understand why your family does these special things. If traditions are a part of your religious or cultural heritage, it gives the young people a sense of their family history.
Sometimes, as our families change, our traditions change with us, and that is all right. For example, you can still have the family all get together for a time of sharing and a special meal, but the place or the menu might change over the years. Or, perhaps now you use disposable dishes instead of Grandma's china. The important thing is that you get together as a family to share memories and pass on the family traditions and values.
Traditions help to bind us together as a family. Make it a point this year to include your children in family traditions that will provide them with a sense of belonging and build memories for their future.