Tis the holiday season, so why not take a minute and consider how traditions offer numerous benefits to our families, including but not limited to the fact that they:
Provide a source of identity. Traditions and rituals often tell a story about a family. On the large level, traditions can teach children where their family came from or give them insights into their cultural or religious history (e.g. eating tamales on Christmas Eve to celebrate your Mexican heritage). On a small level, traditions can serve as reminders of events that have shaped your family and your children (e.g. every year your family rents the same lake house, and each time you go, it reminds you of all the experiences you’ve had on previous trips).
Traditions, and the stories they tell about one’s family, play an important role in shaping a child’s personal identity. Studies have found that children who have an intimate knowledge of their family’s history are typically more well-adjusted and self-confident than children who don’t. There’s something about understanding your past and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself that instills confidence.
Strengthen the family bond. Researchers have consistently found that families that engage in frequent traditions report stronger connection and unity than families that haven’t established rituals together. Traditions provide an all-too-rare chance for face-to-face interaction, help family members get to know and trust each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something unique and special.
Offer comfort and security. Family traditions and rituals are the antidote to the harried feeling that comes from our fast-paced and ever-changing world. It’s comforting to have a few constants in your life.
Traditions can be particularly effective during times of change and grief. Maybe you’ve moved your family to a new state and everything is new and strange for your kids, but at least they know that every Tuesday is still pizza night and every Saturday morning they can still count on going on a bike ride with dad. If someone special passes away, by taking your children to a tree you planted in their honor each month, children can acknowledge their feelings of sadness and feel that the deceased has not been forgotten.
Family traditions are a great way to cultivate that valuable grandparental involvement. Those positive childhood memories can help make your child a happier and more generous adult. While psychologists used to consider nostalgia a sign of depression, recent research has shown that reflecting fondly on one’s past actually provides a myriad of positive benefits including counteracting loneliness, boosting generosity towards strangers, and staving off anxiety.
*Portions of article reprinted from: https://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/10/09/creating-a-positive-family-culture-the-importance-of-establishing-family-traditions/