Creative Child

The Benefits of Family Traditions

by Rebecca Eanes

Every summer, my parents used to take me to a rinky-dink amusement park a couple of hours from our home. For us, it was the “big trip.” The family vacation. We didn’t have a lot of money, so there were no week-long trips to the beach or a weekend stay at Disneyland. As a child, I didn’t care about the expense or the extravagance. I cared about the special time we spent together having fun. This summer, I took my own kids to the rinky-dink park for the first time, and so the tradition lives on.

What Are Traditions

Family traditions come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest repeated gestures to the grandest, spare-no-expense celebrations. Traditions are any activity that your family does ritualistically, and often these begin rather unintentionally as we just naturally fall into grooves of repeatedly doing things that we enjoy doing together.

Other traditions are set with intention either because they’ve been passed down through the generations or because the parents want to purposely create a sense of unity. Some traditions reflect family values, such as donating used toys around the Holiday season or volunteering regularly at the local shelter.

The Benefits

Family traditions hold a special place in our hearts. Some of our fondest childhood memories are borne out of the traditions our parents upheld, and our children’s memories are likewise being made with every book, board game, road trip, or celebration. Traditions give us a shared identity. They strengthen our bond as a family unit. They create structure, stability, a sense of familiarity and safety, all things that are important for children, particularly young children. Traditions help us to nourish one another.

There is even some suggestion that family traditions promote better emotional adjustment. Dr. Steven Wolin, a psychiatrist at the George Washington University, says, “If you grow up in a family with strong rituals, you're more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

Perhaps most importantly in our time, traditions bring us together and focus our attention on what truly matters in our whirlwind world – family.

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Related Article: 10 Ways to Give Thanks This Season

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