There is a good deal of truth to Tevya's line from Fiddler on the Roof that "...because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years..."
"the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or practice....Tradition has been shown to provide a comfort and stability to family life and is essential for our kids' development. Their particular rites create a sense of identity, unity, warmth and security. While we often think of traditions as religious practices and rites of passage, traditions are found in all aspects of our religious and/or secular lives.
Social scientist, Ernest W. Burgess, Professor of Sociology at The University of Chicago has studied family traditions and noted that:
"Whatever its biological inheritance from its parents and other ancestors, the child receives also from the a heritage of attitudes, sentiments, and ideals with what may be termed the family tradition, or family culture."So let's talk traditions - traditions worth pursuing/continuing, and others worth tweaking:
- Family Dinners-
- provide opportunities and vehicles for families to learn to communicate effectively - sharing personal events and issues faced that day, sharing relevant current events, bouncing and brainstorming ideas off of each other;
- discussing each family member's day together at the table relays your interest in each one's lives - providing kids with healthier self-concepts and opportunities to comfortably share ideas and opinions, and take risks;
- provide opportunities to validate, clarify, and explain emotional events and behavior
- provides opportunities to learn and model manners and practice consideration;
- research shows that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to smoke, drink or do drugs, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay in having sex, and exhibit healthier eating/food habits;
- passing down family recipes is a way of passing down identity and heritage.
- National holiday celebrations -
- sharing a Thanksgiving meal with friends and neighbors; or reenacting the Plymouth Rock dinner;
- Fourth of July picnics - (in our family we also have an annual screening of 1776 where we watch and sing along - corny, I know, but true and loads of fun);
- watching or participating in holiday parades.
- Family Holiday and Birthday celebrations
- Religious celebrations
- Annual family vacations - and/or family game nights planning, traveling and playing together on an annual or regular basis - not at home teaches and models brainstorming, calculated 'risk' taking, and allows the family to collect very special memories of unity, belonging and just plain fun
- Religious holidays - aside from unifying the family by attending church or temple and praying together, religious holiday celebration also helps extend your kids' sense of community
- Rites of passage family rituals -
- to help wean my kids off bottles and diapers, we had 'bye-bye baby bottle and diaper' parties. When I felt my kids were ready to wean, we would talk about having a party. It helped make that transition easier and much less anxiety producing. We also had a lot of fun planning and brain-storming. And best of all, it became their decision.
- First School rituals - making a ritual of visiting the new school, having a party the night before the first day, buying notebooks or pencils and pens and other school supplies;
- Communion/ Bar and Bat Mitzvas
- Sweet Fifteens and Sweet Sixteens
All jokes aside, each of our family (and cultural) traditions help add a sense of family, community, trust, stability and unity. What are some of your family/community traditions? Please share them in your comments.