Most families have defined, unique rituals. Some are part of the family’s daily life together. Others occur at different times of the year. They may similar among families, but each family has its own take.
So, what defines a family ritual? It’s an event or circumstance involving all family members. Family members all value the ritual, at varying degrees. They tend to count on it. Tell time or season by it. It becomes very important to each member in their own way.
Top of the list are family meals, notably dinner. Some families pray a blessing for the food. My daughter and her family pray out loud in unison before eating. That gets a little eye-popping when they go out to eat. LOL
Also, many families have bedtime rituals, especially when the kids are young. When my first-born grandchild was born and living with us, I would help her get her bath, play in her room together, read a story (one more, Papa, pleeeease!), and gently rub her back while singing her a lullaby. As she got older, our bedtime ritual became a checking in time of, “So, how was your day, dear?”
Families who have the time and money often make a ritual of family vacations together. Our little slice of heaven was Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, the last two weeks of July. During a preparatory family meeting, I would ask each of our kids and their mama what they wanted to do at the beach this year, within time and resource constraints. We’d gather and compare “do lists,” making sure to incorporate as much as possible into the time at the beach.
These kinds of rituals help give family identity. We look forward to them. They give us value as a whole, in addition to what each of us brings to the family unit. They are part of what makes us family.
A few cautionary notes. Family meals become more meaningful when they occur around a common table. TV trays together in front of the boob tube is not a meaningful family ritual. Squirreling food into each one’s bedroom doesn’t count at all.
Also, to encourage conversation at the table, many families agree for all to put away their electronic devices for the duration of the meal.
Oftentimes, because kids always want to stay up longer, bedtime rituals need time limits. How many drinks of water does a child need, anyway. Delay tactics abound. When I was being played, I invoked a countdown to quiet and still. Even the most hyper kids will fall asleep in minutes when quiet and perfectly still.
Finally, planning family vacations is crucial, best done within a family meeting prior to vacation. Recognizing that circumstances change and things come up, try to stick to the list and schedule as much as possible. Winging it on vacation tends to generate as much anxiety as it might be fun. Creating a plan limits the development of factions within the family and lobbying for certain events.
So, what are your family rituals? Identifying them and looking forward to them enhance your family-ness.