Every parent hopes their family will build a close and loving relationship. Every parent hopes when their children are grown that they will have many fond memories of their childhood. But how do families create those bonds and memories? That is by creating rituals.
It is so hard in today’s fast-paced, overscheduled world to find time to spend together as a family. It is too easy when a gap appears in the family schedule to simply collapse in front of the television and meditate for the evening. It is too easy to wait for the perfect opportunity for bonding. If this describes your family’s current pattern then you need to find a way to break it now.
One of the best ways to bring your family closer together and create memories that will last a lifetime is to create some family rituals. Perhaps there can be some small ritual that is a part of your greetings or goodbyes. Perhaps there can be a small daily ritual that could be part of bedtime. Certainly you can create a ritual that takes place either weekly or monthly. It might be a family dinner night, a family movie night, or a family game night. It really isn’t important what you do so long as you do it together on a regular enough basis so it does become a tradition.
One of the assignments I give my college freshmen is to write about their definition of the word “home”. While they frequently begin describing a specific place what often comes through are the traditions of their family. Holiday meals, outings, and vacations are all wrapped up in their definition of home. I see this in my own child as well. We have morning rituals and bedtime rituals that he clings too rigorously. While some, such as the bedtime story, will eventually fade into oblivion I hope others stick with us. One of those is the way I ask him every night what was good about his day. If I forget or am tardy with the question he is quick to remind me so it is clear the ritual is important to him, but it is also important to me because I love seeing what really matters to him. Sometimes I can guess but sometimes I am surprised.
Another tradition I hope we will preserve is the way we express our love to each other. While he is currently young enough to let smooches (kisses), squishes (hugs), and snuggles occur on a frequent basis and he is happy to tell me that he loves me and hear that I love him, I know the day is coming when he won’t be so eager for this affection and certainly not in any public display. However I am paving the way for a new tradition when that time comes. Today, we play a giggly little game of describing our love (I love you as much as 10,000 walruses). My hope is that in the future when I can’t tell my teenaged son how much I love him because I might embarrass him then I can at least whisper in his ear: “1 million elephants” and perhaps get a smile at the inside joke.