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Establishing Family Rituals
A family can be defined as any group of adults and children living in co-existence together.
In the traditional sense this might include a mother, father, their children and elderly parents. In the contemporary form this may include any group of people living in shared commonality.
When considering the health of a family unit, rituals have been identified as powerful organizers of family life that provide stability during times of stress and transition. It allows family members to find meaning in their collective lives and have the ability to protect mental health under high-risk conditions.
Families live with a great deal of uncertainty in their lives. The weather changes, our friends move, people pass on, there are weddings, there are divorces, there are rites of passage, etc.
Although not all families include children, make sure that you include your kids in planning the rituals if you have them. The more invested they are in creating it, the more meaningful it will be.
Rituals help hold families together. The very "soul" of your family is expressed in meaningful rituals that families choose to take on together. They can take on many forms but the overall similarities that they have are that they occur with some kind of pattern (example: once a week or once a year) and all or part of the members of the family do it together.
Here are some examples:
Daily family meal such as breakfast together.
Once a week special family meal such as pancakes on Saturday morning.
Taking a walk in your neighborhood in the evening.
Going on the same or similar vacation once a year such as camping, etc.
Create rituals around annual holidays such as making specialty latkes for Chanukah or buying lucky bamboo for the Lunar New Year.
Taking a day to attend an annual gathering such as a creek cleanup.
Having family movie night together such as Friday night in your living room.
Annual spring cleaning.
Bi-monthly family budget talk.
Lighting a candle for a lost loved one.
Honoring each person’s birthday in the home with a special communal meal.
Reading a story to children before bed each night.
An important thought to take away is that family and/or group ritual has the profound ability to act as mortar to the stones of your “family group cottage”. They lend towards strengthening the communal relationships within. There truly are no limits to design of these rights of passages and rituals.
They will shift and change over time, but there is something almost primal about the fact that they exist at all. Like a tribal fire, they serve a great purpose to our sense of group identity and connectedness.
Beckett Franklin-Gray, MA
Masters Level Counselor
Austin Mindfulness Center
© Copyright 2013 by Beckett Franklin-Gray, therapist in Austin, Texas. All rights reserved.