The Importance of Family Rituals

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          We live in a world of fast-paced interactions. If someone doesn't respond to a text within a few hours, we are already making up a script in our heads about what's wrong! Transactions are quick and to the point, and novelty and efficiency take precedence over tradition and quality time.

          All cultures have rituals which create "sacred space" that is separate from day-to-day living. Many of us have faith practices - a church service, a seder, prayer vigil, a period of fasting, meditation at home, or the shared silence of a Quaker meeting- that allow us to move into that space-time limbo and experience deeper connections: connections with the Divine, the universe, our loved ones, and ourselves. However, as fewer and fewer families participate in organized religion, perhaps we can create family rituals that allow for a break from the mundane and a chance for shared connections.

          Some of these probably already happen in your home: grace before meals, family prayers, the tooth fairy moment, the special birthday breakfast, or the annual trip to a favorite vacation spot. Perhaps more such events - rituals - could be established to honor and support family values. These might include:

·        Community Service Day: plan a special day each year to engage in community service as a family. Everyone can participate - no child is too young to be there! - and there can be a sense of giving back to others. Returning to the same place of service each year can build long-lasting relationships with the folks there. Have a family sharing circle over dinner that night and discuss what you learned from serving others.

·        Communing with nature: pick a place of natural beauty close to home and plan to spend a day each year at that place. Make it a day of no electronics and special activities that engage each family member: making and flying kites, a nature scavenger hunt, a silent period of observing the wildlife, or a family hike or bike ride. Have everyone keep a journal - of words, pictures, or even found objects - and share what that day meant to you.

·        Communion with local history: draw a circle with a fifty-mile radius from your home and look up all of the historical sites within that circle. Once a year, plan a family trip to one locale and learn more about your local history. Let each family member take turns choosing a place to visit, and have the children share what they learned at school the next day.

·        Fundraising for a worthy cause: research which non-profit organizations support your family values. Plan an all-day family fundraiser: it can be as simple as a yard sale or as complex as a "mini-Olympics" for the neighborhood or a puppet show displaying your family's creativity. Take photos of the day and send it to the organization you are supporting: you may appear on their website!

Humans yearn for connection, and rituals provide special opportunities for that connection to grow. Here are four ideas: I am sure you can come up with many more. What are you waiting for?


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This page contains a single entry by John published on September 15, 2020 5:00 PM.

What makes my child tick? Understanding Sensory Integration and Self-Regulation in Ourselves and Our Children was the previous entry in this blog.

Managing Your Anxiety in Times of Uncertainty is the next entry in this blog.

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