Honoring or celebrating traditions in your home is a wonderful way to remind your children that they are a part of a loving family despite the conflict they may be witnessing due to the divorce, custody or day-to-day stresses of life. Traditions are created by families to honor or celebrate what is important to them as a family unit. It helps build positive memories and help ease the feelings of loss often felt by children during and after a divorce.
Traditions do not have to be elaborate or expensive rituals. They can be as simple as everyone sharing details of their day at the dinner table, a pancake breakfast every Sunday or watching your family’s favorite movie every Christmas Eve. What matters is that you stick to the tradition no matter how busy your week was or what other circumstances are going on in your home.
Children need consistency and constant reminders that they are loved. What traditions do you remember as a child? Did you wish you had more traditions in your home? Would you like to incorporate traditions into your family now?
Here are 5 ways to create special traditions in your family:
1. Daily gratitude. Being a single parent is challenging and often times the only expression our children see are the exhausted, annoyed and stressed out looks on our faces. Start or end your day with a daily reminder of the wonderful gifts in your life. Ask your children to share what they are grateful for or what they are looking forward to most at the breakfast table, dinner table or bed time. You do the same.
2. Weekly “us” time. Don’t have time for a daily gratitude ritual? How about setting aside one to two hours each week for something fun that you enjoy together as a family (i.e. bike riding, pizza, board games, movies, show and tell, visit to the bookstore, crafts or sports)? Perhaps you can take turns on who picks the activity so that everyone feels involved.
3. Birthdays. Children love to celebrate their birthdays and as adults we sometimes forget just how important these days are to them. Make them feel special by making them a cake with their favorite action heroes or characters. Plan something special for the family to do together (i.e. dinner with all of their favorite foods or cake) and then consider letting them do something with their friends (i.e. go to the beach, visit the zoo or birthday party).
4. Holidays. Holidays are the perfect time to celebrate traditions and customs with your family. Children are home from school and often see their friends spending more time with their families. Plan ahead as to what days are important to you and your family and talk about what you like best about those holidays. Do you remember your childhood and what holidays you looked forward to? Can you create some of those same memories for your children? Are there events in your local community that you might want to include as a tradition in your family?
5. Celebrate the little wins. Many professionals will tell you to celebrate the efforts of your children not just the big wins. Make it a tradition to celebrate these little wins with something that you both enjoy. Perhaps a new goldfish, acknowledgement at the dinner table, visit to the ice cream shop or favorite toy store to celebrate what they have accomplished.
Traditions are important to a child’s well-being
Traditions are the glue that keeps a family together and are sometimes exactly what a child needs to feel secure and accept the changes in their own homes. Talk to your children about what they like to do and come up with a list of fun things you can do as a family to celebrate the uniqueness that makes you a family.
As a child, I loved the holidays. I always looked forward to the colder weather, seeing my family together and all the delicious food and fun that went along with the celebrations. My mother was an amazing cook and entertainer. She loved the holidays and always made them special for us as kids. My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving because everyone in the family that lived near us would come over for the day and we would eat the most delicious food then cram around our dining room table and play Michigan Rummy (card game) and laugh and tell stories for hours. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we would always go as a family and pick out and decorate our Christmas tree. These traditions made me feel special and proud to be a part of my family.
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