Using Family Rituals to Spend Time Together

Mercedes Samudio, LCSW by Mercedes Samudio, LCSW

family ritualsWorking with parents daily, I am used to hearing about all the behaviors parents hate, the feelings children can’t seem to express, and the power struggles that plague so many families. But, you know what I don’t hear about? Family time!

It seems as if families are stretched so thin these days that the idea of getting together just to be with one another seems near impossible. I know some families do vacations, amusement parks, and even go to the beach. But, I’m talking about ritualized family time: things that families do together that doesn’t always have a structure or an end goal. I don’t think families even have treasured rituals that they can trust will be done each day, week, year, or season.

If you don’t know what a family ritual is, here the definition:

Rituals are things that only your family does. They help communicate ‘this is who we are’ and give you a sense of belonging.  (Source)

So, now that you know what it means to have a family ritual, let’s look at why it even matters. I mean, you’re probably wondering it family time and rituals even has an impact on your child/teen who would rather do anything than spend time with “family”. But, you’re wrong.

Most kids enjoy family rituals because it gives them a sense of self and their role in the family. When a family has a specific ritual not only do they get to spend time together, but they also reinforce your family’s values, teach social skills, and create memorable moments children can share as they age. Additionally, I’ve seen a family’s whole dynamic shift just by adding 1-2 weekly family rituals to their lives. This shift occurs because as each member spends time together, they get to know more about each other; and, as they know more about each other, empathy and support builds between the family!

I believe that even if your family is busy, you can begin to bring family rituals back to the forefront of your lives. Here are some ways that you can start family rituals that will encourage more family time:

  1. Celebrate Anniversaries: You can do this by choosing a day that is a day your family did something amazing together  and celebrate it each year
  2. Family Dinners: This is possibly the simplest family ritual to establish. Pick 1-2 days of the week and make it family dinner night. Make it really fun by cooking together!
  3. Enjoy Cultural Events: This ritual has a huge impact on your family’s sense of pride in their culture. Also, participating in cultural events helps children feel less shame about their heritage and gives them positive images of their culture.
  4. Volunteer: If you’re trying to teach a value to your child, add volunteering to your family’s rituals. You can teach about appreciation by volunteering at the local homeless shelter, or about the importance of learning by reading at the library. Choose one volunteer event that your family will participate in monthly or yearly
  5. Spirituality: Whether you actually go to a service or just mediatate on religious lessons at home, take the time to share with your child the importance of a spiritual self. This can also include relaxation time where the family does yoga activities!

So, is family time a relic of the past? Are family rituals some spiritual new age phenomenon? Of course not!!! Let’s get the fun back in being a family again. Focusing on building positive relationships with each other will help make these rituals stronger!

I’ll also leave you with one more quote to help you see the importance of developing family rituals:

“Families are mini-cultures and they share language, attitudes, and behavior in common.  These tend to be acted out in each generation and passed along.” Carolyn Foster

What family rituals have you put in place?



A Dozen Fun Family Rituals

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