Create Shared Meaning: Rituals for the Family

Creating shared meaning by establishing traditions and rituals of connection is not just for couples. You can bring your whole family together the same way!

https://www.gottman.com

Creating shared meaning by establishing traditions and rituals of connection is not just for couples. You can bring your whole family together the same way!

Creating shared meaning by establishing traditions and rituals of connection is not just for couples. You can bring your whole family together the same way!

Rituals for the Family

Creating shared meaning by establishing traditions and rituals of connection is not just for couples. You can bring your whole family together in much the same way! The following examples are a jumping off point to inspire you and your family to create your own rituals and traditions based on your family’s goals, values, and interests!

Rituals symbolize cultural identity and values you share with your family

Take the Lawrence family, for example:

  • Perhaps the Lawrence family goes out to breakfast every Saturday morning to recap their week and talk about important events in their lives. If the weather is nice, they head out to the park afterwards. By upholding this weekly tradition, the children will know, “We’re the Lawrences. We love breakfast, and we like to go to the park together!”
  • Maybe the Lawrence family invites the grandparents to dinner on Saturday nights. The children may say, “We’re the Lawrences, and we love spending time with our grandparents”
  • If the Lawrence family goes to the library every week to search for books, the kids may feel, “We are the Lawrences, and we love to read.”

If the family does not come together in a regular way, both parents and children may miss out on the feeling of being emotionally connected.

Rituals ensure that people take time for emotional connection

It’s hard to find time for new rituals and routines in busy schedules, but that’s okay. Routines can actually save time and allow you to connect with your whole family. Anything can be made into a ritual. This may remind some of you of Mary Poppins: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun! You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game!” Here are some examples of simple ways to connect with your family every day:

  • Don’t rush through coffee and breakfast. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, make coffee for your partner and enjoy a simple bite to eat before starting work.
  •  Take advantage of any car ride to talk with partner or kids. How is school/work going? What was the best part? What was the worst? On longer drives, play word games and make up stories together.
  • Instead of everyone being on their own device, decide on a movie to watch together as a family.

Rituals can help us to process our feelings as we move through life’s transitions and to stay connected despite our conflicts.

When you have a fight with your partner or your child, do you walk away from each other and stew in separate corners of the house? Remember to turn towards each other. Rituals of affection begin a repair process. A hug and a kiss before bed or before leaving each other for work leaves the two of you feeling that your relationship is much more important to you than the issue at hand. Additionally, as your children grow older, having lasting rituals and traditions are essential for maintaining emotional connection and closeness.

Talk these ideas over with your partner, and decide how to develop and maintain rituals of connection with your children.

Ellie Lisitsa is a former staff writer at The Gottman Institute and editor for The Gottman Relationship Blog.