Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Much has been made of the loss of tradition in the family and I think that loss is a bad thing. Ritual has a place and our children are none the better for its absence. Some ideas about ritual and tradition are:

Bedtime ritual: whether it's bath, book, and bed, or some other variation on this theme, it's a good idea to have a ritual that tells a child that bedtime is approaching. Then when the time changes or you're on vacation or some other unusual situation, that ritual adds a normal flavor to an abnormal circumstance, and kids and parents alike will benefit.
Mealtime traditions: my son's girlfriend's father has a rule against kids wearing hats at the dinner table. No matter where or when, it's not OK to have on a hat at a meal.
No phones, TV's, ipods, etc., at mealtime. That's a great tradition.
There is great support in family psychology literature for the importance of the family meal. I preach on this in my office regularly. Dinner is at a certain time, at a set place, or at least an agreed upon place, without distraction, every night or enough nights that when it is missed the kids will notice and miss it. The importance of this, starting when kids are very young, is hard to overstate.
Special traditions: ice cream after church or Friday night pizza. Good examples of "sins" that most of us would like to indulge in occasionally but need to keep to a minimum. If the family goes to church on Wed. night (i'm in Oklahoma!), then a trip to Braum's for ice cream is a reasonable tradition and one that gives the parents of an overweight child or a child that isn't always making the best food choices an "out" and a response to the request of that child for ice cream or other treat. It seems like a lot of successful weight loss/diet programs have a "free" day built in - we have to have ice cream sometimes! The point is that if there is a situation where a child is always wanting dessert or pizza or something that isn't good all the time, a tradition of Wed. night ice cream or Friday night pizza is a "safe" and "legal" opportunity to indulge that can be looked forward to by that child or the parent of that child when he/she asks. It's not just for that, though. The regularity of such tradition is reassuring to children and lends more credence to the family mentality so often missing in our soccer practice society (my pet peeve).
Be careful in establishing traditions or continuing traditions. Some traditions are best left in another generation. I won't mention any in particular, but the story of the women discussing why they cut the ends off the ham before cooking it is a nice illustration of tradition continuing without reason to continue. Just be sure the tradition is a good tradition, or at least is harmless.
respond with your traditions and idea for rituals and traditions.

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